Review

Review: Droid 2

When the Motorola Droid first hit the scene, it made a big splash for Verizon. The Droid was Verizon's strategy for combating the iPhone, as well as keeping users of Verizon happy. It represented a breath of fresh air for a carrier who previously had a weak smartphone lineup.

Fast forward to today and Verizon has quickly become a key player in the US for the Android platform. With several high end devices, the company has quickly branded itself as the preferred provider if you want an Android powered phone.

The Droid 2 represents the follow-up to one of Verizon’s keystone devices. But, when the Droid 2 landed, it wasn’t the new kid on the block and was faced with stiff competition from other phones in the Verizon lineup. But the question is, at $199.99, is the device worthy of your hard earned money?

If you have ever held the original Droid, the Droid 2 will feel nearly identical to the original. The second version of this phone brings with it a more polished look and feel compared to the original Droid, and only updates a few small bits physically.

The screen on the device is a 3.7” touchscreen at 480x854 WVGA. This screen gets the job done but will not woo the crowd by any means; it's accurate and can be used in sunlight. The screen is fairly standard fanfare, nothing over the top, easily lost in the crowd, but doesn’t disappoint.

Call quality is what you would expect from a device in this class; it’s clear and loud enough to be able to hear the person on the other end in most environments.

The camera on the device is 5MP which is below the Droid X and Incredible's 8MP. The camera itself is middle of the road as well, as the shutter lag is better than that of the original Droid but is still slower than that of the Incredible. The camera does take better than average pictures outside in ideal sunlight, but inside darker areas, it’s hard to take a blur free picture.

What really sets the device apart from the Increidble and Droid X (besides coming with stock Froyo installed) is that the Droid 2 has a physical slide-out keyboard. For those that require a keyboard and are familiar with the one on the original Droid, this keyboard will work well for you. But for those looking to make the switch to their first Android platform and want a physical keyboard, you will be sorely disappointed.  As a long, long, long time Blackberry user, they keyboard on the Droid 2 requires small thumbs and forces you to use your thumbnails to type accurately. The keys are firm and unforgiving, but to each their own, some may love the keyboard. If you’re accustomed to the perfection of a Blackberry keyboard, you won’t enjoy this device.

The device does feel solid and is attractive. The back of the device is made of a non-slick material and the front has a glossy metallic look to it.  The keyboard slides outs out smoothly and confidently locks into place. Also a dedicated camera button on the top of the device is a nice addition and makes taking pictures feel more natural.

Battery life was typical for a device that is constantly updating its social network data  (two networks pulling), two email accounts actively syncing, and a myriad of web browsing and phone calls. I was able to squeeze a solid workday of use out of the device (8hrs) before being required to plug it in. Naturally by adding or removing data intensive apps, this will affect the battery life of the device considerably.

So what's left? If you were purely comparing this phone to the original Droid, it looks fantastic. It adds a sense of refinement to a phone that helped to shape the industry and launched a legendary marketing campaign. But the problem is that Verizon has two other high end devices that are competitors that are priced the same as the Droid 2. What it comes down to is, do you require a physical keyboard and if that answer is “yes”, then this device will suite you well. But, if you’re looking for the best phone in the Verizon lineup and don’t need the physical keyboard, for the same price as the Droid 2, its worth checking out the Droid X.

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25 Comments

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HTC can top that for sure, but its an good device, I think moto could of done a better job with the camera and design a bit.

heh looks like they could use a lesson from HTC on the keyboard, have yet to see one better then touch pro 2's. Speaking of HTC though, it is ashame they don't have any qwerty keyboard devices out for android unfortunately well beyond mytouch 3g slide which isn't very good representation of it (weird slope shaped keys, mid range specs, US only etc).

I never liked how all Motorola Android phones have the Menu and Home buttons backwards. It's a small peeve, but it drives me nuts.

Sorry did I just see that the battery lasts 8 hours? WHAT THE BLOODY HELL? That's uneconomical as hell, my Sony Ericsson w550i lasts for a minimum of 10 days on a single charge, and the battery is much smaller then the one in this.
I think it's a disgrace how we're in this day and age and a device like this just muches on power.

n_K said,
Sorry did I just see that the battery lasts 8 hours? WHAT THE BLOODY HELL? That's uneconomical as hell, my Sony Ericsson w550i lasts for a minimum of 10 days on a single charge, and the battery is much smaller then the one in this.
I think it's a disgrace how we're in this day and age and a device like this just muches on power.

