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Latest Droid features 'best keyboard yet,' iFixit finds

It seems that Motorola has finally solved the missing piece for its popular line of Droid devices: a good keyboard.

According to the smartphone teardown artists at iFixit, the new Motorola Droid 4 features "the best Droid keyboard yet," with solid internal and external construction. iFixit also says that the latest Droid is a "faster, slicker and more pleasant device to use" than past iterations of the Droid series.

BACKGROUND: Droid 4 smartphone to hit the shelves on Friday 

ANALYSIS: Four sweet smartphones from CES

There is, however, a catch: The Droid 4 is apparently not so easy to repair. For instance, the vaunted new keyboard has pressure sensors that are directly attached to the back of the device's motherboard, meaning that if just one of the keys on the device breaks you'll have to replace the entire motherboard to get it fixed. Additionally, iFixit found that the Droid 4's battery is "a lot larger and more troublesome to remove than last year's model" as "the adhesive is so strong that you may accidentally bend the battery too much" if you try to remove it by hand. The lesson here: Don't try to replace your Droid 4's battery yourself. Leave that to the professionals.

Among other things, iFixit found that the Droid 4 contained a Qualcomm MDM6600 3G chipset that's capable of delivering HSPA+ download speeds of up to 14.4Mbps; a Motorola T6VPOXBG-0001 LCM 2.0 LTE chipset for deliver 4G connectivity; and a SanDisk SDIN5C1-16G flash memory chip that delivers 16GB of memory.

The Droid 4 hit the shelves last Friday and is available for use on Verizon's network. The latest Droid features the same basic design as the other Droid models with a 4-inch screen and a slide-out qwerty keyboard, and also features government-grade FIPS 140-2 encryption, an 8-megapixel camera with 1080p HD video capture, and Android 2.3 ("Gingerbread"), which will soon be upgraded to Android 4.0 ("Ice Cream Sandwich"). The device costs users $200 along with a two-year service contract with Verizon.

Like most Motorola Android devices, the Droid 4 also comes with the Webtop application that integrates your device into your laptop dock and makes the phone essentially serve as a mini PC. Motorola is also selling a smartphone dock to go with the device, called the Lapdock 500, for an additional $300.

Read more about anti-malware in Network World's Anti-malware section.


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