By Brandon Miniman | January 25, 2011 1:53 PM
The original Motorola Droid was the Droid that started it all. In fact, people now generically refer to any Android device as “a Droid”, a testament to Verizon and Motorola’s fantastic marketing for the device. As with any good performance, there is often a sequel, and the Droid is no exception to that rule. The Droid 2 builds on what made the original Droid great by adding an improved keyboard, a faster CPU and more RAM, and the latest version of Android, version 2.2. Did Verizon and Moto get it right the second time around? Read our full review to find out!
Here’s the unboxing for Droid 2. No case is included, though you do get an 8GB microSD card preinstalled, making for a total of 16GB of space (expandable to about 40GB if you use a 32GB card).
Let’s talk specs. The Droid 2 is superior to the Droid in many ways when you look at the spec sheet. It has a 1GHz TI OMAP 3620 (versus 550MHz OMAP 3430) supported by 512MB of RAM (versus 256MB) and 512MB of ROM. The screen is identical at 3.7″ and 854×480 resolution, and so is the camera, which takes photos at 5MP (with dual flash), and 30fps video (up from 24fps) at non-HD 720×480. Unlike its predecessor, the Droid 2 has 802.11n for higher speed WiFi, plus it comes with Android 2.2, which is supposed to be faster in many respects (more on that later). Powering everything is a 1400mAh battery. For even more specs, check out PDAdb.net.
The Droid 2 looks much like the original Droid. It has a squarish design that has a fair amount of metallic paint around the perimeter of the screen. The sides and backing of the Droid 2 are dark blue, a nice little touch if you like that color. The four standard Android buttons adorn the bottom portion of the screen. There’s also an LED notification light in the upper right corner to inform you of new messages, etc.
Motorola has removed the D-Pad that sat to the right of the keyboard on the previous Droid. This allows for a larger surface area for the keyboard, resulting in larger keys. Also different than the previous Droid: the keys on the Droid 2 are now staggered, making them feel a bit more ergonomic than the previous grid-like layout.
On the left side of the device we have the microUSB port that is used for syncing and charging. There’s an indicator light on the left side of the port to let you know that it’s connected.
On the right side of the device is the dual-action camera button, plus the volume rocker.
On the top there is the 3.5mm headphone jack, and the power/standby button.
Here on the back you can see the 5MP camera sensor with dual LED flash. More on photo quality later. The back slides off easily. Below the battery cover is the external speaker, which provided plenty of volume. Again, the back of the Droid 2 is dark blue, though in some light, it looks black.
In-hand, the Droid 2 feels quite angular, though thin (at a bit over 17mm) for a device with a hardware keyboard.
The software offering of the Droid 2 is very similar to the Droid X. You get seven homescreens, though you can’t add or subtract homescreens like you can on the Galaxy S smartphones. You can choose from a variety of Android widgets, or better yet, choose from the slick-looking Motorola widgets that can actually be resized. There are widgets for weather, calendar, email, messaging, social networking, and more.
In the video above, we put the Droid X and the Droid 2 head-to-head, because in theory, the Droid 2 should be faster due to its inclusion of Android 2.2 (the Droid X, at the time of this writing, was shipping with Android 2.1). The results of our testing is that indeed the Droid 2 is faster than the Droid X in opening apps, browsing the web, and even buffering YouTube videos.
Also of note is that the Droid 2 can act as a WiFi hotspot if you’re willing to add $20 per month to your bill.
The Droid 2 is one of the first Android phones to come with the final version of Adobe Flash player 10.1. That, coupled with Android 2.2, should provide the best experience possible for Flash content on a mobile device. And does it? In this video we compare various Flash sites on the desktop with the Droid 2. It turns out that Flash has become quite good on Android. The Droid 2 handled flash content, even interactive content, with relative ease.
The Droid 2 cannot record HD video, instead, you’re stuck with 720×480. As you can see from the above video, the image quality isn’t great, but the audio is crisp.
The 5.0MP camera, which has a dual-LED flash, doesn’t have tap-to-focus. The resulting images are pretty poor. Here are some samples: outdoor bright sun, indoor macro with flash, indoor macro no flash, indoor low light.
Although not as fast as the Nexus One with Froyo, the Droid 2 with Froyo is a fantastic performer. It can multitask like a champ thanks to the plentiful 512MB of RAM. Out of the box, the browser is set with plugins enabled, meaning that all Flash content will load. We recommend that you change that setting to on-demand, because you may run into poor performance when trying to load a Flash-heavy website, or one with Flash ads.
CALL QUALITY/NETWORK SPEED
Call quality on Verizon was crystal clear, and during our testing, there were no dropped calls experienced.
Cellular data speeds were typical for Verizon EVDO Rev A. Using the SpeedTest.net application, we clocked about 1MB/s down and 1MB/s up.
The battery life of the Droid 2 is supposed to be better than the original Droid, and it is. Expect to go a little bit more than a day with heavy use before needing a charge. With moderate use, you’ll get through a day and a half, and with light use, you may get two days of use from the device.
PURCHASING AND AVAILABILITY
You can get the Motorola Droid 2 from Verizon for $199 from DroidDoes.
+ A worthy successor to the original Droid
+ Comes with Android 2.2
+ Fantastic performance
+ Improved keyboard
+ Fast screen rotations
+ Supports Flash
- Poor camera
- No HDMI out
- Doesn’t record HD video
- Browser can be slow with plugins enabled
- Lacks dual microphones for noise cancellation
- Keyboard isn’t spring-assisted
- Should be priced lower than other Droids
The Droid 2 is a winner. It’s fast, has decent battery life, and includes a nice-sized keyboard for those that don’t enjoy using an on screen keyboard. It’s lacking a lot of the features found on higher end Android devices like noise cancellation, HD video recording, and HDMI out, but if you want those features and are willing to sacrifice the keyboard, check out the Droid X or the Droid Incredible. Verizon should lower the price of the Droid 2 a bit to reflect its lack of premium features.
I give the Motorola Droid 2 a 4/5.