Has the Xoom 2 lived up to the expectations and hype?

The original Motorola Xoom was a huge step for the rapidly growing Android environment, carrying Android 3.0 Honeycomb and bringing a new “tablet friendly” operating system to users. As many did, I expected the Xoom 2 to launch with 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich: Sadly, No!

When I questioned Motorola about this on Twitter:

Their response was less than satisfactory.

  • Noticably lighter than its older brother the Xoom
  • Screen presents crisp images and smooth video
  • 32GB Storage and micro SD expansion slot
  • Battery life is fantastic

  • Has not launched with Ice Cream Sandwich
  • Has not launched with Ice Cream Sandwich
  • Has not launched with Ice Cream Sandwich
  • Webcam is only 1.3MP
  • A couple of interesting wifi dropouts when in portrait mode, hope it’s not another antenna-gate!
  • Did I mention:

  • Has not launched with Ice Cream Sandwich

I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is, but I like this device. The tablet “feels good” in your hands, it’s lightweight, the screen is really nice (not brilliant) with crisp video and the battery life I found to be outstanding.

The biggest thing that this tablet is missing is Ice Cream Sandwich!
Having used ICS tablets, then gone back to Honeycomb for this review I can see some obvious holes in the OS that have been plugged by ICS including performance issues that would be resolved by updating. There’s a few times when the tablet isn’t as snappy as the hardware should be, I can only put this down to Honeycomb.

My son Alex got his chance to play (kids games of course!) with the Xoom 2 while I was reviewing this unit. He’s very funny when he’s playing with new toys, he’s more impatient than I am with loading times and clearly gets frustrated by touch screens that are not 1:1 touch response.

Here’s what he had to say about the Xoom 2.

The hardware is good, very good! It looks great, it feels nice to use, it’s got great battery life, but it’s lacking something very important when it comes to tablets in the current market: That’s right! Ice Cream Sandwich – Despite their “it will be released ASAP” response, I’m honestly not satisfied with that as an answer. Why is it that development would not take a half step back to incorporate ICS, when it’s the market standard. It’s disappointing, but Motorola have only let themselves down with this.

The Xoom 2 is very good, I wanted it to be and it could have been great, but it just doesn’t stand out among the other Android Tablets and has certainly been lost in the hype around the launch of the new iPad. I think Phil Nickinson summed it up best when I was talking with him, he stated “It’s nice hardware, but the same old Honeycomb”.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Frank Benign

IMO, the widescreen form factor is not the best for tablets.

Matt Booth

Depends on your intended use – for watching movies then 16:9/16:10 is ideal. However I agree that for most other uses such as web browsing etc 4:3 is better

Johann Lo

Moto is amongst the worst of the OEMs re: timely OS updates. But unfortunately they often make very good hardware (Razr Maxx, original atrix for example).

their flashing/BL unlock method is also a lot more obscure/tricky than Sammy/HTC for example (IMO)


OK so Motorola had two options here: Option 1: Let you use the hardware right now for 2 months* with Honeycomb then give you an OTA ICS update. OR Option 2: Not let you use it *at all* for 2 months and then release with ICS on it. In both options you have to wait for ICS. Only in the first option do you get to use the hardware while you wait for it. So obviously Option 1 is superior and yet you cane them for giving you this superior option? *=2 months is an example to make my point –… Read more »

Phil Tann

I honestly don’t believe it would cost them 2 months on release, and currently with Honeycomb they’re costing themselves sales.  I know a lot of people who have stated they would have bought this if it came with ICS, but since it’s X months away they’ll now wait for a quad core tablet – honestly I don’t blame them.

Please don’t encourage my kid, he know’s he’s cute…  😐

Phil Tann

I really wanted it to be brilliant, but it’s just not…

Not yet, I’ve asked their PR team to send the device back to me when ICS is on it and I’ll do a short review again based on the differences.
Geoff – You’re right, it just feels lazy to release with Honeycomb instead of ICS.

Geoff Fieldew

I’m assuming you have the 10 incher Phil? I would like to see the 8in. Good size imo.


look at the tags =3

Geoff Fieldew

nice spot, didn’t even notice the tags.

Jake Oliver

Forgot locked bootloader in the negatives field 😛

Which means no unofficial ICS either.

I’ll be continuing to avoid motorola devices like the plague until they change their policies in regards to this.

Geoff Fieldew

I love Moto’s twitter responses, NOT. Xoom 2 was released in the US as the Xyboard in December 2011. It’s fair to assume they were developing it for many months prior to release using Honeycomb, as ICS wouldn’t have been available until November/December – all good.  This, however, is no excuse for launching it in Australia in Feb/March with Honeycomb. ICS has been available as source code for about 4 months now. It should have launched here with ICS. It will ALWAYS be one version behind. Not good enough Moto – especially when you know how buggy Honeycomb is, you… Read more »


Brief review I know, but are you sure about the specs as I don’t think the micro sd expansion slot is enabled, can you reconfirm please as this would be a deal breaker for many I’m sure.