The DROID line of phones is perhaps one of the most important in Android history. Not only is it one of the oldest Android device families, but the original Motorola DROID — launched in 2009 — helped to give Android a major boost in adoption and make it into the most widely adopted smartphone operating system.
Fast-forward to today and the newest DROID flagship is the Turbo 2, made by the same company that started the DROID line. Is this Turbo 2 as big a deal as the original DROID? Let’s find out.
The DROID Turbo 2 has a design that’s reminiscent of another recent Motorola flagship, the Moto X Pure Edition. It’s got a metal outer edge that goes around the entirety of its body and a backside that can be customized with Moto Maker. The power button on the right side of the unit is ridged to help you quickly distinguish it from the volume rocker. Up top is the combination microSD/SIM slot and headphone jack, and the bottom is home to a microUSB port for charging.
My review unit came with a black leather rear stamped with a DROID logo. The leather feels nice and, while handsets with leather backs aren’t new — Motorola and LG have released leather-clad handsets in the past — it still feels cool to have leather on your phone. Other options you have for the back of the Turbo 2 in Moto Maker include a textured soft grip plastic, leather, and ballistic nylon. The back of the Turbo 2 also has a metal strip with a Motorola-branded dimple, camera, and flash.
Moving around to the front of the Turbo 2, there’s an earpiece up top that’s flanked by a camera and flash on either side. At the bottom of the Turbo’s face lives a big bezel with a front-facing speaker and perhaps the most-maligned part of the phone, a big Verizon check mark. Not only is this branding garish because of its size and placement, but it’s actually the old Verizon check mark, not the new one that Verizon switched to at the start of September 2015. As a whole, the Turbo 2′s hardware design is nice, but the front Verizon logo detracts from the overall look.
The DROID Turbo 2 features a 5.4-inch 2560×1440 AMOLED display. At that high resolution, text is crisp and easy to read. Viewing angles are nice, too. One knock that I have against the display is that it appears a bit warm, something that’s noticeable when you’re looking at a something with a lot of white. Overall, though, the Turbo 2′s screen is solid.
One other feature of the DROID Turbo 2′s display is perhaps also its marquee feature. The Turbo 2 includes what Motorola calls ShatterShield, a screen technology that includes 5 layers: two protective lenses, a dual touch layer, the display itself, and an aluminum chassis. Motorola says that ShatterShield won’t crack or shatter for four years, and while many owners may not keep their Turbo 2 long enough to find out, I’m willing to bet that ShatterShield will keep the phone’s screen crack-free through just about any normal use.
I tested the Turbo 2′s ShatterShield screen by dropping it face down onto concrete and ceramic tiles a handful of times. I’ll admit that years of owning smartphones with glass screens that’ll shatter after a single drop onto concrete made me a bit nervous about purposely dropping the Turbo 2, despite Motorola’s claims about ShatterShield. The phone’s screen emerged crack-free, though. Just keep in mind that ShatterSheild won’t protect the rest of the phone from getting dinged up in a drop, so even if your screen survives a drop onto the concrete, you might still get a few nicks and scratches on the metal edge.
In case you need a refresher, here’s the full list of components that are powering Motorola’s DROID Turbo 2:
- 5.4-inch 2560×1440 AMOLED display with ShatterShield
- 2GHz octa-core Snapdragon 810 processor
- 3GB of RAM
- 32/64GB of storage
- MicroSD slot
- 21-megapixel rear camera with f/2.0 aperture, phase detection autofocus, dual LED flash
- 5-megapixel front camera with f/2.0 aperture, wide angle lens, front flash
- 4G LTE
- 3760mAh battery
- Qi, PMA wireless charging
- Android 5.1.1
In my testing, the DROID Turbo 2 was able to handle just about everything I threw at it. I had many apps running at once, including the graphically intense Modern Combat 5 game, and switching between apps was no issue for the Turbo 2. Gaming was no problem, either, with games like Iike Asphalt 8 and the aforementioned Modern Combat 5 running without issue. None of this is terribly surprising given the Turbo 2′s combination of Snapdragon 810 and 3GB of RAM, but it’s still good to see.
For folks that are into benchmarks and big numbers, here are the results the Turbo 2 produced in a few popular Android benchmarking applications:
- AnTuTu: 57956
- Quadrant: 33904
- GeekBench 3: Single core 1260, multi-core 4238
Along with its ShatterShield display, the DROID Turbo 2′s battery is another one of its main features. Motorola advertises the Turbo 2′s 3760mAh battery as being able to last 2 days with mixed use, and while I didn’t quite get there in my testing, the battery is still impressive. I took the Turbo 2 off of its charger at around 10:45 am one morning and then proceeded to use it to check social media and RSS, send some emails, browse the web, download a handful of apps and updates, play some games, and watch streamed videos. The Turbo 2 was at 52 percent at 8:00 am the following morning and ended up lasting until a little after 8:00 pm the next day, with a total of 3 hours and 38 minutes of screen-on time.
