The $199.99 Motorola Electrify 2 for U.S. Cellular has the same sticker price as the Samsung Galaxy S3. Offering the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system, a bright 4.3-inch screen, responsive performance, and long battery life, the Electrify 2 would make a very compelling option in a world without Samsung's superphone. Unfortunately for Motorola, shoppers on U.S. Cellular will be hard-pressed to find a reason to choose its phone over the more capable Galaxy S3.
Motorola definitely didn't depart from its current design philosophy when crafting the Electrify 2. The phone's clean lines and thin, angular chassis make it a close cousin to the Droid Razr and Atrix HD. I do prefer the Electrify 2's elegant silver highlights though to the sober black and dark gray of the Razr or white plastic feel of the Atrix HD (also available in titanium gray).
Measuring 5.1 inches tall by 2.6 inches wide by 0.3 inch thick at its thinnest point, the Electrify 2 has practically the same small footprint as the Droid Razr. Weighing a mere 4.6 ounces, it's also much more compact and portable than the original Motorola Electrify model.
On the front of the handset is its 4.3-inch LCD with a VGA camera above it. There are no physical or even capacitive buttons here, but three icons running along the screen's bottom edge serve to control main Android functions. Continuing the phone's minimalist aesthetic, the only actual keys are a thin volume rocker on the device's right edge and a power button up top placed next to the 3.5mm headphone jack and Micro-USB port. A flap on the Electrify 2's left side covers slots for micro-SIM and microSD cards. The phone lacks an HDMI port, however, to connect it to HDTVs.
The device features Motorola's signature Kevlar fiber coating around back that's designed to provide a sure grip, plus guard against scratches and prints. Besides offering the cachet of Kevlar, it feels soft and I think futuristic. A hump on back contains the phone's 8-megapixel camera and LED flash. Since the 1,780mAh battery is embedded, you won't find a back plate to remove.
In keeping with the company's latest handsets such as the Atrix HD and Photon Q 4G LTE, the Electrify 2's 4.3-inch qHD (960x540-pixel) screen uses what Motorola calls ColorBoost technology, which promises a wider color range than on many Motorola handsets before it. Motorola even claims ColorBoost serves up more colors than the iPhone 4S.
Indeed the display does look very bright and produces natural hues. When stacked up against the HTC One V and Samsung Galaxy Nexus, the difference was clear. With all three phones set to maximum brightness, the One V's LCD screen appeared slightly green while the Galaxy Nexus' AMOLED display pumped up reds a bit too much. That said, the greater resolution of the Nexus' screen created sharper details while its higher contrast produced pleasingly deep blacks.
Though its price places it at the top of U.S. Cellular's hardware lineup, the Motorola Electrify 2 is moderately appointed but not brimming with bells and whistles. For instance the device lacks a 4G data connection, and has no NFC chip to support short-range wireless transmission via Android Beam. These are all capabilities the Samsung Galaxy S3 (U.S. Cellular) offers for the same price.
That said, the Electrify runs the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich OS that provides a modern mobile computing experience. Rousing the handset from sleep launches its lock screen, which displays time and date in a slim and attractive font. You can also switch sound on or off by sliding a switch at the top of the screen. Placed at the center of the display is a flashing key symbol that you drag right to unlock the device. Pulling the key left, up, or down will launch the camera, phone, or messaging function respectively.
As an Android smartphone the Electrify 2 brings to the table support for all of Google's popular services, such as Gmail and Google+, along with Google Play stores for music, books, and movies. Motorola has added a version of its special UI, formerly known as Motoblur, on top of Android, but on the Electrify 2 its influence is much less evident than on other devices. Unlike on the Atrix HD and Photon Q 4G LTE, there isn't the option to add extra home screens (up to seven) to supplement the Electrify 2's standard supply of five.