One of the "bad" things about the speed of progress in the Android phone market is how quickly a shiny new device starts to feel old and tarnished. Verizon and Motorola unleashed the Droid on the world about nine months ago, but already the phone is starting to seem a bit long in the tooth. The list of "better" Android phones is too long to go into in detail, but HTC's EVO 4G (on Sprint) and Motorola's Droid X (on Verizon) both immediately spring to mind, but neither of them have the slide-out keyboard that sets the Droid apart. And now we're hearing very, very strong rumors and leaks about a Droid 2 coming this month. Does this mean my Droid is officially obsolete? Yes, at least according to Verizon (or more accurately, according to what the rumors are saying about Verizon). The Droid is being retired and replaced by the Droid 2 sometime next month. Drat. I've got an old phone.
So what do we know about the Droid 2? Yesterday the user manual was leaked and some Best Buy stores apparently have Droid 2 cases in stock, so for all intents and purposes we know the new phone is real and coming soon. Droid-Life (the site that broke the leaked manual) points out that some of the screen shots show the device running Android 2.2. Take note, Dell...new devices should ship with up-to-date operating systems. Meanwhile, my Droid 1 is still awaiting an update. But wait, maybe there's hope for us original Droid owners. The leaked specs, also from Droid-Life (first posted back in June) aren't all that intriguing. A 3.7" screen, 750 Mhz processor, no front facing camera. The keyboard looks improved, at least. (I have to admit I've never gotten really good at using the original Droid's keyboard.) Overall though, the Droid 2 seems evolutionary rather than revolutionary. A bit faster than the original, but with some kind of proprietary 'skin' over the Android OS on the negative side. (The Android fan sites are referring to it as "not-Motoblur" but it appears to be something similar.) Suddenly my Droid isn't looking so long in the tooth after all, and I'm wondering why Verizon and Motorola would bother retiring the original Droid to replace it with such a modest upgrade. Maybe the leaked specs are wrong? Maybe they've gotten too many complaints about the keyboard? Most original Droid owners aren't due for an upgrade for another year or more, so presumably the intent isn't to motivate us to upgrade. My more cynical side wonders if Verizon just wants to get rid of the original Droid because of its very 'clean' OS. There's no proprietary layer sitting on top of Android, and no non-removable bloatware (that presumably lines Verizon's pockets) pre-installed. Is every original Droid sold a missed revenue opportunity for Verizon? Is the new Droid 2 just a smokescreen for adding marketing cruft to the phone? In other Android news, a few days ago I talked about the Dell Streak going on sale this week. Well, that didn't happen, and in fact we're back to having no idea when it's going to go on sale. In the meantime, Dell is rolling out a 32 GB model in the UK. I guess they just don't want our American dollars!