Like I have said in other reviews, It all depends on what you have the phone doing in the background, I had several apps running that were pulling data every 15 minutes, two email accounts syncing, MSN messenger and a slew of web browsing, phone calls etc...

n_K said,
Sorry did I just see that the battery lasts 8 hours? WHAT THE BLOODY HELL? That's uneconomical as hell, my Sony Ericsson w550i lasts for a minimum of 10 days on a single charge, and the battery is much smaller then the one in this.
I think it's a disgrace how we're in this day and age and a device like this just muches on power.

That is the tradeoff you get for using smartphones. You can't increase the feature subset of a phone drastically and expect the same battery life, it just doesn't work like that

I don't particularly like the fact all three devices are labeled Droid something, feels like they're flooding their own market and could cause confusion between new customers

Other than that nice phone's

It's not just the keyboard that makes the Droid 2 a good choice for customers, but there's also the battery life (both standby and usage) which is better than both Droid X and Droid Incredible. I don't understand why this gets overlooked in these articles when doing comparisons, but perhaps I'm one of the few that cares about efficiency in portable electronic devices.

Glen said,
It's not just the keyboard that makes the Droid 2 a good choice for customers, but there's also the battery life (both standby and usage) which is better than both Droid X and Droid Incredible. I don't understand why this gets overlooked in these articles when doing comparisons, but perhaps I'm one of the few that cares about efficiency in portable electronic devices.

I think partially, because unlike some other brands, they're all easily replaced. You can keep the bottom of the line el'cheapo battery yours ships with, or you care upgrade to many levels above. There's obviously a bang for your buck associated with the review, but its hard to perma knock something that can be tweaked, without voiding your warranty, to better suit your needs.

Does it matter for Verizon what phone you get. The Incredible or the Droid 2 just as long as you buy it from them?

Honestly, I can't stand blackberry keyboards. I finally gave one a try after hearing all the hype of their perfection, and I was very much disappointed. My thumbs fumbled around, and I took me forever to punctuate.
On the other hand, I've had an original Droid since December, and I can type nearly as fast as I can on a full sized keyboard on it, without looking. The keys may appear small, but even my fairly large thumbs work just fine. The landscape layout of them is a much more natural transition from a typical computer keyboard.
As you said, to each their own, but I'd highly recommend giving a Droid a chance, I absolutely love mine.

It really seems like Motorola is trying too hard, and really not releasing devices that are overly appealing.

Instead of innovation, they kept plodding along with the Razr. But when those sails died, they had nothing to full back on.

A shame really.

I played with a Droid and Droid 2 for the first time today, and the reviewer is correct - the keyboard is not great and was very hard to use at first. I had to start using my thumbnails (which aren't long to begin with) to accurately type. I'm sure that owners of the Droid get used to it, but if I had to make a purchasing decision based on first impressions, I would pass on the Droid unless I was okay with only using the virtual keyboard, which kind of defeats the purpose or buying a Droid in the first place.

chaos_disorder said,
I played with a Droid and Droid 2 for the first time today, and the reviewer is correct - the keyboard is not great and was very hard to use at first. I had to start using my thumbnails (which aren't long to begin with) to accurately type. I'm sure that owners of the Droid get used to it, but if I had to make a purchasing decision based on first impressions, I would pass on the Droid unless I was okay with only using the virtual keyboard, which kind of defeats the purpose or buying a Droid in the first place.

This I agree with. The Droid has a lot of awesome features and good performance, but the make-it-or-break it feature is the keyboard. If you want the keyboard and it works well for you then its the best touch device w/ keyboard option. However, some people (like myself) would prefer just a touch screen keyboard and the added benefit of better form factor/less moving parts.

chaos_disorder said,
I played with a Droid and Droid 2 for the first time today, and the reviewer is correct - the keyboard is not great and was very hard to use at first.

And it's not AT-complaint. So incompatible with most of alphabets.