Motorola Milestone 2 review: Verdict
The Milestone 2 is a high-quality piece of hardware. It's solid, heavy, feels nice in the hand and is generally smooth in operation. The only problem is on the software side of things, thanks to Motorola layering on the Motoblur widgets way too heavily for comfort.
There's no need for it, either – Android 2.2's a well polished, popular OS, which makes it doubly frustrating that Motorola's buried it under a load of oddly-coloured Motoblur nonsense.
But underneath all this filler content is a rock-solid, well-made phone that's more than powerful enough to run all of today's cutting-edge games, apps and web content.
You can't fail to be impressed by the solid, metallic feel of the phone and robust keyboard sliding mechanism. No need to worry about this falling apart, Motorola's made an extremely tough phone.
The 3.7-inch screen is another winner. Running at a high 480 x 854 resolution, web text is very sharp and readable and the touch sensitivity is perfect – up there alongside class leaders such as the HTC Desire Z.
The keyboard has great functionality. The ALT and ALT-Lock options, cursor keys, Back and OK buttons make using it a joy – if you have small pointy fingers and thumbs. And the backlit keys aid typing and make it look swish.
Media performance is good. The music player with its song recognition, purchasing and internet radio options is much better than on most Android phones, while the camera is also high quality and 720p video recording is as good as it gets on a mobile.
Being faced by a screen full of garish Motoblur widgets at start-up creates a rather poor first impression, with your first job being to delete most of Motorola's hard work so the phone looks – and runs – better.
The QWERTY keyboard still isn't quite the right blend of size and usability. Dainty fingers and a lot of thumbnail typing is required to actually use it. It needs a little more room.
Video format compatibility isn't great. Not supporting standard AVI files is a bit of a pain – and re-encoding your files for use on a mobile player is very last decade and rather tedious.
The Milestone 2 isn't a massive change over the original Motorola Milestone, but there are enough tweaks both internally and externally to make it a better phone all round.
The faster processor makes a world of a difference in general use and web browsing, making the Milestone 2 one of the slickest and least glitchy Android experiences around – although you have to turn off the Motoblur widgets to get it feeling consistently smooth.
If you can live with its slightly restrictive keyboard size the Milestone 2's QWERTY is a good solution for text entry, although it isn't the intuitive keyboard we've been looking for. You'll be constantly searching for the right way to use it – fingertips, thumbs, thumbnails?
Still, you can pick the Milestone 2 up for around £360 unlocked at time of writing, which makes it much cheaper to buy outright than the HTC Desire Z. And it feels more solidly made and is every bit as fast.
It's a shame more networks aren't stocking the Motorola Milestone 2 on contracts, because it'd be a surefire winner on a decent subsidised deal. Fast, well made with a good camera and music player, the Milestone 2 deserves to find itself a place in many a pocket.