Motorola Milestone 2

The Milestone 2's excellent keyboard makes up for its somewhat sub-par touchscreen. Those who learn the keyboard shortcuts will love this phone.


8.2
CNET Rating
5.8
User Rating

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CNET Editor

Joe capitalises on a life-long love of blinking lights and upbeat MIDI soundtracks covering the latest developments in smartphones and tablet computers. When not ruining his eyesight staring at small screens, Joe ruins his eyesight playing video games and watching movies. Twitter: @Joseph_Hanlon


Motorola's brash advertising for its Droid series of phones touts this "evolved" second-generation as the ultimate productivity tool, as well they might. But with very little different on the outside, how much has changed inside to draw you away from stiff competition from Samsung and HTC's Androids?

Sleeping in your clothes

Have you ever had a big night, woken up the next morning in the same clothes you wore the day before and wondered, "who's going to notice that I haven't changed my shirt?" Did you get away with it? Motorola hasn't. The Milestone 2 looks almost identical to its predecessor, but then, the first Milestone was impeccably dressed. The Milestone 2 seems just as sleek: its boxy-feel, reflective surfaces and stiff sliding keyboard suggests a man who doesn't look out of place in a boardroom overlooking the city or a booth seat in a smokey top-notch night club.

And, yes, we did say man. There's something unashamedly masculine about this phone, something removed from the soft curves of the Samsung Galaxy S or the neutral steel colour of HTC's Desire. The QWERTY keyboard is amongst the best we've seen this year, with keys that feel stiff and spring back after being pressed, helping your fingers to almost glide over them while typing. With four rows of keys there's plenty of space for extras, with Motorola placing common punctuation, like the comma, full-stop and "@" symbol on dedicated keys. Gone is the five-way directional pad of the first Milestone, and in its place we find a more space-economical collection of directional keys, making it possible to navigate the menus without using the touchscreen, thanks also to dedicated "search" and "back" keys on the pad.

More important than the keyboard's design is that you can control most aspects of the phone without the touchscreen. In the settings there is a menu for creating Quick Launch keyboard shortcuts for any app you have installed, plus there is a detailed range of shortcuts recognised by the Android OS. Between the two we found it possible to go long stretches of use without touching the screen at all.

If you'd like to learn keyboard shortcuts for the Android OS check out our guide including lists of keyboard combos for the browser and GMail.

It's a good thing too, because while we love the keyboard, the touchscreen is a bit of a disappointment. The 3.7-inch LCD seems right on paper, but in reality the screen feels small and the touchscreen lacks the precision we've come to expect from capacitive screen technology this year. That the screen feels small is down to the fact that the custom font Motorola has opted for is itself tiny.

Droid does?

It's strange to think that when we reviewed the original Milestone nearly 12 months ago, we noted that it would have been nice to see Motorola incorporate a custom user interface. Since then we've seen the Motorola-designed UI and we don't like it. It's called MotoBlur, and it is comprised of about a dozen widgets and a deep layer of social networking integration. When you first power on the phone you'll be asked to create a MotoBlur account, attaching each of your social networks to this address. Thereafter all traffic through Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and others will be aggregated in MotoBlur, pushed down to your phone and displayed in the custom homescreen widgets.

We have a few problems with the MotoBlur system, the most important of which is that you can't opt out. You can't skip the log in screen and you can't associate your email accounts with the phone without using MotoBlur. Far less important is how ugly the homescreen widgets look. The dozen or so widgets are a motley collection of oddly shaped boxes and tickers, and the obsessive in this reviewer struggled to find a layout which pleased his aesthetic sensibilities.

On the hardware side of this equation, the Milestone 2 has quite a nice bump in power, the 600MHz processor of the original is now a 1GHz Snapdragon processor in the sequel. There's also 8GB of internal storage plus a microSD card slot (our review unit came with a 2GB card). It also runs on the latest version of Google's Android platform (version 2.2) giving access to Adobe Flash 10.1, amongst a bunch of other software enhancements.

On top of the standard collection of connectivity options, the Milestone 2 allows users to stream media over a Wi-Fi connection using the DLNA protocol. DLNA is software that streams and transcodes media, like videos and music, from one compatible device to another. With the Milestone you can, for example, store a video file on its 8GB memory then stream this file to a Playstation 3 and watch the playback on your TV. The DLNA client on the Milestone allows you to both send and receive media, and it has the capability to download the file to your phone to playback later on the bus.

