We liked a lot of things about the Motorola Droid, but we really hated the keyboard with its off-set scroll pad and the fact that you couldn’t use voice commands when using Bluetooth. So, when Verizon and Motorola announced the Droid 2, we were excited to take a close look to see if these two problems had been resolved. We were also eager to see what other improvements were made.
As shown in Figure 1, the Droid 2 comes in a small gray box. The phone is manufactured by Motorola, uses the Google Android operating system, and is being offered in the United States by Verizon.
The contents of the box are shown in Figure 2, and they include the phone itself and a USB charger which attaches to the included wall charger. With this type of charging system, you can charge the phone either from a USB port or a wall outlet. Also included is a Getting Started Guide in both English and Spanish. The precautionary pamphlets (Product Safety and Warranty Information Guide, an informational pamphlet on Radio Frequency Emissions and Responsible Driving, and a Consumer Information Guideow) outnumber the operational guides. A PDF of the Droid 2 User’s Guide can be downloaded at the Motorola website, and the manufacturer also offers a printed copy at no additional cost. Kudos to Motorola!
Figure 2: The contents of the box
The Droid 2 measures 2.38” x 4.57” x 0.54” (60.5 x 116.3 x 13.7 mm) and weighs 5.96 oz (169 g), making it almost identical to the original Droid. Like the first Droid, the Droid 2 has a solid look and feel. But this Droid adds a little style to the plain, rectangular, black brick-like Droid. As shown in Figure 3, the Droid 2 has a shiny dark silver bezel with rounded edges and a curve at the bottom. Although it is a minor design change, it makes the phone look much more polished and at least a little more stylish.
[nextpage title=”Keyboard and Controls”]
The Droid 2 has a 3.7" TFT (480 x 854) capacitive touch screen. The screen is clear and text looks crisp and supports multi-touch, and you will be happy with this Droid’s screen. That is, unless you put it next to an iPhone 4’s Retina display or the AMOLED screens of Samsung’s Galaxy phones. These other phones have better, clearer screens, but the screen on the Droid 2 is quite adequate.
As seen in Figure 4, the Droid screen takes up much of the front of the phone. Around the screen is a black border, and on the top of that border is the earpiece with the Motorola name below it. At the bottom of that border are four touch keys marked with white icons which remain at the bottom of the screen at all times, and these icons illuminate when the phone is turned on. Although the position of these has changed from the original Droid, their functions are the same: the Menu Key, Home Key, Back Key, and Search Key.
Figure 4: The Droid touch keys
The microphone which on the original Droid was located under these touch keys is now located on the bottom of the phone, as shown in Figure 5.
Figure 5: The bottom of the Droid 2
Motorola is given points for listening to all of us reviewers who gave the keyboard on the first Droid bad marks. It is obvious that they have made improvements in the keyboard. As shown in Figure 6, the four-way directional key pad which made the keyboard difficult to type on is now gone. Kudos to Motorola for still including small navigational keys and an OK key on the right of the keyboard. While some users will never use them, many will find them useful for choosing menu items without having to accurately touch a small menu item with a large finger.
Because of the elimination of the four-way key pad, the new keyboard on the Droid 2 has larger keys which are easier to use. The keys have a nice slightly rounded top, giving a soft, but adequate tactile response when pressed. The only drawback that we saw to the new keyboard is that the top row is quite close to the edge of the display. No problem for smaller hands, but if you have chubby fingers, you will want to try this keyboard out before you buy.
Figure 6: The Droid 2 keyboard
The Droid 2 keyboard also has some nice additions. There is now a key with a microphone which brings up the voice input screen with a single press, and also a useful back button and a larger ALT key.
As with other Android phones, the voice input and voice search work very well. Voice recognition is amazingly accurate.
The on-screen keyboard is also quite workable. It also includes Swype, a method of typing on the screen that allows you to drag your finger across the keys rather than pressing each one.
[nextpage title=”Other Hardware”]
As shown in Figure 7, the top of the Droid 2 has a small on/off button and a standard 3.5 mm headset jack.
