Is The Droid 2 A Signal-squandering, Battery-Sapping Dud?

Tech blogs and forums have been ablaze over perceived Droid 2 shortcomings since the phone was released late last week. I can personally vouch for the word on the street, that the phone has problems picking up a signal and suffers pathetic battery life — an issue that’s likely related to the first problem, since the phone is constantly scanning for signals — PhoneArena speculates.

I gave up on my dreams of a Verizon iPhone and bought a Droid 2 on Monday. The phone ran out of juice on me both work days within five hours of minimal use. The calls I made were problem-free, but I haven’t been able to use the ballyhooed free GPS Navigation because the phone wasn’t able to snag a consistent signal.

It’s possible mine was a dud and that the evidence mounting against the phone is anecdotal. If you’ve been using a Droid 2, let us know about your experience. I need to decide whether to exchange mine or bail out and get a refund well before Verizon’s 30-day trial period ends.

Motorola DROID 2 signal issues mount in reviews, Apple tries hard to hide a smirk [PhoneArena]

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  1. TuxthePenguin says:

    So what’s the catchy phrase for this to be? First we had “Grip of Death” for the iPhone 4 and now this…

    I vote “Gillian’s Island Syndrome”

    • DariusC says:

      Battery sucks that much? (No pun intended)

      My EVO can suck 1% each minute if I have all the services on and i’m doing something… But yeah, battery life on androids isn’t the best… they are powerhouses.

      Also, GPS sometimes doesn’t work if you are inside a building, under an overpass, etc. It sometimes doesn’t work in the car as well.

      A question. Doesn’t weather (clouds) affect the signal of a GPS device? Like how satillite used to be?

      • Saites says:

        GPS needs a view of the sky to work. My Droid Incredible actually gets pretty good GPS signal, but in general you shouldn’t expect them to work while inside a building, and sometimes under overpasses. In your car, it should work fine, though you might have to set it close to the window/windscreen. The same is true of dedicated hand-held GPS receivers, and in my experience, the effect is less on my phone.

        Also, my battery life improved drastically when I installed a custom ROM. I’m not sure if that’s something you’d want to do, but so far it’s been great for me.

    • CartmanPat says:

      Who’s Gillian?

  2. Maximus Pectoralis says:

    Unlike the iPhone antenna short-circuit problem, however, they can probably fix it with a firmware update…

    • v0rt says:

      Agreed. When I got my last phone, it would waste a ton of juice looking for signal when there wasn’t any (such as in subway tunnels). After a while they issued a firmware update so that the phone was more passive and conserved power in those situations. It helped my daily battery use quite a bit.

      On the other hand, if it’s because the Droid 2 has a bum antenna, sounds like users are boned.

    • d0x360 says:

      It can be fixed, the nexus one had the same issue when it came out and they fixed that with an OTA firmware update.

  3. katarzyna says:

    I have a Motorola Backflip that has terrible battery life… or rather, *had* terrible battery life. After a little experimentation, I decided to keep my 3G turned off as my default, and only turn it on when I need it. (You can put the 3G toggle button on your home page.) Now battery life is fantastic–around five days with moderate use.

    Turing the 3G off is also useful since I work just a few miles of Canada. Little chance of accidently getting charged for international data fees.

    • tenioman says:

      I have a backflip too.

      How do you put a 3G toggle on the homepage?

      • katarzyna says:

        Get teh APNdroid app from your marketplace (it’s free). After downloading, tough the app and “hold it down” for a few seconds. It’ll show up on your home screen.

    • newsbunny says:

      My Droid’s battery was being sucked dry until I discovered App Killer. I scroll through every once in a while and make sure what I want off is actually off. Games and what have you can continue to run, even when you think they’re not, sucking the battery dry.

      I know this is smartphone 101, but a lot of people aren’t aware of this.

  4. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    In before the “this is not the Droid you’re looking for” jokes.

  5. Sparky The Wonder Dog says:

    I’d suggest swapping it. When I got a Droid 1, it would crash every couple of hours, so I returned it to the store. The one I have now works fantastically.

    My guess is the first batch of units generally have a higher defect rate.

  6. d0x360 says:

    Cant speak to signal but for the battery…SHUT THE GPS AND WIRELESS LOCATION OFF!!! Everyone I know who owns an android phone seems to walk around with these 2 features on all the time. They are on by default. They always complained to me about battery life on their droid 1 and the Incredible saying they got like 4 hours before it was dead. Then i showed them the power bar widget which lets them quickly shut off GPS amongst other things. Once they shut the damn gps off their batteries last a full day.

