Is Android 2.1 Choking Droids?

The over-the-air (OTA) update that started rolling out to Droid owners across the country earlier this week appears to be choking the performance out of the handset.  Phil Issler of Tesuji Games noticed that video play back was being cut in half, going from 60 frames per second down to 30.  ZDNet’s Ed Burnette also noticed that his Droid was behaving in a choppy manner when playing a few games.   Below is a video breakdown of their findings when running a test on two Droids.  One had Android 2.1 while the other was on 2.0.1. 

If early comments are any indication, this aren’t isolated incidents.  Let’s hope a maintenance releases or minor update follows right behind the 2.1 rollout.

  • cjldad

    That majorly sucks! Hope you droid folks get a fix soon.. But hey, I'm still waiting on my update from 1.5……

  • Steve

    I updated a few days ago and I haven't noticed any problems with anything; animations, transitions, videos, games. In fact, it seems more snappy than it did before.

  • Helmore

    Does this actually have any impact on other applications? As far as I'm concerned, you should not worry about this as long as the FPS is a consistent 30 FPS or higher. This might as be something they changed to this specific behavior intentionally, to conserve battery life for example, as it requires a lot less power to keep everything at a consistent 30 FPS compared to 60 FPS.

  • Jerry

    Update 2.1 made my Droid faster/smoother than it was 2.01…. It was worth the wait.

  • cjldad

    Yeah, thought about the "power saving" features of some GPU's that will kick back if it isn't needed.. It would atually be a nice feature to have. (should save some battery life..)

    If it doesn't affect any real life apps or watching movies, who cares?????

  • agar

    If you read Ed Burnette's blog on ZDnet he says that his phone was the phone used in the video. Burnette's blog quotes Phil Issler as "Although I haven’t yet received the upgrade, a friend has, and the results were…well, disappointing."

    Perhaps Phil Issler's friend is Burnette and the issue isn't as widespread as thought?

    • Indeed, Ed Burnette is the friend I was talking about. And I'd like to be clear: My test concerns the frame rate of 2D animation and how it impacts the performance of a game that I'm developing. Ed conducted an OpenGL version of the test and found that there is no adverse effect for 3D graphics. I have not tested video playback performance, contrary to what this article says.

  • Yorick

    Maybe 2.1 has some sort of GPU throttle? As in "it uses what it needs".

  • Master Ethan

    Mine is getting Avg=40, min=20, max=67. Watching it mine goes slow and fast… so it's slow for a few seconds around 30-32 and then speeds back up to 60-67fps and then randomly slows back down for a bit. But I've got another version running so that may be why mine gets a better avg of 40 and seems to be much more speedy. Firmware: 2.1-update1, kernal: 2.6.29-omap1-bekit, mod: CyanogenMod- It could be GPU trottle as well or maybe it's in the kernal (notice in the video the kernals are different from 2.0.1 and 2.1 and mine (CyanogenMod) is too) and not the Firmware??

  • @Helmore: Yes, it does affect other applications. In addition to Phil's real game, his test program, and a test program I wrote, I could see slowdowns on PapiJump, Ethereal Dialpad, and Pong Multi Touch. Mike Leahy says it's killing performance on his typhon4android program.

    @Ethan: That's what we're seeing too. If 'm' is 30fps and 'M' is 60fps, then it's like this before the update:


    and like this after the update:


    The average/min/max numbers don't really convey how the 2D graphics stuttering feels. Maybe we need a standard deviation or a histogram or something. Since the speed of the ball is directly tied to the frame rate, the effect is disconcerting. It's like being in a car where the driver is randomly alternating between the gas pedal and the brake.

    @AndroidsOfTara: As long as you stay away from apps that use the standard 2D Android graphics library (Surface, Canvas, etc.) for animations then you should be ok. Of course there's no way to tell without the source code.

  • AndroidsOfTara

    I've been running various versions of the leaked 2.1 for weeks now (Bugless Beast) at stock clock speed and everything has been faster than with 2.01. In particular, web browsing on the Droid is now great. The only game I play is Robo Defense which seems the same to me.

    My wife got the 2.1 OTA today and said that her phone feels faster.

    I'm quite happy with 2.1

  • Luke

    The motion picture, Star Wars, has been seen by a billion Earthlings at 24 fps.

    If you are getting 30 how dare you complain.

