Motorola's dual-core Droid X2 is a solid sequel to the 2010 best-seller

 Droid X2

When the Motorola Droid X first hit Verizon Wireless last July, it was thrilling in a number of ways. Not only did it represent Verizon's commitment to a high end line of Android smartphones, but it also marked Motorola's next step in reclaiming its throne atop the mobile industry. As an early adopter, I grew to love the X, which I feel grew into one of the best smartphones on Verizon to date. So how does its successor, the Droid X2, live up to the original? Less than a year after the X's release, is the X2 as thrilling as its predecessor? Here, we'll look at how the X2 has improved on the foundation the X had laid, and whether or not these improvements are enough to get excited about.

Let's go, after the break.

Droid X2 SpecsDroid X2 ForumsDroid X2 Accessories

Initial hands-on

Before we begin, let's take a look back at Phil's initial hands-on with the Droid X2.


Youtube link for mobile viewing

Hardware

If you've ever seen a Droid X, you've basically seen a Droid X2. If you are looking for a major revolution in Motorola's X line, look elsewhere. At first glance the untrained eye could easily mistake the X2 for its older brother: the phones are nearly identical. You've got the signature camera hump on the back, atop a still stunningly thin body. You've got the same matte black finish, though the X2's black looks a bit richer than the original, but that could just be chalked up to age. If you loved the X's row of four hard keys, you'll enjoy the same keys on the X2. They're bulky, but they do the job. I don't mind soft keys, so this isn't a major selling point for me, but if you're someone who loves the satisfaction of a good click, you'll be impressed.

Droid X vs Droid X2  Android Central

 The left side maintains the original's HDMI and USB ports, though the right side has lost the dedicated camera button of the X. Motorola hasn't even replaced the button with something else; it's simply not there. Bummer.

Droid X2 Droid X2

Most importantly, you've got that same 4.3 inch LCD screen that set the X apart a year ago, though Motorola has improved the resolution to its new qHD standard and has added Gorilla Glass for protection. Don't think you'll be overwhelmed, though. I found the screen to be a bit pixelated despite the 540x960 resolution. Colors don't seem as vivid as Samsung and HTC's current offerings, and the X2 certainly isn't as bright as its competition. There is one huge thing that the X2's screen has going for itself: it looks absolutely phenomenal in direct sunlight. Sure, you have to have the brightness up all the way to truly appreciate it, but wow, what a long way we've come. The difference is night and day, and enough for me to call the X2's screen a noticeable improvement over the X.

Droid X2

In the smartphone world, no detail is too small, so I suppose this is worth mentioning: I love the X2's power button. It's got the perfect position (top center) and the perfect feel. Coming from an HTC Thunderbolt where the power button became too recessed for my comfort (it really shouldn't change positions, right?), the X2 is a pleasure. And I also love the X2's LED notification light: it's bright, it supports multiple colors, and it's hard to ignore. Just the way a notification light should be.

Underneath the battery door (thank you, Motorola, for not making it a chore to remove) you've got a 1,540 mAh battery, alongside a microSD slot that is visible with the battery in place, though you'll have to remove the battery to access it. And to achieve so, you've got that infamous “pull here” tab that confused so many X owners. Remember, don't cut it off. It serves a purpose.

Droid X2Droid X2

Above the battery door you've got an 8-megapixel camera with HD video capture alongside a dual LED flash. More on how the camera performs a bit later. And speaking of cameras, you're not going to find one on the front of the X2. It's just a proximity sensor, everybody. It's a shame really, seeing that a front-facer is becoming more and more standard. If you're not into video chatting, don't let it bother you. If you are, well, it should bother you.

