Image: Droid 2 by Motorola
The Droid 2, by Motorola, uses Android 2.2 and includes a redesigned keyboard from the original Droid, increased processing power and Adobe Flash Player 10.
updated 8/10/2010 1:27:39 PM ET 2010-08-10T17:27:39

The Droid 2 — successor to the Motorola Droid phone that helped amp up adoption of Android-based phones — will be available from Verizon Wireless for online pre-order Wednesday, and available in Verizon stores Thursday. The phone costs $199.99 after a $100 mail-in rebate and signing a two-year contract.

But "Star Wars" fans, hold your wallets: In September, Verizon Wireless plans to offer an online-only, "limited edition R2-D2 version" of the Droid 2, which will feature "Star Wars" content and "external hardware designed to look like the trusty Droid from the film saga,"  Verizon Wireless says.

The Droid 2 will run the new Android 2.2 operating system , which means a faster, smoother overall experience. It also means native support for tethering a Windows or Linux laptop via USB cable, so the computer can use its 3G wireless connection.

The newer software also brings improved support and security for the Microsoft Exchange business suite (e-mail, calendar, etc.) with the addition of password options to unlock the phone, and the capability to do a remote wipe of data if the phone is lost or stolen.

On-screen buttons for the phone's camera will provide easier access for controlling the zoom, flash, white balance, geo-tagging, focus and exposure. An LED flash will also be enabled for the camcorder, so that videos can be taken at night or in low-light settings, according to the Android developers' website.

The Droid 2 itself will have the same size screen — 3.7-inches — and the same 5-megapixel camera — as the original Droid, which came out last fall. The slide-out keyboard is redesigned; instead of the original Droid's flatter keys, the Droid 2 has a "symmetrical keyboard with raised keys for more responsive typing to push out notes and status updates," Verizon Wireless says.

Verizon Wireless is the leading U.S. carrier of Android phones, which in a short time, has come to dominate the smart phone landscape in the United States.

The company is also touting the Droid 2's use of Adobe Flash Player 10.1 — something that Apple's iPhone does not support. Flash is used to watch Web videos and animations. Apple has resisted using Flash on the iPhone, citing issues with battery drain, security and stability.

"It's great to see amazing new smart phones like the Droid 2 come pre-installed with Flash Player 10.1," said David Wadhwani, senior vice president at Adobe, was quoted as saying in Verizon's press release.

Pre-orders for the Droid 2 will be taken starting Wednesday, with the phone in stores Thursday — the same day that AT&T makes available the new BlackBerry Torch , announced last week.

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