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The original Motorola Droid was launched as the phone that propelled Android mainstream, and its successor the Droid 2 brings some worthy refinements to the mainstream offering of that platform. The Droid 2 is an evolutionary upgrade from the original model, rather than a “revolutionary” one. The device retains what many enthusiasts had loved about the first generation model, corrected some of the problems, and provides a faster, more cohesive, user experience thanks to improvements in processing speed, speed bumps in Android 2.2, and support for Adobe Flash 10.1 out of the box. In this review, we’ll show you what it feels like to use the Droid 2 i nthe real world.

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This is what’s in the box

Design Aesthetics:

Much of the hardware and form factor remains the same. The original’s sharp black front fascia has been replaced with a slightlymore curved dark chrome bezel, though the Droid 2 still retains its angular looks. Both models are nearly identical and sports a 3.7-inch FWVGA (854 X 480) display at the center, flanked by a large slit at the top for the earpiece speaker and capacitive touch buttons at the bottom. To the tight of the earpiece speaker is an LED slot for a notification light, that will blink to alert you of incoming messages or notifications awaiting your attention.

The device is attractively styled and feels a bit more modern than the more utilitarian Droid; with slightly more angled curves rather than angular corners, the Droid 2 adds a bit of modern appeal to what is already a popular handset design to start with. Motorola really listened to user comments and suggestions after the original Droid was released by making the sliding mechanism a little lighter, the back battery cover harder to accidentally remove, and by softening the corners.

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The Droid 2 looks like the first Droid

Whereas the Droid’s marketing campaign was geared towards men, the Droid 2 seems more gender agnostic and is still a board-room device. It’s rich, dark blue soft-touch finish on the back and chrome bezel will help it maintain a certain modern appeal while retaining signature elements that make the Droid 2 a Droid smartphone.

The Droid 2 measures 60.5 x 116.3 x 13.7 mm and weighs 169 grams. The device has a 1 GHz processor with 512 MB of RAM. Compared to the iPhone 4, the Droid 2 is just slightly longer, slightly wider, and a touch thicker than the iPhone 4. The thickness would be equivalent to the iPhone 4 if it was just the Droid 2′s body without the touchscreen, and it’s the touchscreen slider that makes it slightly thicker. However, the device is comfortable to hold and has a feeling of solidness to it, which is nice.

Display:

The 3.7-inch TFT LCD display has a 16:9 aspect ratio, making it great for widescreen encoded movies. With the aspect ratio, your widescreen movies should fill the entire display and you won’t be left with horizontal bars, which is a nice touch. Combined with with a loud speaker on the back side that’s under a chrome mesh grill, you should have a great experience watching movies. The display is bright and crisp indoors, and will be readable under direct sunlight, which is important especially if you want to use the built-in GPS for turn-by-turn directions.

Battery:

The back battery cover is a lot tighter on this device than the predecessor, meaning that you won’t accidentally remove the back battery cover when you slide the Droid 2 in or out of your pocket. When you do remove the back battery cover, which is made out of metal, you’ll find a large capacity 1400 mAh battery as well as a pre-loaded 8 GB micro SDHC card. The memory card, however, is only accessible once the battery is removed so you do need to remove the battery if you want to swap card. To remove the memory card, you’ll have to pull it out as the card isn’t spring-assisted.

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Ports, LED Lights, and Charging:

On the top of the device, towards the right side, you’ll have a port for a 3.5 mm headphone jack and power button. Press the power button to toggle the display or press and hold to toggle between airplane mode, completely powering down the device, or muting the audio.

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On the right hand side in portrait mode, you’ll have volume buttons, which are bulbously curved outwards so you can easily feel for them without having to look for the volume controls.

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The volume buttons are more curved, compared to the flat plastic rectangle on the older model. Right below that you’ll have the camera shutter button. On the left hand side, you have the micro USB charge and sync port with an LED light that sits right next to the charging port. Once you plug the device into the charger, the LED light glows letting you know that it is getting power.

