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Hands-on with the Motorola Milestone 2 and Motorola Defy

No one was surprised that this morning’s Motorola announcement detailed its Milestone 2 handset intended for the European market, although the Motorola Defy was a little more out of left field – a rugged-ish handset meant to take all of life’s little knocks. We spent a bit of time with each handset and here are our many and varied thoughts. We’ll start with the Motorola Milestone 2 – but if the Defy is more your thing then just hop straight on over to page six.

So here it is, the Motorola Milestone 2 (known as the Droid 2 in the US). Looks familiar doesn’t it – design-wise not a great deal has changed since the heady days of the original Milestone. The top panel incorporates the funny little chin that we saw (and loathed) on the Motorola Milestone XT720, but aside from that, you could just be looking at the Milestone. Of course, the other difference is that the Milestone 2 has Motoblur onboard – that’s Moto’s own social networking amalgamator.

It’s quite a slim handset, and felt a touch lighter and less unwieldy than the chunky, mannish Milestone. You can see the side-mounted camera button there, as well as the volume control.

The keyboard is still flush with the bottom panel, but the centre of each key feels slightly more raised. Motorola has also done away with the big fat d-pad that was part and parcel of the original Milestone, opting for cursors instead. Personally, I quite liked the d-pad but many will prefer the more regimented cursor option. The slide-out motion was adequate – not too stiff, not too loose – and the auto-rotate was nice and snappy. We can’t abide a slow auto-rotate.

Despite being very slim, the Milestone 2 feels pretty sturdy.

Here it is lined up with a BlackBerry Bold 9700 and a Google Nexus One – it’s a little taller than the Nexus One but that screen is very generous and nice and bright. I’m sure Carey Grant and Deborah Grant would approve.

And here’s the Motorola Defy – it’s a little less exciting, running Android 2.1 rather than the Milestone 2’s Froyo (2.2) but it does offer Flash Lite. We’d have loved to show you but we couldn’t seem to get online – sad times.

You’ll be able to get the Defy with that white border, or with a black lining instead. The nuts and bolts are left exposed as part of its off-roader look, but we couldn’t help feeling like we were holding a toy phone. At least the 5-megapixel camera worked really well – and that’s an LED flash there next to it.

Typing wasn’t too tricksy on that touchscreen; for convenience, the handset comes with Swype as one of its standard text input options. It takes a bit of getting used to but once you’re in the Swype zone you may even break records for text messaging speeds…

Again, we’re not on board with those exposed screws. We also missed the camera shutter button on the side of the handset, absent as it is.

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