    The thing about any smart phone is most features are on by default. If you arent using them shut them off. Also check how often things like facebook or twitter are syncing. Default is like 1 min for each. Set it to an hour and it greatly extends battery life. Also if you have 100 things running and updating like RSS feeds, facebook, twitter, the weather etc it will kill the battery so if you dont need it shut it off.

    Go through your installed apps and remove power hogs that you dont use. Turn the brightness on your screen down, shut wifi and bluetooth off when they arent in use! For the ultimate in battery conservation root the phone and install firmware like Cyanogen. Then you can control what apps start on boot or via certain triggers. Then you can shut off stuff you will NEVER use. Also if you are running android 2.2 and have flash installed go into the browser plugin settings and turn it to On Demand instead of on all the time.

    There are tons of ways to boost battery life. My G1 and Nexus One got bad life before I did some of the above. Also you should calibrate the battery once a month. Full drain until the phone will not turn on at all. Then plug it in and leave it charging for 12 hours without turning it back on. This resets the phones battery stats and gets you maximum charge. Also keep in mind they are lithium batteries so draining them to 0% often is bad for them. Keep them topped off.

    • d0x360 says:

      Oh I did some reading. This seems to be a radio software issue. The Nexus One had the same type of problem when it came out. They fixed it via OTA firmware update. This isnt a hardware issue so it can and will be fixed. The antenna in the droid 2 is improved over the original so once they do fix whatever this bug is it should get better reception. It took google/htc about a month to fix it on the n1 so id imagine Verizon will have the fix out pretty quick.

    • Galius Persnickety says:

      The software should manage the battery. It’s not like it’s a surprise to developers that people are running this OS on a mobile device…

      • d0x360 says:

        How would the software manage the battery? If you have things running the phone isnt going to override you and shut them off. You can change settings and download apps to help extend battery life. There are quite a few battery manager apps that change settings based on battery level or triggers you set up but like any device if you want alot of stuff running at once and all the time its going to eat battery.

    • Tim says:

      I should add to this WiFi. If you aren’t using it, shut it off.

      But if you have a WiFi signal, using it is a great way to preserve battery power, since it uses less than 3G does.

    • NarcolepticGirl says:

      It really confuses me when I read/hear about the number of people saying the Droid (or other Android phone)’s battery sucks.

      Mine lasts the whole day. Sometimes two days.
      I figure these people are either on their phone and playing games for 7 hours straight or they don’t know how to turn off GPS and the like.

      • Akanbe says:

        Your post actually confuses me even more because I usually get 4 days out of my Droid. 3 if I web-browse heavily (I often use the mobile versions of sites like consumerist though).

    • Shadowfax says:

      I can get a full day’s heavy use out of mine without shutting GPS off, which is good, because the maps application gets mad if you launch it before you turn GPS back on. Instead, I used advanced task killer to kill running programs on a regular basis.

      If there aren’t any running programs that need the GPS, then the GPS won’t stay on constantly. I think the problem is that people use a weather app, or maps, or facebook, and then don’t kill it. So the program sits in the background constantly updating the GPS location and draining the battery.

    • reishka says:

      See, I thought people did these smart things by default…

      FB and twitter are set to check every 4 hours. Everything except 3G stays off unless I need it, brightness stays on the lowest setting unless I’m outdoors…

      I’m sitting here at 2 days, 2 hours, 11 minutes, since I’ve unplugged and I’m at 50% battery on my Droid X. And this is with using Wifi, Foursquare, Facebook, Touiter, Internet, Tasker, Market, 3 phone calls (~10 minutes each), texts, and one or two games all within that time… I could probably use Navigation for a 60-minute ride and still have plenty of battery left to make a call or two.

      Also, I should add that Tasker is fantastic and entirely worth the $6.00…

    • DanRydell says:

      Why should the user need to turn off the GPS entirely? The GPS should only be turned on when it needs to be used. If the GPS is being left on, that’s a poor design.

    • ajlei says:

      I have never shut the wifi/GPS/3G off on my iPhone and it’ll last almost two days on one charge, with games/Pandora/etc.

      Ha.

      And my phone does not have an antenna issue. I am not saying ALL iPhones do not have an antenna issue, but my iPhone does not.

