Tablets Guide

Motorola Xoom 2 (32GB with 3G) review

Motorola Xoom 2 (3G) - A Successor That's Too Late

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Overall rating 7.5/10
Improved design and handling
Convenient note-taking shortcut bar
Poor battery performance
Mediocre specs


Performance Matters - Does it Live Up to its Legacy?

Equipped with a dual-core 1.2GHz processor and 1GB RAM, the Motorola Xoom 2 is considered on-par with most of the dual -ore tablets in the market. However, the arrival of the world's first quad-core tablet, the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer, may spark off a declining consumer's interest in dual-core tablets. Nonetheless, it is exciting to see how the Motorola Xoom 2 fares against one of the best dual-core Android tablets, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and its predecessor, the Xoom. 

The following benchmarks were used for raw performance evaluation: 

  • Quadrant evaluates the CPU, memory, I/O and 3D graphics performance. This is an Android OS based test. 
  • Smartbench 2011 is a multi-core friendly benchmark application that includes both the Productivity and Games indices for a more complete gauge of the overall performance of Android tablets.
  • SunSpider Javascript benchmark measures the browsing performance of the tablet.

How the Tablets Stack up
Device Motorola Xoom 2 (3G) Motorola Xoom Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (3G) Apple iPad 2
CPU TI OMAP4 dual-core 1.2GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual-core 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual-core 1GHz Apple A5 dual-core 1GHz
GPU  ULP GeForce  ULP GeForce ULP GeForce PowerVR SGX 543MP2
OS Google Android 3.2 Google Android 3.0 Google Android 3.1 Apple iOS 4.3

The choice of using a TI OMAP4 processor paid off for Motorola as the Xoom 2 surpassed the Samsung tablet and original Xoom with ease. Despite the slight difference in clock speed, the Xoom 2 took the lead by a huge margin in the Quadrant benchmark. In fact, it's even fared slightly better than the quad-core based ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime. However, take note that the benchmark isn't designed with multi-core processors in mind unlike the SmartBench 2011 which is up next.

Although the performance gap is smaller in the Smartbench 2011 benchmarks, the Motorola Xoom 2 maintained a healthy lead ahead of the other compared tablets. For comparison sake, the Android 4.0 equipped ASUS tablet scored better in the productivity suite but wasn't any better in the gaming suite.

From the results of the Sunspider Javascript benchmark, the Motorola Xoom 2 also managed the best browsing scores among all the tablets, even edging out the Apple iPad 2 and the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime.

Number crunching aside, the overall user experience is typical of an Android Honeycomb tablet - smooth. We had no problems running multiple apps in the background and web browsing is no different from the other tablets we have reviewed before. Not surprisingly, we still feel that the overall experience fell short of the one we had on the Android 4.0-powered ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime, especially in the areas of interface transitions, navigation and web browsing.  


Multimedia Performance 

The Motorola Xoom 2 (3G) isn't very much different from its predecessor when it comes to multimedia features. It is still equipped with a 10.1-inch display but it is brighter and more vibrant. While some may find this enhancement useful, we reckon that it will draw more battery juice, which we will explore further in our next section.

When the first Xoom came into the market, it had a microSD card slot but could not be used. This practically made it redundant until the arrival of the Android 3.2 update months later. This time round, you will not face a similar situation as the Motorola Xoom 2 (3G) comes with microSD card support out of the box. The maximum storage capacity including memory card support adds up to 64GB, which is more than sufficient for mainstream users. 

The camera aspect only received a slight boost in capability, with the Xoom 2 (3G) being able to do 1080p video recording. Compared to the first Xoom which does 720p, this puts the Xoom 2 (3G) on par with the competition. With tablets generally not performing well in the imaging aspect, we did not harbor any high hopes either. 

With ASUS showing that its Eee Pad Transformer Prime is capable of taking excellent image quality, we could not help it but felt that Motorola missed an opportunity to level the playing field. We expected Motorola to do more than merely upgrading the video recording capability on its latest tablet device. 


Battery and Portability Performance


The last benchmark is the battery performance section, where we evaluate the Motorola Xoom 2 through our standard battery test which includes:  

  • Looping a 720p video with screen brightness and volume at 100% 
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity turned on
  • Constant data streaming through email and Twitter. 
Test Tablets Compared
Specifications/Device Motorola Xoom 2 (3G) Motorola Xoom Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1  Apple iPad 2
  • Dual-core 1.2GHz
  • Dual-core 1GHz
  • Dual-core 1GHz
  • Dual-core 1GHz
Display Size
  • 10.1-inch
  • 10.1-inch
  • 10.1-inch
  • 9.7-inch
Display Type
  • LED-backlit IPS TFT
Display Resolution
  • 1280 x 800 pixels
  • 1280 x 800 pixels 
  • 1024 x 600 pixels
  • 1024 x 768 pixels 
  • 253.9 x 173.6 x 8.8mm
  • 249.1 x 167.8 x 12.9mm
  • 256.7 x 175.3 x 8.6mm
  • 241.2 x 185.7 x 8.8mm
  • 608g
  • 708g
  • 565g
  • 613g

Despite packing a huge 7000mAh battery, the Motorola Xoom 2 (3G) ranked the lowest in terms of battery stamina. It ran out of battery juice after a mere four hours and forty minutes, which is significantly lower than the Xoom's six hour battery life and about half of the Apple iPad 2. Its poor performance is probably due to the use of the TI OMAP4 processor since not much else is different from the comparisons. It might have given the Motorola Xoom 2 an extra boost in speed and graphics processing as seen in the benchmarks above, but at the cost of consuming more power. The NVIDIA Tegra 2 processors in the first Xoom and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 are more power efficient as the architecture of the chipset includes ARM7 cores along with the ARM Cortex A9. The ARM7 core is an older but less power consuming core that handles system processes running in the background when the device is in standby mode. 

Despite suffering a significant setback in the battery endurance test, the Motorola Xoom 2 was able to claim back some of its honor in the Portability Index. This Index benchmarks mobile devices according to how well they balance battery life with their physical size. The ratio is obtained by dividing the battery life (in hours) to its weight (in kg) multiplied by the volume (in m3). This means that a device with a longer battery life, lighter weight and smaller volume will perform better in the Portability Index.

The shedding of 100g and 4.1mm of thickness puts the Motorola Xoom 2 at an advantage against the first Xoom. However, it is not sufficient to put it ahead of the thinner (8.6mm) and lighter (565g) Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. 

Since our battery test above simulates fairly stressful usage conditions, it is likely that you can get a better battery mileage out of the Motorola Xoom 2 under normal usage conditions. In fact, we were able to squeeze out about a day of usage on the Motorola slate with frequent gaming, web surfing and emailing. This ranks about on par with most other tablets in the market. Of courses, do note that actual battery mileage may differ under varying usage conditions.