Hardware

Motorola Droid 2 review: Everything you need to know

The Motorola Droid 2 is more of a good thing for Droid fans. Learn where it's been updated, where it excels, and the caveats that could lead you toward a different Android device instead.

The Motorola Droid 2 is more of a good thing -- if you're a fan of the original Droid, which has been the best selling Android device of the growing fleet. Learn where Motorola updated the device, the areas where it excels, and the caveats that may cause you to consider a different Android device instead.

Rather than overwhelming you with a long narrative, TechRepublic product reviews give IT and business professionals exactly the information they need to evaluate a product, along with plenty of photos, a list of competing products, and links to more information. You can find more reviews like this one on our Product Spotlight page.

Photo gallery

Motorola Droid 2 photos: Improving the No. 1 Android phone

Specifications

  • Carrier: Verizon Wireless
  • OS: Android 2.2 (Froyo)
  • Processor: TI OMAP 1.0 GHz with dedicated GPU
  • RAM: 512 MB
  • Storage: 8 GB internal + 8 GB microSD (expandable to 32 GB)
  • Display: 3.7-inch 480x854 FWVGA
  • Battery: 1400 mAH lithium ion
  • Ports: Micro USB, 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Weight: 5.96 ounces
  • Dimensions: 4.58(h) x 2.38(w) x 0.54(d) inches
  • Camera: 5.0 MP, digital zoon, dual LED flash, auto-focus, image stabilization
  • Sensors: acceloromter, proximity, ambient light, and ecompass
  • Keyboard: 45-key slide-down hardware QWERTY; vertical and horizontal on-screen keyboards
  • Networks: CDMA 1X 800/1900, EVDO rev. A
  • Wireless: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n; Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR; DLNA
  • Tethering: 3G Mobile Hotspot (connect up to 5 devices via Wi-Fi)
  • Price: $199 (with 2-year contract)

Who is it for?

Some still prefer a hardware keyboard on their smartphone, especially many business professionals who've grown accustomed to BlackBerry, Palm, and Windows Mobile devices over the past decade. For keyboard lovers who also want a device that is as compact as possible, the Motorola Droid 2 is a top candidate. The LG Ally is another Verizon device with an excellent hardware keyboard and it's even more compact than the Droid 2, but it's not nearly as powerful. The Samsung Epic 4G is a Sprint device with a great hardware keyboard and it's even more feature-rich than the Droid 2, but it's also much bulkier.

What problems does it solve?

The original Droid, released just 10 months ago, was the first Android 2.0 smartphone, the first Android product to become a mass market hit, and the best-selling Android device on the market. However, the Android ecosystem has exploded in 2010, with devices from HTC, Motorola, and Samsung pushing the envelope month-after-month with new product launches. As a result, the original Droid started feeling old and crusty before it even reached its first birthday. Sure, Motorola and Verizon teamed up to deliver the Droid X this summer, but not everyone wants that huge touchscreen-only monstrosity. For those who want the power of the Droid X but still prefer the form factor of the the original Droid, there's now the Droid 2. The other big problem that this product solves is the keyboard. Motorola got rid of the thumbpad and made the keys bigger and more tactile.

Standout features

  • Compact form factor - One of the things that impressed me the most with the original Droid was how much technology Motorola fit into a such small package, especially when you consider that it has a full physical keyboard. They've done it again with the Droid 2, but have also managed to round off some of the edges (literally) and make the design feel more polished. This device slides in and out of pockets quite nicely.
  • Top notch build quality - For the size of this phone, it is heavier than you'd expect. That supports my feeling that Motorola has packed a lot into this device. In fact, it is actually half an ounce heavier than the wider and taller Droid X. Some people won't like the heavy feeling of the Droid 2, but I think it gives the phone a substantial feeling that's appealing. Similar to the Droid X, there's a lot of metal in the Droid 2 and its design reminds me of the industrial strength walkie talkies that Motorola makes. IT departments will appreciate the sturdiness.
  • Updated smartphone hardware - The additional processing power, memory, and storage will be welcome upgrades for those who liked the design and form factor of the Droid but have been holding off from buying it because of the lagging hardware specs. The Droid 2 catches up to the top Android smartphones in performance and features, in most cases, although it notably lacks a front-facing camera and the regular camera did not get an upgrade but remains at 5.0 megapixels.

What's wrong?

