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Droid X2 ships — but stutters in review

May 26, 2011 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive

The Motorola Droid X2 went on sale today in Verizon Wireless stores for $200 plus contract. Although the Android 2.2 smartphone adds an improved 4.3-inch qHD display and a dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 to the original Droid X design, that's not enough to cut it considering today's high-end, 4G competition, especially when the performance boost appears to be surprisingly negligible, says this review.

Verizon Wireless began selling Motorola Mobility's Droid X2 smartphone online May 19 for $200, and the phone went on sale in Verizon retail stores today, May 26.

Tipped earlier this month, the the Android 2.2-based Droid X2 is the follow-up to the smash-hit Motorola Droid X (pictured) from last July. I've been using the X as my personal smartphone since November, so was curious to see how the update performed.


Motorola Droid X2

From a hardware perspective, the Droid X2 is largely the same. Not only does the X2 measure five inches long, 2.6 inches wide, and only 0.38 inches thick, it weighs the same as the X, just under 5.5 ounces.

Surprisingly small performance boost from Tegra

Under the hood, however, it is a different story — allegedly. The X2 is powered by the 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2, a dual-core, Cortex-A9 processor, which also powers the Motorola Atrix 4G on AT&T, the Motorola Xoom tablet, and other devices. Motorola claims the X2 "is the first smartphone at Verizon Wireless to sport a dual-core 1GHz processor, delivering up to twice the power as its predecessor Droid X."

The first part I can't argue with, but I'm not convinced the dual-core on the X2 was that much of a better performer than the standard single-die, Texas Instruments, Cortex-A8 OMAP3630 chip on the X

While the X2 portends to offer "lightning-fast speeds for better gaming experiences, web browsing, page rendering, and Adobe Flash video performance," I found the X and X2 were largely comparable when loading Google search, websites and YouTube videos. More details and images of the comparison tests may be found in the eWEEK slide show link at the end of this story.


Droid X2, front and back; side views are below

The X2 has 512MB of RAM, 8GB of onboard memory, and 8GB of internal storage, expandable up to a 32GB microSD card, says Verizon. Other features include the usual aGPS, 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth, FM radio, and a 3.5mm audio port.

Moving up to qHD

The X2 has the same physical input buttons as the X, positioned directly below the pretty screen. The 4.3-inch screen, one of two major modifications from the original Droid X, offers "quarter-high-definition" resolution of 960 by 540 pixels.


Droid X2 (left) and Droid X (right), showing X2's 960 x 540-pixel screen compared to the Droid X's 854 x 480 display

(Click to enlarge)

Motorola claims the X2 has 26 percent more pixels than the Droid X. That sounds about right; I could certainly see a difference, but only when the X and X2 were placed side by side, showing the virtual keyboard or YouTube videos. The difference was especially notable in lighter settings. 

All in all, the qHD is a nice improvement, but not earthshaking. Call it an incremental improvement to the naked eye.

The software on both the X and X2 is, at present, largely the same. Both run Froyo. The X launched with Android 2.1, and got the Froyo bump late last year. The X2 launches with Froyo, but will get the Android 2.3 ("Gingerbread") bump later this year along with the X and all the other Motorola Droids except the original Droid model.

Like the other Droids, the X2 lacks the requisite NFC (near-field communication) chip to make use of Gingerbread's NFC support, so don't expect to do mobile payments.

The user interface of the X and X2 were different, if only in slight nuances. I'm talking in particular about the color scheme, which is largely blue on the X2, as you can see from the native Droid X wallpaper that loads up when you power on the phone. Where the dialer on the X is a drab gray, the X2 dialer has a nice blue hue. I thought this was a freak thing, but then I discovered similar blue tinges in the camera software UI.

Same old shutter stutter

The X2 offers more or less the same eight-megapixel camera as the X, sporting 720p video recording, dual-LED flash, and auto-focus. The X2 camera software, however, offers the ability to zoom in or out on the virtual viewfinder, saving us from the clunkiness of buttons.

Motorola also claims the X2 camera boasts 44 percent faster shot-to-shot performance. I didn't notice that much difference. The Droid cameras still stutter.

A new Gallery application on the X2 is a fun touch. This application, accessible from one of seven home screens, lets users post photos and comments on sites like Twitter and Facebook. Tap on a picture and you're in Facebook. Video worked fine on X2, and porting content via HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) to my TV, which always worked well with the X, performed without hiccups.

There's no front-facing camera for video chat, sorry. I know that's all the rage these days, even if it does annoy those next to you on the train or subway. 

Calls have always been great on my X, and I found this to be much the same on the X2, with minimal dropping of coverage on Verizon's 3G network in Fairfield County, Conn.

The X2's 1540mAh battery, the very same lithium-ion workhorse in the X, will last you a day as long as you're not spending it flicking through YouTube and playing data- and power-hogging games. For the record, Verizon claims 480 usage minutes or 220 hours standby per charge.

If you were on the fence about the Droid X, I'm not sure this largely incremental upgrade will do it for you. Unless, of course, the qHD screen and dual-core Tegra are enough to push you. No current Droid X owners should abandon their handsets for the X2, which is essentially the same phone.

If I were shopping for a phone, would I pick the X2? No, not when the Samsung Droid Charge and runs blazingly fast on Verizon's 4G LTE network, even at $50 more.

However, should a Droid X come along with 4G LTE support running Gingerbread with native NFC support and chip controller, count me in. I bought the X above other Android phones because I loved the hardware. A faster X with better software — not the X2 — would do the trick for me.

Availability

The Motorola Droid X2 is available now for $200 plus a two year contract, says Verizon. More detailed information and online sales may be found Verizon's Droid X2 site.

An eWEEK slide show comparison of the Droid X2 and the Droid X, which may be found here.

Clint Boulton is a writer for eWEEK.


This article was originally published on LinuxDevices.com and has been donated to the open source community by QuinStreet Inc. Please visit LinuxToday.com for up-to-date news and articles about Linux and open source.



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