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Radios:

Like most performance high-end smartphones, the Droid 2 is equipped with a number of sensors and radios to keep you connected. A built in proximity sensor will turn off the screen when you hold the phone to your face to prevent accidental key presses while in a call, an ambient light sensor will adjust the screen’s brightness, and an accelerometer will automatically rotate the orientation of the display. In addition to WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, and support for EV-DO Rev. A on Verizon Wireless’s network, the Motorola Droid 2 also comes equipped with a sturdy aluminum industrial design. Unlike the iPhone 4 and the Galaxy S series smartphone from Samsung, the Droid 2 uses just a simple accelerometer rather than the more complex gyroscope, though for now very little apps make use of the gyroscopes added capabilities.

Keyboard:

Motorola had made some dramatic changes to the keyboard that will appease more users in the second generation device. Gone is the 5-way directional pad that was placed to the right of the keyboard on the first model. Some users had complained that the directional pad shifted the keyboard a little bit to the left, forcing a longer reach to type characters with the right hand. Also, gone is the grid-like key placement of the first model in favor of a more natural off-set arrangement that’s similar to a regular computer keyboard.

The sliding mechanism that separates the screen and the keyboard is not spring assisted, similar to the original Droid, and will snap comfortably into place in the fully opened or fully closed position in landscape mode. The mechanism slides a little easier than the Droid 1, but is still tight enough where you won’t accidentally slide the screen open or close inadvertently. The slider is solid, and will reveal a backlit keyboard when
opened. The keyboard has white letters for the keys and blue alternate characters–both are easy to read in the dark.

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While the keyboard looks to be of the membranous variety, each character occupies its own separate key, which is placed closely together to look like a contiguous layout. Moreover, the flat keys of last year’s model are gone, making way for keys that are slightly domed, which should help in typing accuracy.

The one area that may slow down typing on the keyboard is that Motorola opted for a stiffer key press, which feels even stiffer than the original Droid’s keyboard. This will slow down users as there needs to be a certain amount of force to push down on a key to type. However, when you pick up typing speed, and type successive letters in a word fast, the keyboard does keep up, unlike that on rival carrier Sprint with its Epic 4G. On the Samsung Epic 4G’s larger keyboard, if you type successive letters in a word fast, the keyboard doesn’t keep up and may chew up letters, leading to mis-spelled words whereas on the Droid 2, accuracy and speed were non-issues.

Capacitive Touch Buttons:

The Droid 2 has slightly different capacitive buttons that go along the bottom edge of the screen. The new buttons resemble the Droid X, and from left to right, include the Menu button, Home button, Back, and Search. Users migrating from the Droid 1 will probably need a little bit of time to adjust, but the buttons are straight forward and are activated by capacitive touch, much like the touchscreen.

Call Performance and Signal Strength:

Call quality sounds good and clear on my end with the Droid 2. The device does have a secondary noise cancellation microphone to help reduce background noise. On the other end, friends and family did notice a little bit of static, though not much, when using the Droid 2. Speakerphone is loud and crisp, thanks in part to the loud speaker on the back side of the device; it’s one of the loudest speakers on the market and call quality sounds really good when using the loud speaker.

Some users have noticed that there is a fluctuation in signal strength display, but in my experience this didn’t affect call quality. Even with signal strength display jumps or drops, call quality remained really good, and data still transferred fine. I actually am one of the few people who have weak or low Verizon Wireless reception at my home, and even with a weak signal, which the Droid Incredible would jump back to a 2G connection using 1XRT, my Droid 2 would always maintain at minimum 2 bars on 3G EV-DO Rev. A.

Software:

The Droid 2 has a Motorola’s widgets UI overlay on the device. This approach is somewhat of a hybrid between a stock Android experience and a more heavily customized experience, such as those found on HTC devices with the HTC Sense user interface or other mid-range Android handsets from Motorola with MOTOBLUR. Though the UI resembles MOTOBLUR, Motorola is claiming that this isn’t MOTOBLUR, in particular because data goes through Verizon’s servers and there isn’t an automatic backup and recovery mechanism that’s done on the MOTOBLUR servers. Regardless of branding and technical conventions, Motorola’s customizations are helpful for those who like widgets, and for those who prefer a stock Android experience the widgets are easy enough to remove–tap and hold, and drag it downwards to the trashcan icon to remove any unwanted widgets or shortcuts.

