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Motorola Droid 3
Initial Checkout

Jim Carter, 2011-11-23

When the new pocket computer was received, I checked out these features. Initially I used the Motorola/Verizon image of Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Later I installed CyanogenMod-7.1.0, Hashcode's port for Solana (Droid 3). This is alpha level. Even later I transferred to Hashcode's port of CyanogenMod-9 (dated 2011-12-24), which is even more alpha level. The first column gives the out of the box experience with very little hacking; the next two, labelled CM-7 and CM-9, give the current state of the feature under CyanogenMod and the image version (date) when it became functional.


Box Worked out of the box, or after a clean installation of CyanogenMod for Solana.
Conf It needed editing a configuration file or running a setup GUI.
Add-On Needed additional or patched software: download it; follow instructions to compile and/or install it; it works.
Fiddle As with Add-On, but it required some workarounds in the procedure, which might seem minor to an experienced user but which might prevent a newbie from making it work.
Hack So you call yourself a guru? This one will challenge your skills. But this guru eventually got it working.
Fail I wasn't able to get this one to work, at least so far.
N.T. Not tested.
* A prerequisite did not qualify for the Box or Conf rating, but once that was set up, the listed component worked with no further hassle.

Checklist of Features

Item Stock CM-7 CM-9
Check dimensions and mass Box 2011-11-16 2011-12-24
 Mass (measured, with battery): 183 grams. Battery: 31 grams. Bounding box: 122 x 63 x 13.5 mm. Extended keyboard adds 38 mm. Density (based on bounding box): 1.7 g/cc. It will sink like a stone, and I doubt its water resistance, though there are no obvious paths for water or vermin to enter.
Does it charge OK? Box 2011-11-16 2011-12-24
 How long to charge?
Does it boot at all? Box 2011-11-16 2011-12-24
 Yes. On first booting the stock image you have to go through the usual setup procedure. The procedure to install CyanogenMod-7 is of course rather more extensive and fraught with peril. But given that experience, upgrading to CyanogenMod-9 was straightforward using (nearly) the same procedure.
Startup times Box 2011-11-16 2011-12-24
  • Booting (not initial boot): 35 secs
  • Initial boot: 95 secs (CyanogenMod)
  • Wake up: 2 secs
  • Go to sleep: 1 sec
  • Power off: 6 sec
Display Box 2011-11-16 2011-12-24
Ambient Light Sensor Box 2011-11-16 2011-12-24

It works, and influences the display brightness if turned on. See here for ambient light sensor details.

Memory Box 2011-11-16 2011-12-24
  • RAM: /proc/meminfo reports 450000 Kb (4.5e8 bytes). Likely this means 512Mb with 60Mb or so reserved for video RAM.
  • Internal flash: Works; total 16Gb, /data (app storage) 1Gb, generic user data 11Gb. See here for detailed partitioning, sizes, mount points and encryption.
  • SD card slot: Works; the card is provided by the user. See here for the various mount points.
  • Filesystem formats per /proc/filesystems: ext2 ext3 ext4 vfat msdos iso9660 fuse ecryptfs
Processor Box 2011-11-16 2011-12-24
  • Detection of dual cores: Boot image says it has them, but /proc/cpuinfo only shows one processor. 600 bogomips.
  • Speed test
  • Are dual cores used?
  • Quadrant benchmark (buy it)
Keyboard Box 2011-11-16 2012-01-01
  • Do all keys work? Yes. All punctuation seems to be there including several unicode items such as ellipsis (3 dots) and a lot (but not all) of ISO8859-1 code points such as Euro and Yen. If you long-press a key such as c it will pop a box where you can choose accented variants such as c-cedilla, c-hacek and c-aigu. Alt-space pops a box of 16 symbols such as © (copyright) and ± (plus-minus).
  • Subjective evaulation of feel: Excellent. They drop down as keys ought to, not your usual little marshmallows. Light touch, but not so light as to invite spurious keystrokes.
  • Backlight: Yes, it's effective.
  • CM9-12-24 had a bug in which alt-p, alt-a and alt-b produced no keysym, but that is fixed in CM9-01-01.
  • On-screen keyboard: Available in both landscape and portrait orientation; the latter has wider keys but leaves only 3 lines for the app's editing area. In portrait, half the screen is available for the app. It is easy to hit the right keys in portrait. Here are some behaviors:
    • Press the Shift key (up arrow) for one upper case letter.
    • Press Shift twice to lock upper case, press again to release.
    • Press ?123 to get digits and typewriter punctuation.
    • Press ABC to leave digit mode; it also reverts on Return.
    • Within digit mode press Alt to get non-alphabetic ISO8859-1 code points and programmer's punctuation. Press again to revert to digit mode.
    • In alphabetic mode, long-press on a digit (top row of letters) or a or c to get alternative ISO8859-1 code points with accents such as umlauts, and c-cedilla.
    • There is an icon of a microphone which probably has something to do with voice recognition.
Voice chat (Verizon, CDMA) N.T. 2011-11-16 2011-12-24
 Verizon does not use a RUIM (CDMA equivalent of SIM); they cue directly off the MEID. Out of box success refers to CyanogenMod's success once the phone was activated with Verizon, after quite a bit of wrestling with various weasels of the mobile operator ilk.
  • Dial a call -- Connects.
  • Incoming call -- Connects.
  • Voice quality on partner -- Good.
  • Voice quality on local host -- Adequate. One reviewer said that the local sound quality was muffled, and for me it was not a hi-fi experience, but it was perfectly audible and as expected for phone bandwidth performed on an internal speaker.
  • Speakerphone audibility -- Need to test
  • SMS -- successfully received and sent.

