Motorola DROID II, Black 8GB (Verizon Wireless)
- Android 2.2-powered smartphone with 3.7-inch touchscreen, redesigned QWERTY keyboard, improved multitasking, and advanced social messaging
- Google mobile services including Google Maps with Navigation for voice prompted turn-by-turn directions; can be used as a 3G Mobile Hotspot for up to five Wi-Fi connected devices
- 8 GB internal plus 8 GB preloaded microSD memory; Wireless-N Wi-Fi networking; Bluetooth stereo music; 5-megapixel camera/camcorder
- Up to 9.5 hours of talk time, up to 315 hours (13+ days) of standby time; released in August, 2010
- What's in the Box: handset, rechargeable battery, charger, 8 GB microSD card, USB cable, quick start guide
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Verizon Motorola A955 Droid 2 HIGH
An exciting sequel that ups the ante for smartphones, the feature-packed DROID 2 by Motorola for Verizon Wireless helps manage your work and social life with a plethora of new enhancements, including an improved QWERTY keyboard, full push corporate e-mail, and Adobe Flash Player 10.1 for access to the full Web.
Loaded with Android 2.2, the DROID 2 offers greater multitasking capabilities, enhanced corporate e-mail, and Adobe Flash 10.1 support.
The DROID 2 runs the latest Android operating system--OS 2.2 (aka, Froyo)--which provides a faster overall Android experience as well as greater multitasking capabilities. You'll be able to receive notifications, listen to music, and even record GPS data without keeping the application open. It also offers enhanced Exchange support, with Calendar syncing, Global Address Lookup, improved security, auto-discovery, and more.
Sporting a new super-slim form factor, the DROID 2 offers a redesigned symmetrical keyboard with raised keys for more responsive typing to push out notes and status updates. Speech-to-text input and the virtual multi-touch keyboard (accessed via the 3.7-inch touchscreen) allow for quick messaging, and you can use the Swype keyboard enhancement for even faster input--with up to 50 words per minute using one continuous finger motion across the screen keyboard (learn more about Swype below).
With integrated Google technology, DROID 2 brings one-touch access to the popular Google mobile services millions use every day, including Google Search by voice, Google Maps with Street View, GTalk instant messaging (with presence capabilities), YouTube, and Picasa. The DROID 2 also provides easy access to both personal and corporate e-mail, calendars, and contacts supported by Exchange Server and Gmail. And through Android Market, you'll get access to thousands of useful applications, widgets, and fun games to download and install on your phone, with many more apps being added every day.
The DROID 2 features a no compromise Web and entertainment experience, advanced social messaging and a redesigned QWERTY keyboard (see larger image).
In addition to high-speed connectivity on the fast and reliable Verizon Wireless 3G network, you can also share the built-in 3G Mobile Hotspot via Wi-Fi among five devices--laptop, another phone, MP3 player, and more (additional service charge). (See more details on optional Verizon Wireless services below.)
You'll also enjoy a wide range of multimedia entertainment with the DROID 2, including BLOCKBUSTER On Demand presented by V CAST Video for purchasing, renting, and viewing movies right on the phone and the NFL Mobile app for live news and game updates.
Preloaded social networking widgets allow you to sync and stream your feeds and updates from Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace all to one screen in real time. Other features include a 5-megapixel camera/camcorder with DVD-quality video capture, 8 GB of onboard memory and a pre-installed 8 GB memory card, ultra-fast Wireless-N Wi-Fi networking, Bluetooth for hands-free devices and stereo music streaming, GPS turn-by-turn directions via free Google Maps with Navigation (Beta) as well as VZ Navigator, and up to 9.5 hours of talk time.
DROID is a trademark of Lucasfilm Ltd. and its related companies. Used under license.
- Fast 3G connectivity thanks to the reliable Verizon Wireless EV-DO, Rev A network
- Powered by the Android operating system (version 2.2, Froyo) with deep integration of Google services and access to thousands of apps to customize your phone via the Android Market.
