We were able to get a full day's use from the battery and into the start of the second, so it looks like the usual "charge nightly" philosophy for these high-power phones will work more than adequately here. Perhaps our biggest hardware concern, actually, is entirely internal: signal strength was a major issue for all four Engadget editors who've been able to spend time with four different Droid 2s in different parts of the country this week. Symptoms include a wildly fluctuating meter while the phone's sitting still, weak or no reception in places where you're usually fine on Verizon, and a complete lack of data service (which was actually how we noticed the problem the first time). We're used to seeing 3G drop to EDGE, GPRS, or disappear completely on our iPhones on AT&T, but it's a rarity on Verizon -- so to see our Droid 2's data indicator flip-flop from EV-DO to 1xRTT and then disappear entirely was really alarming. We're hoping this is something Motorola can fix with a software update alone, because it was nearly a showstopper for us; Ross, for example, sent an email Thursday afternoon that didn't actually depart his phone until 5AM the following morning, presumably because data was acting wonky.
From a software perspective, Motorola has loaded the Droid 2 with basically a carbon copy of what we've already seen on the Droid X, so we won't go into any great depth explaining what you've got here -- as we've said before, it's a questionably-useful skin atop stock Android with a bunch of bloatware pre-installed. Don't get us wrong, things like Swype, DLNA support and the 3G Mobile Hotspot app are welcome additions -- those are genuine features that deserve to be burned in ROM -- but look, if we want NFS Shift, we'd rather just be able to download it from the Market, thank you very much.
Of course, one big change versus the X is that the Droid 2 comes with Android 2.2 out of the box, which means we were getting Linpack scores in the high 13 to low 14 MFLOPS range, significantly better that the X's 8 MFLOPS on Android 2.1 -- proof once again that 2.2 is a much higher-performance build of the platform since these two phones share the same OMAP 3600-series core at 1GHz (versus the original Droid's 550MHz OMAP 3430). Strangely, this didn't seem to translate into better performance in day-to-day usage -- at least not consistently. Browsing is generally a snappy experience with good render times and smooth scrolling and zooming, but the phone lags in the most unexpected places. In fact, our very first experience turning the phone on for the first time was swiping from the main home screen panel to another, and having it freeze halfway between panels for a couple seconds (we hadn't yet added our Google account, so an initial sync couldn't have been to blame). We've noticed that the Droid X seems to inexplicably "warm up" and get faster over time, and indeed, we've seen some improvement after a day with the Droid 2 -- very odd.
Oh, and here's a neat trick: your old Droid dock still works like a champ with the 2, complete with the expected dock mode that includes an alarm clock, night mode, and customizable widgets for radio toggle, music control, weather, and YouTube. You've also got direct access to your contacts, calendar, gallery, and DLNA configuration from here, but they're all just application shortcuts -- you can remove them and add your own if you like.
As we touched on before, getting used to a 3.7-inch display after several weeks of using 4-plus-inch devices can be surprisingly tricky, and Motorola's keyboard -- a high point in the custom skin, thanks to its support for multitouch -- actually felt cramped. We were definitely making way more mistakes trying to use it than we were on the Droid X, proving that six-tenths of an inch can be a big deal for this sort of thing (then again, you've got built-in Swype and the physical keyboard at your disposal, so the problem is mitigated somewhat).
There's no question that the Droid 1 was entering its twilight years, especially in the aftermath of the Droid X's release; Motorola and Verizon knew they needed to bring the old model up to spec if they wanted to keep a quality physical QWERTY Android device on the shelves. The problem is that in doing so, they've killed off one of the Droid's most endearing features -- the fact that it ran stock Android -- and have failed to make any improvements compelling enough to warrant an upgrade. In other words, Droid owners, don't feel bad that your phone has been replaced here; in fact, we're pretty sure we'd rather have a Froyo-equipped Droid over a Droid 2, especially since the 2's new processor fails to translate into huge performance gains that you can feel in your day-to-day usage.
If you're just looking for the baddest-ass Android phone on Verizon that money can buy, we'd recommend a Droid X or Droid Incredible
any day over this, especially since all three are the same price -- unless you're hell-bent on going with a physical keyboard, of course. Both of those other handsets offer superior cameras, a better UI (in the case of the Incredible), and a better display (in the case of the X).
Then again, when September 30 rolls around
, it'll be pretty hard to argue with a phone that's got R2-D2 painted on the back, won't it?Additional reporting by Sean Hollister