It’s hard to believe that less than a year ago the Droid was released on Verizon Wireless. Lauded as a significant leap forward for Android devices, the Droid was definitely a hit. Verizon sold over one million Droids in just three months. The Nexus One, released on T-Mobile in January, took some of the wind out of Droid’s sails (pun intended), but the device still has a very large user base.
I think one of the main reasons the Droid has been so successful is because it has a physical (hardware) keyboard. A lot of BlackBerry, Moto Q, and Palm Treo converts wanted physical keys, yet the iPhone, HTC HD2, and many yet-to-be released Android devices all have virtual, touchscreen keyboards. Now, the mere presence of a physical keyboard doesn’t mean it is spectacular. Do a quick search on the Droid keyboard and you’ll discover one of the knocks on the device’s keyboard is that the keys are flat, a little slick, and hard to distinguish from one another. Additionally, the Droid keyboard has a directional pad (D-pad) on the right side of the keyboard. The D-pad consumed valuable real estate, and many users complained that it offset the keyboard just enough that it required an uncomfortable extension of your right thumb to type
Some of the best keyboards on the market, BlackBerry and HTC TouchPro 2, have raised keys that have just enough space between them so that fingers can differentiate typing by feel. The Droid keyboard almost requires you to look at the keys. Even then, you still might make some unintended mistakes.
Another thing about the Droid, that generated a love it/leave it feeling, is the styling. The Droid is very blocky. It has hard lines and a protruding “chin.” A lot of people liked the shape because it broke from the traditional rounded corner form factor of the iPhone and a lot of “me too” devices. Surprisingly, even with a physical keyboard, the Droid is pretty thin and solid.
Clearly Motorola heard most of the chatter about the original device. The Droid 2 keyboard has been given a pretty substantial facelift. Gone is the D-pad. Instead, the Droid 2 keyboard has been given four directional arrows. Take it from me, this is a noticeably missing feature on the Droid X keyboard. The arrows will help with fine tune editing. Another enhancement of the keyboard are the somewhat rounded keys.
I haven’t put my hands on the keyboard yet, but I suspect that it still could stand from a little more separation between keys, but it looks like an improvement from the initial Droid keyboard. I do like that Motorola put the space bar on a separate row. A lot of keyboard’s merge the space bar (and signficantly shrink it) onto the third row with letters, which can be awkward and create a lot of typing errors because your thumbs are trained to drop to hit the space bar.
The original Droid “chin” has been covered by the screen plate and rounded to present a more smooth, overall look on the Droid 2.
As anticipated, the Droid 2 will ship with the updated Android operating system, version 2.2 – dubbed Froyo. The Droid 2, like the Droid X, will be capable of operating as a mobile WiFi hotspot for up to five devidces. (This feature costs and additional $20 a month–on top of the $29.99 data plan). Included with the Froyo update will be the new Adobe Flash Player 10.1. Currently, Android 2.0+ devices have Flash Lite, meaning a good amount of media content and games are not viewable. Flash Player 10.1 will remedy that limitation. The Droid 2 will also come with Swype keyboard as an alternative to Motorola’s nice multitouch keyboard. Carried over from the original Droid is a 3.7″ multitouch screen with gorilla glass, as well as a 5 megapixel camera. You will also get DLNA capability, which allows you to display media from your phone on a DLNA certified television of computer. (Click here to learn more about DLNA). Finally the Droid 2 will come with 8 gigabytes of built-in memory and supplied with a 8GB microSD card.
If you’d like to look a little deeper into the capabilities of the Droid 2, Motorola has a really nice, easy-to-read site with all the specifications on the Droid 2.
Verizon/Motorola Press Release
See What DROID™ Does Next: DROID 2 by Motorola Pre-Sale Starts August 11 at verizonwireless.com
Built on Android 2.2 with Adobe® Flash® Player 10.1, DROID 2 Comes Equipped with More Power, More Speed and an Improved QWERTY Keyboard
BASKING RIDGE, N.J., and LIBERTYVILLE, Ill., Aug. 10 /PRNewswire/ — Verizon Wireless, the company with the nation’s largest and most reliable wireless 3G network, and Motorola, Inc. (NYSE: MOT), a pioneer in the mobile industry, today announced that DROID™ 2 by Motorola will be available for pre-sale on August 11. Hitting all the right keys, DROID 2 is a feature-packed device that helps manage work and social life with an enhanced QWERTY keyboard, ultra high-speed Web browsing, 3G Mobile HotSpot capabilities, full push corporate e-mail, intuitive social messaging and Adobe® Flash® Player 10.1 for access to the full web – all built on Android 2.2.