Another software feature added to the basic Android experience is the excellent Swype on-screen keyboard for the times you don't feel like using the hardware keyboard. With Swype you slide your finger across the keyboard connecting the letters in the words you're typing, rather than tapping on each letter individually. There's also a new battery saver option in the menus which allows you to create custom power states for when the battery is running low, and a built-in data meter for monitoring your data use and dictating when to use 3G data and when to avoid it.

Performance

Doubling the processor grunt in the Milestone range beings Motorola up to the standard we've seen throughout the year from other Android products in Australia. The 1GHz processor does a fine job of ploughing through the day-to-day tasks of a smartphone, so it's a shame that the Milestone's sticky touchscreen at times gives the impression that the processor in this phone isn't keeping up. The best example of this is when you unlock the phone after it's been in standby. You do this by swiping a bar on the screen from left to right and "pulling" an animated icon along under your finger. This simple animation should look smooth, but instead it jumps from point to point as your finger progresses — touchscreen, we suspect, struggles to accurately map the motion of your finger.

We assume this is a problem with the screen because it's hard to replicate a performance issue throughout the system when you're not using the screen. The Milestone 2 benchmarks well with a Neocore 3D amiation result of 40 frames-per-second, as well as slightly above average results in other computational benchmarking tests. It also executes a range of apps we commonly use on Android phones, including popular games like Angry Birds. Any lag we've experienced during our tests has always been lag in relation to the screen when our input has registered micro-moments after we've touched the screen.

Overall

Some phones wow us the moment we lay eyes on them, sometimes proving to disappoint over the course of the review. With the Milestone 2, we had the opposite experience; its less sensitive touch display created the illusion that the Milestone 2 was a sluggish smartphone, when it is in fact quite a strong performer. Once we had researched and begun using the built-in Android keyboard shortcuts we found our productivity on this handset increase dramatically, and with it our impressions as well.

The excellent QWERTY keyboard offers something to Android that we haven't seen this year. Sure there's been pre-paid Androids with keyboards, but the Motorola matches this keyboard with best in breed hardware, creating an Android offering that we suspect will appeal to business users who would have previously stuck with their BlackBerrys. If you choose the Milestone make sure you spend the time to learn the keyboard shortcuts and to create your own own Quick Launch combinations for the apps you use everyday. The more you use the keyboard, the more you'll love the Milestone 2.

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AquilaB posted a comment   

well i love this phone....idk about all those people but i've had mine for about 5 months and its still in great condition...no problems at all...maybe they bought dodgy ones but the only problem is i cant upgrade from android gingerbread....and theres no good cases for millestone on ebay but overall good phone

nlee992
4
Rating
 

"Great phone initially, but plenty of faults."

nlee992 posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Lightweight, screen display, threaded text messaging, security phone lock options, home screens, gingerbread keyboard available and more!

The Bad:Freezes, lags, average battery life, camera quality, technical and difficult to find desired options in the "settings", "sticky" feel to screen, initial touchscreen keyboard very narrow and hard to type.

At first I thought this phone would be ideal for me, as I only use it for text messaging, social networking, photos and one or two games. Don't get me wrong, it has a lot of pro's such as its lightweight (considering it's a slide phone), the screen display, the 5 different home screens, grid menu layout, screen lock options (dots, letter password and number password), and plenty more!

But I have only had this phone for 10 months and already had plenty of issues. My phone constantly and randomly freezes to the point where the only way I can restart it is to remove the battery and then place it back in again. I take good care of my phone, and the a few letters on the keyboard are already starting to fall off.

The software is a bit confusing and took me a while to get used to it. The camera quality is average, and choosing where to save them is a bit difficult to change. Also, when toy want to change a certain thing, finding it in the general and security settings are like finding a needle in a haystack and sometimes quite technical!

However, this may not happen to ever Motorola Milestone 2 mobile phones, perhaps it's just mine. But make sure you thoroughly read reviews and spot commonalities before making your decision.