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Though adequately fast and on-par, if not better than, with most other Android competitors on the market, transitions between menus and screens seem to lag a bit when compared to the iPhone’s iOS, which has smoother transitions. Additionally, my biggest software complaint with Android is that the memory card needs to be scanned every time the device is fully powered off and on. That means that if you just turned on the device, a few apps won’t open until the card scanning is performed, including the Gallery app for looking at pictures. Also, the camera is slow to launch when the device is first powered on, which means that you may miss a good shot if you just turned on your phone. On the other hand, the iPhone can instantly launch any number of apps when it is powered on–no memory card scanning–and you’re up and running with whatever you need to do.

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With Motorola’s customization, you do get 7 homescreens and two fixed shortcuts on the bottom that flank the app drawer. You get the shortcuts for phone on the left and contacts on the right, which will show up on all seven home screens, a nice touch so you’ll always have access to those important shortcuts without having to remember which screen you would have had placed those shortcuts. Unfortunately, you can’t swap out those shortcuts to one of your choice, like email or an SMS app.

Unlike the Droid X, which lacks the slide-out keyboard, the home screen on the Droid 2 can rotate into landscape mode. The rotation is not automatic with the home screen rotation, however, since it is not based on the accelerometer. Instead, you do need to slide out the hardware keyboard to get the screen to rotate. Rotation in apps from landscape to portrait or portrait to landscape can be done with a simple rotate of the phone and is accelerometer-dependent.

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Motorola’s customizations, which we covered in the Droid X review, are more flexible than rivals, such as Samsung and HTC. Motorola widgets can be resized to take little space, or more space, if you prefer, allowing you to conserve screen space and create a device that’s uniquely you. You do have options for a primitive clock, news widgets, tips and tricks, quick dial contacts, and a unified messaging option.

Emails:

The unified messaging option aggregates your emails, Twitter, and Facebook feeds. Unfortunately, though, for heavy Gmail users who set up their accounts through Google’s Gmail app, your gmail account won’t be aggregated into the unified inbox on Motorola, unless you establish Gmail as a POP/IMAP account, meaning that you’ll get pull email rather than instant push, or as a Google Sync account, which works through Microsoft’s Exchange ActiveSync protocol. Most email accounts are supported out of the box.

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Contacts:

The contacts app is a nice feature, which allows you to pull together contact information from different sources, such as Facebook and from Exchange accounts as well as Google’s Gmail contacts. This creates a global, unified contacts directory, with options to switch between different profiles and options. There are even quick dial contact shortcuts for the home screen.

Tap on a contact picture and a drop down shows up with options for different ways to
reach the contact.

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The nice part about the contacts application is that it integrates with social networking feeds, which will also show up when the person calls with their photo caller ID. This means that if your boss just posted a message saying he’s in a bad mood to Facebook, you can respond accordingly when he calls and be alerted to the change in temperament even before you pick up the phone.

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Other nice things that Motorola and Verizon Wireless added include a Blockbuster app, for renting and purchasing movies on the go, as well as a mobile hotspot application to allow up to five devices to share the Droid 2′s mobile broadband connection. Though this feature is an added subscription cost, it does beat having a separate data plan for a device like the MiFi, or a single device USB modem, which will only work with one laptop at a time. With the mobile hotspot app, you can set up network security so that unauthorized users can’t get on, and you can connect any number of devices, including iPhones, iPod Touches, Nintendo gaming machines, or others.

On-Screen Keyboard:

You do have an option for Swype or the stock Android software keyboard on the Droid 2. Users who prefer Swype can continuously swipe their fingers across the screen, connecting letters to form words, without having to take their fingers off the screen. Swype comes with its own predictive and auto-correction engine to enable more accurate and error-free typing. The on-screen keyboard is stock Android and looks cleaner than HTC’s customized keyboards on HTC-made devices with HTC Sense. You don’t have too many alternate symbols, characters, or letters jumbled on the keys, which helps maintain a fresh, minimalist look, which makes it fitting with the angled, utilitarian design of the hardware itself.

