Why Motorola Droid 3 won’t rule the Galaxy; but still matters

The Motorola Droid 3, or what will ultimately be launched as the Motorola Milestone 3, is no Galaxy S2 or even an HTC Sensation. In terms of technology, the Droid 3 will perhaps score 70% marks where the Samsung Galaxy S2 scores a 100 and the HTC comes up with 90% (see chart above.)

However, for many users, including yours truly, the Motorola Droid 3 is a bigger cause for excitement than the announcement of the other two models – despite being technologically inferior in many ways.

The Droid 3, in other words, is the most advanced phone for those who want a qwerty keypad (and there are many who won’t touch a phone without one.)

Before the Droid 3 (which is expected to touch the Indian shores in three months,) there weren’t many places where a qwerty-loving, TouchType-hating Indian could look. The closest was the Blackberry Torch and of course, the E7 from India’s favorite brand, Nokia.

Between the two, the E7, won because of many factors, including the large, amoled screen and the of course, many people’s skepticism of Blackberry’s more adventurous design attempts.

E7, however, has its own difficulties – primarily the fact that it ran Symbian, an operating system dating back to the era of the Palm PDA and HP iPaqs. While the E7 is by no means a poor candidate, those who chose it had to forego the “app excitement” of the iPhone and the Android ecosystem.

Despite claims to the contrary, Symbian phones are still very much talking machines, though they can also be used to browse the net and take pictures. The “app culture” has more or less by-passed them, and that is where the Droid 3, a follower to the Milestone (Droid) 2, comes in.

It has the same 4-inch display, but uses TFT technology – which is essentially like shining a light through a coloured curtain.

Most high-end phones have graduated on to the amoled technology, which means that the light-source itself is the colour source and there is no “coloured curtain” and backlight mechanism – resulting in deeper blacks and higher contrast. Motorola Droid 3, however, seems to have forgotten about this advancement in display technology, as did indeed, the Milestone (Droid) 2.

So what does the Motorola Droid 3 have in its favor?

It is certainly no match for the S2 or the Sensation, but for someone who needs a physical keypad and spends a large part of his time on email, the Motorola Droid 3 still comes in as a serious contender for the top spot in the World today.

The keypad, the biggest plus of the phone, is a far cry from the initial Droid (Milestone) model. Unlike the first model – whose keypad was so bad that many chose to type on the glass, this one has a refined and comfortable keypad, with good spacing and five rows.

The second biggest advancement has come in the internals – both the processor speed and the system memory (RAM) are (almost) top-notch. It has a dual-core 1GHz chip with half a GB of RAM.

Both features are inferior to those of the S2, Sensation etc., but are more double that of the Nokia E7.

Another phone that the Milestone 3 will have to contend with, when it arrives in India, is the new Blackberry Bold 9900. The latter has a 1.2 Ghz (faster) processor, but with just one core.

The Blackberry Bold 9900 also has a separate graphics processor (required for HDMI play-out) and has three-quarters of a GB of RAM, but it too has the TFT (curtain) LCD technology.

As for Droid 3, Motorola is yet to confirm whether it has a separate graphics processor or not, but it can be assumed that it has, particularly as the Droid 2 (Milestone 2) had one.

Despite this, the choice between the Blackberry Bold 9900 and Milestone 3 will be primarily made on the form-factor. The Bold is a traditional candy-bar phone, with a 2.8 inch display and those who use their phone extensively for browsing, reading and playing games will want a Droid 3.

In short, if you are the physical keypad types and enjoy content on the phone, the Milestone 3 is something to look forward to.

It is not known how Moto will price the Milestone 2 in India, nor whether indeed Motorola will launch the device here.

The company, for example, has not officially launched even the Milestone 2 (released in October) in India yet. It’s India website is still hawking the Droid 1 or Milestone 1, launched almost two years ago.

Thankfully, India’s most aggressive online gadgets retailer, letsbuy.com, introduced the Milestone 2 a few months back, though the phone failed to attract much attention due to the lack of marketing by Motorola. More to the point, when the phone was available on Letsbuy, it was a steal – priced at around Rs 21,000, while the grey-market rate was around Rs 29,000.

India has not exactly been a priority for Motorola, which has gone through a particularly bad patch since the recession began three years ago. Let’s hope it will change, particularly as it launched the tablet Xoom in India four months after it was released in the US.

[see graphic above for a comparison of Droid 3 with iPhone4, Samsung Galaxy S2 and HTC Sensation.)