- Advanced multitasking capabilities allow you to receive notifications, listen to music, and even record GPS data without keeping the application open.
- Full Suite of Google Apps including Google Maps with Street View, transit, and Wikipedia information; GTalk with Presence; Gmail; YouTube, Latitude, and Google Calendar
- Wireless-N Wi-Fi networking (802.11b/g/n) for accessing home and corporate networks as well as hotspots while on the go.
- 3G Mobile Hotspot: The DROID 2 comes travel-ready with a built-in 3G Mobile Hotspot--a Wi-Fi hotspot that can be shared among five Wi-Fi-capable devices. The 3G Mobile Hotspot is the perfect family vacation companion, and at $20 for 2 GB and 5 cents per megabyte overage, it provides an allowance big enough for sharing with the entire family for downloading games, Internet access, and more.
- Enjoy Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter all in real-time without logging into and updating multiple applications. Updates synced and streamed to one screen waiting for you to view it when you want.
- Universal Inbox to view all your texts, social networking messages, and e-mail accounts in one place.
- Real HTML Web browsing provides more pages and better Web content delivered efficiently to your phone (Android Webkit HTML5-based browser).
- Swype input system allows you to input text faster and easier by gliding your finger around the keyboard, moving from letter to letter in one continuous motion. The Swype technology then calculates what word you're intending to type (learn more below).
- Integrated GPS with a choice of navigation apps:
- Google Maps Navigation (Beta) provides free, pre-loaded turn-by-turn voice guidance. Powered by Google and requiring an Internet connection, it enables you to simply say "Navigate to [your destination]" to get on your way. See live traffic, use Street View or satellite imagery to view your route, and get access to the most recent maps and business information from Google Maps without ever needing to update your device.
- VZ Navigator is downloadable via Android Market and allows you to navigate routes, check traffic conditions, and more. And with new "Click to Nav" integration, you can click on any address you see in your Web browser and automatically navigate using VZ Navigator. (Free to download, VZ Navigator has a $9.99 monthly charge)
- 1 GHz TI OMAP processor with dedicated graphics processor loads Web pages 40 percent faster than the original DROID by Motorola.
- 3.7-inch touchscreen display (854 x 480 pixels, 16 million color depth)
- Slide-out physical QWERTY keyboard plus two touchscreen QWERTY keyboard
- 5-megapixel camera/camcorder with auto focus, touch-to-focus, face detection, panoramic modes, and more
- DVD-quality video capture with easy upload to YouTube, slow-motion capture, fast motion capture, and more.
- Multi-format digital audio player with dedicated Amazon MP3 Store app for over-the-air downloads.
- DLNA Wireless sharing of photos, video, and music with other DLNA compatible devices (Server, Controller, Player, Upload, and Download)
- Bluetooth connectivity (version 2.1) includes profiles for communication headset, hands-free car kits, and the A2DP Bluetooth profile--enabling you to wirelessly stream your music to a pair of compatible Bluetooth stereo headphones or speaker dock.
- 8 GB internal memory
- Included 8 GB microSD card with support for optional cards up to 32 GB.
- Text, picture, and video messaging with threaded messaging feature
- E-mail: Corporate (Exchange 2003 and 2007), Gmail, IMAP, POP3, Attachment and browser document viewer (Microsoft Office and PDF)
- Airplane mode allows you to listen to music while the cellular connectivity is turned off.
- TTY compatible
- Hearing aid compatibility = M3/T3
The DROID 2 weighs 5.96 ounces and measures 4.58 x 2.38 x 0.54 inches. Its 1400 mAh lithium-ion battery is rated at up to 9.5 hours (575 minutes) of talk time, and up to 315 hours (13+ days) of standby time. It runs on the CDMA 800/1900 frequencies as well as EV-DO, Rev A 3G frequencies.
