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Review: Motorola Droid 2

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Is It Your Type? Body The Three S's Touch  

Screen

The screen on the Motorola Droid 2 is unchanged from the original, and that's a very good thing. With 854 by 480 pixels, it's among the highest-resolution screens on the market. Text and graphics look fantastically sharp, and the difference is instantly noticeable going from a lower-res, HVGA screen with 480 by 320 pixels, for instance, to the Droid 2. The LCD display, which uses IPS technology similar to the new iPhone 4, is not quite as bright as some OLED screens I have on hand, but it performed much better than those screens outdoors in bright sunlight.

Sound

Sound quality on the Motorola Droid 2 was excellent all around. Call quality was great. My callers sounded crisp and clean through the Droid 2's earpiece. Volume was solidly loud enough for all conditions. On their end, my callers also said I sounded decent, better than with most cell phones. The speakerphone is also plenty loud and clear enough to crank the volume all the way up. That speaker makes for blaring ringtones, which is how I like them. Some of the available ringtones milk the robotic “Droid” advertising sound, and I wish there were some more mellow tunes in the lot, but they were audible and original, nonetheless. With the sound turned off, the vibrate feature was adequate, but I'm always looking for even stronger vibrating alerts.

Signal

Signal issues were a disappointment in a few ways on the Motorola Droid 2. First, just surfing Verizon Wireless' EV-DO Rev. A network, I was disappointed with the signal strength. The Droid 2 show often showed a couple bars lower coverage than other Verizon phones I have on hand. In the PhoneScoop West Vault (a local movie theater with horrible signal), the Droid 2 chugged along on Verizon's 1xRTT network, but couldn't catch the faster 3G signal I craved.

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Thankfully, this didn't hurt performance much, but it did make a slight difference. When reception was weak, or dropped to the 1x network, calls could have some digital chopping, but this usually didn't last more than a minute or so. Even so, all of my calls went through and the phone didn't seem to miss any incoming calls, either.

Second, I had trouble with Wi-Fi, as well. The phone uses 802.11n for WLAN networks, so it should be fast and receptive. Instead, the Droid 2 had trouble finding my home router, an Apple Airport. Once it did find my hotspot, the Droid 2 was never able to connect properly, even though other devices, like the original Moto Droid, have no problem. I was able to connect to some open networks, like the network at my local Starbucks, with no trouble.

In researching specs for the phone, PhoneScoop discovered that the Droid 2 uses the exact same FCC ID as the original Droid. We got in touch with the FCC for an explanation, and they said this means that, in terms of radio hardware and any significant internal components that would affect radio transmissions, the two phones are identical. There are a few obvious changes, like the faster processor and the improved keyboard, but otherwise the two phones are fraternal twins.

Battery

Battery performance on the Motorola Droid 2 can be deceiving. Motorola promises almost 9 hours of talk time out of this phone. In a straight talking test, I came close. I managed almost 8.5 hours of talking time. But this excessive talk time is not a fair indicator for real world battery performance. I drained the battery on the Motorola Droid 2 very quickly in normal use. Forget about charging every night. I had to charge the phone during lunch or it would be dead by bed time. This happened even during casual use times, not just extensive testing periods. Android gives a good indication of which apps and features are draining the battery. Though the screen was the biggest culprit, as I expected, it turns out the custom Motorola services, (for social network synchronization, I assume,) are the next biggest hog. Then, the camera consumed an unusually large amount of power, considering I only snapped a couple dozen shots and about 30 seconds of video each day.

If Motorola's social networking services and background actions are draining this phone so quickly, they aren't worth the hassle. Unfortunately, you can't turn them off without digging through the active processes menu in the Application Settings, a complicated procedure that might leave the phone unstable. Though I think the social tools on this phone are improved over previous MotoBLUR devices, the original Droid didn't waste time with MotoBLUR, and I wonder how battery would be improved if the new Droid 2 followed in its footsteps.

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