KatherineS1 Facebook
3
Rating
 

"Great at first but now unusable"

KatherineS1 posted a review   
Australia

The Good:amazing bright screen, great keyboard, and most other features great

The Bad:noticable lagginess, poor battery

I have had this phone for 6 weeks and for the first month i LOVED it. The screen is amazing, very easy to use keyboard, android, i dont mind the camera but the flash is more of a yellow brown colour than a white flash.
About 2 weeks ago I started having little glitches and faults with the phone, at first I was on a call then all of a sudden couldnt hear anything, the in call speaker stopped working and I could only communicate with loud speaker this issue only lasted about a day and I just put it down to a glitch and forgot about it. I started to notice a lag when opening apps and closing apps and also swiping and moving icons, which didnt bother me until the phone started freezing and restarting. My phone started turning off at random.... I would be at work and on a break and go to check my phone and it was off. But today was a deal breaker the phone turned off and wouldnt turn back on, i knew it had plenty of charge so i took the battery and sim card out and re attempted, unfortunately still nothing so I plugged it into the charger and still no luck..... I decided to leave it on the charger and take it back to the shop tomorrow then it started turning back on at random and after about 30 seconds of being back on would turn back off. Unfortunately this phone is now unusable, I dont know if this is a fault with just my phone or this may happen with every milestone 2, and unfortunately because of this experience i am thinking of asking for a completely different phone when i go in tomorrow....

 

EthanR posted a comment   

Should i get this phone it looks great and all, but I'm still unsure about picking a good smartphone. Also do you think Motorola will bring out gingerbread for this device?

 

nlee992 posted a reply   
Australia

It is a great phone, but sometimes has a few moments. Gingerbread keyboard is available as a free app in the android market :) The initial touch screen keyboard for this device is narrow, making it difficult to type.

Justin
9
Rating
 

Justin posted a review   

The Good:Stunning display , Resposive UI, keboard is a god-send

The Bad:battery could last longer. Camera is still not up to scratch

1) Motoblur isnt As bad as many say it is. I find it very usable and convienient.

2) Great faultless hardware, keboard is perfect ...and iam switching from a blackberry (past 3 phones have been as well). so thats saying something.

3) responsive touchscreen

4) very standard camera, nothing great nothing terrible.


All in all a great phone , great UI , Great OS . recommended for evryone.

 

trebor83 posted a comment   

I'm intrigued by your assessment of the touch screen here because other reviews I've found, including video reviews I've watched, don't seem to show any evidence of the sort of lagging response that you mention. I admit that these have been largely of the US version, Droid 2, but I can't imagine that they would have changed the screen hardware between that version and this. It is also apparently exactly the same screen as was deployed on the original milestone which cnet described in its review as 'responsive' and one of the good elements of the device. I guess I'm a little disappointed because the Milestone 2 had been at the top of my short list of probable new phones, but I'm not sure if I can justify it at a rating of 8.2 unless the screen isn't the deal breaking problem for usability that you seem to imply here.

 

Joseph Hanlon posted a reply   
Australia

It's a comparative assessment, as these things tend to be. When we reviewed the first Milestone it was as good as other touchscreens at the time. 12-months later this almost certainly wouldn't be true, though I haven't seen a Milestone for a year.

The screen is fine for opening apps and selecting widgets, but there is a noticeable lag with dragging or swiping gestures. For me, this is not a dealbreaker, and the keyboard makes up for it -- hence the score.

Awesome reviewer
7
Rating
 

Awesome reviewer posted a review   

The Good:it looks good, keyboard, touch screen, tough, quality screen

The Bad:Slow in comparison, size, coverage is very bad

i got this flew in from the US and i must say it looked good as i brought it out, i was even impressed by the apps it had on the phone, but considering i used to own a HTC HD2, it was not impressive, the battery life could be better but in the end every phone battery sucks, the speed that i get my internet was slower than my previous phone. and when i placed the phone in my pocket it was unnaturally uncomfortable. oh and the signal dies for some reason when your on the phone for to long but in general a good phone to separate yourself from the iphone followers.




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User Reviews / Comments  Motorola Milestone 2

  • AquilaB

    AquilaB

    "well i love this phone....idk about all those people but i've had mine for about 5 months and its still in great condition...no problems at all...maybe they bought dodgy ones but the only problem ..."

  • nlee992

    nlee992

    Rating4

    "At first I thought this phone would be ideal for me, as I only use it for text messaging, social networking, photos and one or two games. Don't get me wrong, it has a lot of pro's such as its light..."

  • KatherineS1

    KatherineS1

    Rating3

    "I have had this phone for 6 weeks and for the first month i LOVED it. The screen is amazing, very easy to use keyboard, android, i dont mind the camera but the flash is more of a yellow brown colou..."

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