Review: The Motorola Droid 2 is the type of QWERTY slider smartphone the world was waiting for last fall when the phone maker launched the original Droid on Verizon Wireless.
That may seem a bit harsh for the Motorola Droid, which I genuinely liked when I tested it and the Droid Eris back in November.
The harsh reality is smartphone software and the applications built to run on them are progressing at such a frenetic clip that what looked great nine months ago seems pass??Â«.
Case in point: Last November, Android 2.0 on the Droid was the belle of the ball, with Google Maps Navigation luring users with free turn-by-turn GPS directions.
The Droid 2, which launched on Verizon Wireless Aug. 12 for $199 after a $100 mail-in rebate, sports the much faster Android 2.2 and two new tools that augment the user experience.
These include Google Voice Actions for Android and Google Chrome to Phone. More on those later.
The Droid 2 feels lighter to me than the Droid did, which is puzzling because both are listed at 169 grams, or about 6 ounces. Like the Droid, the Droid 2 is roughly 4.6 inches long, 2.4 inches wide and a half-inch thick.
Also, I like how the device sports a 3.7-inch screen, which in my opinion is the perfect size for a smartphone screen.
Bigger screens also hog battery power. I don't know if the smaller screen was a factor or not, but the 1400 mAh Li Ion battery in the Droid 2 was the same type as the Droid.
However, while the original Droid offered 385 minutes of usage time (270 minutes standby), the Droid 2 sports 575 minutes of usage time (15 hours of standby).
I let the Droid 2 battery fend for itself for a day and a half, despite using it for several calls and running several Web applications and doing several Web searches before requiring a recharge.
So the battery is great, among the best I've tested in the Droid line. Also, while the original Droid used a 550 MHz, the Droid 2, like others of its ilk, uses a 1 GHz chip to support the faster Webkit browser.
First things first for functionality. Those of you who own the Droid or tested it know how flat and bland the keys were on the QWERTY keyboard.
The Droid 2 markedly improves this, raising the keys for a superior tactile feel and losing the unwieldy d-pad navigation key located on the right of the Droid's keyboard.
The Droid 2 physical keyboard won't be mistaken for that of a BlackBerry Bold, but it's totally reliable enough for heavy corporate e-mail users who need to text a lot.
Speaking of which, Android 2.2 boasts Microsoft Exchange support with remote wipe, providing some enterprise management capability for IT administrators.
You know what isn't any more reliable than it was on the Droid? The Droid 2's virtual keyboard, which is too narrow to provide accurate typing for anyone but children or adults with petite fingers. That's reason enough for me not to buy one.
Conversely, both the virtual keyboard worked like a dream on the Droid X when I tested it last month. The keyboard is my biggest pet peeve about the Droid 2.
Web surfing with Android 2.2 was a breeze, and videos on Websites such as ESPN.com's mobile Website ran without a hitch because the Droid 2 comes strapped with Adobe Flash 10.1 support. Hallelujah.