Featured Review: Motorola DROID Turbo 2

AH Droid Turbo 2 2 1

Motorola’s DROID lineup is an exclusive selection of devices which has been served up to Verizon subscribers for years, essentially since near the beginning of Android as a smartphone operating system. Last year the DROID line manifested in the DROID Turbo as one option for consumers, and this year Motorola has followed it up with the DROID Turbo 2 which they recently unveiled at an event on October 27th. While there are some obvious details which Motorola have kept the same, like parts of the design and a 21MP main camera (the sensor in which is all new this year), there are definitely some new additions that make this an even better phone than last year’s model, like faster charging, better quality images, and of course, the ShatterShield display. How does it stack up? Let’s take a look.

SpecsAH DROID Turbo 2 Specs-2

Motorola has kept at least one or two things nearly the same here. The rear camera is once again a 21MP sensor, however, the sensor in itself is a brand-new model which Motorola boasted is capable of better quality images than the original DROID Turbo. We’ll get into images later. There’s also the use of the Quad HD display, something which the last year’s model of the phone also used. When it comes to specifications details, the DROID Turbo 2 is equipped with a 5.4-inch Quad HD AMOLED display with 540 ppi (pixels per inch) and of course, the ShatterShield technology to protect it from drops. On the front it also carries the 5MP wide-angle lens camera with an f/2.0 aperture for better low-light selfie shots, as well as a night mode LED flash. Flipping the phone over reveals the 21MP rear-facing camera with the same f/2.0 aperture, a color correlated temperature dual-LED flash, and many other features like phase detection auto-focus, HDR and more.

On the inside it’s powered by Qualcomm’s latest, the octa-core Snapdragon 810 CPU clocked at 2.0GHz and the Adreno 430 GPU for graphics processing. It’s also got 3GB of RAM, 32GB or 64GB of storage and can support expandable storage for microSD cards up to 2TB. The phone feels nice and sturdy with a good weight to it measuring in at 149.8mm by 78mm by 7.6mm, and weighing in at 169g. Another big draw of the DROID Turbo 2 besides the display is the battery. Motorola fitted the device with a 3760mAh battery that is capable of lasting users up to 48 hours, with the ability to receive 13 hours of use in just 15 minutes. When it comes to software, Motorola stuck with Android 5.1.1 Lollipop.

In The BoxAH DROID Turbo 2 In Box-2

When it comes to what’s in the box for the DROID Turbo 2, you’ll find pretty much just the basics. There aren’t a lot of extras included in here but you will have everything you need to use the device. Inside the box along with the phone itself you’ll find Motorola’s turbo charger as well as the warranty and quick start guides, and the SIM tray tool, and that’s pretty much it.

DisplayAH DROID Turbo 2 Display-2

For many users the display is going to be an important part of the phone, whether it comes down to size, clarity, or durability, for fear of a possible damaging experience that could cause it to keep from working right ever again. Motorola seems to have taken all of these things into consideration with the DROID Turbo 2, as the screen is not only sharp and colorful thanks to the use of the AMOLED technology, but it also comes in at a decent size of 5.4-inches. It’s big enough, otherwise tastefully sized but doesn’t feel too big or overly expanded. It’s right in between being a little too small at 5-inches, and too big for most at 6-inches. The screen was plenty bright even at lower levels so there was no real need to crank things up as high as they would go, and decent color reproduction should be no surprise here as Samsung’s AMOLED panels are among some of the best in this particular area. Blacks are deep and colors pop off the display to make for a nice overall viewing experience. It’s not quite as sharp or bright as something like the Galaxy S6 or Galaxy S6 Edge, but it’s still a great quality screen.

The real showstopper though is the ShatterShield technology. The “first ever shatterproof display” according to Motorola which was designed and built to withstand everyday drops, no matter how many times it may slide off the couch onto the hardwood floors, slip out of your hands and slide across the pavement etc. Motorola wanted to build a screen which could take some abuse because as they put it, accidents happen, and there’s nothing untrue about that statement. People abuse their phones whether they mean to or not and the display is often times the part of them that take the most damage. With generally any other phone, short of putting on a case and something like a tempered glass screen protector, the display is at high-risk, which means high-worry if you fumble things a lot. With the DROID Turbo 2’s display this is a non-issue. Although I didn’t overly abuse the screen, a few drops onto the concrete were encouraged to test its durability and it held up nicely. The screen is also extremely responsive which also shouldn’t be too surprising coming from a brand like Motorola, and I had no issues with multi-touch fast typing.