  • Smaller screen - After using devices like the HTC EVO, the Droid X, and the Samsung Captivate, the Droid 2 screen now feels a bit small and cramped. Part of that is the price you pay for a more compact device, but the screen size is definitely a trade-off with the Droid 2.
  • Keyboard is still inferior - The keyboard in the original Droid was awful -- one of the worst smartphone keyboards I've used. Most people I know who got the Droid liked the idea of the keyboard (knowing it was there was a bit of a safety blanket), but when I asked them how much they used it, almost all of them would say they rarely pull it out. The Droid 2 keyboard is definitely an improvement, as I mentioned above. I'd actually use this one more than the original. However, if you really want a smartphone keyboard for lots of data entry, I'd recommend the Samsung Epic 4G (Sprint) or the LG Ally (Verizon) or the BlackBerry Torch (AT&T).
  • Mediocre as a phone -- The call quality of the original Droid was not a great, which was surprising because Motorola has been in the phone, voice, and audio business for a long time. Plus, Verizon uses CDMA, which typically has good voice quality. However, my experience with the Droid as a phone was very mediocre and TechRepublic got a lot of reports from users saying the same thing. Unfortunately, Motorola and Verizon do not appear to have fixed this in the Droid 2.

Bottom line for business

If you want a compact, top-the-line Android smartphone with a hardware keyboard and Verizon service, the Droid 2 is the answer. Following on the heals of the success of the original Droid, I expect the second edition to continue to be one of the most popular Android phones and those who were drawn to the original Droid but had been holding off because it was lagging behind can now pull the trigger. However, if you really interested in the hardware keyboard then a better Android device is the Epic 4G, and if you make a lot of phone calls then you need to make a lot of voice calls then you may want to consider a different phone.

Competitive products

Where to get more info

About

Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the book, Follow the Geeks.

11 comments
Thack
Thack

Will it sync properly with Outlook 2010? I mean Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, and Notes if possible. My Outlook is stand-alone (doesn't use Exchange) so I'm not really bothered about synching emails. Thanks.

silverarrow27
silverarrow27

I went from the Droid to the Droid 2 and I like the Droid better for some reason. I don't see and feel any difference in performance and quality of phone calls and operation. Yes the OS is a little different and the Droid 2 looks a tad bit cleaner, but I don't think it's worth the upgrade from a Droid to the Droid 2. As for mine, mine is a week old and my calls are fading in and out when making and receiving phone calls. Not too happy with it so far and there's another person with the same issue in our organization that hasn't been solved yet.

jonnyb
jonnyb

My first Android phone, so i cannot compare other than to my friends with a DroidX and a EVO... First impressions are very positive, and will wait to pass judgment on battery life for a few weeks. Android is very user intuitive in my opinion. Love the features and have not yet had a moment where it did not meet or exceed my expectations.

n.smutz
n.smutz

I remember thinking Droid (vs. iPhone) was where it was at because they didn't drop flash.. (Get all the web on your web device) .. until I saw a review where a certain Droid phone couldn't even play youtube at full framerate. I got the idea other models weren't any better. Have Droids made flash worth having yet?

scott
scott

Greeting Jason, et al, I have a droid 2 that replaced a droid. I was happy with the droid and I am more so with the droid 2. Although it is a little heavy, I find it, after 2 months, to be very solid, responsive, snappy and my phone calls have never had a problem. Everyone has different expectations and everyone has different results from where they use the phone so there will be people who have better or worse service. I live out in very rural southwestern New York state and my droid 2 performs great on phone calls. And on the keyboard front, I have not had a problem with the slide out hardware keyboard. I use it several time a day every day and it is the reason I got the droid 2 instead of the droid x. The droid 2 is infinitely better than the droid in the keyboard department. The droid keyboard was the big disappointment to me in the original. What I am most disappointed in is that all these posts seem to be be negative to be negative. No constructive thoughts about the phone or how to improve it. And I do not really care what version numbers they assign. So that I do not fall victim to what I have already noted, here are my thoughts on improving the droid 2. 1.) Make Skype an app you can install and uninstall and turn on or off. 2.) Advanced Task Killer should be part of the OS. 3.) The on/off button on the droid 2 is not as good for my fingers as the original droid. And it would be improved if it had a way to hardware lock the button like the Ipod Nano to avoid accidentally turning the phone back on in my pocket. 4.) More on-phone flexibility to load apps and data on or off the SD card. The LG Touch had this ability build-in and it was a godsend 5.) Restore the ability to put direct dial shortcuts on the home screen. If this is possible on the droid 2 I have not found it. That's about it for me. I have more problems with my toshiba laptop and win xp than my droid 2 and they've both been around a lot longer and had far more improvements made to them. And I use my droid 2 far more that I use my laptop now. Maybe we should all think back to what it was like before we could say that and say thank you to the people who have made this possible. Best, Scott B in beautiful Chautauqua County, New York

inet32
inet32

I'm not sure why the reviewer seems to equate weight with sturdiness. Most cell phones die for reasons having nothing to do with being broken in half. My 2 year contract with Verizon is up next week and I'm in the market for a smartphone. I'm leaning toward Android because I recently began learning Android sw development. But I've played with both the HTC Incredible and the Droid 2 extensively and I agree with Justin James, who said "Android's version number should be 0.2.2, not 2.2. I've got 2.2 on my Droid and it is RIDDLED with bugs!" My experience is the same - the software is BUGGY! I can't tell if the bugs are in the OS or the app layer but Google needs to get their act together because right now if the iPhone came out on Verizon and Sprint it would eat Google's lunch.

