Last year when the Motorola Droid X was released there was a lot of buzz surrounding the handset, not the mention a full-fledged scavenger hunt for the handset across the country. When we finally got one in our hands, we immediately fell in love. Even with Motorola’s custom user interface Motoblur running on top (the toned-down version), the was a force to be reckoned with. Featuring a massive 4.3 inch display, the Droid X showed the EVO 4G that you can be a powerful device with a large display without being chunky. The Droid X is just a couple of months shy of being a year old and we still love it.
The smartphone world has changed a lot since the Droid X launched and now it’s time to feast your eyes upon the sequel of the much-loved handset, the Droid X2. This handset retains the look of the original while beefing the specs a bit to provide a worthy successor. Read on for a full review
Available for Verizon Wireless now for $199 on a new contract and Amazon Wireless for $149
- 4.3 inch qHD display (540 x960) with Gorilla Glass
- 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual-core processor
- 8 megapixel camera with dual-LED flash
- Noise-reducing microphones for video recording
- 720p HD video recording
- We liked the design of the original and we’re glad to see it on this handset
- NVIDIA Tegra 2 is blazing fast
- Crisp and clear display with gorilla glass is a solid upgrade from the original
- One of the best onscreen keyboards around
- Running on dated version of Android
- No LTE support
- No hot-swappable microSD card
- Custom software hurts more than helps
- Video recording issues
The Droid X2 keeps everything we loved about the original, gets rid of what was unnecessary, and adds in some solid upgrades throughout that are sure to impress. From the newer display to the NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual-core processor, this handset is worthy of upgrading from the original anyway you put it.
From a design perspective, you won’t find much different from the original Droid X. Motorola kept it simple and since we liked the design of the original, we can’t say we’re upset about the similarities. The face of the handset is exactly what you’d expect to see if you’ve every seen the first Droid X: the massive 4.3 inch display dominates the face and leaves little room for anything else. On the top you’ll find the notification LED, ambient and proximity sensors, with the earpiece in between. Motorola’s logo lies right below the display.
Speaking of which, the Droid X2 has undergone some serious changes in the display department that were severely needed. Instead of the Android-standard WVGA display, the DX2 ships with a qHD display with a resolution of (540 x 960). To make things even better, there’s a layer of Gorilla Glass to protect the high-res display. We welcome this with open arms as the original Droid X’s screen would obscure colors when pressed too hard. Below the display are the four standard Android buttons with the microphone hole right below.
Gone is the dedicated camera shutter button found on the original, leaving only the small volume rocker on the right side of the device. We don’t mind the camera button’s absence, but some of you might. The left side houses the charging port, HDMI-out and a hole to put a lanyard piece. I don’t know about you, but seeing as the handset is possibly the most masculine smartphone we’ve ever seen, it would be downright funny to see a Hello Kitty charm dangling from the corner.
The rear side of the device will reveal the signature Droid X bump at the top and that’s where you’ll find the 8 megapixel shooter with dual-LED flash. Virtually nothing has changed for the camera, and the thing still can’t record in 1080p (boo!) but that may change later on, as we know the Tegra 2 is capable of this. The removable back plate remains largely the same and can be removed easily by pulling down from the curved edge. This plate has a shiny Motorola logo, the Droid X2 branding and Verizon’s logo right below. Oh yeah, Google’s logo is just to the left of the others, too. You’ll also find the speaker grill and microphone for video recording near the Google logo.
The top of the handset has the centralized power/lock button, the 3.5mm headphone jack and a noise-cancelling microphone to help videos sounds their best. And since Motorola put the microphone you talk into to make calls on the front of the device, the bottom is left clean.
Build Quality/ Fit & Finish
It’s hard to call the Droid X2 a beautiful handset, even if it is from a hardware perspective. The hard, stark edges and bulging backside make the handset anything but elegant, but it’s still something you may want to have in your hand.
The in-hand feel is rather unwieldy at first but as you use it for a while you grow accustom to the size almost to the point that you prefer it. Almost. To make up for the screen size the Droid X2 is rather thin, excluding the hump, which still won’t feel all that big when in your pocket.
“Droid” handsets have long gone after males with their designs but that shouldn’t stop any lady from grabbing this. If you choose power over aesthetics, then the DX2 may be the best non-LTE device that Verizon will have for some time. That said, we still love the design of the Droid X2 and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
The Droid X2 ships with a more refined version of Motoblur that looks not too far off from stock Android at a glance. After digging through menus and such it’s apparent that this is still very much Motoblur. The custom skin has come a long way and while we still question Motorola’s eye for software design, the experience on the DX2 is miles ahead of what you’d find on devices like the Atrix 4G.
Like other Blur devices, the DX2 also gives you the option to set profiles for a specific time of day. This is very similar to HTC scenes, which allows you to customize a certain profile for work, home, weekend, etc. It’s an interesting feature I’ve never used too much, and I think it would be great if these profiles would change once you are in a specific location or if you could set the time for these changes. Until then, I’ll always forget to use them.