Hardware And BuildAH DROID Turbo 2-2

The build quality of the DROID Turbo 2 is quite good and while it may not have the premium look and feel of an all metal or metal and glass device, it’s understated and carries on the design and form factor of Motorola’s Moto X Pure Edition phone from this year. An all-metal frame wraps around the device while the back is made up of any number of possible combinations. Ours was the soft touch plastic in white with the triangular design pattern on the back, but consumers can design their own phone through Moto Maker with over 1,000 possible combinations that include backs made of genuine Horween leather and the natural wood, in addition to the soft touch plastic and ballistic nylonin multiple colors. On the right side of the device you have the volume rocker and power button, while the charging port (a standard microUSB) sits on the bottom, and the 3.5mm audio port, as well as the nano-SIM/microSD card tray sit up top. On the back you’ll find the DROID branding at the bottom, while Motorola’s batwing logo is towards the top along with the camera and flash just like with the Moto X Pure Edition.

Both above and beneath the display you’ll find Motorola’s collection of sensors, as well as the dual front-facing stereo speakers that sandwich the Verizon logo. Although the phone may still feel too large for some if they tend to use their phones one-handed, the fact that Motorola has opted to use any number of material types for the back of the phone make it feel less slick in the hand which helps with grip. Buttons are also easy to access and don’t feel too out of place. It doesn’t require much effort or feel awkward trying to extend your thumb to power up the display or manage the volume. This might seem like something relatively minor, but good placement of these buttons makes using the functions they’re committed to more user-friendly, and more comfortable which contributes to the overall experience. Both the volume rocker and the power button also have good response and aren’t too easy or too difficult to press, and they sit almost flush with the frame so they don’t protrude out too much, just enough to make them noticeable by touch.

Performance And MemoryAH DROID Turbo 2 performance-2

Whether or not you think of the DROID Turbo 2 as a powerhouse device, it’s important to remember that this is a flagship phone for Verizon and as such, Motorola have packed it with pretty decent specs. It’s powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 CPU which is paired up with the Adreno 430 GPU for graphics, and it has 3GB of RAM so handling quite a few tasks at once or a rather demanding game with top-quality visuals isn’t much of a task at all. Contrary to popular belief, the Snapdragon 810 doesn’t get overly hot inside of the DROID Turbo 2, and it performed quite admirably during testing of high-end games like Need for Speed No Limits or Implosion. It also played Dead Effect 2 rather nicely, and I didn’t experience any lag or slowness while playing any of the games I used on the device. While it doesn’t get overly hot, it does admittedly get a little warm when the CPU/GPU comes under heavy strain, which I only seemed to notice after playing games for 25-30 minutes or longer. It’s worth mentioning though that the heat didn’t affect gameplay and it wasn’t hot to the touch as the phone was still very much comfortable to hold.

Since this is utilizing Motorola’s software the skin is also rather light and almost stock, which likely helps to keep the phone performing well under any conditions. You shouldn’t have any issues with day to day use as the DROID Turbo 2 is well equipped to take on power users let alone the average person who just want to check a few emails, snap a few pictures, and browse the web from time to time. The phone felt snappy no matter how many apps I opened up and while the bootup process could have been a little quicker, this particular situation is only drawn out for a few seconds due to the DROID Turbo boot animation, otherwise it loads quick and functions just as fast.

BenchmarksAH DROID Turbo 2 benchmarks-2

As with any flagship or high-end device, the Motorola DROID Turbo 2 is equipped well enough to handle pretty much anything and it shows in the benchmark tests. Real-world performance is always going to be slightly different from these tests since everyone will use the phone differently, but they do serve the purpose of highlighting what consumers can probably expect in this area. This is in no small part thanks to the combination of the Snapdragon 810 and accompanying Adreno 430 GPU as well as the 3GB of RAM. Basically, when it comes down to it no user should be disappointed with real-world performance on this device. If you’re interested, you can see the benchmarks scores below for AnTuTu, Geekbench 3, and 3DMark.

Phone Calls And NetworkAH DROID Turbo 2 Dialer-2

Verizon is often hailed as having the network with most coverage, and it’s easy to associate that with the best network experience for voice as well as overall network performance. The DROID Turbo 2 does not disappoint here. No matter where I roamed with the device in my time using it, it kept 4G LTE coverage most of the time and was able to browse the web at pretty decent speeds. Voice calls were crystal clear for me personally, which also speaks to the quality of the earpiece for the device as well, and after having asked people on the other end of the call how I sounded to them, it became evident that any user would be happy with the phone call quality, no matter how often they’re making voice calls. The DROID Turbo 2 is also one of the devices on Verizon’s list which carries support for Advanced Calling, which means HD Voice and simultaneous use of 4G LTE voice calls and data.