As for the rest of the specs, here's a breakdown:

  • 5.02 x 2.58 x 0.39 (127.5 x 65.5 x 9.90 mm), 5.47 oz
  • Android 2.2 Froyo (we fully expect an update to Gingerbread at some point)
  • CDMA 800/1900, 1xEV-DO Rev. A
  • 4.3-inch qHD display with 540x960 resolution and 240 dpi pixel density
  • 1 GHz dual-core NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor
  • 8MP rear camera with 720p video capture and dual LED flash
  • 512 MB RAM
  • 8 GB onboard storage with an included 8 GB microSD card; up to 32 GB supported
  • 1,540 mAH battery
  • 1080p video playback with HDMI output
  • 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth, GPS
  • Accelerometer, Magnetometer, Ambient Light Sensor, Proximity Sesor
  • Noise-canceling microphone

Software

The X2 is sporting Android 2.2 Froyo, which is kind of a letdown. And when you consider that the original X has just been upgraded to Gingerbread, it's even more annoying. That said, I still have a soft spot in my heart for Froyo. It's no Gingerbread, but it's great nonetheless. And Motorola has said that the X2 will receive the upgrade in the very near future, so sit back and be patient. It's coming.

Now let's cut to the chase here. Motorola's Blur skin is here, whether you like it or not. It has made a name for itself, both good and bad, and it has both fans and critics. It gets the job done, and doesn't make any apologies for its appearance. I respect that in a way, so hats off to Motorola for sticking to their guns. And it's the update version of Blur that the original Droid X just got in its Gingerbread update, and it's an improvement, for sure.

I like Blur's Profile feature, which let's you customize the seven homescreens three times, once for home, once for work, and once for weekend. That's 21 screens for you to work your magic on. Overwhelming, isn't it?

Droid X2

I also don't mind Blur's widgets, which can now be resized to fit your needs. They're not going to win any beauty contests, but they get the job done, I suppose.

Droid X2 Droid X2Droid X2 Droid X2

I wouldn't be doing the X2 any justice without pointing out Blur's major flaw. It's simply not optimized for performance. Remember that beastly dual-core processor under the X2's hood? You'd hardly know its there when cruising through the UI. The X2 drags when flipping through homescreens, which shouldn't be taxing for a phone of its caliber. There's no good reason you should ever see a slowdown in the UI on a phone with specs like these. But you'll find it on the X2, which is a darn shame. And maybe it's just me, but there's even a lag when unlocking the phone. Not the actual sliding part, but from button to screen on seems to take longer than others. Might be the display, might be Blur, might be the processor. But I noticed it, and it annoyed me.

Open up the app drawer and you'll notice Blur's built-in sorting capability. Hit the bar on top and you'll be able to sort your apps by recently used and those you have downloaded. You can even create your own category to include the apps of your choice. Nice touch. Also on that Blur bar (oh, I like how that sounds!) is a direct link to the Android Market. Gotta love anything that saves a few steps.

Droid X2 Droid X2 

In said app drawer you'll unfortunately find Verizon's signature bloat. All the usual suspects are there, including Amazon MP3, City ID, Let's Golf 2, NFL Mobile, NFS Shift, VZ Navigator, and the dreaded VCast Suite (Apps, Music, and Movies.) Man, that's realy getting old, isn't it? And don't even get me started on Blockbuster. Note to Verizon: Blockbuster is on life support, and its time you pull the plug.

Also preinstalled on the X2 is Motorola's own Task Manager. It's set up nicely and pretty straight forward, though I tend to avoid task managers in general. If you do choose to use it, take a look at our guide to properly setting up and using your task manager.

The X2 is capable of supporting up to five devices via its Mobile Hotspot Wifi connection with Verizon's usual $20 for 2GB monthly fee. I'm not a fan. While writing this review I tried to fire up the hotspot to upload some photos. Performance was downright awful. The X2 kept dropping the 3G connection rendering the feature absolutely useless. It was a taxing and annoying task. Wondering whether this was Verizon's or Motorola's fault, I fired up the same hotspot on my HTC Thunderbolt (using 3G, I promise). No problemo. It was fast, it was reliable, and it worked. Motorola's fault, not Verizon's. 

And remember that the Droid X2 is a 3G-only device. No LTE on this guy. Your battery will thank you.