Browser

Android’s Webkit-based browser is fast and renders pages beautifully. Like Safari on the iPhone, the browser supports multitouch gestures, such as pinch to zoom as well as double tap to zoom. You can open multiple tabs, which are called windows, in Android’s Browser, and you can also enter the browser settings to adjust options for automatically loading plug-ins and Javascript, having the browser remember form data and passwords, or clear out the cookies and cache.

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Additionally, the browser is HTML5 compatible, meaning that it will work with newer web standards that are beginning to emerge, as well as come with Adobe Flash 10.1 Mobile support.

Adobe Flash 10.1 Support

The Motorola Droid 2 runs on Android 2.2 and has support for Adobe Flash 10.1. The OS itself feels speedy and fast, and there was no lag transitioning from different menus, which is aided in part by the device’s TI OMAP processor, clocked to 1 GHz. With Flash 10.1 Mobile support, many websites should be compatible, unlike the rival iOS operating system which does not support Adobe’s browser plugin. Web-based videos play ine, though depending on signal strength and how big the video file is, you may need to give videos a period of anywhere between a few seconds to nearly a minute to buffer.

At this point, while many Flash banner ads and smaller video clips are compatible with Adobe’s Flash 10.1 Mobile protocol, there are still some videos that are not quite yet compatible. Those incompatible videos are more from Internet-streaming network television Web sites, such as FOX. At the time of the launch of the Droid 2, which claims to be the first Android smartphone shipping with Flash 10.1 Mobile out of the gate, the device was incompatible with ABC’s higher nitrate encoded videos, but since then the Disney-owned network has changed their video encoding to make ABC’s content compatible with mobile browsers and the mobile Flash plugin.

Your mileage will vary with Flash video, depending on the quality of the encode, so it may still take some time before uploads and websites start using a Flash mobile-compatible format for video encoding and uploading. Until then, most videos should work, but you may encounter some problems with some videos.

Camera

The camera feature on the Droid 2 is a great combination of a good image sensor with Motorola’s camera software pack, making it useful and fun. Though with shots taken in extremely dimly lit environments or for far away, the Droid 2′s digital zoom isn’t enough to quite replace a compact digital camera just yet. However, for shots outdoors in natural lighting, pictures turned out beautiful.

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The smartphone-maker really did put some thought into having the smartphone as a camera. In landscape mode, the camera button is located at the top right. Rather than the gold accent on the button from the previous generation, this year’s model is more subtle with the button blending nicely into the phone’s body for those who care about design aesthetics. The muted black button matches the body, but is convexly curved to allow you to quickly identify it without looking with your fingers, much like the volume buttons on this phone. The camera application can either be activated with this button or through the icon inside Android’s app drawer. My chief complaint was the camera’s hardware button. It does take a second or a second and a half to activate the camera once you activate the button.

That button is also a dual-step button, meaning that like a regular camera, users can push in half-way to focus on an image, and push in again to activate the shutter and capture the image. Focusing can also be done on the software side. Rather than having a fixed focus in the center, users can can press down and drag the focus box, which shows up as white to indicate the area being focused on in the touchscreen viewfinder frame, to the specific area to focus on, giving a more artistic image composition. If you’re too close to the subject or if the camera can’t get a proper focus due to poor lighting, the white box will turn red, alerting you before you hit the hardware or software shutter button to capture an image. If it’s green, you’re good to go and the image should turn out okay.

In using the Droid 2 as a digital camera, we were torn with the Droid 2. Compared to its larger and heftier brother, the Motorola Droid X, the Droid 2′s camera seems a bit anemic considering that the former has an 8-megapixel sensor and 720p HD video recording. However, of the 5-megapixel cameras available, shots taken with the Droid 2′s camera were good, if not great. Widescreen shots give a more panoramic effect, and outdoor photos were crisp and beautiful, though tend to be a bit cooler in color as it turned out a little on the blue side.

