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Motorola Droid 4 (Verizon Wireless) review: Motorola Droid 4 (Verizon Wireless)

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Also here is Motorola's Smart Actions app, which is meant to make the handset easier for Android novices to operate. Think of it as an automation tool for phone behavior that follows rules you define. For example, you can have the phone automatically turn off Bluetooth and GPS when your home Wi-Fi network is detected. Conversely, screen brightness can be set to dial way down when battery levels are critical.

Other skills include having the ringer automatically silence itself in the office or launch the music player when you plug in your headphones. I'm sure there are people who will find this solution useful, but I'm not one of them. To me, it just adds another layer of complexity to the Android I know and love.

I tested the Motorola Droid 4 on Verizon's CDMA/LTE network in New York. Just like my experience with the Droid Razr Maxx, I enjoyed clean call quality on my test calls. In fact, callers said they had difficulty telling I was on a mobile line, or outside on the street, for that matter. The occasional rumble of heavy trucks rolling by did intrude on conversations, but barely. Wind noise didn't prove an issue for people on the other end, either. Voices on my side sounded loud through the Droid 4's earpiece, though I did notice that there wasn't much difference at the upper end, say between 75 and 100 percent volume.

When using the large speaker on the back, I was surprised that voices lacked punch even at maximum volume. Audio didn't distort when volume was cranked up all the way, though.

Running speed tests using Ookla's Speed Test app, I clocked downloads in and around the CNET New York office to average a very fast 14.3Mbps. Once I even saw a blistering download rate of 19.4Mbps, which for a congested area like downtown Manhattan is remarkable. Likewise, uploads were pushed through at a jaw-dropping 8.1Mbps.

Thanks to its Verizon 4G LTE connection, the Motorola Droid 4 turned in some impressive data speeds.

Another area where the Droid 4 satisfies is its ability to capture quality images. The 8-megapixel camera snaps nice pictures with colors that are lifelike, not oversaturated or muted. That said, I tend to like colors on the unnaturally vivid edge and hues didn't pop as much as I prefer. I do appreciate the clarity of both photos and smooth 1080p HD movies I shot with the phone. The Droid 4's camera is nimble, too, with no discernible lag between shots. Performance under low-light isn't stunning, with color noise evident in dark images. Still, the phone's LED flash does an admirable job of kicking in to expose subjects evenly when needed.

In our still-life test shot, the Droid 4 captured lifelike color, which wasn't muted but didn't exactly pop, either. Overall, though, this phone has a great camera that's fast and snaps clear images.

Colors are lifelike and details clear even under low-light conditions. That's evident in this indoor shot of store merchandise.

The Droid 4 shows its camera skills in this indoor shot of colorful fruit at a fruit stand. It's a shame it can't lower the prices, too.

Now I know that you're asking about the Droid 4's battery life. Moto's Droid Razr Maxx upped the ante with its 3,300mAh battery that offers ridiculous longevity, lasting a killer 19 hours and 47 minutes looping HD video. We're in the process of running our battery benchmark on the Droid 4 to see just how it fares using a lower-capacity 1,785mAh power source and will update our review shortly. Motorola does claim that the Droid 4 offers a talk time of 12.5 hours and standby time of 8.5 days, much less than the Maxx (21.5 hours/15.83 days).

As for computing power, both the Droid Razr Maxx and Droid 4 run 1.2GHz dual-core CPUs and 16GB of internal memory. Frankly, the way the two phones handle the same OS and Motorola interface seems identical. Once battery testing is done, I'll run a few more benchmarks on the Droid 4, but I expect processing prowess to be very similar.

According to FCC radiation tests, the Droid 4 has a digital SAR of 0.70 watt per kilogram.

Motorola Droid 4 call quality sample Listen now:

Like I said in my initial hands-on with the device, whether you'll be seduced by the $199.99 Motorola Droid 4's charms depends greatly on how much you crave a great QWERTY keyboard. Those still rocking original Droids, and who have been holding out for LTE plus dual-core processing, will want to make a beeline for this device. Even folks moving from aging BlackBerrys will like this phone's mix of features. That said, if you can spare an extra $100, and have kicked the keyboard habit like me, then the $299.99 Droid Razr Maxx should be right up your alley. But for those who prefer the clean unadulterated UI of Google's newest version of Android, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus just might do the trick for the same price.

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