Review: Motorola Droid X2

Posted by CR H. on Jun 07, 2011

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Launched almost exactly a year ago, the original Droid X has been quite a popular device on Verizon. Motorola and Verizon decided it was time for an update, and here we are with the Droid X2 – sporting a higher resolution display, a dual-core Tegra CPU, and an updated Blur skinning. But with no LTE, is the Droid X2 still a worthy device in Verizon’s Android lineup? Read on to hear our thoughts!

Hardware / Design

The Droid X2 sports exactly the same design as the original Droid X, which is to say a very solid, obviously Motorola built device. The overall design is pretty unique, with the entire device being quite slim, except for the camera bulge at the very top. This can cause some awkward times when holding the device, as it’s obviously top heavy. But otherwise we quite like everything about the physical device.

The four physical Android buttons are an interesting change from most phones these days. While we don’t mind physical buttons in theory, the Droid X2 sports some rather hard to press buttons. This can be quite annoying at times, but certainly not a dealbreaker.

One physical change between the original X and the X2 is the lack of a camera button. While this wasn’t a bother to us, we’ve heard from a few original X owners that think Motorola made a terrible decision by dumping the camera button.

The Droid X2 sports the usual array of buttons and ports, with the power button situation right in the middle of the top of the device, next to the standard 3.5mm headphone jack. A volume rocker sits on the right side, with a micro USB port and micro HDMI port at the bottom right of the device. Unfortunately the Droid X2 won’t be usable with the Atrix’s awesome laptop dock, as the positioning of the USB and HDMI ports are different between the devices.

Overall we absolutely love the design of the Droid X2. It’s an easy to hold device with extremely solid construction, and is unique compared to the standard slab of screen you see on almost every other device.

Display

Another change between the original Droid X and the X2 is the inclusion of a gorgeous qHD screen with an awesome 960×540 resolution. The display is just awesome. Colors are generally represented well, brightness can go to insane levels, and viewing angles were quite good. We’re ecstatic to see Motorola embracing qHD displays, and equally as happy to see one on the Droid X2.

Software / Performance

The Droid X2 ships with the final build of Froyo, 2.2.2. This is, once again, disappointing now that Gingerbread has been out for so long. Obviously the X2 will be receiving the update to Gingerbread since the original X has already received the update, but we’re still quite disappointed that Motorola couldn’t ship a brand new device with the latest version of Android available. This seems like a largely negative trend with Android OEMs.

The Droid X2 sports an updated Blur skin, which is the same as will be used on Gingerbread. We generally find Motorola’s skin to be quite good looking, and often helpful. Unfortunately, we don’t find it to be very functional however. While the custom Messaging app is quite nice when using multiple email accounts and numerous social networks, it’s not all that fast – an experience mirrored in almost everything we did with the phone. Blur’s included widgets are quite nice, but from what we can tell, they significantly slow down the homescreens. Scrolling between them becomes slow and stuttery when more than one is placed on a page. For context, Motorola ships the phone with at least three widgets on almost every homescreen.

One of our biggest issues with the overall OS came in the Settings app. If we happened to change something from the default setting and not like the outcome, there was no way we could change the setting back. While we could uncheck the box of the setting (for example the no service tone), it will continue operating as if the box for it were checked. We reproduced this with numerous different options, all of which remained stuck on even after turning them back off. We only fixed this after wiping the phone and starting from scratch, which obviously isn’t a viable workaround.

Overall perceived performance (as in, not going by the numbers of benchmark apps) was, as with the rest of the OS experience, entirely disappointing. As mentioned earlier, scrolling between homescreens was very slow and stuttery. Pandora could not play in the background without dropping or freezing, and audio playback in general seemed to be a struggle for the device. This is all especially disappointing after running Quadrant and receiving a score of well over 2000. We think the cause of the poor performance is directly related to Blur. The Droid X2 only has 512MB of RAM, not all of which is available to the OS and apps. After booting the phone and letting it sit for a bit, there was only 50MB of RAM available, which quickly dropped to under 40MB once we actually used the phone. With Blur taking up that much RAM on its own, apps have hardly anything for themselves. We seriously hope Motorola looks at making Blur lightweight, or if they can’t, pulling it entirely.