    • Joe Gamer says:

      My original droid lasts 2 days on a charge with GPS on, no Wifi/bluetooth since I work in a secure environment but the processor is overclocked to 900mhz so lets call it even. Of course when I first got it and had an automatic background changer(every 5 min) and then later a live background with realistic bouncing booby action my battery life was considerably shorter :-)

  7. cvt2010 says:

    There were also reports of poor battery life with the Droid (1? I feel like I have to clarify now), but it never turned into a big deal– and I never had problems with it. Sure, it’s not as great as my old dumb phone, but what can you expect? It’s more a computer than a phone. From what I heard from people that had problems, Google and Motorola were very responsive, and in most cases it turned out to be an app which was running constantly or using lots of data which was draining the battery.

    GPS reception varies greatly by area; I never have any problems in Denver where I live, but whenever I visit family in Chicago I can’t get a decent signal to save my life.

  8. Eat The Rich -They are fat and succulent says:

    Get a power manager. These phones have all the crap turned on all the time.

    Difference between an Android and a iPhone is like PC vs Mac.

    One is for the person who loves to tinker and fiddle and learn. The other is for someone who just doesn’t want to think about it too much.

    • PanCake BuTT says:

      Very well put.

    • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

      Oh, I dunno… I tinker plenty with the old Mac. Mac OS X has plenty of room to tinker using the terminal. Just gotta learn all the commands!

    • Groanan says:

      You can say that the Droid is the tinker phone and the iPhone is the non-tinker-just-have-it-work phone, but the same can’t be said about OSX and Windows 7.

      Macs have always been great for tinkerers; you may be ignorant about how to tinker around on a mac, but there are tons of us who have been tinkering on Macs since (well, since the Mac Classic for me).

  9. Silverhawk says:

    Exchange it. I’ve had mine since last Friday, and I’ve had none of these issues. Yes, the battery runs down a *little* bit quicker than my Droid 1. I attribute that to also running more widgets and live wallpaper now since the faster processor makes up for the lag I experienced on the previous phone.

    I still make it about 15-17 hours between charges, it’s just sitting at 20-30% instead of 50-60% battery when I plug it in at night.

  10. bigc1 says:

    I purchased a Droid 2 on saturday afternoon. I came from a blackberry storm (first gen), and the battery seems very comparable. I agree with d0x360. I have the GPS and location turned off, and the battery lasts all day with no issues. So far, I’m very impressed. The processor/ram combo is incredibly quick for loading apps. My only complaint is with the physical keyboard… it’s practically not needed with Swype.

  11. coffeeculture says:

    Despite being a problem like the iPhone, this won’t make the news because…well, motorola != apple. the public at-large doesn’t care about gadget scandals from companies other than apple.

    just goes to show “antennagate” was all media hype as the droid’s “problems” are just as bad.

    • jimigsu says:

      Except that the Iphone problem was hardware and an actual design flaw.. and this might just be software… just saying..

    • JayDeEm says:

      Not just scandals, but the gadgets in general. The iPhone 4 got a good solid week worth of press coverage leading up to and on the release date. It should follow that such a highly anticipated and publicized product get a similar amount of attention when a major problem surfaces.

    • joe23521 says:

      You’re comparing apples and oranges. The iPhone 4 problem was/is a hardware design flaw while this Droid 2 issue can be easily solved via an OTA patch. Huge difference there.

  12. Jeffsquire says:

    Dump it for a Droid X anyway- better screen and hdmi out. The only thing I used the Droid hard keys for was gamegripper. Now, with the X, I use a Wiimote for gaming.

  13. peebozi says:

    i have an old school droid from back in the day…i will say that once i upgraded to 2.2 my battery drain was insane but then it got a better. probably has something to do with the facebook app that comes on the phone and can’t be uninstalled without rooting.

  14. Dragon Tiger says:

    Going to agree with d0x360 here–GPS is a battery hog and will kill your battery no matter what phone it is. I got a cheap usb car charger for my original Droid so I can use the turn-by-turn navigation without worry. Also, if you haven’t downloaded it already, get Advanced Task Killer. This is a good app to see what’s running in the background and kill the processes you do not need (especially if one is using GPS).

  15. SlappyFrog says:

    I enjoy the Android apologists in the comments.

    “Get a power manager” — How about shipping it with the stuff turned off?

    “The Droid 1 had this problem and they fixed it with an update” — so they had a design flaw in the 1st one that they re-enabled in the 2nd one?

    • cvt2010 says:

      “How about shipping it with the stuff turned off?”

      Obviously they’re going to ship it set up for maximum performance. If they shipped it with GPS turned off and the screen dimmed then people would complain about that.

    • teke367 says:

      My Evo had all of that turned off, and the widget to control them already on one of the home screens. This might be more of a Motorola/Blur thing than an Android thing.

