The Motorola Droid X was one of Verizon's top Android phones last year, but like the HTC Droid Incredible, its star is starting to fade as newer, faster models enter the market. Rather than retiring it completely, Motorola and Verizon decided to build on a winning formula by introducing the Droid X2. Available online now and in stores on May 26 for $199.99 with a two-year contract, the Droid X2 improves on its predecessor with a dual-core processor and a higher-quality display. The companies stopped short of adding 4G support and other hardware improvements like a front-facing camera, which is disappointing, but does that make the Motorola Droid X2 completely undesirable? Read on for our take.
If you were to put the Motorola Droid X2 and the Droid X side by side, you'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference between the two; they have nearly identical designs. The X2 is the same size and weight as the X at 5.02 inches tall by 2.58 inches wide by 0.39 inch thick and 5.47 ounces. It's a good chunk of hardware to hold and carry, and the bump on the top back adds some extra bulk. That said, we don't think the phone is any more cumbersome than the other 4.3-inch touch-screen models out there, such as the HTC ThunderBolt and the Samsung Droid Charge. Plus, we like the sturdy construction and soft-touch finish of the Droid X2.
Though there isn't much change to the overall appearance of the phone, Motorola did upgrade the Droid X2's display from a WVGA (480x854-pixel resolution) touch screen to a qHD (540x960-pixel resolution) display. It's a very crisp and clean-looking screen, but as we explain in this smartphone screen primer, the pixels are spread out on a larger screen and have two rather than three subpixels per pixel, so it's not as sharp or smooth as the iPhone's Retina Display or Samsung's Super AMOLED Plus touch screens.
Still, it's clear and bright, so we had no problems reading text. The spacious screen is great for viewing Web pages and videos, and the onscreen keyboard is easy to use, whether you choose Swype or Moto's own keyboard. The touch screen was responsive; apps launched as we tapped them and we were able to scroll through lists smoothly. The display also offers pinch-to-zoom support, as well as a built-in proximity sensor and accelerometer.
There are four physical buttons below the display: menu, home, back, and search. On top of the device are the 3.5mm headphone jack and power button. The left spine houses the Micro-USB and HDMI ports, while the right side features the volume rocker. Disappointingly, Motorola removed the dedicated camera key that was on the original Droid X, so you'll have to use the touch screen to capture your photos. The camera is located on back with a dual-LED flash, and though you can see a front-facing camera above the display on the right side, it's not activated for video calls or self-portraits.
The Motorola Droid X2 comes packaged with an AC adapter, a USB cable, a preinstalled 8GB MicroSD card, and reference material.
Software and user interface
The Motorola Droid X2 ships running Android 2.2.2, but it will be upgraded to Gingerbread in the future. This means you'll have to wait to get such benefits as a multitouch virtual keyboard, but out of the box the smartphone still offers access to Google's mobile services, including Gmail, Google Maps Navigation, and YouTube, and the other features of
Like Motorola's other smartphones, the Droid X2 uses the company's Motoblur software, but previous Droid X owners will notice some new enhancements to the custom UI. For example, pressing the Home button twice now brings up a thumbnail view of all seven home screens (a la HTC's Leap screen feature) so you can easily jump between them, and each home screen has four static buttons (phone, camera, messages, and apps) at the bottom. Also, on the applications page there's a toolbar at the top of the screen that provides shortcuts to your recent and downloaded apps and the Android Market, as well as the option to create groups of apps.
Out of all the custom Android skins, Motoblur definitely isn't our favorite UI, since it's kludgier than others. That said, we found these additions to be useful, and you can always choose to minimize the number of Moto widgets you use.
Other software and apps preloaded on the Droid X2 include the Quickoffice suite, the Amazon Kindle app for Android, Skype Mobile, Slacker, and various Verizon services, such as V Cast Music and Video and VZ Navigator. You can remove some but not all of the preloaded apps, and Verizon allows non-Market app downloads, which you can store on the device's internal memory or on a memory card.
The most exciting addition to the Motorola Droid X2 is the dual-core processor. Equipped with Nvidia's Tegra 2 chipset, which includes dual 1GHz ARM Cortex A9 cores and an ultralow-power GeForce GPU graphics processor, the smartphone offers faster performance, quicker browsing, and better gaming graphics. Indeed, the Droid X2 is snappy, launching apps and moving between menus a hair faster than a single-core device can.