One more thing about Blur: what a keyboard. Just, wow. Dare I say Motorola has developed Android's best keyboard. It's got multitouch, just like the original Droid X, which really gives it an edge over the competition, and combined with the X2's prediction software, it works like a charm. I've never had a hard time typing on a touchscreen, but this keyboard makes me wonder how I've survived all these years without it. Kudos, Motorola.

Droid X2

Performance

Don't let what I've written about Blur give that Tegra 2 a bad name. When you give it a chance to shine without having to juggle the clunky UI, you'll be impressed. Opening apps on the X2 blows the X out of the water: you might not notice, but when placed side to side, the original X shows its age.

Droid X2

Tegra's touches are subtle but oh-so-pleasant. Take the browser, for instance. It's the same one you've got on the original X, but it performs leaps and bounds above its predecessor. Even without 4G, pages load quickly and accurately. Browsing is smooth, even when Flash is involved. Let me rephrase that: Tegra and Flash is a match made in heaven. Gone are the days of sluggish loading times and choppy performance. Tegra's got the guts to perform.

As for those 3G speeds, you're looking at the standard Verizon offerings. In New York City, I never broke 2 Mbps down or 1 Mbps up, which I expected. Despite the speed Tegra adds to the device itself, you're still limited by Verizon's 3G speeds. No way around that. If you're looking to increase those speeds, take a look at the Charge or the Thunderbolt, or wait around for the elusive Bionic. If you're content with Verizon's 3G network, which is nothing to sneeze at, you'll be content with the X2.

Droid X2 Droid X2

As for battery life, I have no complaints. Call me skeptical, but I've grown to expect my smartphone batteries to last a full workday at best. Sure, you'll get the rare power hog that makes you struggle to find an outlet, and then you'll find that phone that lasts for days at a time (okay, that's really rare). In these terms, the X2 is pretty average. I got a full day's use out of the X2, with some juice to spare at bedtime. During the weekend, when I was spending more time using the X2, I saw a decrease in battery life, though I still had no trouble making it through the day. Plus, Motorola has added some nice power management software that lets you choose between performance mode, nighttime mode, and maximum battery saver mode. It even lets you customize peak and off peak hours ensuring that your battery fits your schedule. If you care enough to tweek these settings, you'll see some really nice battery life.

And as an actual phone? The X2 has nice in-call quality, with almost zero interference. I heard the other line perfectly, and they reported the same. We can thank both Motorola for its superb noise canceling microphone and software, and Verizon for the network it has built. Unlike me, they haven't forgotten those who still use the phone to make calls.

Camera

The X2 sports an 8MP camera which shoots 720P video. I'll let the pictures and video do the talking, but the camera interface is fast and fun. There are a bunch of customizations, including preset scenes designed for optimal picture quality and a number of different effects. Oh, and I love the widescreen resolution option. Cool touch.

I really don't have any complaints about the camera quality. In fact, dare I say, the X2 takes really nice photos. I'm not the best judge, as someone who's colorblindness makes him a bit blasé about photo quality, but from what I can tell, the X2 is firing on all cylinders.

Android Central

Droid X2 Camera Sample Droid X2 Camera SampleAndroid Central

 

 

Hackability

It's Motorola. Enough said. The bootloader's locked, and that's that. Motorola has made it very clear that they believe in their strategy, which will inevitably turn a lot of people off. In the same breath, there are plenty of casual users who aren't offended in the slightest. Now there will be plenty a talented developer to come along and try to get this thing unlocked, but until they make some progress, we have to sit back and wait. In the meantime, root away, as Gingerbreak is working on the X2. 

Wrap Up

Let's put things into perspective for a minute. It hasn't even been a full year since the original X's release, so it might be a little unfair to expect a brand new device from Motorola. Instead, it looks like the company is crafting itself an X line, similar in nature to its Droid line. So if we expect only incremental improvements instead of a radically overhauled device, there's not much to be disappointed with.