Indoor photos cold be assisted with dual LED flash lights, and turned out good, though slightly pixelated if the room is more darkly lit compared to the iPhone 4. The dual-LED flash does help the situation, but the flash isn’t strong enough to work at a longer
distance and if your subject is standing too close to the flash, you risk over-exposed shots.

Photos can also be automatically tagged with location using the GPS sensor. This way, you’ll know where the shot was taken and will have the GPS coordinates stored in the digital file’s metadata.

Also, once you slide out the drawer on the right hand side of the screen with the phone held in landscape mode, you’ll get a number of options, including scenes mode, effects, and the ability to control the flash.

With scenes mode, you can switch between 8 different scene modes–including automatic, sunset mode, night mode, macro mode–to give the best options for the type of picture you are taking. In the effects menu, you also have 8 effects, ranging from normal to changing the composition to black and white, negative, sepia, solarize, or adding a red tint for example. Hitting the capacitive menu button on the phone will bring up additional picture modes, which will give users the ability to take a regular single-shot image, assist users in stitching together a panoramic shot, or take multiple shots. There’s also a self-portrait mode that will snap a picture of yourself when there’s no one else to help once the camera detects a face.

In comparison to the simplistic iPhone 4′s camera, which only has settings for zoom and to toggle on and off the flash, the number of options on the Droid 2 could be overwhelming and most average consumer may not remember when and how to switch between different scenes mode to get the best photo. While I appreciate the number of settings for the camera, I feel that the iPhone’s simplistic approach to photo capture may win here. Most people will probably just default their scene mode to automatic and let it be.

In day-to-day operations, the Droid 2′s camera works extremely well, and we were pleased with the casual photo-taking ability of the camera sensor. For photo enthusiasts, picture results were a bit more mixed compared to the iPhone 4. In bright daylight and lit environments, the Droid 2′s sensor works beautifully and is on-par with the iPhone 4′s 5-megapixel camera. In darker environments, the Droid 2′s photos came out better illuminated than the Apple smartphone, thanks to Motorola’s dual-LED flash implementation as compared to the iPhone 4′s single flash, but in doing so, some images came out fine while others were slightly on the over-exposed side. Also, while the Droid 2 has a macro mode, you can’t hold your camera too close to the subject, else it does have a more difficult time focusing than the iPhone 4, which sort of defeats the purpose of having a macro feature for photography enthusiasts.

For the casual everyday photographer, the additional scene modes are nice, but are a bit superfluous as some of them don’t really do much to help adjust the image. For the photo enthusiasts, your results will vary. However, if you just need to capture a quick group shot or take some scenic photographs, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how great some of the Droid 2′s photos turn out.

The nice part about the camera to prevent accidental picture taking and conserve the device’s battery life while in the pockets is that the camera app will automatically close after some period of inactivity, taking you back to the device’s home screen, should you inadvertently leave the camera app open and the device on.

Video Capture

Where Motorola could have excelled with the Droid 2 was video capture. Instead of using a 720p HD video sensor like on the Droid X, video capture is limited to WVGA. Results are adequate and not pixelated like some low-end camera phones, though results lacked the fine details that we’ve come to expect from HD video recording on higher-end sensors.

With the video camera, like the still camera, you also have a number of effects for video scenes, video effects (black and white, negative, sepia-toned, etc), and the option to control the video light by turning it on or off. Hitting the capacitive menu button while within the camcorder mode will bring up specific video modes to enhance your video capture experience, allowing the user to capture normal videos, compressed videos for video messaging–great for MMS, slow motion videos, or fast motion videos. The last two options do come out a bit pixelated, however.

Photo and Video Gallery

Photos and videos taken on the Droid 2 could be found on Android’s Gallery app, which can separate different albums by folders, dates taken, tags, or from services that Motorola had integrated, including Picassa and Photobucket–Flickr users can probably find an app on Android Market for now.

The nice part about the the Gallery is that it does separate images by date, so you’ll have a visual timeline of your photo journal. When you switch to landscape mode, you’ll have have the ability to quickly flick through your photos in Cover Flow-like fashion.