Battery Life

Surprise, surprise – battery life on the Droid X2 is… not so great. As a general test, we take new phones with us to work and let them sit on our desk all day without using them to see what idle battery drain is like. After sitting for the eight or so hours we were at work, the Droid X2 had dropped to 40% (from 100). That’s a loss of 60% with no use whatsoever – no email accounts were configured, Google Voice was left unconfigured, and no Twitter apps were installed. For comparison, the Infuse “4G” only dropped 9% in the same test – from 100% to 91%.

We barely made it through a day of extremely light use with the Droid X2, often answering emails and tweets from our trusty iPhone 4 instead of wasting even more battery turning the X2’s screen on. If you’re going to use an X2 as your daily driver, we highly suggest you invest in an extra battery, or a high capacity one.

Call quality, reception, etc.

Call quality on the Droid X2 is quite good. The speaker was loud and clear, and we never had issues making or receiving calls. Data speeds on Verizon’s EVDO network were reasonable, and often hit 1Mb down and almost the same going back up, which is really quite good for EVDO.

Reception is a different story… There seems to be a rather large bug in the way Motorola translates raw signal, shown as dBm’s in the Settings app, into signal strength bars in the status bar. Going by the status bar signal strength alone, one would think the Droid X2 can barely manage to maintain one bar of signal no matter where you were. This is, in fact, absolutely false. The X2 seems to get quite excellent signal strength, which is something we absolutely expect from a Motorola device. While the X2 would be receiving -65dBm signal, it would still show as only one (out of four) bars.

Pricing

The Droid X2 is available for the standard $199.99 on a two-year contract with Verizon. Unfortunately, that seems like far too much for the mess of an OS that’s currently being shipped on the device.

Conclusion

We had very high hopes for the Droid X2 when we first received it. In fact, we were so impressed initially with the screen, the hardware, and the overall look of Blur (but not function), that we wanted to purchase a Droid X2 ourselves. But after using the device for a bit and seeing just how buggy the currently OS build is, and just how taxing Blur is on the device (especially RAM-wise), we just can’t recommend it, and instead came away extremely frustrated.

CR H. (11 Posts) - Website | Twitter | Facebook


CR H. is avid about all things technology, especially in the mobile space. Credit for his love of technology goes to his mom who signed him up for ComputerTots at his daycare. CR is currently a full time student in Baltimore, MD working towards a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems. Student by day and IT consultant by night, CR surrounds himself with technology whenever possible. He’s especially fond of mobile phones, generally going through a device per month, but can always be found with at least one iPhone. His email is: CR(at)mobilitysite(dot)com, and you can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/MRCUR

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  • energy saver

    I have had a Droid X ever sense the first day it became available. The phone has had it’s moments where I wanted to toss it in the creek next to other phones that ly at the bottom from me chucking them in, but this pda has performed as well as any phone can. I intend to keep it as long as it still turns on. This week I will recieve my first iphone from my work, we’ll see if it too ends up in the creek. USB and HDMI are not options.

  • http://twitter.com/mobilitysite/status/78241840909910016 mobilitysite

    Review: Motorola Droid X2: Launched almost exactly a year ago, the original Droid X has been quite a popular dev… http://bit.ly/jHOvZP

  • Nick

    I don’t understand why Motorola made Droid x2 when the exact same phone exist, except for upgraded processor & screen. This phone has No Gingerbread, no 4g support, no front facing camera. I mean come on what was the point.
    BTW, I have a droidx & love it. Gingerbread update is awesome.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=653826505 Mark Gutknecht

    I think I'll stick with the DX a little bit longer.

  • Derrrface

    Root it, get rid of blur… install adw launcher pro, etc. Then compare it.

  • Mitchell M

    I just upgraded from the Droid X to the X2. I still have a week to return.  Is the X2 worth keeping or should I stick with the X?

  • Dave

    Go suck Steve jobs some more!

  • Yandel141

    sticking with the DX as well!!!

  • Yandel141

    sticking with the DX as well!!!

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