The bump in screen resolution didn't thrill me, but its nice to be on the cutting edge of technology, even if only momentarily. And that new Tegra 2 processor is impressive. And this is coming from a Snapdragon junkie. If you're a gamer, or pride yourself in technical specs, Tegra can't be beat right now.

That being said, there are few improvements missing from the X2. The absent front-facing camera is disappointing, and Froyo is beginning to taste a little stale. And most importantly, Motorola should have taken some more time to optimize Blur for that Tegra 2 under the hood. I'm not going to pick on Blur like some insist on doing, but its hard to ignore how sluggish it can sometimes be. Sure, homescreen replacements are abound and a lot of Blur can be ignored, but if Motorola is priding itself in its hardware, why not make the software the best it can be as well?

I like the X2. Just as I liked the X last year. That doesn't mean that I'd run out to upgrade my original. If you've still got your X, there isn't enough of a reason to shell out another $200 for the X2. If you're in the market for a new phone, though, the X2 is a solid choice, especially if you're not covered by Verizon's expanding 4G network. It's got the guts to go the distance, and the specs to remain relevant for at least a few more months. Give it a spin. Motorola is putting a lot of effort into its smartphones, and we might as well reap the rewards.

 
There are 36 comments

Tegra cant be beat right now? I think from all the vids and info on the internetz, the Exynos processor in the GS2 is better :)

Revrant says:

Well, take into account dedicated video processing capability, the X has it, I assume the X2 does, we don't know if the GS2 has it yet, it was a massive detriment to the EVO 4G's performance.

Also, there are a lot of people who hate AMOLED, myself included.

Menru says:

Tegra 2 has huge problems with H.264 HD video which will probably never be solved. On the other hand, the GS2 plays everything you throw at it, even 1080p mkvs. Also, why do you hate AMOLED? The screen on the GS2 is arguably the best on the market.

Revrant says:

That's why dedicated video processing makes the Droid X such a superb video media device, it doesn't rely solely on the processor, the EVO 4G has *a lot* of problems with that.

And heavy handed games.

I'd be interested to know if the GS2 has dedicated processing then, and as for AMOLED, I like my Mario with my Mario and my rich beautiful screens with my rich beautiful screens.

In other words, keep your peanut butter away from my jelly, dammit.

Dark_Blu says:

Wow. No dedicated video processing? I thought the EVO had it. That explains a thing or two...

Revrant says:

Yes, there was a comparison, probably easy to find in google, but people overlooked that as a minor niggle since the EVO 4G offered a lot more, minus Blur and nasty locking habits.

igknight says:

I went from the X to the X2 just a few days ago for the Tegra. I do find it faster, but some things seem slower, like launching an application. I do like the phone, and like the new screen, but agree that it seems pixelated.

Putting aside that it should have had more RAM and came with 2.3 and not 2.2, the biggest issue I had with the phone was that it has two memory slots. An small internal memory available for you mounted as sdcard, and then your SD card mounts as sdcard-ext. When I moved my 16Gig card over most of my programs wouldn't work without re-downloading the massive amounts of data they needed, and the little 2G that I had free on the /mnt/sdcard/ wasn't enough. If rooted you can easily fix that, but what a horrible design flaw!

All aside, I do like the phone.

Not that I would buy another new phone from Verizon again after they did away with one year contacts. But the lack of a front facing camera is a deal breaker for me. I probably would never use it, but I'd like knowing I had it. Seems like a given on new phones.

BTSee says:

The lack of a feature that you would "probably never use" is a deal breaker for you? That is odd.

mjforte says:

My only guess as to why this released with Froyo instead of Gingerbread is that Motorola will probably upgrade it to the new Blur that's on the Droid 3. It probably wasn't ready and optimized yet so they instead with with Froyo that looks like the X's Gingerbread.

stopsign002 says:

I just can't get myself to buy something with a locked bootloader. Period.

tonopahbill says:

Why is it not 4G. I love my DroidX but I will not upgrade to a non 4G phone

BTSee says:

I assume it is not because the Bionic is supposed to be MOTO's flagship 4G on VZW, but it has been inexplicably delayed.

kretz7 says:

Has anyone tried to take a picture at night? The quality is beyond pathetic. Also, has anyone noticed that the dx2 no longer features a manual shutter? I would love for my experience with the camera to be user error..

