Pros: Speedy and accurate in terms of navigation, and the bonus of voice directions on Google Maps
Cons: The phone is a bit weighty, and its chunky build may not suit everyone
Verdict: The Milestone 2 is a step up from its predecessor, with a better operating system, faster processor and Motorola’s own social networking integrator.
Even though phone manufacturers are always bringing out new incarnations of old phones, sometimes they are better than their predecessors, and sometimes, inexplicably, they just can't cut the mustard. When we reviewed the Motorola Milestone, we were impressed by its emailing capabilities but were disappointed by its social network offering. With the Motorola Milestone 2 featuring the latest version of Android and Motorola's own social network integrator, has it improved on its older brother?
Chassis-wise, the Milestone 2 is pretty similar to the original, with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard and the same sharp edges. It feels as weighty as the original and also has the same 3.7in capacitive touch-screen - it boasts the same resolution (480x854) and colours (16 million). The keyboard, though, has changed for the better. Motorola has done away with the D-pad, and added in four dedicated cursor keys. They have also raised the keyboard a little, which makes it easier to type on. There are no dedicated numeric keys - you need to press and hold the ALT key to type in numbers - but another line of keys would have created a rather cramped keypad. Turn the handset over and you'll find its navy blue back (which looks stylish against its silver trim) is made from smooth rubber. Mind you, we were a little concerned about the heat emanating from the back when the phone was turned on for any length of time. There is also a speaker placed underneath the battery cover - it emits a pretty powerful sound, too.
We were impressed both by how easy to use the capacitive touch-screen proved, and by how vibrant it appeared. It offers just the right degree of responsiveness, which allows you to use the least pressure to perform actions, while not being so sensitive that you end up opening the wrong program by accident. There are seven home screens that can be customised. The user is able to flick between them, and use the page guide at the bottom of the display to hop to any page you like. There's also a virtual QWERTY keyboard if you don't want to use the real keyboard. Hold the handset in horizontal mode and you'll be able to enjoy a spacious keyboard, in vertical mode it's somewhat cramped.
The Motorola Milestone 2 also has the clever Swype text input function, which we first saw on the Samsung Galaxy S. It differs from other inputting methods in that you slide your finger from one key to the next, and Swype tries to recognise what you are typing and then offers you what it thinks is the right word. As on the Galaxy S, we found it very fluid and you can get up quite a speed typing this way. Having said that, it can be a bit of an issue if your finger covers the next letter you want, and we're not really sure why you wouldn't just use the real QWERTY keyboard, but we do really like the Swype experience.
As well as Swype, another new introduction on the Milestone 2 is the latest version of Google's Android. This is 2.2 or Froyo. Along with the onboard 1GHz processor, this new operating system offers really speedy internet browsing and we found that applications also loaded up double-quick. It also offers the facility to use your voice to dictate texts and email, and search Google. To input your search term, just press the microphone key on the keyboard. On the whole we were impressed with its performance, even when we tried using it on busy streets in London's West End. We reckon it's about 90 per cent accurate, so we're not convinced you'd use it for more than a very quick email or text. If you want to dictate email, text or use it for navigation, you'll need to fire up the relevant programs before you start.
While the Milestone 2 may be a Google device, Motorola has certainly had its input. Not least with the addition of its MOTOBLUR social networking integrator. We first saw this on the Motorola DEXT, although it was oddly missing from the Milestone. It's not quite up there with HTC's FriendStream, but nevertheless, MOTOBLUR does a good job of integrating emails, messages and social network fees into a single feed. Plus, if you head to the contacts page, you'll be able to flick between contacts, their most recent status, as well as any correspondence you have had, whether it's emails, tweets or wall posts.
We had mixed emotions about the snapper. It takes some time to get going and we weren't overly impressed by the rather cloudy image before we took a picture. However, the results were pretty good - autofocus worked well, even on moving objects, and the dual LED flash really helped when we were taking snaps in low-light conditions. We had no such doubts about navigation - we got a speedy and very accurate fix, even when we were indoors, and now that you can use voice guidance with Google Maps whether in the car or on foot - and use other applications while it's guiding you - we have no complaints.
The Motorola Milestone 2 offers a whole heap of features and does what we had hoped - improves on the original version. Social networkers will be happy that MOTOBLUR has been included, and users will be enamoured by the tactile QWERTY keyboard. With the inclusion of Android 2.2, an excellent navigational experience, and DLNA compatibility, the Motorola Milestone 2 offers a very decent alternative to Android handsets from LG, Samsung and HTC
|Type of phone:||Smartphone|
|Special Camera features:||LED flash, auto focus|
|Music formats played:||MP3, AAC+, WMA, WAV|
|3.5mm jack port:||Yes|
|Call records:||Practically unlimited|
|Phonebook:||Practically unlimited entries and fields, Photo call|
|Display description:||TFT capacitive touch-screen|
|Announced date:||October 2010|
|What's in the Box:||N/A|
|International launch date:||October 2010|
|Battery life when playing multimedia:||N/A|
|CPU:||1 GHz Cortex-A8 processor, PowerVR SGX530 GPU, TI OMAP3630 chipset|
|FM Radio Description:||N/A|
|Internal memory:||512MB RAM|
|Memory Card Slot:||microSD|
|Messaging:||MMS, SMS, IM, Email|
|E-mail client:||Push email|
|Games:||Yes and downloadable|
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