History of voice chat problems:

  • CM9-12-24 voice worked.
  • CM9-01-01 voice worked.
  • CM9-01-12 call connects but can't send or receive voice. Later, it started working. Mysterious.
Cellular Data (Verizon, CDMA) N.T. 2011-11-16 2011-12-24
  • In CM9-12-24, voice and cellular data both work, and the data is usually EVDO (3G).
  • In CM7-11-16, with no SIM installed you get voice but no data; with a SIM (for an expired GSM account) you get Verizon CDMA data (3G) but crashes at boot, precluding receiving phone calls. Cure: upgrade to CM9.
  • Data rate -- 8.2e4 bit/sec on 3G (EVDO), and 3.2e4 bit/sec on 2G (1x-RTT). Retesting with CM9-12-24: 7.5e4 bit/sec on 3G (EVDO). The rate clearly varied a lot during the test, and the low rate compared to what's usually obtained is probably caused by a low signal level (but not as low as for AT&T).
  • The Droid 3 does not have a LTE (4G) modem. This is one of the major negative points that reviewers mention. Fortunately my use of cellular data does not require a lot of speed.
Voice chat (AT&T, GSM) Fail 2011-11-16 2011-12-24
 Using the AT&T UICC (SIM): Verizon's Preferred Roaming List (PRL) forbids the use of AT&T. In forum postings, people in Europe report using local SIMs successfully, and Hashcode also reports, for CM9, successful use of GSM (not necessarily AT&T or T-Mobile), so I have given this item a green rating.
  • What size of UICC does it expect? 25x15mm. Ancient dumb phones used a larger size.
  • Dial a call -- No service.
  • Incoming call -- No service.
  • Data rate (and does it say 3G?) -- No service.
Voice chat (Boost Mobile, CDMA) Fail 2011-11-16 2011-12-24
 Using the Boost Mobile UICC (RUIM): Verizon's Preferred Roaming List (PRL) forbids the use of Sprint. And Boost Mobile alleges that the Droid 3's MEID is not recognized by them. It should be possible to get Sprint's PRL onto the phone, but getting them to recognize the phone could be more difficult, so I gave up this quixotic quest.
  • Dial a call -- No service.
  • Incoming call -- No service.
  • Data rate (and does it say 3G?) -- No service.
Wi-fi Box 2011-11-16 2011-12-24
  • How to find the MAC address: Look in your firewall log :-( I don't think you can find this out on a Verizon stock OS image, until you install the terminal emulator.
    cat /sys/class/net/tiwlan0/address
    CM9-12-24 has it in Settings -> About Phone -> Status -> Wi-Fi MAC Address.
  • What modulation revision? 802.11g; likely it also can do 802.11n but my access point is too obsolete.
  • Does it connect to our access point? Yes.
  • Data rate: 1.4e7 bit/sec, compared to 2.4e7 bit/sec to a laptop and 5.4e7 bit/sec theoretical maximum. This is about 8 times faster than on the HTC Dream (G1). The faster data is very noticeable when I download apps.
  • Re-check on CM9-12-24: 1.8e7 bit/sec.
Wi-fi in Master Mode N.T. 2011-11-16 2011-12-24