I have noticed on my Xoom that pages load fast even on VZW's crappy 3g. The network is the only thing holding the Xoom back, well that and Motorola and their ineptness to get it updated properly. Kinda done with them. The Xoom was my last purchase. Going Samsung now. Chrome Laptop, and in a couple of years, a tablet. The Charge has worked brilliantly and the screen is a hugely better than the qhd display. Had the original X, and really found blur to be a hindrance. Made it feel very choppy. Touchwiz not much smoother, but much better widgets and functions

johncihak says:

Verizon would never release gingerbread for the DX before it was released for the DX2. That would never happen. They would never do that to buyers of one of their brand new phones. Never, ever.

Suckerssssss!

19mitch79 says:

Correction. Original x has gorilla glass as well.

joebob2000 says:

> Correction. Original x has gimmicky, meaningless "super strong screen coating" as well.

Fixed that for ya

ScottJ says:

Gorilla Glass is not just a coating, it's a fabrication technique.

Can we dropped the whole "fixed that for ya" catch phrase? It's getting a little old. It should be retired along with "rocking ", "FTW", "just sayin'" and all the other overused wheezy idioms that lazy people have adopted.

05 TypeS DC5 says:

I don't understand why they stuck with 512mb of ram, that seems like such fail move. The evo 3d has 1gb of ram, why couldn't they do 1gb of ram as well.

adjangs says:

" There's no good reason you should ever see a slowdown in the UI on a phone with specs like these."

Exactly. I would not have given this review any credit if this had not been said. Great review.

Dark_Blu says:

Maybe it's just the picture, but this phone looks really big.

biggbrother2 says:

Who in their right mind would buy this phone? The lack of features is astonishing.

No LTE
NO FCC
No Gingerbread
No increase in ram
NO 1080p recording
Loss of camera button
BLUR makes it run sluggish
Same design as X1.

If Verizon still had 1 year contracts then maybe I could see some X fans purchasing this to hold them off for nationwide LTE coverage next year. But who would sign a 2 year contract for this instead of waiting for the Bionic? This phone will be a relic by next summer!

joebob2000 says:

You mean No FFC? I think the FCC is included (with a slight service charge aka tax) on this phone (and every phone sold in the US, without question.)

BTSee says:

Call me crazy then :)

I bought it because I was looking for a 4.3 inch screen with better call quality than my Incredible.

It may be a relic by next summer, as many phones seem to be 12 months after they are out now, but if it is I can just move onto a new device then.

biggbrother2 says:

Who in their right mind would buy this phone? The lack of features is astonishing.

No LTE
NO FFC
No Gingerbread
No increase in ram
NO 1080p recording
Loss of camera button
BLUR makes it run sluggish
Same design as X1.

If Verizon still had 1 year contracts then maybe I could see some X fans purchasing this to hold them off for nationwide LTE coverage next year. But who would sign a 2 year contract for this instead of waiting for the Bionic? This phone will be a relic by next summer!

babybear293 says:

2.2?
how is this even acceptable in 2011?

Dark_Blu says:

The only thing this phone has going for it is the Tegra2 CPU. Everything else is pretty much the same accept for:

No FFC
No LTE
No Gingerbread
Sluggish.

I wouldn't waste time or money on this phone with the Droid 3 and Bionic coming.

BTSee says:

Were they hosting a cab convention at your hotel?

Obviously you've never been in midtown manhattan....especially during rush hour.

