After months of not-so-patient waiting, QWERTY lovers can finally get their text on wit the DROID 4. The latest update to Motorola’s original DROID is now available on Verizon’s website and in retail stores for a cool $199.99 on contract. This is the first member of the QWERTY DROID family to include access to Verizon’s LTE network, and easily the most high-performance sliding keyboard model on the carrier at all. If you’d like to get your hands on it without signing a new contract or renewing your current one, you’ll have to fork over $549.99.

In specification and style, the DROID 4 is largely an extension of the Motorola DROID RAZR, which seems to be the model for all new high-end Moto phones going forward. It’s got the same tapered shape, the same tough-as-nails feel and the same Moto-customized Gingerbread software. The primary differences are a smaller 4-inch screen that’s LCD instead of AMOLED (though the qHD resolution remains the same) a removable battery and of course the slide-out QWERTY keyboard. The dual-core 1.2Ghz processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage and 8-megapixel camera carry over. Alas, the bootloader is still locked tighter than a chastity belt.

One of the more interesting parts about the DROID 4 announcement is the price. At $200, it’s $100 cheaper than keyboard-less Verizon headliners like the Galaxy Nexus, HTC Rezound, DROID RAZR MAXX and the original DROID RAZR – or at least it would be, if you opted for the RAZR with an extra 16GB SD card. Go with the empty RAZR, and it’s the same price as the DROID 4. This is a return to the choice between the DROID X and DROID 2 a couple of years ago: do you go with the large screen and slim profile, or more flexible sliding form factor? To help you decide, be sure to check out our hands-on and unboxing of the DROID 4 – our review will be coming in a few days.