The Wi-fi driver for the Droid 3 can be put into master mode, allowing your pocket computer to act as a Wi-fi access point. In documentation this is referred to as Wi-fi Tethering. Check your cell plan's terms of service carefully to determine if you need to pay extra to do this. Update: this was the first thing my friend tried out on my phone, and it worked.

Bluetooth Box 2011-11-16 2011-01-12

Hardwarewise, Bluetooth worked out of the box on all three systems. Follow the link for details of what was tested. In CM9-12-24 the headphone paired but the music player would not send sound to it; however, this was fixed starting in CM9-01-12.

Audio digital signal processor (DSP) N.T. 2011-11-16 2011-12-24

It's hard to prove that the principal audio codecs (Vorbis, MP3) are running on the DSP, but the DSP Manager app does influence the spectrum of the performed audio, proving that CyanogenMod-7 has effective access to the DSP.

Play streaming audio Box 2011-11-16 2012-01-12
  • Internal speaker: Works. Sound quality playing music is surprisingly good considering it's an internal speaker.
  • 3.5mm phone jack: Works. On CyanogenMod there's plenty of volume (for me) if you turn it up, but the default setting is kind of low. Forum postings about CM7 suggest that other people have trouble with the volume, but I haven't encountered this (yet).
  • Bluetooth A2DP: Works on stock image and CM7 but is broken on CM9, hence the yellow rating. Fixed in CM9-01-12. See the Bluetooth test report for complaints about sound quality.
  • Volume switches: Working.

Outcome of various audio sources and formats (on all three systems):

  • Icecast MP3 (KUSC OTA): Works.
  • Icecast MP3 (file on server): Works.
  • Icecast Vorbis (KUSC OTA): Works. (Didn't work on Froyo)
  • Non-Icecast MP3 (file on server): Works. (Didn't work on Froyo)
  • Non-Icecast Vorbis (file on server): Works. (Didn't work on Froyo)
  • M3U playlist, MP3 on server: With the Verizon player, the browser downloads the file and the player then rejects it. With the Gingerbread player (on CyanogenMod), the browser rejects the file before downloading it.
  • Files on Droid: Works. See also the Android Music app.
 The Droid has a HDMI output port. The cable is sold separately and I don't have one, nor do I do much video capture which could be displayed as a test.
FM Radio N.T. 2011-11-16 2011-12-24
 The Droid 3 apparently has an unadvertised FM radio and people post in forums that they can play it. CM9-12-24 has a FM player app from TI and a FM transmitter app from TI, and I also tried a FM app from Motorola, but none of these actually work in CM9-12-24.
GPS Box 2011-11-16 2011-12-24
  • Does it work? Yes.
  • Speed to re-acquire satellites: usually 7 secs even after 24 hours. Sometimes it has to download the ephemeris, taking 30 secs. The version on HTC Dream with CyanogenMod-6.2 based on Froyo could take as long as 15 minutes to deliver the first fix. I'll bet that it would not deliver a result unless both the ephemeris (30 secs) and almanac (13 mins) were up to date, whereas either the module firmware or the Android driver on the Droid 3 is willing to do the best it can, immediately, with outdated tables.
  • Accuracy: Comparing with the HTC Dream (G1), the positions differed by 44 meters, mostly in the Z axis. The geoid likely differs between Froyo and Gingerbread, adding to the Z axis error. If this is omitted, the difference is 6 meters, compared to the estimated accuracy of 12 meters.
  • Diagnostic information: On the stock Verizon image it fails to show the positions of the individual satellites and how many are used to compute the position, but CyanogenMod delivers this information, both on Gingerbread (Droid 3) and Froyo (HTC Dream), as does Cupcake on HTC Dream. This is using the GPS Status app.
  • Re-checked for CM9-12-24: OK, same as CM7.
  • Cool, the GPS Status app has a readout for the ambient light sensor, which works.
Magnetometer (compass) Box 2011-11-16 2011-12-24
 It's hard to get calibration data for the magnetometer, but all three axes do function. +X is east, +Y is north, +Z is to the front, and the indicated side of the device has to be facing terrestrial magnetic north for the axis to read a positive value.

