The Motorola Droid 2, recently launched by Verizon Wireless, is the followup to the original Droid smartphone. It has Android OS 2.2 running on a 1 GHz processor, 8 GB of storage, a microSD card slot, and a 3.7-inch touchscreen.
This device is now available from Verizon Wireless for $200 with a new two-year service contract.
The main question to be asked here is, is the Droid 2 a worth successor to its very popular predecessor? Read on to find out.
BUILD & DESIGN
This is the latest addition to the line of relatively large smartphones, roughly the same size as Verizon's HTC Droid Incredible and the Samsung Captivate from AT&T. It feels very solid in the hand, to the point that it's hard to tell at first that this is a slider phone with a pull-out physical keyboard underneath the screen.
This device is weighty but not too heavy. You won't forget that it's in your pocket, but it won't weigh you down too much either. Most of the weight is centered in the keyboard portion of the phone, which means that the device is still easy to hold when you have to slider open. Some phones are too top-heavy to easily use when the screen is pushed up, but the Droid 2 has a very nice feel to it.
You'll need a large pocket to put it in, but the phone isn't so thick that it will be too unsightly. However, you may have a hard time determining which end is up when you take the device out of your pocket -- there's not a good way to tell by feel alone, unless your fingers happen to find the ridge underneath the display.
The overall appearance of the device is a cross between modern and blocky. The corners are curved for comfort and there are some nice dull silver accents, but I wouldn't call the Droid 2 a particularly stylish or edgy phone, at least as far as looks are concerned. It isn't ugly, by any means, or even unattractive, but it isn't beautiful either.
The 3.7-inch Touchscreen display has a WVGA resolution (480 x 854). It looks OK, but I'm not blown away by it. Pictures and video are sharp, and there weren't any problems with ghosting.
One negative is that colors aren't as rich as I would like, and in some lighting conditions what should be white seems to have a slightly yellowish cast that is definitely unappealing.
Outside, however, the Droid 2 performs quite well. The display washes out quite a bit in direct sunlight, but it is still readable. You may want to shield the display with your hand in order to improve your view, but the good news is that you will still be able to use your phone outdoors -- which is not something that is true of every smartphone.
The physical QWERTY keyboard is located under the display; you access it by holding the bottom of the phone and sliding the display up or to the right, depending on how you're holding the phone. The sliding action is very tight, and it is possible to do it with one hand, but difficult. That may change as the phone "loosens up" with extended use.
The keyboard is nicely laid out, with clearly marked keys, and large alt, shift, space, and enter keys -- something that I really appreciate.
Unfortunately the keys are very flat and indistinct, so even though they're fairly large overall, it will take some time to get used to the keyboard.
With practice, I can type fairly quickly and with few errors, but I have to constantly look down at my hands in order to be sure I'm hitting the right keys. Thankfully the keyboard is illuminated for use in low-light conditions, because I'm not sure that I would ever be able to touch type on the Droid 2 without looking at the keyboard.
Other Buttons & Controls
The power button on the top of the phone is very small and extremely unobtrusive. I've had the phone for just over a week now, and I'm still frustrated by how hard it is to hit that little button. My finger can't seem to find it and I usually have to stop and turn the phone up so that I can see the button and then punch it.
The volume buttons are on the top right edge of the phone and the camera is on the bottom right side. Just like the power button, they are rather small and hard to hit without looking.
I'm not terribly thrilled by the virtual buttons along the bottom of the display. They're right above a ridge, where the phone gets slightly thinner, so my fingers tend to hit that edge instead of the button I'm aiming for.
Overall I found the buttons to be not quite big enough and distinct enough, making them hard to use. The virtual buttons are somewhat poorly placed, making for a frustrating experience.
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