Droid days of summer: Meet Verizon's next standout phones

By JR Raphael (@jr_raphael)

Verizon Droid Phones

The Droid brand is Android's most recognizable moniker -- and this summer, the red-eyed phone family from Verizon is getting even bigger.

All signs suggest Verizon is on the brink of launching two new Droid phones, both of which promise to be high-profile devices that'll be in high demand. The first is a follow-up to the Droid that started it all, and the second is a reworked version of a phone we've been hearing about for months.

Verizon Droid #1: The Motorola Droid 3

The Motorola Droid may not have been the world's first Android phone, but it was undoubtedly the first to turn Android into a household name. Last summer, we saw the Droid 2 and Droid 2 Global upgrades -- and now, it looks like another new sibling is on the way.

Motorola Droid 3

Image courtesy droid-life.comThe Motorola Droid 3 takes the sliding-keyboard style of the original Droid and updates it with some serious processing power. While the phone has yet to be officially announced, we've seen enough leaks (not to mention the launch of a near-identical Milestone device in China) to have a pretty good idea of what's in the works.

The Droid 3 will likely boast a 4-inch screen with 960-by-540 resolution -- a significant upgrade from the 3.7-inch 854-by-480 display its predecessors possessed. Inside, the Droid 3 is believed to have a 1GHz dual-core processor with 512MB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, and a rear-facing 8MP camera with video recording up to 1080p. The Droid 3 features a front-facing camera for video chat, too, along with HDMI mirroring capabilities.

Other items of note: Motorola's Droid 3 appears to have a redesigned keyboard, with a fifth row dedicated exclusively to number keys. Leaks suggest it'll run Android 2.3 (aka Gingerbread) but -- sorry, stock Android fans -- will be loaded up with Motorola's latest Motoblur skin. Like the Droid 2 Global before it, the Droid 3 is believed to be a global device. Apparently missing from the phone, however, is support for Verizon's 4G network.

If the latest rumors prove to be true -- and there's no shortage of 'em floating around out there -- the Droid 3 will go on sale in limited capacity this Thursday, July 7, with a full launch following on the 14th.

UPDATE: Motorola Droid 3: Your launch day guide 

Verizon Droid #2: The Droid Bionic

Droid Bionic

Image courtesy thisismynext.com

The second Droid phone in the wings has been shrouded in mystery since its short appearance at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. We're talking, of course, about the Droid Bionic -- the phone that debuted and then quickly vanished from the public eye for a series of unspecified "enhancements."

Six months later, it looks like the wait is finally almost over. Motorola has long said it plans to release the Bionic within the summer, and a freshly leaked flyer found by tech blog This Is My Next suggests the time is right around the corner. Other intel uncovered by the crew at Android Central points to August 4 as the date to watch.

From the looks of it, the revamped Bionic will be a dual-core phone with a 4.5-inch 960-by-540 display. It'll likely run Gingerbread along with Moto's latest Motoblur skin. Images show the phone looking a bit different from what we saw in January, with a larger screen and less rounded design. Like the original device, the upcoming Bionic is believed to rock both a front- and rear-facing camera along with HDMI output and 4G support.

The rest of the specs aren't entirely clear; initially, the Bionic had 512MB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage, but the final device may be beefed up in those departments. Either way, this Droid promises to be a powerhouse that'll live at the top of Verizon's smartphone pack.

Of course, we've also got Ice Cream Sandwich and the hotly rumored Google "Nexus Prime" phone

Android Power Twitter

on the way this year, not to mention the first quad-core superphones already slated for December. All combined, it's shaping up to be a tough year for decision-making -- and for anyone who's an Android fan, that's certainly a good kind of problem to have.

UPDATE: Motorola Droid 3: To buy or not to buy? 

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.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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