Figure 7: The top of the Droid 2
The right side of the Droid 2, shown in Figure 8, has a Camera button on the left and the volume rocker on the right. The volume rocker also acts as the zoom rocker when the phone is in camera mode.
Figure 8: The right side of the Droid 2
The left side of the Droid 2, shown in Figure 8, has a micro-USB connector for charging and connecting to a computer. Next that port is a small LED that glows white while charging and turns off when the battery is full – another nice touch.
Figure 9: The left side of the Droid 2
Figure 10 shows the back of the Droid 2. Although the phone gives the impression of being black, the back is actually a dark navy blue.
Figure 10: The back of the Droid 2
In Figure 10 you can also see the 5 megapixel camera on the right and the crosshatch of the speaker on the right. The Motorola, Verizon, and Google logos can also be seen on the back of the phone. The back of the phone is made of a soft-touch material that makes the phone easy to hold and to handle.
The camera and video components seem to be the same on the Droid 2 as they were on the original Droid. Pictures were just average, so if you are looking for a phone that takes great photos you can do better with others, like the iPhone 4. That said, if you just want to take an occasional photo, this phone will be fine. The new Android 2.2 adds some useful functionality to the camera.
Just as with the first Droid, this phone took videos that, although not HD quality, were surprisingly good. Videos are 720-by-480 and 25 frames per second, but they are smooth and clear. Additionally, you can now use the built-in flash as a light when taking videos.
The back of the phone can be easily removed to access the battery and the micro SD card, which are shown in Figure 11. The battery must be removed to get to the SD card. The phone comes with an 8 GB card – not as large as the Droid X, which comes with a 16 GB card, but still adequate for most users.
Figure 11: The battery and memory card
In Figure 11 you can also see that the inside of the battery cover is made of metal, which adds to the sturdiness of the phone.
[nextpage title=”Phoning, Surfing and GPS”]
In the United States, the Droid 2 uses Verizon’s CDMA EV-DO Rev network, but it can also access 802.11b/g Wi-Fi networks. It has a speedy 1 GHz processor and comes with 8 GB on-board memory. As explained, it comes with an 8 GB microSD card, but you can use cards up to 32 GB. Like most other similar smart phones, the Droid 2 has an accelerometer, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor, Multi-touch screen, and an eCompass.
The Droid 2 is the first phone to ship with Android 2.2 operating system, which gives a speed boost to the phone. We found surfing quite speedy, and we encountered no dropped calls. Calls were clear on both ends and the speakerphone was good.
Android 2.2 also allows the Droid 2 to be used as a wireless hotspot, allowing you to share your connection with up to five devices. You will have, however, to pay Verizon an additional USD 20 per month for that "privilege", and data use is capped at 2 GB.
While the Droid 2 worked well with our Bluetooth headphones and car devices, we couldn’t get the phone to recognize voice commands over Bluetooth. Since this is a feature that should be built into Android 2.2, we couldn’t determine if this was a problem with the OS or with the Motoblur that Motorola adds on top of the operating system.
As with the Droid X, the Motoblur overlay is not as prominent as it was with previous Motorola phones. Motorola does offer some nice widgets including Bluetooth, Airplane mode and WiFi toggles, news, picture frames, sticky notes, and others. It also includes widgets for social networking, an area that has always been a focus of Motoblur.
The main screen of the Droid 2 is shown in Figure 12. As you can see there is plenty of room for Widgets and apps. There are seven customizable home pages.
Figure 12: The Droid 2 main screen
If you slide your finger down to the bottom of the screen, the Droid 2, like the Droid X, gives you a way to quickly navigate these screens.
Figure13: Home screen navigation
While the Droid X is the best phone that we have seen for surfing the web, this Droid is not far behind. The only drawback is the smaller screen on the Droid 2. The real plus is that Android 2.2 supports Flash, which makes surfing even more enjoyable. If you have already purchased a Droid X, don’t worry, it will soon be upgraded to Android 2.2, as well.