Justin James
Justin James

I'm sure it's a piece of junk. The various "analysts" and "reviewers" gave Droid 1 rave reviews. Owning one, I have to question their integrity. Droid 1 is an absolutely AWFUL phone. I had it less than 12 hours and found massive numbers of issues. If I hadn't just been through THREE Motorola Devours, I would have returned it. So when the Droid 2 reviews are middling, I know it's going to be a bad phone. The Devour had an AWESOME keyboard, best I've ever used on a mobile device. Droid 1 is one of the worst (which is why I got the Devour in the first place, over the Droid) and Droid 2 looks little improved. Faster CPU? Makes sense, because the Droid 1 is SLOW (despite the endless reviewers ranting about how "snappy" it was). Still doesn't impress me. And you still can't work around the fact that Android's version number should be 0.2.2, not 2.2. I've got 2.2 on my Droid and it is RIDDLED with bugs! Stupid stuff, like not keeping the phone locked half the time, or while the phone is ringing, the display will mysteriously bring up the clock. Shame on Google for putting out such a wretched OS, and SHAME on the "analysts" and "reviewers" who recommended this garbage. Blinded by the shiny new toy and not noticing the stench. I'm utterly disgusted. I've spent $1,500 on phones in the last few years, all of which got top marks from "certain publications", all of which were critically flawed. J.Ja

Justin James
Justin James

OK, let's show how to turn this pig into a princess instead of walking to the sty with a tube of lipstick... * Get some space between the keys * Get some space between the keys and the screen so my thumbs can reach the top row * Get a proper number row * OK, take the top 3 and change them to "use the Devour's keyboard" * Make Android re-connect with my Bluetooth headset when it comes back in range. It used to do this, but the upgrade to 2.2 broke it. * Make Android lock the screen properly. On 2 different Droids, the screen will randomly not be locked when I take the phone out of my hip holster or pick it up. I've experimented with it, just locking the screen and then turning it on, it is VERY frequently not locked! * Stop it from jumping to the "clock" app at random times! My phone will be ringing, and suddenly the clock app will come up so I don't know who is calling. I'll got to make a call, and when I pick the phone up... yup, the clock app is running... it makes ZERO sense. * Fix the signal strength meter (the "bars") so that it has an actual relationship to reality. Go to the phone's status and compare the actual signal strength and compare it to the meter. You will see ZERO correlation. In fact, sometimes once will go up while the other goes down, sometimes both will go down (or up) in sync. Huh? There's plenty more, but as someone who has already lost well over 20 hours of their life with Verizon because of this lousy phone, and 10 hours of their live with Motorola, I don't care anymore. I just want my money back or a replacement phone (note: I didn't even WANT a Droid, I bought a Devour, but because Verizon can't deliver me a working Devour apparently, I got moved to the Droid). And quite frankly, I feel that the reviewers who gave this phone should be ashamed of themselves and offer a public apology. Their integrity and judgement are clearly in question. J.Ja

Justin James
Justin James

My Droid 1 also has the heft that reviewers found "satisfying", but it definitely is not "sturdy". I don't drop my phones, period. When I leave my desk, they are in a hip holder. All the same, the sliding mechanism on my Droid 1 feels awful after a few months of use. Many times it is slightly ajar when it used to have a positive "set" to it. My Motorola Devour was even worse. Out of the box, the sliding screen felt practically spring loaded with a real "snap" which I loved. But after a few months, the sliding mechanism got very loose, lost the "snap" and when open it wouldn't stay quite in place. It felt like I was eating on a table where one leg was slightly shorter than the rest, enough to drive you mad. And that phone weighed a ton, with an all-aluminum body, which I thought would make it more "sturdy". Lesson: learned. J.Ja

Justin James
Justin James

Last night, in the middle of a phone call, it just dropped the call. It then REFUSED to even *attempt* to dial out to *any* number! I had to power cycle the phone to fix it. That sounds like a software bug to me! J.Ja

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