Verizon Droid 2 Pre-sales Start August 11

Rumors have been swirling about when Verizon Wireless would take the wraps off the Motorola Droid 2 and up the ante in the Android smartphone game, and today the company removed all mystery: the Motorola Droid 2 will be available for pre-sale starting August 11 for $199.99 after a $100 mail-in rebate with a new two-year service agreement. Plus, Star Wars fans will be able to set hands on a limited-edition R2D2-themed Droid 2 phone for a limited time.

The Droid 2 expands on Verizon’s stable of Android-powered smartphones, offering a 3.7-inch touchscreen display, a slide-out full QWERTY keypad for all those messaging and email needs, a five megapixel camera, and—for $20 extra per month—3G Wi-Fi hotspot capabilities that can support up to five nearby Wi-Fi enabled devices like notebooks, gaming systems, and cameras. Plus, the Droid 2 will ship with Android 2.2 “Froyo” on board, with Flash Player 10.1 so users can tap into “the full Web.”

“The Droid by Motorola was our first Android device, so it is important for us to include the successor to that phone in our portfolio,” said Verizon Wireless VP for marketing and development Jeffrey Dietel, in a statement. “Droid 2 is not only a continuation of our commitment to Android but offers customers the features and form-factor they crave on the Verizon Wireless network.”

In addition to the physical slider keyboard, the Droid 2 will offer a virtual keyboard for quick text input (searches and the like) directly from the screen without having to pop out the keyboard. The Droid 2 will ship with 8 GB of onboard storage can can be augmented with up to 32 GB of removable storage for a total of 40 GB.

In addition to standard Droid 2 handsets, Verizon Wireless plans to offer a special limited edition R2D2-themed Droid 2, which will be available only online in September from Verizon Wireless’s Web site. THe R2D2 edition will feature exclusive Star Wars content and “external hardware” designed to make the phone look a little more, um, droidy.

As an incentive to get users into the Droid universe, Verizon Wireless is also going to let existing customers with contracts ending by December 31, 2010 to upgrade to any smartphone, including the Droid 2, without any penalty.

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