The Gallery also supports slideshows, if you want to show off your vacation pictures on the go with friends and family members.

Multitasking

Multitasking is good on Android. Not only do you have a notification bar at the top, which you can pull down to see any alerts awaiting your attention, but you can also hold down the capacitive Home button to quickly switch between any of the 8 most recently launched apps.

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Memory

For all the multimedia capabilities that the Droid 2 packs in, the device does come with 8 GB of on-board internal storage as well as a preloaded 8 GB micro SD card. The Droid 2 can be augmented with up to a 32 GB micro SDHC card, which will take the total storage memory up to 40 GB.

Music

The music player is pretty standard with Cover Flow-like animations in landscape mode and a list view of songs, artists, or albums in portrait mode, allowing you to see album art. The following formats are supported: AAC, H.263, H.264, MP3, MPEG-4, WAV, WMA9, OGG, eAAC+, AMR WB, AMR NB, WMV v10, AAC+, WMV v9, MIDI.

Putting music on your Motorola Droid 2 can be done in a number of ways. You can either buy songs from the Amazon MP3 store, which is available as a pre-loaded app found in the app drawer on Android or you can connect your device to your computer via a USB cable and drag and drop your tunes over to the pre-loaded 8 GB memory card on your device by switching it to USB storage mode. Once in USB mode, just drag over your favorite tunes, and switch off USB storage mode when you’re done. Android should then be able to mount the mi
croSD or microSDHC card and scan it for music files to automatically add, requiring very little management effort from the user.

When the USB cable is connected, users with a PC can also do a Windows Media sync, though dragging and dropping may be an easier option for most people.

In my experience transferring music, some of the cover art didn’t sync over. In iTunes on my Mac, the album art was there and iTunes was able to synchronize the album art over to my iPod. However, when I tried to drag and drop over to the Droid 2, some cover art shows up while some didn’t, and I am not sure what the cause of that is.

Speaker

As we had mentioned in a previous section, the speaker on the Droid 2 could be described as loud. There is a slight distortion at the highest volume setting, but with such a loud speaker you really are able to get loud sound output at good fidelity without having to crank up the volume to the max. The loud speaker is also good for speakerphone calls, as you won’t have to strain your ears to try to make out what the other party is saying on the other end.

Games and Multimedia

Watching videos on the Droid 2 is a joy with its FWVGA screen, which means that you’re getting a 16:9 aspect ratio display. With a 16:9 display, videos do fill the entire screen. Although the display is not an AMOLED or OLED display, the TFT liquid crystal display on the Droid 2 rendered blacks richly and colors were accurate and bright. Widescreen movies look gorgeous and vivid, and the auto-brightness setting will adjust the screen brightness depending on the ambient lighting level around you.

Need for Speed (NFS) Shift is included, from Electronic Arts, and the game played beautifully. Quality is on-par with graphics-intensive titles on other Android handsets or iOS devices. It should be noted that while the Android catalog for games and apps is growing, it is no where near as extensive as that on the iPhone 4′s iOS platform. You’ll probably find most major titles you’re looking for on Android Market, or comparable titles under different names, and the library will continue to grow to accommodate high-end devices like the Droid 2 and Droid X.

DLNA support is also included so you can share your screen on a larger DLNA-capable television set if you have one as the Droid 2 does not have an HDMI output connection port, unlike the Droid X.

Productivity

The Droid 2 comes with Exchange support and is pre-loaded with Quick Office, which will allow users to quickly edit or view Office documents. Quick Office gives business users the ability to view, edit, and credit Word documents and Excel spreadsheets while on the go, or view Adobe PDF files or Microsoft PowerPoint presentations. The suite of PIM applications, which includes Contacts, Calendars, messaging, Files manager for management of files, and phone.

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To add to the suite, business users can read e-books via the Kindle reader or download the nook reader from Barnes & Noble from Android Market.