What's in the Box
DROID 2 handset, rechargeable battery, charger, 8 GB microSD card, USB cable, quick start guide
- Reliable 3G Network: With support for the EV-DO high-speed data standard, you'll enjoy fast access to the Internet and Verizon Wireless multimedia services (additional charges applicable), with average download speeds ranging from 400 to 700 Kbps and peak rates up to 2 Mbps. (Learn more about where EV-DO coverage is offered.)
- Visual Voice Mail: This innovative service enables you to delete, reply, and forward voice mail messages without having to listen to prior messages or voice instructions. Visual Voice Mail is the ideal tool for the busy mobile professional who may need to prioritize which messages he or she listens to first. Features include on-screen access to voice mail message status, save up to 40 messages for 40 days (or archive permanently), create up to 10 different caller ID-based greetings, and reply via call back, text or even voice mail.
- V CAST Video on Demand: This optional service enables you to watch full-length TV shows plus news, sports, weather, and live entertainment video clips. It features more than 100 full-length programs from leading broadcast and cable networks, ranging from highly-rated drama and comedy series to reality programs and children's programming. V CAST Video on Demand also delivers live sporting events, including NHL hockey games and an upcoming slate of college football games.
The service offers unlimited viewing of Basic Videos and the ESPN MVP channel. You can choose from 14 categories, including Entertainment, Kids, Music, Sports, Comedy, News, Pop Culture, Information, Women, Latino, Home & Leisure, Multicultural, Cutting Edge, and Hollywood. Additional subscription charges applicable.
- VZW Backup Assistant: Automatically back up your mobile contacts to your online address book. If your phone is lost, stolen, or damaged, or you decide to upgrade, easily restore your saved address book to your new phone. You can also add, delete, edit, and print your contacts online and send the changes to your mobile phone.
An alternative to the Android virtual keyboard, the Swype virtual keyboard allows you to input text by swiping the finger with one continuous finger or stylus motion across the screen keyboard. Based on testing, speed, and accuracy are equal to or better than the traditional keyboard-tapping method. You can activate the Swype keyboard by pressing and holding in a text field, wait for popup to appear, click Input Method, and then select Swype.
In the image to the left, the word "quick" was generated from tracing the path shown above in a fraction of a second, by roughly aiming to pass through the letters of the word. A key advantage to Swype is that there is no need to be very accurate, enabling very rapid text entry.
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My wife couldn't be happier, me being familiar with the my Droid couldn't be any more envious! Motorola has pretty much fixed just about everything that I saw a problem with the original Droid on the Droid2 (save for the camera quality). This phone makes my Droid seem old and familiar at the same time, as if I'm using my Droid only its faster, smoother and more involved with my social life.
So let's start a proper review...
CPU-RAM-GPU (Speed & Responsiveness)
First I would highly recommend that after you first activate your phone and setup your contacts, social apps and all other settings for your phone that you restart it. Not sure why it did it, or what caused it but I found that her phone was much more responsive after that first restart. The phone is fast, I feel cheated remembering the commercials that used to play telling me how "Fast" my Droid was. Her Droid2 opens up web pages, pictures, music, video and apps at speeds my Droid couldn't even think about. This is the speed limit in my opinion for phones, it's pretty much instantaneous when opening the browser and the web pages loading will only change with 4G and higher. I don't think we will see much more advantages in that aspect with faster processors, this thing is fast! The 1ghz OMAP processor is nice but the dedicated GPU means that it stays future proof once more apps are written to take advantage of it to relieve the processor. The phone however does have a few hiccups on the most basic of things, this is more related to the Moto apps pre-loaded onto the phone that I think Moto needs to bug fix.