  • phiberoptik

    I can't speak of the droid, but the 2.1 update (build 2.34) for the milestone
    has one real bummer – on some phones, it completely breaks
    location finding by means of GSM networks :-. GPS and WIFI based
    location finding is not affected as far as I can tell.

    The phone catches one location after startup and is stuck there
    until next reboot. Really, really annoying.

    This happens with the generic DACH update and with the carrier
    specific versions.

    I went back to 2.0.1 and everything works again.

  • Nunya


  • I downloaded the test to my phone, and I'm getting interesting results. I' mrunning AdamZ's Smoked Glass v6.0 ROM, which is based on the ERE53 2.1 firmware. His kernal allows overclocking up to 1.1 Mhz. I usually run my phone at 800 Mhz, and, when I ran this test at that processor speed, I got excellent results…the display stayed consistently at 60 fps, with a min of 27 and a max of 68.

    Then, I clocked my cpu down to 600 Mhz (close as I could get to the stock 550), re-ran the test, and immediately saw what this post is talking about. The display was consistently below 40 fps, with frequent momentary spikes to 60. The average was 37 fps.

    The part I'm unable to test is the un-upgraded phone (I've no desire to remove the ROM I'm running…it's smooth as silk and completely reliable). These results certainly are disappointing…hopefully Google / Moto will get a fix out for this soon. In the meantime, hopefully this will encourage more Droid users to learn more about their phones so that they can get the most out of them by rooting and installing one of the excellent alternative ROMs that are out there.

    I usually overclock my cpu to 800 Mhz, but I tried the test at

  • jd311_78

    I got the update and from what I've seen my droid is runnig smoother and faster. No lag issues. Im impressed by the live wallpaper an the pich to zoom. I think it maybe an observance from a few people and now they're makin people panic. If they don't like it they can go back to a regular flip phone. Then I'm sure they would be begging for their 2.1 droid back.

  • ron

    I haven't noticed videos stuttering, but my battery life has dropped significantly. Has anyone else noticed that?

  • DADA

    hope if anything….u droid users will et things fixes. but HEY…….i am still at android 1.5 on my cliq so i don`t have to worry about things like this…for now

  • Mike

    I noticed after the update mine was not running as fast so i checked into and seems others are having the same problem. mine updated OTA. and Im getting around mid 30 Fps with the program shown. i want a fix 🙁

  • Android Guru

    I am not an Droid owner, I am a proud N1 owner but I have a good friend who has a Droid & when comparing his 2.1 to mine, I notice a huge difference. Besides the lack of the clock application, 5 Home screen, card view, 3D App launcher, etc. I noticed that his live wallpapers seem to be paused for a second or two when opening or closing an application. Is this because of video processing differences between the two phones or is this something Motorola needs to fix in the near future?

  • The grump

    Yeah, I got it all right, version 2.1. Now, NONE OF MY JPEG PICTURE FILES WILL OPEN !!! GRRRRRRR….. I HATE MY DROID. I want my old Windows based phone back. I'm sick of crappy Google based apps from the "market". I miss folder based operations. I hate Google map results that do not show the nearest search results (gas, pizza, etc) first. And most of all, I hate the side button on the droid that accidently reduces ringer volume while you hold the phone in your hand. The ringer volume should be accessed by software, not a side mounted hardware button, mounted on the only safe place to hold the phone (where it is sure to be accidently pressed).

    And now, 2.1 has f**ked my "gallery" functions. Thanks a lot, Google.

  • Jason

    I got the OTA update a few days ago, it did just the opposite for me, mine is running very quickly and is way better than it was with 2.0.1. I'm not a big video guy, mostly using mine for internet browsing, news reading, and texting; I can't say that I've had any complaints with the YouTube app either. My biggest Droid complaint is that the camera kind of sucks, though the 2.1 update seemed to make it a little more responsive.


  • Moonchild

    Well Luke. The problem isn't with the 30 fps. If it was constant it wouldn't be as much a hassle. Ever tried playing a game of Mario and jump into a mushroom with feet because well the mushroom was in a slightly different place when you ran and made your jump. I got the update on my moto Droid. I didn't want what they gave me and I want my old Droid back and yes I am definitely considering going to a mod if I can get my phone back to 2.0.1. Any helpful advice would greatly be appreciated.

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