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Motorola DROIDX2 Review – Verizon

The original DROIDX has a special place in our hearts, so it’s going to take some major upgrades in order for this DROIDX2 to stand a chance.  On paper, it looks like Motorola has done a decent job by tossing in a dual-core processor and upping the screen resolution, but will that be enough to make this the device to take away that upgrade of yours?  Tough call – let’s find out.  

The Good:

  • Battery Life:  I wish I had a screenshot to accompany this battery note, but each time the phone had been on long enough to need a charge, I forgot to grab one.  Trust me though when I say that the battery life on the DX2 was a pleasant surprise.  With its dual-core processor, I wasn’t expecting much, but came away more-than-happy.  You should easily get a full day’s use out of it on a single charge.
  • Hardware:  You can’t deny that Motorola makes some of the best hardware on the planet.  If you liked the build of the original DROIDX, then you’ll likely enjoy this phone as well since they are almost identical.  Moto also introduced the NVIDIA Tegra 2 to its first Verizon phone, which at some point will take this phone to new heights – just not while it’s running Froyo (Android 2.2).  The phone also mimics past Moto models in looks which we enjoy, feels great in hand even as a larger device, and isn’t made of flimsy plastic like certain other manufacturers seem to manage.
  • HDMI:  Yes, the DX2 has full 1080p HDMI mirroring.  That means you can hook it up with a micro-HDMI cable to a TV and enjoy everything from your phone without hesitation.
  • Camera:  Pretty sure that the camera on this phone is the exact same as on the original DX, but something on it just seems to work better.  We’re not sure if it’s the new software that came with the new Blue Blur of if we somehow found a steadier hand when snapping photos.  No matter what, we found the camera to be a little better than average.  We definitely didn’t hate it, which is a good sign.

(click images for larger versions)

  • Screen Resolution:  We like the 540×960 resolution on this phone.  Actually, who doesn’t love more on-screen real estate?  Unfortunately, resolution numbers don’t necessarily mean “awesome screen” – we’ll get into that later though.
  • Screen Size:  This will probably be the last time we include “Screen Size” in a review since 4″ seems to be the minimum these days, but we wanted to give Moto props again for not shrinking this bad boy down.  4.3″ seems huge at times (no bad jokes please), but once you get used to it you really won’t want anything smaller.
  • Parts of Blur:  As much as we all despise OEM skins, even I can admit that his new Blue MotoBlur has come a long way and isn’t 100% awful.  There are some parts we really like including the new notification system, new app drawer with folders, gallery app and camera overhaul.  The problem with this phone is that this specific Froyo version seems to hate dual-core processors and overall doesn’t run that well.  And we’re partially blaming Froyo and the new processor because the original DX with this Blur but 2.3, runs very well.  Here’s to hoping we get a Gingerbread update in the next couple of weeks.

The Not-so-Good:

  • Bootloader:  It’s locked just lock any other Motorola device that’s come out after the original DROID.  Sad, but something we’ve grown accustomed too unfortunately.
  • PenTile Screen:  We did a pretty thorough run-through of the PenTile “qHD” screen on the DX2 after just a few days with it.  I highly recommend you read through that, but will still say that after having the device for a few weeks, our stance has actually grown more negative towards this technology.  This screen is not good, at all.  Sure, you have a bigger resolution, but the colors are so off and the pixels are so visible that I would be more-than-lying if I told you it was even “decent.”

  • Android 2.2:  Still releasing phones with last year’s version of Android, eh Moto?  This is completely unacceptable, especially when the original DROIDX received Gingerbread the day after this phone came out.  Talk about a slap in the face to anyone looking to upgrade.
  • This Version of Blur:  There is something very different about this version of Blue Blur when compared to the one that the original DROIDX is running.  Maybe it’s Froyo vs. Gingerbread or maybe it’s the fact that Moto spent little time on it – we’ll probably never know for sure.  What we do know though, is that this version is filled with bugs.  For a device that runs on a Tegra 2 dual-core processor, you’d expect there to be zero lag or stuttering when whipping through apps and home screens, but that’s just not the case here.
  • Bloatware:  Almost forgot to throw this bullet in here; shame on me!  It wouldn’t be a proper DL review if we didn’t call out Verizon for sticking in massive amounts of bloatware that cannot be removed from the phone.  At last check, we counted 21 apps that Verizon decided would be worth your while.  Are you kidding me?
  • Not LTE:  This phone could have been huge if it had a 4G LTE radio built-in.  The Tegra 2 definitely tempted us, but without those high data speeds and a front facing camera, it was hard for us to really feel like this was worth our money.  In a world of tech that changes so swiftly, 3G phones just seem so 5 years ago.
  • No Front Facing Camera:  Another missing piece to this phone that is almost inexcusable.  How can you release a phone in 2011 without a front facing camera?  All of the 4G LTE phones have them, the Incredible 2 (which is 3G) has one – so why not this phone?
  • RAM:  512MB looks like plenty of memory on paper, but once you start using this phone you’ll quickly realize that it’s not enough.  The GPU in the Tegra chip takes up a substantial amount since it doesn’t have it’s own dedicated RAM, so you are really left with about 400MB for the rest of your apps to use.  And 400MB isn’t enough when you start looking at how poorly Blur is managing  it.  Our initial thought was to blame Froyo for the memory hogging, but we’ve never run into this problem on any other device.  You’ll quickly realize why Moto is including task killer apps into their bloatware – their skin is doing a horrible job of managing resources.