You can easily view all of your home screens on the handset by pressing the home button when on the main home screen. While you can’t pinch the screen to access all of your panels like some HTC and Samsung handsets, pressing home twice gets the job done.
One of my favorite things that Motorola has been doing before a lot of others is allowing widgets to be resizable. You can tell that Motorola has put a decent amount of effort into this, as the size of the widget determines what kind of information is displayed. Unfortunately the widgets could look a lot better than they do but it’s still a rarity to find, with the exception of the Galaxy S2 and home replacement applications.
The onscreen keyboard found on the DX2 is probably the best we have ever used on an Android phone before. The multitouch keyboard offers a generous amount of space between keys and we can easily bang out long emails in texts in a snap.
The software really isn’t the selling point for the handset, the hardware is. Some of you may not have problems with it but there’s just an inconsistent feel to the UI that may make one install a home replacement application.
We put the Droid X2 under some benchmark tests to see what kind of power it’s bringing to the table. Using Quadrant, Neocore, and Linpack, we benchmarked the handset three times with each application and averaged out the scores. Results below.
Quadrant – System Benchmark – 2431
Linpack – Processor Benchmark – 37.094 MFLOPS (mega floating pointoperations per second)
Neocore – Graphics Benchmark – 54.8 FPS (frames per second)
The Droid X2 fared well in our benchmark tests, and had almost identical scores as AT&T’s Atrix 4G – the only other handset in the United States that sports both the NVIDIA Tegra 2 and a qHD display.
Web Browser, Multimedia, and Camera
The Droid X2 has the same Webkit-based browser that you’d find on any other Android handset today but Motorola has skinned it slightly. The stock Android web browser is one of the fastest you can find on a smartphone today and since it’s one of the few that supports Adobe Flash, you can view web pages the same way you’d find on a computer. NVIDIA worked closely with Adobe to ensure that the Tegra 2 provides a great flash experience and it truly does.
The Droid X2 has a fair amount of media applications pre-installed for playing and purchasing content. The music player itself isn’t anything special but it gets the job done and you can always download the new music player from the Android Market or use Google Music. There’s a FM Radio application that you can use when the headphones are plugged in, as well as a DLNA client that will allow you to stream your media to your phone or watching on a DLNA-compatible device.
If you want to share some HD content then you can use the Droid X2′s HDMI-out and connect it to a HDTV. Unlike the original Droid X, the DX2 lets you fully mirror the handset’s UI, which can come in handy if you want to play video games on the big screen and use the handset as the controller.
The Droid X2 features the same camera from the original that we loved and it takes some great-looking photos. The software itself is pretty minimal and leaves a lot to be desired but overall, it’s simple and to the point. Shots that didn’t look all that great on the display blew up beautifully to our surprise and a few samples are below.
Video recording on the other hand is a completely different story. While we were a bit bummed to hear that the handset could only record in 720p when other handsets with the same megapixel count and processor (T-Mobile G2X) record in 1080p without breaking a sweat. This will likely be addressed in a software update but Motorola may have more issues on its hands when it comes to what resolution HD video is recorded in. The Droid X2 has trouble recording video correctly to begin with or at least our review unit did. We’re going to let the video below speak for itself but it’s simply the worst video we’ve ever recorded with a modern smartphone. Ever. (And yes, I realized I misspoke in the video)
Call Quality and Battery Life
As you’d expect from any Verizon handset, the call quality for the Droid X2 is top-notch. Calls come in crisp and clear with no distortion whatsoever on either side of the conversation. Verizon 3G was steady and consistent across the San Francisco Bay Area but we would have loved some 4G LTE love.
The DX2 will get your through the day like most other smartphones but not much more than that. Most smartphones need to be charged every night so it’s hard to say that the Droid X2 has bad battery life because of that. That said, the Droid X2 will be able to squeeze much more life out than the LTE devices Verizon is offering up today.
Is this the most powerful Droid yet?
It all depends on what you’re looking for. The Motorola Droid X2 is a solid upgrade from the original that’s sure to impress but its lack of LTE support may send some people towards the Revolution, Charge, or Thunderbolt. Verizon doesn’t currently offer a dual-core LTE device so you have to choose one or the other when you walk into a store to grab a handset.
The spec junkies of the world will admire the Droid X2′s superior screen and NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual-core processor but data junkies may not be in love with only having 3G data. Either way, the Droid X2 should make anyone happy coming from the original and those who like a nice set of specs before a data network that’s sure to kill your phone in no time. If you need both a dual-core CPU and LTE on your phone then you may have to wait a little longer for the Droid Bionic.
With the exception of the camera issues we experienced and not completely loving the custom skin running on top of Android 2.2, the Droid X2 is a very powerful phone that will have a lifespan much longer than it’s predecessor. In terms of usability, that is.
In terms of hardware specifications, the Droid X2 is the most powerful handset Verizon currently offers. Is this the Droid for you?
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