    • Silverhawk says:

      I agree, I don’t think that one should have to manage things like that to get a phone to last. But I also haven’t had issues with any of the three Moto Droids I’ve owned (Droid 1, Droid X and now Droid 2). I can make it through an entire day from the time I roll out of bed & grab it off the desk charger to when I go to bed at night – typically 15-17 hours, sometimes more.

      I leave GPS on all the time, and the only time I disable wifi is if I’m out & about and it’s only to cut down on notifications about open wifi networks.

    • joe23521 says:

      Android lets the user make most decisions, apparently a concept difficult to grasp for those who have been conditioned by a certain other mobile OS.

  16. teke367 says:

    A couple things, first, it seems like a lot of android users initially experience poor battery life, as they most likely didn’t have phones that multi-task in the same way, so odds are they are running more processes than they are used to.

    I’ve heard a lot of the Droid 2′s reception problems, I’m on Sprint, so I can’t verify, but it does sound like that is the problem. Many reviews said the signal wasn’t as strong as other Verizon phones were getting in the same area. Of course, poor reception will hurt battery life since its looking for a signal.

    And please, no iPhone references, at least not yet. This has not been shown to be a hardware flaw as opposed to a software flaw yet, and Motorola hasn’t provided some fake BS reason as to why it is happening, or blame all phones for having the same problem yet. Apple’s mistake was the way they handled it more than the actual antannae problem. As they say, the cover up is worse than the crime.

  17. Galius Persnickety says:

    Out of curiosity, why would GPS use much battery at all? It doesn’t transmit a signal, only receives. I would think it would require a tiny amount of power.

    • MMD says:

      Because when the GPS is on, it’s constantly searching for a signal to receive.

    • s0s has a chewy nougat center says:

      What MMD said.

      It’s basically the same as the 4G connection on the EVO. If you live in an area without the 4G network and leave it toggled on, the phone will run its battery down by constantly searching for a signal that doesn’t exist. If you’ve got GPS turned on, it’s either constantly searching for a signal, or constantly updating your position.

    • jnads says:

      Because GPS signals are so weak, you can’t actually receive them.

      It takes a fair bit of processing power to actually find them. Luckily dedicated hardware exists, otherwise it’d take an extra Snapdragon (okay, maybe not that beefy).

  18. UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

    “It’s possible mine was a dud and that the evidence mounting against the phone is anecdotal.”

    Mr. Villareal, if you should have learned anything from “Antennagate,” it’s that nothing is too anecdotal for the Interwebs to commit RAGE. The Droid 2 is imperfect, and we must therefore all be communally butt-hurt. It is the one true way of the Internets.

    That being said, I somehow doubt that the Droid 2′s weaknesses will involve any sort of Congressional action, a press conference, Gizmodo going apecrap bonkers, and a Droid 2 song.

    So at least there’s that.

  19. zweifel says:

    I blinked and didn’t notice Consumerist had become a forum for editors to post their tech issues.

  20. DanRydell says:

    Apple really screwed up on this one.

  21. ToddMU03 says:

    Good luck. I had three original Droids all with poor voice quality. Everyone said I sounded garbled. It was within the 30 day trial period and I had to fight for 3 months to be allowed to order an Incredible.

  22. joe23521 says:

    Just take this back and get a Droid Incredible instead. The major advantage of the Droid 2 would be the physical keyboard, which you obviously could care less about since you’d been dreaming for an iPhone.

  23. speed10 says:

    This is just anecdotal and relates to experiences couple of years ago, but my experience with Motorola phones, and those of literally everyone I know who has ever owned Motorola phones, is that they have terrible battery lives. I don’t know anyone who has ever bought another Motorola phone after their first.

    P.S. – I don’t have a smartphone so perhaps I’m missing something, but what is the point of owning one if you follow the advice of many posters here and turn off many of the features? Sure you can turn things on when you need them, but it sounds like you pay an awful lot of money to get a gadget that makes you jump through hoops just to do the most basic things you bought the gadget to do.

    • Silverhawk says:

      This is also anecdotal, but over the last 15 years, I’ve had a Motorola bag phone, NEC of some vintage I can’t recall, Moto StarTAC, LG VX-10, Moto V710, Moto RAZRmaxx, Palm Pre, Droid 1, Droid X and now Droid 2. Of those, the only ones I’ve had issues with were the LG (had 4 of them gradually lose signal until useless), and the Palm Pre (great OS, horrible hardware, constant freezing & undelivered calls).