“When we announced DROID X last month, we reaffirmed our commitment to continue to bring unique Android experiences to the Verizon Wireless network,” said Jeffrey Dietel, vice president – wireless device, marketing and development for Verizon Wireless. “The DROID by Motorola was our first Android device, so it is important for us to include the successor to that phone in our portfolio. DROID 2 is not only a continuation of our commitment to Android but offers customers the features and form-factor they crave on the Verizon Wireless network.”
“With the new DROID 2, we’ve taken a big leap forward from the original DROID,” said Bill Ogle, chief marketing officer of Motorola Mobile Devices and Home Business. “We listened to consumers and are providing an even more robust experience built on Android 2.2 that includes a new keyboard, increased processing power, Adobe Flash Player 10.1 and 3G Mobile HotSpot capabilities to send, access and share information even quicker than before.”
DROID 2’s super-slim design helps customers e-m
ail, text and tweet with ease. DROID 2 offers a redesigned symmetrical keyboard with raised keys for more responsive typing to push out notes and status updates. Speech-to-text input and the virtual multi-touch keyboard allow for quick messaging; or customers can also use Swype for even easier text input. In addition, full push corporate e-mail delivers enhanced features such as remote wipe and password enforcement so that information remains secure.
DROID 2 packs power and speed. Customers can enjoy the freedom of wireless with the 3G Mobile HotSpot and the ability to connect up to five compatible Wi-Fi® devices, and watch content on the full multi-touch 3.7-inch brilliant display, or share content captured on the 5-megapixel camera with enhanced functionality and DVD-quality video capture with DLNA connectivity to share on compatible devices.
Customers can also download favorite apps from Android Market™, which has more than 70,000 applications, and store them on 8 GB of preloaded on-board memory and the 8 GB microSD™ card, which can be upgraded to a 32 GB SD card for a total cargo capacity of 40 GB. Popular apps available on DROID 2 include NFL Mobile (downloadable), Skype mobile™ and BLOCKBUSTER On Demand® presented by V CAST Video. Customers can even manage their wireless accounts or their contacts from their phones with My Verizon and with Backup Assistant℠.
“It’s great to see amazing new smartphones like the DROID 2 come pre-installed with Flash Player 10.1,” said David Wadhwani, senior vice president and general manager, Creative and Interactive Solution Business Unit at Adobe. “With the completely redesigned and hardware accelerated Flash Player 10.1, DROID 2 users will be able to experience the full Web on the go.”
Adobe Flash Player 10.1 lets mobile users experience millions of websites the way they were meant to be seen – with rich Internet applications (RIAs), content inside the browser, including games, animations, data presentations and visualizations, e-commerce, music, video, audio and more.
R2-D2 DROID 2
In honor of the iconic Astromech Droid from the Star Wars™ Saga, Verizon Wireless will offer a limited-edition R2-D2 version of the DROID 2, available only online in September. The special version of the phone will feature exclusive Star Wars content and external hardware designed to look like the trusty Droid from the film saga. Visitors to the upcoming Star Wars Celebration V in Orlando, Fla., can see a preview of the limited edition phone and sign up to receive alerts when the phone is ready for sale.
Pricing and Availability
DROID 2 by Motorola will be available at www.verizonwireless.com on August 11, and it will be in Verizon Wireless Communications Stores beginning August 12 for $199.99 after a $100 mail-in rebate with a new two-year customer agreement. Customers will receive the rebate in the form of a debit card; upon receipt, customers may use the card as cash anywhere debit cards are accepted. In addition to subscribing to a Nationwide Talk plan or a Nationwide Talk & Text plan, customers will also need to subscribe to an Email and Web for Smartphone plan. Nationwide Talk plans begin at $39.99 monthly access. Email and Web for Smartphone plans start at $29.99 for unlimited monthly access.
Customers can add the optional 3G Mobile HotSpot service to their DROID 2 smartphones for $20 per month. The 3G Mobile HotSpot allows customers to turn their phones into a wireless modem for up to five compatible Wi-Fi® devices. In addition, current Verizon Wireless customers who have contracts ending by December 31, 2010, can upgrade to any smartphone, including DROID 2, without penalty.
For more information on DROID 2 by Motorola, go to www.droiddoes.com. For information about Verizon Wireless products and services, visit a Verizon Wireless Communications Store, call 1–800-2 JOIN IN or go to www.verizonwireless.com.