Thursday, May 19, 2011

Droid X2 Mates a Dual-Core Chip with a 3G Connection

Stocking up its summer offerings, Verizon Wireless will add another Droid phone to its growing arsenal, Motorola Mobility's dual-core Droid X2. It's Verizon's first smartphone Relevant Products/Services to pack a dual-core processor, a feature likely to be common in the next generation of smartphones as customers crave more multitasking and better web browsing. It will be available beginning May 19 online and May 26th in stores for $199 with a two-year voice and data Relevant Products/Services plan.

Like its Droid X predecessor, the Droid X2 has a 4.3-inch display, with a virtual keyboard and an eight-megapixel rear-facing camera. It will ship with Google Relevant Products/Services's Android 2.2 operating system with an update soon to 2.3. It's the second Droid phone to appear this week, after Samsung's Droid Charge, which was originally scheduled for release last month. Motorola's Droid Bionic is due this summer.

Tough Choice

The Charge and the Bionic are equipped for Verizon's high-speed Long Term Evolution network Relevant Products/Services, which the carrier switched on in December and opened for smartphones in March with HTC's Thunderbolt.

But although Verizon is marketing the one-gigahertz Droid X2 as "fast and powerful," it won't access the LTE network, which promises speeds of five to 12 megabits per second for download and two to five Mbps for upload. That puts the company in the position of marketing a sleek, powerful 3G phone against its LTE choices.

"Motorola's Droid X was the first phone with a 4.3-inch display at Verizon Wireless," said consumer-devices analyst Avi Greengart of Current Analysis. "The Droid X2 updates the formula with a dual-core processor, but not with an LTE radio. The carrier now has two high-end LTE devices -- from HTC and Samsung -- with LTE and large displays but just single-core processors, and the Droid X2, which has a more capable processor but can only connect Relevant Products/Services to Verizon Wireless' slower CDMA/EV-DO data network. In effect, this forces consumers to choose between the fastest device and the fastest network connection."

But Greengart noted there is one advantage to the 3G/dual-core combination: Better battery life than first-generation LTE phones.

Beefing Up 3G

Verizon is continuing to invest in its 3G network as it rolls out LTE. On Wednesday the carrier announced "enhanced 3G network coverage, thanks to newly activated cell sites across the country," including 13 new sites in Illinois, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington state. A temporary site was also activated near Bethel, N.Y., to increase coverage for summer concertgoers at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, the site of Woodstock.

The Droid X is believed to be a top seller for Verizon with an estimated 300,000 activated during its debut week last July, compared to an estimate of 250,000 for Motorola's original Droid in November 2009.

In addition to the dual-core processor, the Droid X2's only other major improvements seem to be better screen resolution with qHD display and mobile Relevant Products/Services hot-spot capability for tethering Wi-Fi devices, a service that will cost customers an extra $20 per month for each two gigabytes of data.

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