Motorola MILESTONE 2 review: Landmark droid

GSMArena team, 27 January 2011.
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Froyo with MOTOBLUR topping

The Motorola MILESTONE 2 runs Android 2.2 Froyo customized with the latest MOTOBLUR 1.5 user interface. It looks mostly the same as the 2.1 Eclair version, but some refinements make it even better.

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Android 2.2 user interface • the dots for quick jumping through the homescreens

Before we go into details, here’s a video of the Motorola MILESTONE 2 and the MOTOBLUR interface.

Motorola has kept the cornerstone of Android – the homescreen – but they’ve laced it with social networking integration. This is done mostly through widgets, so if you’ve used Android before you’ll get the hang of it in no time.

There are seven homescreen panes, so you have plenty of room for widgets.

A few handy shortcuts are available through the Home key – a single tap brings you to the central homescreen. A double tap of the Home key, launches an app of your choice (by default it activates voice command).

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The homescreen inhabitants: widgets shortcuts, content shortcuts and folders

Shortcuts and folders have been part of the Android homescreen from the very start.

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The Motorola widgets

Widgets are the bread and butter of the homescreen. And Motorola has worked some of their mojo to add excellent social networking and make the widgets resizable. Tap and hold on a widget and four handles will appear in the corners – you can drag them to resize the widget, which will change its appearance to fit the new size.

For example, the Date and Time widget can be expanded to show a clock and a calendar or shrunk to time and date or even all the way down to just a clock. With this much flexibility, you can take the most out of what initially seems like a small and limited screen estate.

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Sizing up the Date and Time widget

The MOTOBLUR provided widgets include Social and Status widgets, Messages, Quick Contacts, Weather, Radio Switches, RSS Reader, Connected Player controls, Sticky Notes and various application shortcuts. The regular Google widgets are available too.

You can assign single or double quick contacts. The single ones are as simple as a contact photo (you tap to email, text or call), while the doubles contain two shortcut buttons below the picture. There is an option for one-touch dialing too (it will ask you the first time when you tap on the quick contact).

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The quick contacts

Social widgets have a dedicated chapter coming up, while the rest of them are pretty much standard. It’s worth repeating perhaps that all of the widgets can be resized.

The notification area is intact. It shows status info about battery, signal strength and others such as Bluetooth or missed events.

Another cool feature is Profiles – it is similar to HTC’s Scenes and lets you create three Profiles. In each profile, you can organize the homescreen (widgets, shortcuts, folders, etc.) however you want and those changes will be preserved, letting you switch quickly between the different setups. By default, the three Profiles are called Home, Work and Weekend (though you can rename those).

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Profiles • The notification area • The task switcher • the lockscreen

To bring up the task switcher on the Motorola MILESTONE 2 you press and hold the Home key, just like on any other Android phone. The task switcher is a shortcut to access six of the most recently used apps, but it’s not a task manager per se.

Motorola has included a capable Task manager too – you can end apps one by one or you can add apps to the Auto-end list, which kills the apps on the list the moment the screen switches off.

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The Task Manager • The auto-end list

The Motorola MILESTONE 2 has a 1GHz CPU and 512MB RAM, which puts it in the higher-end of the droid performance spectrum. We ran our usual tests and here’s how it did versus the HTC Desire Z, another QWERTY-packing side-slider.

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Motorola MILESTONE 2 (1GHz CPU, Android 2.2 Froyo, 512MB RAM)

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HTC Desire Z (800MHz CPU, Android 2.2 Froyo, 512MB RAM)

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Samsung S5510 Galaxy 551 (667MHz, Android 2.2 Froyo)

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