As this is a Verizon-only phone it’s going to support only Verizon Wireless since it’s locked to their network, but that’s to be expected as this is nothing new. When it comes to actual network types, the DROID Turbo 2 supports 4G LTE Cat 4, CDMA/EVDO Rev A, UMTS/HSPA+, and GSM/EDGE, and has support for CDMA bands 850 and 1900MHz, GSM/GPRS/EDGE bands 850, 900, 1800, and 1900 MHz, UMTS/HSPA+ bands 850, 900, 1900, and 2100MHz, and 4G LTE bands 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, and 13.

Battery LifeAH DROID Turbo 2 battery life-2

With a battery capacity set at 3760mAh you would expect the phone to hold up for quite some time during normal use, and Motorola boasts that mixed usage with the phone can last up to 48 hours before needing a recharge. I didn’t get quite that long out of the battery but I was able to keep it going for at least an entire day before I had to plug it in, having about 8 hours of screen on time while the brightness was up and music was streaming in the background through an entire day’s work at my desk. This is also in addition to about an hour or more of gaming with titles that had some rather intensive visuals.

Needless to say the DROID Turbo 2 will likely last anyone through an entire day and then some, and for those who think they might run into any issues, the device charges at such a rapid pace those worries will disappear into thin air. After draining the battery down to about 31 percent one of the first days I was using the DROID Turbo 2, throwing it on the charger before I left for the evening for only around 30 minutes or so awarded an almost full battery again, making it like I had hardly touched it all day. For those who have less time than a half an hour, 15 minutes on the charger will gain the device another 13 hours of use on average thanks to Motorola’s TurboPower technology. Basically, use the phone to your heart’s content and if the battery runs low, throwing it on the charger for 20 minutes is all that should be needed until it’s time to plug it in for the remainder of the evening.

SoundAH DROID Turbo 2 play music-2

Sound quality has never really been Motorola’s major focal point when it comes to their devices, at least not from an advertisement point of view, but that isn’t to say that they don’t produce phones with great audio. The DROID Turbo 2 is equipped with two front-facing speakers and they worked amazingly well no matter what I was using whether it was videos, playing games or streaming music the whole day. Sound was loud and clear without having to punch the volume up to its max settings, and this helped to keep the audio from distorting which is something that can easily happen if you crank up the volume as loud as it will go to compensate for weak speaker quality.

There was enough bass behind everything to satisfy my personal tastes, and normally when streaming music I usually connect the device up to a Bluetooth speaker or a nice pair of headphones to get what I need. With the DROID Turbo 2 this wasn’t a necessity as I could simply allow all the audio to play through the speakers themselves. The only time I found myself connecting up headphones was when I was wanting to play games or watch video without disturbing others. The speakers aren’t the only part of the sound that matters though. The loudspeaker for voice calls can be an important factor as sometimes it’s just easier to have a conversation this way instead of holding the phone up to your ear. During the few calls I made with loud speaker on, I was able to set the phone down and keep my hands free while I thumbed through the information I needed, and people on the other end of the call sounded just as clear as if I was using the earpiece.

SoftwareAH DROID Turbo 2 Software-2

When it comes to software this is one thing that Motorola has been trying their hardest to get right since the launch of the first Moto X. They do a great job at giving consumers a uniquely Motorola experience without deviating too much from the stock Android experience that Google envisions Android to be, and this helps to keep some familiarity for those who are use to stock Android, but more importantly, it makes it easier for users to receive updates to the software when Google pushes it out. Whether that will remain true for the DROID Turbo 2 is still uncertain, as the software will have to go through Verizon after Motorola finishes with it and before it reaches the hands of customers. Despite this, the DROID Turbo 2 is snappy and polished in a way that’s almost come to be expected from Motorola these past couple of years. The presence of pre-installed and yet also non-removable Verizon wireless apps may not be to everyone’s liking, but it does little to sour the experience that Motorola has set forth for its customer base.