Not surprisingly, the Droid 2 is optimized to work with Google Maps Navigation. The turn-by-turn instructions are excellent and with a car mount, this phone could easily substitute as a GPS system.
The Google Android Marketplace continues to grow and these apps add even more functionality to the phone. The phone comes with many apps are preinstalled, including games, productivity apps, and special Verizon apps. While some folks may consider this bloat, we found it kind of fun to try all the various apps and just remove the ones we didn’t want.
Battery life is rated at 575 minutes continuous use or up to 315 hours standby. We found that there was enough battery life to last an 8-hour day with several hours on the phone and that is about all you can expect from any smart phone.
[nextpage title=”Multimedia and Email”]
In addition to improved speed, Android 2.2 also has improved Exchange support, including calendar support that was previously missing. This phone, like other Android phones has Gmail as its main email system. It performs very well with Gmail and Google Calendar and these can be easily synched with Outlook, if you like. However, it also handles other POP/IMPAP email accounts as well. Setup is easy. It also integrates nicely with Facebook and other social network sites.
The Droid 2 can easily handle text messaging and MMS. Any support that is missing from the phone itself can easily be supplemented with an app from the Marketplace.
The Droid 2 uses the Android music and video players. It supports most music files including MP3, AAC, WMA, and OGG, and it also plays MPEG4 and WMV videos. The phone syncs with Windows Media Player and you can also use Verizon’s free V CAST Media Manager PC software. That said, you will find that playlists, cover art, and other details are not handled as well as they are with iTunes.
If you are really into music, check out the Android Marketplace for apps that enhance the Android’s handling of audio and video. They will probably be necessary until the Android OS gets better built-in support for audio and video.
The Droid 2 doesn’t have the HDMI output found in the Droid X, but it does support DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance), which allows the wireless sharing of content with other DLNA devices.
[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]
he main specifications for the Motorola Droid 2 cell phone include:
- Dimensions: 2.38” x 4.57” x .54” (60.5 x 116.3 x 13.7 mm)
- Weight: 5.96 oz (169 g)
- Processor: TI OMAP 1 GHz processor with Dedicated GPU
- Operating System: Android 2.2 (Froyo) with Motorola Application Platform
- Memory: 8 GB Internal memory for emails, texts, and apps, 8 GB pre–installed microSD card for music, videos, and pictures (expandable to 32 GB)
- Display: 3.7″ Touch
- Screen Details: 854×480 TFT LCD capacitive touch screen
- Wireless: Bluetooth v2.1+ EDR, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g
- Camera: 5 megapixel with dual LED flash
- Battery: 1400 mAH Li–Ion
- Network: CDMA 850/1900 MHz
- High-Speed Data: 1xRTT, EVDO Rev 0, EVDO Rev A
- Service Provider in the USA: Verizon Wireless
- More Information: https://www.motorola.com
- MSRP in the US: USD 560, USD 270 with a one-year contract, and USD 200 with a two-year contract (USD 350 early termination fee), plus a data package (USD 30 minimum)
The Droid 2 is a worthy descendant of the original Droid. It is just as sturdy and compact and has an additional bit of style, plus Motorola has done a very good job of revamping the keyboard. We are, however, stymied as to why the voice commands over Bluetooth still didn’t work.
While the screen and the camera are not the best that are currently available on competing products, both are more than adequate. Android 2.2 plus a powerful processor and the Verizon service make this phone a joy to use. The Android operating system just keeps getting better and better and the Android Marketplace keeps adding more and more apps.
If you are a Blackberry user or just love a physical keyboard, this is a good Android phone for you. If you are heavy into surfing on your phone, the Droid X may be a better choice, but only because of the size of the screen.
- Ships with Android 2.2
- More stylish than previous version
- Very good email and messaging support
- Good videos
- Excellent GPS capabilities
- Adequate battery life
- Wi-Fi Hotspot mode
- Voice commands through Bluetooth didn’t work
- No HD video recording
- Camera only fair
- Music player lacks syncing and playlists
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