Shell-Buttons-Port-Locations etc (Aesthetics)
If you like the way the original Droid looked you pretty much just got the same thing..only stream lined. I'm not very happy with the hard edges of my Droid, I've never been a fan of its aggressive appearance. So sufficed to say the new soft edges of the Droid2 are a very welcome addition, although I prefer the straight black of the original Droid over the slight blue/black tinted Droid2 its the way the Droid feels in your hand that impressed me.
Differences between the Droid and Droid2 for buttons is this, the Droid2 has buttons you can easily feel when not looking at them. The raised areas of the Droid2 buttons are soft as well and help differentiate the buttons from one another much better than the original Droid. They changed the placement of the home, back, settings and search capacitive buttons a bit but that is just a muscle memory thing. The backlighting of the capacitive buttons has also changed, my droid has a very harsh white light that illuminates these capacitive buttons, the Droid2 has a much warmer tint to it. Its like the difference between a normal incandescent light bulb or a "soft" incandescent light bulb that illuminates these buttons.
The battery cover STAYS ON, my biggest complaint with my Droid is worrying I'm going to lose my battery cover one day because it constantly falls off when taking the phone out of my pocket. It still has the rubberized cover but it stays put as it should have done on the original Droid.
Nothing really changed here compared to the original Droid, the colors are accurate and the display is bright even in well lit areas. Although it might not be a super Amaloid screen as other phones are now advertising it really isn't that much different in quality between the two technologies from a functional or visual stand point.
Unfortunately the 5mp camera for the Droid2 didn't get much of an upgrade from the 5mp camera of the original Droid. Not sure why Motorola didn't find it necessary to do more than software changes to the camera as its shutter speed is still too low to capture anything that doesn't want to stay still for 2 seconds while you try and take a snapshot. If you're only going to take pictures of people or things that can keep stationary the camera is pretty good, it's however a different story when kids, animals or objects blowing in the wind are concerned because they can come out blurry.
Slide out Keyboard
A major improvement over the original Droid, I never use the keyboard on my Droid because it was pretty much a non functional keyboard. The slightly bubbled keys and rearrangement of some of the buttons made a huge difference in the usability of the Droid2's keyboard. My wife really wanted a slide out keyboard and was hesitant about the Droid2 until I told her they made some changes to it. She used it for the first time and said it was perfect for her, she even uses it for some basic navigation so I'm impressed she finds it functional enough on this phone for that.
While her and I both have the same Froyo firmware I will say the Motorola enhancements are perfect for her and really make the phone seem like a complete upgrade over the original Droid. She LOVED the fact that it took her facebook friends and incorporated them into her address book. She loves having status updates on the Motorola Widget and the social app program itself once opened from the widget that allows her to navigate Facebook simple for her. This is going to be a completely subjective piece of software for everyone, for her it is amazing for others it might be ho-hum and worthy of removal.
Other additions to the OS for the Droid2 as compared to the Droid that I find important are the extended amount of home screens available on the Droid2. The droid 2 has 2 extra home screens available and with the Motorola widgets and apps she was able to make all of them functional for different reasons for her. I would consider myself a power user of phones but the Droid2 allowed her to use every screen efficiently for what she wanted much better than I have been able to accomplish.
In this day and age of Smartphone's that do so much it is to be expected that the batteries are going to drain quickly under heavy usage. I'm surprised Motorola didn't take an extra step to give the phone more room for a slightly larger battery, it would have been a worthy addition that could have further separated this phone from its competition and possibly started a trend for phone makers to try and find ways to increase battery sizes to offer more time between charges. With that said I have already come accustomed to charging my phone every night so the Droid2 once again carries over certain aspects of the original Droid.
If you're on the Verizon network (or on another network and thinking of switching) the Droid2 is a remarkable phone that will foot the bill for almost all of your Smartphone needs. While the DroidX has a larger screen and better camera then the Droid2 it is my opinion that the Droid2 is the better phone because of the slide out keyboard. I doubt this phone will be the "top dog" on the Verizon network for very long as steady progress is made consistently for Smartphone's but that is the nature of things. Something better is always around the corner, if you're looking for a great phone at a great price (I paid 0.01) that has a slide out keyboard that runs the best OS currently available then this phone is for you. Its sleek, sexy, powerful and playful but most importantly it... DOES!