66racer says:

The phone was a great upgrade for someone with an old phone, but what most are saying i believe is that why would you upgrade to the x2 if you have the original droid x or similar phone. Which I agree, I got my phone on launch week and have been running roms as soon as they started coming out, since it came out Liberty has made the phone so much faster and honestly my phone feels faster than the display x2 at the store, now when roms come out for the x2 that will be awesome. I personally have been disappointed with camera quality and it shows in the x2 by the samples, it takes blury pictures unless you take pictures like a sniper would shoot his rifle. I hate that on important pictures I feel obligated to take 2 shots for the just in case moment. I may try the bionic but I think im ready to jump ship to samsung especially after they gave a dev a free galaxy s2 to play with.

Kudos to the website for actually mentioning that the locked bootloader. Shame on them for failing to explain what that means.

DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES BUY THIS PHONE. IT USES ENCRYPTION TO PREVENT YOU FROM ACCESSING IT'S OPERATING SYSTEM THAT CANNOT BE BROKEN BY THE COMMUNITY, NOR WILL IT EVER BE BROKEN.

This means, you cannot get the latest Android until Motorola decides to release it. It means you cannot probably overclock or underclock the processor. It means that you are required to find security holes to achieve root access, rather than simply installing a version of Android that has root enabled by default. It means root access will have limited effectiveness, since the kernel will still be off-limits.

NO person who ever intends to modify their Android phone from plain stock should buy this phone. You will be in for heartbreak and frustration. If you want to hack your phone, good luck, but don't buy this phone expecting good results from that. At best, workarounds MAY be found, but they are more likely to brick the device.

(disclaimer: if you are tired of the bootloader remarks, please consider that they are made for the good of potential buyers, not to annoy you. my apologies, no flames needed.)

wizardprang says:

Thank you so much for spelling that out for me.

G00GLYEYED says:

I've updated from Samsung Galaxy S to Motorolla Droid X2 and couldn't be happier. My Samsung was freezing up 3 to 4 times a day after the Froyo update. Verizon tech support advised me not to download any software from the Android market!!! (I kid you not)

I think the X2 is fantastic despite not having the Samsung's super gorgeous Super AMOLED screen. It's much much faster and has a greater voice quality. I'm still one of those old fashioned people who still use their phone to make calls.

It has a built in FM receiver because sometimes you need to listen to your local events. There's more to life outside the net too.

I've installed Launcher Pro and haven't missed MotoBLUR at all.

I have no idea what the big deal is about 4G since it uses so much battery power to be useful. You can still get much faster internet speed with WIFI that can be found just about everywhere these days.
Ever heard of Starbucks?

If I had to chose between a faster processor and LTE, I would choose the processor any day. Ideally you should have both of course.

Also with SWYPE and Multitouch, I don't need the physical keyboard of the Droid 2 (which I also have as a spare) and the new Droid 3.
I could care less about a front facing camera. Why would anyone want to see my ugly mug anyway?

In addition, you can use the X2 as a Bluetooth modem using a 3rd party software. (PDANET--not available on the Android market; has to be downloaded on a computer first---GASP) I couldn't get the Samsung to do that at all. It would only allow USB tethering.

YES I wish they would retain the camera button and YES it would be nice if Verizon would equip the X2 with LTE and YES it would be nice if it had an AMOLED display. But even without any of those features, it's still an awesome phone. It's solid, well built and has great call quality.

I guess I'm not brave enough to hack my phone and void the warranty while I'm still under contract so I would still recommend this phone to anyone in similar situation. If you're stuck with Verizon, you could do much worse by going with the flimsy Samsung Charge ($300 under contract--who are they kidding?) or the chunky HTC Thunderbolt.

asexytrucker says:

I have owned this phone for a couple months and must say I am really disappointed. I had a samsung captivate (much older smartphone) that could do literally everything that the x2 could but with more customization options and an easier interface that cut out many unnecessary steps created by the x2. The x2's so called "high speed processer" is a load of bs. It constantly crashes and restarts on it's own and loads verrrrrry slow. DO NOT BUY! One star.

theofficer says:

I have original Droid, and I'm updated to dx2. True not perfect but does alot of things well. Plus Verizon selling it for $40 after discounted price and rebates.