When the Motorola Milestone was released in March 2010, it was one of the few QWERTY sliders in the market. Motorola did what few could by packaging impressive specifications into a surprisingly slim profile. The Milestone was praised for its smooth performance, seamless integration of a physical keyboard and a commendable touch screen experience.
However, the pace of development for Android picked up in the later part of 2010 with many companies jumping on the bandwagon. The year ended with the introduction of dual core processors and Android 2.3. With its single core and Android 2.1, the Milestone was feeling its age. It was about time for Motorola to renew its flagship model to take on the newer competitors.
Launched in February 2011, the Motorola Milestone 2 retains a similar form factor, though there have been significant changes under the hood. For one, the Milestone 2 is equipped with a 1GHz processor running Android 2.2, also known as Froyo. It also has a new version of its custom user interface, known as MOTOBLUR.
When you first set sight on the Motorola Milestone 2, you will hardly notice any difference from its predecessor. Indeed, the Milestone 2 retains an almost similar chassis, with only minimal changes to its dimensions and QWERTY keyboard. The Milestone 2 weighs slightly heavier at 169g, a negligible increase of 4g. More importantly, it maintains the same excellent build quality that gives it a solid feel in your hands.
Gracing the front of the handset is a 3.7-inch TFT capacitive screen with four touch sensitive keys located at the bottom. Strangely, Motorola has changed the order of the keys. In its predecessor, the buttons are in this order - Back, Menu, Home and Search. In Milestone 2, except for the Search button, the other three buttons have exchanged positions, with an order of Menu, Home and Back. Existing Milestone owners who are used to the old layout may take some time adapting to the new one if they upgrade to the Milestone 2.
The physical buttons around the chassis remain largely unchanged. On the top right corner, you will find the 3.5mm audio jack and Power / Screen lock button. We definitely prefer the new Power / Screen lock button as it has a slight bump as well, compared to the previous one which was flushed with the surface. However, there is still room for improvement as there were occasions when it was hard to find the key without looking. It would have been easier if the button is made even bigger or longer.
Slide up and you will uncover the four-row QWERTY keyboard. The slider mechanism works smoother now, compared to the original Milestone where you need to exert some force. Once fully extended, the slider locks firmly in place. The QWERTY keyboard has an improved design that will have existing Milestone owners and messaging junkies cheering. The keys are no longer flushed with the surface. They have a slight bump, which provide a better tactile feel. This allows for a faster and more accurate typing experience.
The directional pad in the first Milestone is now replaced by a set of arrow keys, which makes space for more and larger keys. The arrow keys come in handy when you scan through large bodies of text. Commonly used keys such as Enter and Alt are larger. Moreover, three new keys are added - the voice input, OK and Alt Lock keys. The Alt Lock key is a welcome addition as you do not need to press Alt each time you want to type a digit. Now, you just have to engage the Alt Lock key once and you can bang out strings of numbers quickly.
At the back, you will find the 5-megapixel camera and dual-LED flash in the same position. We would have liked the inclusion of a lens cover to protect the camera from scratches as the lens is exposed.
Occupying about two-third of the back is the battery compartment which houses a 1390mAh Li-ion battery. The SIM and memory card slots are only accessible if you remove the battery, which is troublesome if you need to change cards often.