      All the Motos have worked as intended. In fact, the most impressive were the V710 and the RAZRMaxx – they had fantastic battery life (close to a week between charges) and excellent call quality.

    • bigmil87 says:

      I currently have the Droid, and have never had an issue with the battery. It lasts anywhere from a day to two days with medium to heavy use. Prior to this phone I also had a RAZR where again I didn’t have any complaints about the battery; the phone itself on the other hand is another story.

      As far as this issue is concerned it is probably a software issue that can be resolved by a patch.

  24. aaron8301 says:

    I tell all my friends this when they ask me for cellular advice: I’ve yet to see any Motorola phone that I’ve liked at all, let alone liked enough to use myself. Last Motorola phone I used was a girlfriend’s back in 2001 before I had my own. So I went out and got my own… non-Motorola.

    This is coming from someone that LOVES Android. Had a T-mo G1 for a year, now have an AT&T Aria.

  25. ZeroOveride says:

    I picked a Droid2 and I have not experienced the issue. And actually am getting about 20 hours of use on it before its down to 20%. Including WiFi use. The phone has been the best Android phone I’ve Owned (I’ve owned the CLIQ, Behold2, Eris and Nexus One)

  26. Joe Gamer says:

    It’s funny, these are exactly the kinds of problem that a custom ROM would be able to fix, assuming such a thing was available on the Droid 2(it’s not, haha suckers), My buddy has a Droid X and we did some speed tests when he got it. My original droid with custom ROM and overclocked/undervolted processor(900 mhz with a 7 step profile) was considerably faster and my battery lasts almost twice as long lol. So the original Droid w/custom ROM is still the best, I’ll be a sad sad boy when my droid bites the dust and I have to move on the the newer, gimpier models.

  27. alisha.hime says:

    I bought the Droid 2 on the 13th. It is my first smartphone and I had a tossup between the incredible, X, and the 2. I went with the 2 because I thought I would need the keyboard. But with the built in swipe feature, its very easy to send texts. However, the battery life does suck. I went to the retailer (which ironically, I work at) which I bought it and complained. They told me I had too many apps running. They installed an appkiller, which, didnt kill the apps. He suggested I get rid of facebook because it takes up a lot of battery. I read stuff online and I made sure to have the GPS off and the wi-fi off when I am walking around so its not constantly searching for signal. Still, I get maybe 8 hours of it being ‘on’ before it dies. Thats with about 30 minutes of calling, 30 minutes of web, and maybe 15 minutes of Pandora. The rest is idle time that the screen is off.

    Im going to get the X today.

  28. Stuph says:

    Turn off GPS. Get Tracker, because location awareness rocks, but only use network based awareness (not wi-fi or GPS). Set it up to only turn on wi-fi when you’re near particular cells (home, work, Starbucks, whatever). Get Startup Auditor, and set it up to prevent stuff you don’t use from starting. Don’t bother with any “app killer” applications, because Android pre-loads applications and all app-killers do is run (reducing battery life) and force Android to reload apps (reducing battery life). Don’t use Facebook or Twitter widgets – they’re pointless. Set your screen timeout to something short, and use Tracker’s application trigger to change it for apps you sit in (like the browser, book reader, some games, etc.).

    I’m not affiliated with the Tracker dev at all, I just like it. There are other, similar apps out there, Locale being a popular choice. The ability to let your device know where it is, what it’s doing, and what you’re doing is enormously powerful – if you’re willing to take the time to set it up. I use my ‘droid a lot – I’ve used PDAs and smartphones since the Z-PDA as a tool to compensate for ADD – and Tracker has maybe doubled my battery life.

  29. zenmastertaz says:

    Unlike the amazing I-junk, newest is not always best, root the droid……. my original moto droid is running Bugless Beast v.4 (Droid 2.2 os) with no problems, no signal issues, and no battery drain problems. And if I so desired I can turn on and off wifi tethering. Oh and yes verizon, your cripple ware can be replaced.

    • Joe Gamer says:

      Not on the Droid 2 or Droid X it can’t, signed bootloader means no custom ROM’s, no Bugless Beast :-( Big V well and truly gimped them.

      The original droid is still the best.

  30. mikells43 says:

    i get over 24 hours on one charge! i have my screen at auto. there is a bug in the droid x that hogs batt. but this droid 2 is a dream come true for me lol. its by far AWSOME. and i have no complaints. people are too picky. i pull it off charge now(at 3am) and it goes till 2am the next morning and usualy dont die. if it does it has over 12 hrs stanby time on it too. but no complaints. at all