First Look: Motorola Milestone 2 review

The Motorola Milestone 2 supplants the Milestone and is Motorola's flagship QWERTY side-slider, and as such is given the gift that most phones want these days: Android 2.2. Just announced, Pocket-lint was at the launch of the new Milestone to give you a complete run-down.

Motorola told us that they had listened to feedback on the original Milestone, which prompted the next evolution to the device we have today. There has, of course, been an update in the US to the Droid 2, which Motorola called a "sister" device, before moving to state that the Milestone 2 was a more capable handset.

The Milestone 2 takes the side-slider format, one that Motorola has worked to its advantage, relatively unchallenged in the high-end handset bracket. The Milestone 2 has the same premium finish that we saw previously, and the design is only altered slightly and at fist glance from the outside at least, you'd think they were the same device.

There has been a little refinement around the bottom of the sliding screen, with a longer lower lip, extending to cover some of the main body of the phone when closed, with an eye-catching curve that feels great under your thumb. It measures 60.5 x 116.3 x 13.7mm and weighs 169g, so despite the sliding keyboard, it isn't too fat.

The top is dominated by the 3.7-inch 854 x 480 resolution display, the same size as the HTC Desire, but squeezing in some extra pixels. It is a standard capacitive TFT  display however, so doesn't have quite the vibrancy of the display on the Samsung Galaxy S, but in our eyes-on time we didn't find it lacking.

Ranging across the bottom of the display are the four main touch controls: menu, home, back and search, the icons re-ordered from last time which will annoy those looking to upgrade. Around the rest of the body you'll find a volume rocker and camera button, and the power/lock key, but otherwise it is relatively button free.

Around the back is a solid-feeling metal backplate and in the corner sits the 5-megapixel camera with twin LED flash. It looks solid and it feels solid, a welcome change from some of the other plastic-backed sliders out there. If premium is your thing and you want a keyboard then the Milestone 2 is probably the phone for you.

Slide open the phone and you are presented with a new keyboard. Although the major change is the removal of the navigation pad on the right-hand side and replacement with standard cursor keys, this has had quite an impact on the keyboard overall. There is now more space for those essential shift and return keys. The keyboard sees the addition of a back and OK button; search is present, as well as voice search. 

Removed, however, is the menu button from the Milestone, which perhaps explains the re-ordering of the buttons across the bottom of the screen, as the menu button will then fall within reach of your fingers when using the keyboard.

And what a keyboard it is. It feels fantastic to type on and within seconds we were rattling off messages at full pelt. If you've never been quite happy to take the step to a touchscreen phone, the Milestone 2 offers you the best of both worlds: plenty of screen space with very capable on-screen keyboards and a physical QWERTY keyboard that's easy to use. No doubt there will be some quirks, but we'll have to wait till we have a Milestone 2 in for review to see what they are. 

But it's not all business with the Milestone 2. One of the criticisms of the Milestone was the absence of Motoblur, the social network integration system that Motorola has applied across a number of consumer devices. If you're unfamiliar with Motoblur, then it basically collates information from the major social networks into your device and feeds them out in various ways - you get update widgets, it populates your contacts with enhanced information and so on. This time it is flagged as Motoblur Enhanced, so it contains more options for how and what you see so that you can keep it all under control.

Android fans will be pleased to hear that this is an Android 2.2 (Froyo) device, so it will have the latest version of Android at launch. How long it stays the latest version and how easy it will be to upgrade remains to be seen, but as a 2.2 device you have a range of added benefits over previous iterations.

One of the most talked about additions is proper support for Adobe Flash video. In this case, rather than the slight dubious app solutions we've seen in the past, you'll be able to play web video in the browser. We tried this on some Flash video ads on Pocket-lint and they played seamlessly. We'll have to wait until we have a review handset to see how it copes with video from the wider web.

Whilst we are on the subject of video, the Milestone 2 will now play and capture HD (720p) video, something we are seeing roll out across a number of flagship devices. You'll also be able to share content via in-built DNLA using Wi-Fi (n supported).

The user interface is simple enough, with pages offering you space to drop down shortcuts and widgets, but again, in the time we had our hands on the phone, it wasn't possible to garner all the ins and outs. That said, it didn't look much different to previous Motoblur devices we've seen.

You get 8GB of internal memory which can be added to via the microSD card slot under the back cover. Sitting at the core is a 1GHz processor, and in our play it was fast to navigate, with no sign of delay on opening or switching applications. We were also impressed with the speed at which the browser rendered pages. Again, something we'll be looking at in more detail when we have the phone in for review.

Verdict

From our time with the handset, the Milestone 2 looks to be a promising device, giving you both the benefit of a QWERTY keyboard and a full touchscreen. Offering the specs and hardware to compete with many of its Android rivals, Motorola are on to a good thing by refreshing a format they know.

Although it isn't a revolutionary device, the Milestnoe does make some welcome tweaks to its forebear and we can't wait to take a closer look at it, as it looks like it could be a spectacular handset.