This review will be primarily focused on the Motorola Droid2, with some commentary on the Verizon service and plan purchasing experience. The Droid2 is essentially the same profile as the original Droid. The main differences are the processor speed, keyboard layout, and support for Mobil 3G hotspots. They also moved the camera slightly, so not all enclosures will fit the same, but according to Motorola the docks (car and multimedia) should all still be compatible. When I bought the Droid2, the DroidX was the most popular Droid. It couldn't sit on the shelf long enough at the local stores, and even Amazon wouldn't have them in stock for another 5-7 weeks at almost twice the price of the Droid2. I didn't have a need for a micro-HDMI port, and I really did want a hardware QWERTY key, so the Droid2 was perfect. Also, Amazon had an excellent price for the Droid2. It was highly competitive and made the local stores appear excessively overpriced. Another win for Amazon!
The biggest advantage to the Droid2 over other touchscreen-based phones is the hardware QWERTY keyboard. The keys are "3 dimensional", covered with a type of plastic not unlike that on a microwave oven. You can also opt for the touch-screen based keyboard similar to what you find on an iPhone. My fingers are too big to really use those effectively, and Swype has not been very effective for me. I still type much faster on a full-sized desktop keyboard or a laptop keyboard. It is frustrating for me to send out long emails or frequent emails/Tweets/Facebook posts because it is slower to type on the Droid2 versus a keyboard - but the Droid2 does this very well with the hardware keyboard.
The Droid2 doesn't come with many accessories, so you will want to get a holster or case, car charger, and a car mount. The Droid2, like many other modern smartphones, requires a micro-USB charging cable/port. The travel charger that comes with it is nothing more than an AC adapter with a USB port, so you could opt to use a Griffin/Apple (gasp!) USB wall charger that produces around 1A at 5VDC. I looked at a bunch of different cases and holsters and really wanted one similar to the Blackberry holster. Unfortunately, the Droid2 is designed to react to magnets by switching to dock modes that will drain your battery. I ended up buying the Superior holster and case combo, the one sold at Verizon Wireless Stores and here at Amazon (do a search for MOTDRD2HOC). I purchased the Motorola P513 car rapid charger (don't get the ones at the Verizon store, they are overpriced and poorly made) here at Amazon, along with an Arkon car mount. I did not want to get a car dock because it wasn't as secure as a universal car mount. Note that if you do use a universal "clamp" car mount, it may inadvertently push down the ringer/media volume and/or camera button! However, the Superior case "increases" the thickness of the phone so it prevents those buttons from being pushed. Luckily, the Arkon has cut-outs that fits the Droid2 perfectly!
In case you're wondering why I have such a fetish for car chargers and car mounts, it's because the Droid2 has outstanding GPS and map/nav app support. One of the reasons why I went with Android is because of its full support of Google Maps (Blackberry has less, Apple has even less support) and free Google navigation. Sprint/Virgin navigation requires a monthly fee, and isn't as good as Google navigation (free). Google Maps is integrated tightly with the rest of the phone, you can track your location via GPS or cell network (GPS was as accurate as 1 foot or 10 meters), click on destinations, search for places (Walmart, gas stations, restaurants), and call them up directly via Google maps. Satellite overlays, traffic overlays, and even My Maps can be overlaid onto Google maps! This is one of the reasons why Android's market share is slowly growing and causing Blackberry, iPhone, and Windows mobile users to adopt Android - there is a lot of support for Google apps and it is done exceptionally well. You are not a slave to iTunes software or any software, Google is mainly cloud computing. A note to the wise, the latest Google Maps appears to cause issues with hanging/freezing. Just don't update and wait for Google to fix it. The pre-installed Google maps will work just fine.