As with other recent Motorola devices the DROID Turbo 2 comes packed with a few gems from the company that enhance the user experience, including Moto Display for having quick glances at incoming notifications, and the Moto Voice app for voice-activated functions that does everything from initiate calls to fetching you weather information. It also has the gesture activated controls for the camera, allowing users to snap photos with the flick of their wrist or enable the flashlight with a chop, which are both part of the Moto Actions feature that’s baked into the software. While chopping and twisting the wrist never felt quite right to me for completing the functions they’ve been designed to do, actually doing those things was relatively easy and many users will find them not only useful but fun.

Out of the software features, what’s almost invaluable is the Moto Voice. This makes it easy to wake the screen and ask the phone to do something all at the behest of a personally configured command. Equally useful is Moto Display, which lessens the amount of battery drain as you don’t have to wake the screen every time you feel the need to check your notifications. Simply wave your hand over the screen and the sensors will pick up the movement, then briefly show you notification icons in white while the rest of the screen stays black. Alternatively, the sensors will also pick up the movement if you grab your device and pick it up from a face-down position on the table. This alone will help to keep your battery lasting longer than without it, and more battery means more time to do other things with the device that you may need to do.

CameraAH DROID Turbo 2 Camera-2

Motorola made a big show of the camera at the event, displaying blown-up photos of some shots taken around the city at night to illuminate how good the camera is in low-light conditions. This is due to the use of the f/2.0 aperture within the sensor and it certainly helps to make pictures look much better when there aren’t enough light sources around you. I still felt that it didn’t perform quite as good as the Xperia Z3 in low-light situations though, leaving just a little bit to be desired. This can be corrected a little bit by tweaking the camera settings and allowing for manual adjustment of the exposure, but increasing this too much just washes out the image. The best results I found came from leaving the camera at the exposure level it’s at when you open the camera app, but in the end it still appeared a little too dark, even if it did provide a little more detail.

Despite my results with the low-light shots, pictures taken with the DROID Turbo 2 in pretty much any other setting appeared bright and vivid with crisp details. Color reproduction was much better than I was expecting and on top of feeding you a great image, Motorola makes it extremely easy to use the camera too, as snapping photos is as simple as tapping on the display. Focusing is handled by the camera itself, and should you find that you need to zoom in at all you can swipe up or down on the display to manage the digital zoom functionality. You also have some ability to tweak the outcome of your shots with options for manual focus on subjects by dragging the yellow circle on screen till you have it placed over the subject you want to focus on, and a slider bar follows the circles edge allowing you to increase or decrease the exposure levels as you see fit. You also have a few other options at your disposal like HDR, widescreen and standard photo aspect ratios, panorama, and of course, the video mode which is capable of shooting 4K ultra high-definition videos. You may or may not have the TV’s or monitors capable of supporting 4K content, but knowing that you can view them in all their glory whenever you do have the chance is a nice thought. Check out the camera samples below to see just how good the camera on the DROID Turbo 2 really is.

DROID Turbo 2 Review Camera Samples

The Good

Comfortable to hold in the hand and not too heavy

ShatterShield Display lets you worry less if accidents happen

Front-facing stereo speakers put out great sound

The camera is capable of some amazing quality images

Battery life is great, lasting all day without issue

Charges up insanely fast

Near-stock Android experience with the software

Performs great with plenty of power for multi-tasking, games, etc.

Great quality voice/network performance

The Bad

Android 5.1.1 Lollipop instead of Marshmallow means potential lengthy waiting period for updates

Low-light shots with the camera don’t seem to be as good as they were made out to be

Will still be too big for some users

Final ThoughtsAH DROID Turbo 2-5

At the end of the day, Motorola has done a pretty good job of manufacturing a great phone for those who want what the DROID Turbo 2 has to offer. The ShatterShield display is arguably its strongest asset and there will be plenty of people who will instantly know this is a feature they need to have. Beyond that, the camera takes somre great pictures and anyone who loves to snap shots and share moments shouldn’t be disappointed with the overall camera experience. Power users have something to love too thanks to the Snapdragon 810 CPU and the Turbo Charger technology built-in. The question for some is whether or not they’ll want to live with the presence of unneeded apps which may never be touched for the length of ownership.

It’s also considerably more cost wise than something like the Nexus 6P, which comes with an almost equal camera, a slimmer profile, more storage and added functions like the fingerprint sensor and newer software. If you can look beoyond that and the potentially longer wait for an upgrade to Android 6.0 Marshmallow, then the DROID Turbo 2 is a great device that certainly stands out. It has plenty of features going for it and the user experience was smooth and enjoyable, and, with loads of customization options in Moto Maker you can ensure you’ll be able to get a device that’s completely unique.