More BLUR additions

We’ve already discussed the majority of Motorola’s BLUR-lite skin for Android in the context of the Droid X review. I thought that I wouldn’t see any more from BLUR, but I was wrong. Cleary not contented with how things turned out with the Droid X, Motorola has added a few extraneous things that for me push the Droid 2 a bit over the scale in my opinion.

First off, the default widget layout remains the same. 

Home Screens—Default Configuration and Layout

There’s stuff on every page, but thankfully you can remove them pretty easily. I still like that the Motorola widgets can be resized dynamically, however there’s just too many of them strewn about by default. It’s a matter of personal taste I guess, but don’t people like things to be clean and empty when they get them instead of already full of stuff?

Anyhow, what really gets me is what’s been added. Tapping on the up arrow to launch the applications list no longer results in an instantaneous presentation of applications. Instead, there’s a sporadically low FPS, choppy 1 second fade animation. Hit home to go back to the home screen, and there’s another 1 second fade animation. Go to settings -> display and set animations to “no window animations are shown,” and the second long blur animation will still happen every single time.

Left—Lock Screen, Right—Applications Menu

It sounds stupid, but it’s really these little extra things that are frustrating. Further, because they’re part of the BLUR UI, they don’t hook into the standard Android settings menus, which is why disabling all animations doesn’t do anything. It’s stuff like this that makes rooting not just a matter of choice, but rather a necessity for getting all this extra stuff out of the way. 

Virtually everything else about the BLUR skin that I saw on the Droid X I see on the Droid 2. Probably the only notable change is that random extra animation, and landscape support for when you have the keyboard out.

Landscape Homescreen

Thankfully, you really can use the device with the keyboard out basically everywhere in Android, as everything first party has portrait and landscape support. Applications have to build their own landscape support in, but that’s how it is on all the major platforms.


The Droid 2 is the first Motorola Droid shipping with Flash preinstalled. It comes with installed by default, which is the last beta build out on the market before 10.1 officially was finalized. Interestingly enough, there’s Adobe Flash branding right on the Droid 2 box. 

You can update the device to the latest version of Adobe Flash,, by grabbing it from the market directly. Be warned though it doesn’t show up in the normal list of applications waiting to be updated from the downloads window, you have to seek it out yourself. Sam and I have been doing lots of flash testing and have an interesting story coming up—there’s no major difference between the Beta 3 build and this final version that we’ve encountered yet.

What’s different about the browser on the Droid 2 is in bookmarks. I noticed that you can’t delete either the Verizon or Google bookmark, which occupy the first and second spot in the bookmark menu. Try to delete them by long pressing, and you’ll get a dialog where deletion is suspiciously absent. You can't scroll up or down, it's just not there. 

Left—Bookmarks, Right—No delete link for VZW

This isn’t just slightly annoying so much as it is unnerving. Do we really need a permanent bookmark to Verizon’s portal page, or Google? Moreover, what's open about forcing you to live with a useless Verizon bookmark you can't delete—without rooting? I’ll let you be the judge.

The rest of the browser is thankfully unchanged and just as great as it is on stock Froyo. 

Virtual Keyboards - Multitouch, Swype, Swiftkey Cellular and WiFi Performance - Part 1
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  • WasabiVengeance - Sunday, September 19, 2010 - link

    The dpad on the original droid was a HUGE selling point for me. I got one of the later model ones with convex keys, and I've been very happy with the keyboard. My one and only complaint was that the dpad didn't have diagonals. This looks to me like they took arguably the BEST smartphone keyboard on the market, and made it significantly worse.
  • vol7ron - Sunday, September 19, 2010 - link

    But now you have arrow keys and a full QWERTY keyboard (save function and numeric keys).

    I actually like the new design better, perhaps you can get a dpad casing to play those games that require it.
  • deputc26 - Sunday, September 19, 2010 - link

    Where' the battery life analysis and real-world web-page loading times? Where's the competitive comparison and commentary?
  • Brian Klug - Sunday, September 19, 2010 - link

    I completely spaced on the battery life section - I had it written and all ready, but completely forgot to insert it in the document. It's there now though! ;)

  • Marko_Polo - Sunday, September 19, 2010 - link

    Prior to obtaining the Droid2, I was using a standard Samsung flip phone. I have been watching the Smartphone market for years mostly as a disinterested party. When I started dating a more tech savvy woman, I realized that I needed greater connectivity to my friends and family.

    I have had zero problems with learning how to operate and maximize the Droid 2. I chose the Droid 2 over the Droid X because I wanted a physical keyboard and a smaller size phone. Since I get a substantial Verizon discount through work, I knew I was sticking with a Verizon Smartphone (plus all my peeps are using Verizon). I also have a ZuneHD and really liked the similarity in the interfaces between the devices.

    Certainly, the Droid 2 can replace many other types of devices. I have a B&N nook and I have installed the nook app on my Droid and have found it enjoyable enough to use. I also think the Droid 2 could replace my PMP in the car. However, I don't think the Droid 2 makes a great PMP overall because it is very heavy to use while exercising or doing yard work. I'm also not convinced it can handle the sweat and other moisture it would come in contact with while being active.

    Finally, I have had little problem with battery life. At work, the poor thing struggles to get a 3G signal and I believe that causes the battery to drain a little quicker. I have the car dock and the multimedia dock at home, so I rarely see the battery get below 40% between charges.

    For my first Smartphone, I think the Droid 2 has been great so far. Additionally, I've found the service at the Verizon store to be much better than my previous carrier - that matters to me, especially at the higher end of the Smartphone market.
  • Ratman6161 - Sunday, September 19, 2010 - link

    I already have the later model Droid with improved keyboard and I kind of like the D-Pad though I don't use it that much. I've got Android 2.2 - rooted - and clocked at 1 GHz with SetCPU. So it sounds to me like I already have the equivalent of a D2 without the MotoBlur crap.

    Think I'll keep what I have for the foreseeable future!
  • sprockkets - Sunday, September 19, 2010 - link

    "This feature is basically broken on the Droid 2. There’s just no other way to state it. If you’re getting the Droid 2 for the built in 3G hotspot feature, reconsider until Verizon and Motorola address it with an OTA update. Or use one of a number solutions from the market, or root. Either way, this was disappointing for me."

    Do you mean 3rd party solutions from the software market or different phones from the market? And how does rooting the phone fix the issue? Is it because you put on different firmware?
  • neutralizer - Sunday, September 19, 2010 - link

    3rd party solutions from the market will allow you to tether. In addition, you can get free wifi tether if you're rooted. It's just an app that requires root.
  • Brian Klug - Sunday, September 19, 2010 - link

    Third party solutions I have a feeling will work fine, but the built-in default 3G hotspot functionality is completely broken. Sadly I can't root these review units quite yet, but I'm comfortable that those will work.

  • deputc26 - Sunday, September 19, 2010 - link

    Much better, thanks!

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