Best Smartphone with Keyboard: Motorola Droid 4
For an improbably slim smartphone, you have to accept an on-screen virtual keyboard. But if you are a text-and-email addict, a Twitter devotee, or a BlackBerry refugee, you may gladly accept a little girth in exchange for a keyboard with real keys. And the Motorola Droid 4 for Verizon Wireless ($200 with 2-year contract) is by far your best choice.
Why we like it
The large keyboard on the Droid 4 sports five rows of solid-feeling keys that are slightly rounded on top, making it easy for you fingers to feel the transition from one to the next. And they make a satisfying click when you press down on them, leaving no doubt that the tap has registered. The keyboard slides out easily from under the screen and back in with a resolute click. Thanks to a very bright backlight, the keys are easy to see in any lighting.
Fortunately, the Droid 4 is an excellent phone in all other respects. Unlike a lot of Android devices, it doesn’t hesitate at all when launching or flipping through apps. And it's powerful enough to run demanding games like "Madden 12" smoothly.
Running on Verizon’s 4G LTE network, the Droid 4 offers very fast data performance (average download and upload speeds of 13.2 and 11.1 megabits per second, respectively). Plus, this device has excellent sound quality for actual calls, as well as a powerful speakerphone.
The camera captures bright, crisp photos and video, and the large, brilliand 4-inch screen shows them in vibrant color.
Keep in mind
Any phone with a keyboard is larger than a "slab" phone without. At a half-inch thick and 6.31 ounces, the Droid 4 is quite a bit heftier than the Droid Razer Maxx (0.35 inches, 5.1 ounces), for example.
Battery life is good for an Android phone, at 5 hours and 27 minutes for continuous Web surfing. But that still makes getting through the day on a single charge challenging, and it's a lot shorter than an iPhone or BlackBerry can muster.
The Droid 4 stands out not only for having the best smartphone keyboard but also for being a powerful device with smooth graphics, speedy data service and great call quality.
- $200 (with 2-year contract)
- Verizon 4G network
- 2.8 (w) by 5.0 (h) by 0.5 (d) inches, 6.31ounces
- 4-inch, 960-by-540 pixel screen
- 8-megapixel photo / 1080p HD video main camera
- Android 2.3.5 "Gingerbread" operating system