Motorola Droid 3: To buy or not to buy?

By JR Raphael (@jr_raphael)

Motorola's Droid 3 officially entered the world today -- and given the significance and popularity of the original Moto Droid, this new successor is drumming up quite a bit of interest. Not surprisingly, the question I hear the most is simply: "Should I buy this phone?"

Motorola Droid 3 Verizon

I haven't had a chance to check out the new Droid 3 hands-on yet -- I should soon -- but based on the specs, it seems like a powerful new option for anyone seeking a phone with a slide-out keyboard. It has a beefy dual-core processor, 512MB of RAM (not the highest amount you'll find in any phone on the market right now, but more than enough for practically any need), and a double-camera setup with 1080p video capture. The device has all the makings of a solid starting point for new Android buyers or an attractive option for original Droid owners looking to replace their now-two-year-old phones.

But -- and this is a big but (you're welcome, Sir Mix-A-Lot) -- the Droid 3 has a couple of potentially significant drawbacks. The lack of 4G may be a buzz-kill for some people, especially those who live in areas where Verizon 4G service is currently available. And the Motoblur skin may make the Droid 3 less appealing to many Android enthusiasts; interface preferences aside, as we've seen in the past, manufacturer software modifications like Blur can frequently cause delays in future Android upgrades.

[STORY: It's time for the baked-in Android UI to die]

Droid 3 Android Phones

Then there's the notion of what's next. We're expecting the powerhouse Droid Bionic to launch within the next month or so, and Google's Ice Cream Sandwich -- the next major release of Android, which will bring elements of the Honeycomb tablet UI into the phone experience -- is expected to arrive in the final few months of the year. Google is rumored to have a new high-end Nexus phone on the way to accompany the release, and manufacturers have told us the first quad-core superphones will be available by winter as well.

So is the Droid 3 the right phone to buy, or are you better off taking a wait-and-see approach? Ultimately, that's a question only you can answer. With any mobile tech -- and Android in particular -- there's always going to be something new lurking around the corner. Sooner or later, when you find a phone you like, you just have to dive in and go for it. Otherwise, you'll spend your whole life waiting for that perfect experience.

That said, you have to consider what it is that you want in a phone. For me, as an original Droid owner with a contract coming up this month, I had long expected the Droid 3 to be the next phone I'd want to buy. But having a stock Android experience is something that's important to me; I tend to find manufacturer-added skins to be superfluous and annoying, and I place a lot of value in knowing I'll get Android upgrades early. I've also recently become a fan of the Swype on-screen keyboard and don't mind the idea of a keyboard-free phone as much as I used to -- so all considered, I'm leaning toward hanging tight and waiting to see what the next Nexus has to offer.

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That's just me, of course; what's right for my preferences may not be right for yours. There are plenty of things to like about the new Droid 3, and if the phone strikes your fancy, it might be time to make the leap.

I'll take a more detailed look at the Motorola Droid 3 once I'm able to get a review unit in-hand. In the meantime, check out my Droid 3 launch day guide for the full scoop on the phone's specs and features, and see what you think. You never know: This might just be the Droid you're looking for.

JR Raphael writes about smartphones and other tasty technology. You can find him on both Facebook and Twitter.

Article copyright 2011 JR Raphael. All rights reserved.

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