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Search

One of the best part about Android is the ability to search. Search can be activated in a number of ways. First, you can hit the magnifying glass (one of the four capacitive touch buttons just below the screen) to pull up Google search. Or, you can slide down the keyboard and start typing to activate search. Another way to search is by voice, and you can perform a voice search by pressing and holding down on the magnifying glass below the screen and speak your voice command, which is not limited to search.

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On Android, you do have the option for universal search. For instance, if you search for a last name, like “Nguyen,” it could either search the web, search YouTube, or search through contacts and any apps you include in the search. Tap on the little “G” icon to the left of the search dialogue box and you get a drop down that will ask you where you want to search (All, Web, Apps, or Contacts), and there’s an option there to customize to include specific apps or exclude specific apps you want to perform your search against.

Battery Life: Excellent

Like its predecessor, the Droid, and its bigger brother the Droid X, the Motorola Droid 2 has one of the best battery life on the market. Given moderate phone call and Web browsing use, constant push emails, notifications from hyper-connected services like Twitter and Facebook, and a host of news updates through the MOTOBLUR News Widget, I was able to last almost 16 hours on a single charge, which is much better than the Galaxy S series smartphones from T-Mobile (Vibrant) or Sprint (Epic 4G). We have built an Android battery life page with a ton of tips to extend your battery.

VoIP and Video Chat

Thought the Verizon Wireless partnership with Skype does put Skype mobile at your finger tips, and the app does come pre-bundled on the device, video chat isn’t supported as this device doesn’t have a front-facing camera. Additionally, per Skype’s terms of services, domestic calls are carried by Verizon Wireless and are billed according to your Verizon Wireless plan and international calls are billed by Skype at Skype rates.

You can load other services, such as Qik or Fring, available on Android Market, to get video chat, but that means you’ll either have to turn the phone around and the other party can see you and you can’t see them as your touchscreen is facing away from you with the device’s rear camera, or you’ll have to forego broadcasting yourself and just see the other party, but then they can’t see you. It’s not really that big of deal in the U.S. market at least as video chat still hasn’t been popular yet, but the device does not have a front-facing camera. You can connect VoIP calls over Verizon Wireless’ 3G network or over WiFi.

GPS

GPS is accurate and good. You can look up addresses using Google Maps, geo-tag photos, use location in apps that ask for location-based settings, and also navigate with turn-by-turn directions using Google Maps with Navigation. Google Maps with Navigation does require an Internet connection to work, as map information isn’t stored locally. Fortunately though, with Verizon Wireless’s robust network and the Droid 2 being able to pull in a strong signal even in weak connection areas, losing reception, and also the ability to navigate, shouldn’t be a concern. However, when using the GPS for an extended period of time, we do recommend you get a car charger as you’re using multiple battery-draining features on the phone: the screen being on, the GPS radio, and also the 3G radio.

Accessories

You can also get a desk dock or a car dock, which would either put the Droid 2 automatically into a Home or Car mode menu to allow quick, finger-friendly access to important apps.

Conclusion

The Droid 2 is a solid Android device with a fast processor, capable graphics abilities, and a smooth experience afforded by Android 2.2, which includes Adobe Flash 10.1 and Motorola’s Widgets-based customizations. Robust integration into Google searches, voice and universal search, Exchange ActiveSync support, and an abundant array of apps on Android Market are all key points to this device. However, when compared to the original Droid, now called the Droid 1, the second generation device perfects some minor quibbles from the first generation. A solidly latched battery door, much improved keyboard, fa
ster performance, and strong battery life will make the Droid 2 a great handset for those transitioning to smartphones, Android OS, or Verizon Wireless. For Droid 1 owners who want or need to upgrade and don’t need a sliding keyboard, you may get more bang for the buck with the Droid X, which adds an FM tuner, ups the camera resolution to 8 megapixels, and can record videos in HD.

Package contents:

  • Motorola Droid 2
  • Wall charger
  • microUSB cable
  • Product Safety and Warranty Brochures
  • Pre-installed 8 GB microSD card with 8 GB on-board memory

Filed in Cellphones >Reviews >Top Stories. Read more about droid, droid 2, Motorola and Verizon.

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