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Summary:

Motorola’s Droid X2 lands on Verizon Wireless next week for $199 after contract, but you’d be hard-pressed to see the difference between it and last year’s model. Two hardware upgrades make for an uninspiring new handset at a time when Motorola’s peers are pushing the envelope.

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Motorola’s refresh of the Droid X gains a dual-core processor but few other upgrades over its predecessor when it arrives in Verizon Wireless stores on May 26 for $199 with contract. The Droid X2 looks similar to last year’s model, but boasts a higher-resolution display. The upgrades appear to stop there for this Android 2.2 phone, which Verizon says will be upgraded to Android 2.3 at a future date. Although this is Verizon’s first dual-core handset, the limited upgrades and reuse of the same design indicate Motorola could struggle in the fast-maturing Android market.

Neither Motorola nor Verizon are offering full specifications for the device in their joint press release Wednesday. That may be due to the lack of substantial hardware bumps to the Droid X2. Earlier this month, a leaked specification sheet for the phone made its way to the web via the PocketNow site, which identifies the following hardware and feature-set:

  • 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 dual-core processor
  • 4.3-inch touchscreen running at qHD (960×540) resolution
  • 512 MB of RAM, 8 GB of internal storage, support for up to 32 GB microSD card
  • 8-megapixel rear camera sensor with 720p video recording, dual LED flash, auto-focus
  • 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 +EDR, aGPS

Last June, I was so enamored by the Droid X that I tagged it as the best Android phone on Verizon’s network at the time. Assuming the leaked specifications are correct, which appears likely at this point, the Droid X2 appears as a disappointment or missed opportunity to me. What’s missing? 1080p video capture is becoming standard on a $200 handset, for starters, although that could be added via a future software update. Front-facing cameras are also becoming typical fare at this price on 3G-capable phones, and there’s no mention of one on the Droid X2.

Essentially, it appears Motorola swapped out the processor and display from last year’s Droid X chassis. While these are welcome improvements, I’m not sure they’re going to be enough to sway Verizon customers away from other upcoming handsets in the Droid line-up. Consumers don’t go solely by specifications when choosing a handset — look and feel are certainly factors, too — but the Droid X2 seems like it should be called the Droid X 1.5.

I have little doubt that people will be interested in the Droid X2, and I’m not suggesting it’s a poor choice of handset by any means. But the young Motorola Mobility company that spun off from Motorola isn’t experiencing the same sales growth as HTC, Samsung and others which are growing at faster rates and offering more advanced features or a wider array of high-end handset choices. According to research firm Canalys, LG passed Motorola in smartphone sales during the first quarter of 2011, even though LG was very late to the smartphone game.

Maybe I’m being overly harsh, but I think the Droid X2 might be better suited for a slightly lower price or should have had a just a few more features. Perhaps when I get my hands on a review unit or official specifications are published, I’ll feel otherwise, but for now, I view the Droid X2 as an uninspiring upgrade, because I know Motorola is capable of so much more.

  1. Motorola does not have the revenue projections to engage in extensive R&D or redesign. Still I don’t think this is as bad an upgrade as you do. Personally I still like the body design because it feels more substantial than Samsung and others who use cheap plastic. I would prefer touch buttons though and more ram and storage memory.

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  2. I know everyone likes to clump all android handsets together to show what wonderful marketshare it has but when you get to the individual manufacturers, it’s not probably enough to cover the costs of new R&D (as Darwin mentions) and new tooling at the pace new models were/are being introduced. Might this not be a leading indicator that in order to make any money, all in the android camp will need to slow down and reuse everything, and thereby spreading their costs over several models?

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  3. What phones have 1080p video capturing? I thought most did only 720p?

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    1. A few of them do now and many more coming soon will. LG’s Optimus 2X (and variants like the T-Mobile G2x), Samsung Galaxy S II, HTC’s Sensation (expected in a few weeks) all offer 1080p video recording, for example. The Optimus uses the same Nvidia Tegra 2 / GPU as Motorola’s Droid X2, so the hardware has the capability, hence a little disappointment. However, as I noted in the post, this could be added in a future software update since the hardware is capable.

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  4. It’s funny, Apple throws out a new iMac/iPhone every 6 months with a new screen and faster processor and all the fanboys drool and scream. Motorola does a similar thing and gets looked down upon for it.

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  5. This phone was cool a year ago. I have the current DroidX and spent a ton of time reviewing android phones to find the best one out there. Finalist were the DroidX over HTC Incredible. This upgrade will be meaningless to consumers when you compare it to the trailblazing that the competition is doing (other android and iphone). Hopefully it has something to do with putting more resources to the much anticipated “Bionic”

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  6. I started reading this thinking it was some kind of review. But you apparently don’t have this phone in hand, you’re just reading the spec sheet. I will say that 2.2 is a disappointment but other than that I would say they’ve got it about right.
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    These phones are all flat slabs, and I have a Droid X and it’s still a pretty thin and attractive design. The screen is among the largest of any phone today so where do you go from there? Greater resolution: cool. I would be happy if the phone were faster, the existing camera and video worked and looked better. To expect 1080p out of a phone is a fool’s errand, it may have a lot of pixels but those pixels will suck. If you could get GOOD 720p and a GOOD 8MP still shot out of a phone camera, that would be quite an achievement. (My Droid X has jerky 720p and okay but grainy stills.) From the spec sheet, neither you nor I can tell how improved this phone is, but a Tegra processor is a big step up and should mean that better 720p is certainly possible. And I very much hope that 8MP stays the limit on phone cameras; without a bigger better lens and sensor, higher resolution will just smaller noisier pixels and bigger files.

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