Hands-on and Walk-through:

YouTube Preview Image

Benchmarks:

Gallery:

The Verdict:

If you have an upgrade available and can’t wait for the Samsung Galaxy S II, DROID Bionic or DROID3, then the DROIDX2 could be an option to consider, although it lacks some of today’s most important must-haves.  The dual-core processor is pretty “future proof” and should become more efficient once this phone gets off Froyo and onto Gingerbread, but in some people’s minds that may not make up for the fact that it lacks 4G capabilities and doesn’t have a front facing camera.  You might be able to crush a Thunderbolt owner in a benchmark, but you’ll never be able to video chat with a friend from afar.  We’re also clearly not fans of the “qHD” screen that Motorola has chosen to use, but recommend that you all take a look at one in person and form your own opinions.

So should this be your next phone?  That all depends on what you need from one.  If you really want power and aren’t into video chatting, watching crystal clear video or downloading things at ridiculously fast speeds – buy it.  If you want all of that wrapped up into one phone, then you might want to consider waiting.

Motorola DROID X2 Specs | Other DROID X2 Coverage

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  • Elliot323

    The screen isn’t the problem its the horrible Verizon 3G, the constant reboots, and total lack of support from the developer/hacker community. I broke my Thunderbolt and got this and it was a huge mistake. This is by far the worse phone I’ve ever had.

  • zippyboy11

    i have the droid x2 with gingerbread on it and theres nothing but good on it now stop complaining about the screen because i cant see any pixels

  • Haddock

    I just took a look at the DX2 today. I had high hopes, even despite the bad reactions to the pentile screen. But I must say, the screen is prih-hih-hih-ty awful. It’s not that noticeable until you look at something with a lot of detail in it, perfect example being the pre-loaded Grass live wallpaper. The thin lines of wavy grass looked very noticeably jagged and choppy to the point that it just looked plain bad. I feel like the Droid X’s screen looks a lot better than the Droid X2′s, even though the resolution is lower. At least it’s not jagged and choppy and pixelated like the DX2′s. 

  • Cashtyme2000

    You guys should review this again since it now has gb. The colors on my screen are fine and i have none of the stuttering performance woes you mentioned

  • Ruzz311

    I dont get why Android 2.2 is a negative for this phone… its so easy to root, which any self-respecting android user does anyway.

  • John Williams

    So like an idiot I put a nice thumb print into my screen on my Droid X removing it from the MultiMedia Station base….yeah I know…like I said idiot.  Well not being all that worried about 4G and already having all the kit for the Droid X, which I loved that phone, I went ahead and picked up the new X2 for $99 and so far I am mixed on if this one is better or not.

  • http://twitter.com/tittlemanscrest Stephen Parker

    I think the fact that it’s basically the original DX without a camera, makes it so I’d never buy it. I’d way rather wait to get the Tbolt or even wait for another device. 

    As an original DX owner I can definitely say I wouldn’t buy the DX2

  • http://twitter.com/tittlemanscrest Stephen Parker

    I think the fact that it’s basically the original DX without a camera, makes it so I’d never buy it. I’d way rather wait to get the Tbolt or even wait for another device. 

    As an original DX owner I can definitely say I wouldn’t buy the DX2

  • Jmehoff

    If its anything like the droid x, I wont be touching it with a ten foot pole. I truly remembered why I hate motorola…..can’t wait for my contract to be up.

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  • http://twitter.com/BartJJ1 Bart Jones

    *facepalm* 
    There is a huge difference between RAM and ROM…. 
    D2 and D2G both had 512 of RAM (volatile memory that apps are ran in) and then 8GB of ROM (that is what apps are actually saved and stored to that doesn’t reset every time the phone is rebooted like RAM but is slower).

  • http://twitter.com/BartJJ1 Bart Jones

    I had the fascinate and I loved the screen. I think you misunderstood the praises it received though as they were for the super high contrast ratios (blacks were EXTREMELY dark). The only real downfall of the fascinate was its lack of support from Samsung.