Your contacts are stored in your Google/Gmail account, so if you modify your contacts on Gmail, it will automatically sync on your phone. The Droid2 also combines your contacts from Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter into your contact list - so if a buddy on FB listed his phone number and email, it will show up in your address book as a linked profile. A Gmail/Google account is really a must when using any Android phone.
The 3G speeds vary based on time and location. I normally get 0.5 Mbps up/down, but I have gotten up to 2 Mbps downstream. With WiFi, I am closer to 40 Mbps downstream (802.11n). The battery life isn't that great for the first few weeks because the battery life is just an estimate of the life. Once you practically discharge it a few times, it will have a more accurate estimate. So far, with only 3G and GPS on, I can get up to about 3 days of usage without having to charge the battery. I can get more if I don't use the phone obviously. GPS is only used when an app calls for it (Browser, maps, Weather widget). The menu performance isn't as fast as I'd like, and it gets worse with more widgets and Live Wallpapers.
I could go on and on about the features of Android 2.2, but you're probably more anxious to read about the phone. The screen is smaller than the DroidX, but at the same resolution. I didn't have a hard time reading small fonts, and photographs showed up crisp. YouTube plays fine, although the resolution isn't that great. The speaker in the back of the phone isn't garbage, but it isn't going to replace my 5.1 system on the gaming PC if you know what I mean. The standard equipped music player causes the phone to freeze/hang up for some reason. No one has really found a fix for it yet. I don't mind because I don't listen to MP3s on my phone. Pandora, however, works fine!
Call quality is great, it is much better than Sprint, and I've always felt that Verizon's audio quality was a bit better than AT&T. Verizon's customer service is very helpful. I ordered my phone via Amazon and once it ships, the phone is "Activated" and you're charged for usage from that moment. I called up Amazon and explained this, and they agree to credit my usage fees up to the day I receive the phone and activate it. I also have a military discount which required me to supply my email address for them to send me a link, and apply it to the phone number. You could also bring your CAC card to a local store, but some stores demand to see your LES with the SSN blacked out. Also note that if you deactivate your phone within 3 days of activation, you will be waived the activation fee. This is hard to do when you order the phone online at Amazon because it takes around 2-3 days to arrive! If you cancel your service within 30 days of activation, the $350 early termination fee is waived.
If you're like me and rarely use the phone to talk on peak hours, get the 450 minute plan. The unlimited data plan is very useful because with very very light usage, and occasionally using Pandora, I am at about 500 MB of usage within 1 week. A colleague of mine was adamant that 80% of iPhone/AT&T users only use less than 200 MB of bandwidth each month, yet she was in the same boat as me. AT&T did not have as many Android phones because they're more in bed with Research in Motion and Apple. Verizon and Sprint have a wider choice of Android phones, like the HTC EVO 4G at Sprint or the new Samsung Galaxy 9000 at Verizon (Fascinate is what they're calling it).
I am new to cell phones, so the following might be standard fare for the hardcore phone users with 10-15 years of contracts with the big telecom giants. An activation fee is charged for new lines, and you are charged a month in advance along with usage fees from the moment the phone is activated up to the first billing cycle date. So it is not uncommon for the first bill to be about 2-3 times the standard monthly rate. You can download a My Verizon app that helps you track this, or just log on to their website and keep an eye on things.
Pros for service: Excellent coverage in CONUS and in Hawaii, decent voice/data plan
Pros for Droid2: Very powerful phone - excellent integration with Google apps, QWERTY hardware keyboard is a major plus
Cons for service: Could be less expensive, perhaps offer a cheaper voice plan for those that just want data features?
Cons for Droid2: short battery life, not much of a change over Droid1, some feel it is too bulky (I think it is sized perfectly), a tad slow, and I have to push this tiny rinky dink button to make it come out of sleep mode or to go into sleep mode.
Overall: 4/5 stars.
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