The magnetometer is at the midpoint of the east edge. Iron objects, like a screwdriver or masonry reinforcement of course will affect the readings.

Accelerometer Box 2011-11-16 2011-12-24
 On the Terran surface the reported magnitude of acceleration is between 9.8 and 10.1 m/s2; correct value is 9.8. When I turn the device 180 degrees, the magnitude typically shows a zero offset of 0.15 m/s2; e.g. north up shows 9.797, south up shows -10.092, half the sum is 0.148 m/s2. This is pretty good performance for a consumer-grade accelerometer.

The axis sensors are reasonably aligned with the chassis. As seen by the Phone Tester app, +Y is south, i.e. in portrait orientation with the speaker up, Y will be about plus 10 m/s2. +X is west (keyboard down gives plus), and +Z is rear (display up gives plus).

Proximity (face) sensor Box 2011-11-16 2011-12-24
 When you're making a voice call and the phone is close to your face, the display and touch screen are deactivated. When you take it away, they return. This seems to work reasonably, and can be useful since you don't want your fat jowls to activate the dialpad.
In-Pocket Detection Maybe 2011-11-16 2011-12-24
 In the Verizon image, if you turn on the feature (in Settings - Display), it will lock the screen after the phone has been in your pocket for about 3 seconds. The screen can face out or in.

Later, it stopped recognizing pockets; I don't know why yet.

I don't see this feature in CyanogenMod; it isn't in Settings - Display.

Notification LED Fail 2011-11-16 2011-12-24
 I never saw the Verizon system image use the notification LED. (Which doesn't mean that it never does, e.g. for a missed call or a SMS, which I can't test due to carrier loyalty enforcement.) In particular it does not turn the LED on during charging. CyanogenMod-7 does so. I need to make an index of what colors are used and what they mean.

CM9-12-24 does turn on the LED (white) during charging, but turns it off when the charge reaches 90%. CM7 and earlier Android versions turned it green when charging above 90%, which I prefer. Blinking white indicates a received SMS.

Rear camera with flash Box 2011-11-16 2011-12-24
  • Rear camera works? Yes (in stock and CM7). In CM9 the camera is a known problem area.
  • Auto focus
  • Resolution
  • Flash
  • Color rendition
  • Low light performance
  • Video capture

Need to fill out this section. In CyanogenMod-7 the included camera app shows no camera content: a black screen behind the camera controls. However, the Barcode Scanner app shows camera content and can interpret a barcode promptly and correctly. Also ipwebcam can get images from the rear camera. Forum postings suggest that the Camera360 app can also operate the camera in CyanogenMod for Droid 3, and does it better than the provided app on other phones where the provided app works. So I'm rating the rear camera as add-on in CyanogenMod-7.

In CM9-12-24, however, the camera has not yet been made to work.

Front camera N.T. 2011-11-16 2011-12-24
 Tested with ipwebcam, but not successfully. A signal is delivered (in CM7) but it looks like randomly varying noise in shades of white and magenta, with curvy spatial correlations that might be the scene trying to be seen. ddPhoneVideo showed the same image. We'll have to wait to do video chat.
  • Front camera works? Can't tell.
  • Resolution
  • Color rendition
  • Video capture or video chat: Testing with IP Webcam.
  • What software uses the front camera, on the stock or CyanogenMod images? None that I could see.
Battery life N.T. 2011-11-16 2011-12-24
 There hasn't yet been an opportunity to really test the battery life. Subjective impressions are that the Droid 3 is frugal with energy. Some forum posters say that for them, some unknown process eats battery. Here are some suggestions for power saving.