  • Guest

    having owned/used the DX2 for a week, I have to say this is probably the most accurate review of it I’ve seen so far.  I’ll summarize my feelings though
    Pros:
    - hardware feels solid
    - good battery life 
    - display visibility in sunlight better than any other phone I’ve seen/used so far
    - HDMI mirror cool in theory, couldn’t get it to work with Netflix
    - multimedia/car docks are very nice

    Cons:
    - locked/signed bootloader
    - UI feels significantly slower than my Incredible, even running stock ROM.  With CM7, the Inc feels like the dual-core phone and the DX2 the last-gen one.
    - pentile display sucks when scrolling text
    - physical buttons require too much pressure, too far from bottom of screen area

    In the end, I went back to my Inc running CM7 and am much happier.

    • guest

      My experience with the DX2 is quite similar to yours — I bought the phone and used it for one week, and ultimately the overall performance was so disappointing that I just could not justify the dollars spent for a phone which performed less smoothly than my original Droid!

      Yes – the DX2 has a nice hardware build; yes, the battery life was quite good; yes, the pentile screen is very bright while using less energy. But the negatives far outweighed the positives: scrolling – anywhere, from within the web browser, to application drawers – was horrible, laggy, jaggy, and irritating. Unlocking the phone – a pronounced delay each time. Stuttering while using the music player – with no other running applications! Occasional odd freezes requiring reboots. Oh, and yes, launching a product in mid-2011 with Android 2.2, just inexcusable.

      Frankly, I don’t know exactly what or how Motorola screwed up with this phone – I only know that on principle, if nothing else, I can’t support a company selling such a half-assed buggy, and disappointing product at a premium price. It’s insulting.  

      Also, I thoroughly agree that Moto arrogant myopia has again overtaken their product strategy. Given their leadership and seeming disregard both for their product consumers as well as quality control, I question whether they will survive much longer as a mobile industry leader, or at all. Looking at Motorola’s market sales documentation over the last 2 years…well, I also don’t believe in buying products from companies which I doubt will still be in business 1-2 years from now. They likely will not be supporting software upgrades!

  • http://www.facebook.com/michaeljmcgrath Michael McGrath

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  • kretz

    After the dx2 goes to sleep and you press the power or home button, does anyone think it takes too long for the screen to wake up?

  • http://www.facebook.com/michaeljmcgrath Michael McGrath

    im copping the first decent dualcore 4g 1gb ram+ phone that pops up

  • Anonymous

    Until SOMETHING from VZW ships with Gingerbread, you can’t call it “so 2010″ because there is no 2011 yet.  That being said, why the hell are ALL these vendors still on Froyo?

    In the Pros you are willing to concede that the lag on the X2 is most likely from Froyo.  In the CONS you still go back and place some of the blame on Blur… WHY?  Just “because” you have to say something derogatory against Blur?  If Froyo is the problem, then wouldn’t it be fair to say you have to wait and see? (at the very least), since as you noted, there is no problem with LAG on the Gingerbreadified X?

    I am still not crazy about Motorola’s launcher… while it is certainly better than what the X originally shipped with, it is still very rigid and without many preferences that the user can update, so I stick with Launcher Pro and perhaps that is what makes it better, becaue like I said, since Gingerbread no lag at all on the X, so if the X2 is lagging, something else is at play.

    Pentile screen.  We will just have to agree to disagree on this.  Even Apple adoring sites like BGR, and Engadget reviews are less harsh about Pentile displays.I’m not saying they are the end all be all, but in what I have seen in several brief opportunities to play, the problems just don’t seem all that dramatic.

    Though I disagree with on several points, I thought your roundup and summation of who this phone is for is spot on!

  • Anonymous

    I just went to the store to see the X2 with my own eyes, and it’s horrific. Compare the app drawer…when you scroll it slow it flickers and is jerky. My dx scrolls smooth even with 5 columns using launcher pro

  • Usmc1488

    Great review, yes the screen sucks, other than that I like it.  I love my DX and if it ever breaks this will be a good replacement from assurion.  Ok, onhestly who really uses their front camera? Que tumble weeds and crickets, and 4G?? I can watch netflix just fine with great quality on 3G.

  • Anonymous

    Not sure if I’d rather have this or the original…it seems that bad…

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  • Joe

    You didn’t even mention the lack of a dedicated camera button? That’s one of my favorite features of my X!

  • http://twitter.com/nashmax73 TomAss (TA)

    My decision to jump from Moto D1 to an HTC Thunderbutt a few months ago is looking better all the time.

    Still, I yearn for a class action lawsuit to grant us all freedom to remove bloatware from OUR handsets.