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Droid 2 Global review

I bought a Droid Pro a while back and was fairly impressed with the device once rooted. I had to root it to be able to increase the font size as well as to be able to replace the stock tether ap that didn’t work for me. So while perusing on ebay I noticed Droid 2 Globals were basically being given away for $100. I couldn’t resist the temptation to play so grabbed one. One of the motivating features for me other than low price was the fact that it uses the same battery as the Droid Pro so I had spares! Now the fact that it uses the same battery has it’s downside. With the larger back of the Droid 2 in comparison to the Droid Pro they could have put a much larger battery in the Droid 2 and ended up with class leading battery life. Sadly they did not and battery life is worse than the droid Pro, which is not unexpected. It has a bigger screen and faster processor. 1.2GHZ. Which is the fastest non dual that I know of.

Out of the box I was surprised at how heavy this is. A stark contrast to the uber light Droid Pro. It really feels solid. Compared to my HTC Desire Z (also called HTC Vision) the slide out keyboard feels kind of klunky, but robust. Feels like the sliding mechanism ought to last. The keyboard itself is quite good. Much better than the Droid Pro and on par or better than the HTC Desire Z which I still have. One of the longest phones I’ve owned. As usual the checkout the list of smart phones I’ve played with , if your curious.

The outside of this phone is a scratch and chip magnet. Happens easily and really shows. A shame for a nice design. The materials used on the outside edges seem to be VERY soft plastic. The screen itself seems quite durable.

It’s always a problem when the power switch is raised so much that it easily get’s turned on in your holster or pocket. Well Motrola has insured this ain’t gonna happen. It’s so recessed it’s actually difficult to power on. To the point it gets frustrating just to turn this damn thing on.

The screen on this one is the same as the one on the Droid Pro but bigger. It uses TFT rather than the newer OLED or AMOLED. The screen is not as bright or vivid but it is much easier to read in bright sunlight and takes less power.

Blackberry included a magnet in their holsters (which I use a lot) to lock their device. Well it seems Motorola chose to use a magnet in the docking station for this device to power on the device, by pass the screen lock and bring up the car dock ap. This took me quite a while to figure out why when I put the device in the holster it would power on the screen. So either pay for an app that disables this (requires root) or make sure you are using a holster without a magnet. Nice … NOT. There is an inexpensive Motorola dock for this phone. It’s a nice piece of piano black plastic with a weighted bottom. Unfortunately the only thing it does is charge the device. No audio out on it. There are two different magnets that can be detected by the device. The first is what they call the multimedia dock which is the desktop dock. This launches a very nice clock with weather ap. Oddly I can’t find how to manually launch this program. The second is a car dock that launches the auto ap.

The Droid 2 Global includes a CDMA modem for use on Verizon (where this phone came from) as well as a GSM phone to allow it to be used around the world. The frequencies match Rogers so I can get full 3G frequencies. Motorola has done a much better job of the CDMA mode on this one. It does not continually insist on being on CDMA after any reboot or crash like the Droid Pro. The GSM controls are well done allowing you to control GSM/UTMS modes to allow you to save power. The Droid Pro on GSM at best is frustrating, at worst it is unusable. The Droid 2 Global is a much better experience. You can totally forget that this even has a CDMA phone in it and use it purely as GSM phone!

As with the Droid Pro my 32G class 10 uSD card would not work reliably. Even after the Android 2.33 upgrade. Seems like it’s more likely hardware related. I tried another 32G Class 10 and it too did not work. That’s two cards from totally different manufacturers so it definitely seems like an issue.

I assumed the software would be identical to the Droid Pro and it was similar but different too. The tethering software was not as buggy. The music player I was impressed with on the Droid Pro is gone and a new one is on this one. It has some nice features like a cover flow view similar to an iPod. Missing is the ability to play internet content or identify songs, or display lyrics as the Droid Pro’s music player had. So a little step forward and big step back.

The Bluetooth on both these phones works better than on the HTC. They connect faster to my car stereo and display message received on the stereo’s display anytime a text message comes in. Nice.

I decided to root the phone (using a simple tool called SuperOnecClick) when I got it to be able to change the default text. Motorola must have a good vision plan because both this one and the Droid Pro use a small font that I find hard to read. I do admit my vision is on the edge of requiring glasses. I used this opportunity to remove some of the preloaded aps that I didn’t want/need or would not work in my area. This turned out to be a bit problematic. Seems Verizon or Motorola decided they would not allow you to update your phone if you had previously rooted it. So I went on a quest to find the original ROM which after 3 or 4 hours I managed to get installed. In the end I used a tool called RSDLite version 4.9 to load back the original ROM from a file called VRZ_A956_2.4.33_1FF_01.sbf. This took a number of tries with a number of different versions of RSDLite with a number of different ROMs. Like I said lots of time burned. But in the end I was able to put back the original ROM allowing me to upgrade to the new firmware from Verizon OTA.

The software updates by the way are only available if you are on a cell network. If only on WIFI it won’t even let you download it. And before figuring out root was the cause of my woes I downloaded the updates numerous times, only to get a failed update message with no clue as to why. And it took 45 minutes or more to redownload the update. All in all a frustrating experience.

Once this was solved the OTA update came down and went in updating me from VZ 2.4.330.a956, Android 2.2 Base N01.48.05R Kernel 2.6.32.8 to 4.5.608.a956, 2.3.3, N_1.80.00R, 2.6.32.9. So a major update. And I can not believe how different it looks. Some are UI tweaks, some are the usual hide and seek (move things around and see if the customer can find them and re-get use to them until the next update) and some I assume are actual improvements.

SuperOneClick was still able to root it once the 2.33 upgrade was in place. So I sent off a donation to say thanks. Without root I couldn’t change the fonts, couldn’t turn off the silly docking magnet etc. So enough reasons that root on this device was a MUST.

With the update in place this is the fastest, slickest, best experience I’ve had on Android to date. Now this comes at a cost. Battery life. It is by far, hands down the worst of any device I’ve played with. Think 10 hours of background data etc. Really bad. The spare batteries are readily available (on ebay), cheap and small enough to carry a few. If your going to be away from a power cord for any length of time with this puppy you will need a spare battery (or two). I will have to spend some time playing with things to see if I can do any better on battery life.

Bluetooth keyboard and mouse work perfectly. In fact this is the best of all of the phones I have tried BT mice on. The mouse works exactly as it should. On most phones the mouse isn’t even worth bothering with. It does nothing but slide the screen left and right. Well done Motorola!

If I had paid full price for this phone I would be unhappy but at $100 this phone is a bargain.

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January 1, 2012 - Posted by | Android

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