When you eventually run the Turbo 2′s battery down, there are a couple of different ways to go about juicing it back up. The Turbo 2 supports Motorola’s TurboPower fast charging technology, and it got me from 0 to 27 percent in just 15 minutes. So if you need a lot of extra juice in not a lot of time, TurboPower is the way to go.
The Turbo 2 also supports Qi and PMA wireless charging. This charging method isn’t going to nearly as quick as TurboPower, but it is convenient. For example, if you’re planning to charge your Turbo 2 overnight, you could use a wireless charging pad so that you don’t have to fumble around in the dark with a microUSB cable that you’ll have to insert the correct way.
Many of Motorola’s recent smartphone cameras have had, let’s say, less than stellar performance. That’s not the case with the Turbo 2, though, which has a 21-megapixel rear camera that’s pretty solid. The colors are accurate, the camera is quick to launch and fairly fast to focus, too. The camera app doesn’t offer a ton of manual settings for you to tweak like some other custom OEM camera apps, but there is one setting that’ll activate a ring that you can use to control focus and exposure.
The Turbo 2′s camera does offer a handful of other features, like an HDR mode that you can switch from on to off or set to auto and let the device handle the decision making. There are also burst and panorama modes, support for 4K video capture — complete with HDR for 1080p and 4K video — and slow motion video capture.
One downside to the Turbo 2′s camera is low-light performance. I found that low-light photos taken with the Turbo 2 often turned out grainy, despite the camera having a night mode setting. As for the front-facing camera, the Turbo 2′s front 5-megapixel shooter works well enough, and it’s got a flash so that your selfie sessions don’t have to stop just because you don’t have much light.
Overall, the DROID Turbo 2′s 21-megapixel camera is much improved over the flagship Moto phones that’ve come in years past. It’s not going to go toe-to-toe with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 or Apple iPhone 6s Plus, but it should serve folks well, especially if you’re just snapping photos and uploading them to social networks.
Full-res photos can be found right here.
As with most other recent Motorola smartphones, the DROID Turbo 2 runs a mostly vanilla version of Android. However, instead of the Google Now Launcher, the Turbo 2 is running a custom launcher called Launcher3. It looks a lot like the Google Now Launcher, but it doesn’t bring up Google Now when you swipe to the right from your home page. The Google Now Launcher also includes a search bar that Launcher3 is missing. If you don’t like these tweaks, you can always install the Google Now Launcher yourself, but it’s still notable — and kind of strange — to see this Launcher3 preinstalled on the Turbo 2 rather than the Google Now Launcher.
Moving on to apps, Motorola has preloaded the Turbo 2 with some of its custom apps, and they’re generally solid additions to the software. The biggest app is simply called Moto, and it enables Motorola’s flavor of voice actions, letting you create your own launch phrase that you can use to perform various tasks like making calls and checking the weather. There’s also the Display portion of the Moto app, which can show glances on the Turbo 2′s screen when you get an app notification. Display will light up the time and up to three buttons for apps that want your attention, and these buttons are interactive. For example, with Gmail you can press on the app icon and then slide up to jump directly to your unread emails, and with Pocketcasts you actually get three buttons that you can swipe up to — rewind, play/pause, and fast-forward — all without unlocking your phone or even bringing up the lock screen.
Another notable feature of the Moto app are its Actions. My favorite is Twist for Quick Capture, which lets you quickly launch the Camera app from anywhere — even if the screen is off — just by holding the phone and twisting your wrist a couple of times. That one is definitely my favorite, and I find myself missing it when using other, non-Motorola phones.
Other Actions include reaching for the Turbo 2 to activate the aforementioned Display feature, and Chop Twice for Flashlight, which will turn on the flashlight when you make 2 quick chopping motions with the phone in your hand. Finally, there’s Moto Assist, which lets you automate actions. For example, you can tell the Turbo 2 to read your texts and tell you who’s calling while you’re driving or automatically respond to missed calls from Favorites when you’re in a meeting.
While we’re on the topic of preinstalled apps, I have to make note of the the apps that Verizon installs on the Turbo 2. I counted 22 total apps from Verizon, including a handful of Amazon apps, 4 games, and several Verizon apps like Message+ and VZ Navigator. The games can be uninstalled, and while you can disable the other apps by jumping into Settings, this may not be obvious to all users. Regardless, it’s kind of crazy that new users are greeted by all of these preinstalled apps that they may never use upon first boot of their new Turbo 2.
In my time with the DROID Turbo 2, it performed well on Verizon’s network. Data speeds were fast, and I’ve got no complaints about the Turbo 2′s calling capabilities.
The DROID Turbo 2 may not be quite as big a deal as the original DROID — which are some pretty big shoes to fill — it’s still a nice device for Verizon customers. Its ShatterShield display is great for folks that know what it feels like for time to slow down as you watch your phone slip from your hands and shatter its screen on the concrete. The other big feature of the Turbo 2 is its long-lasting battery, which I think is something just about everyone can appreciate. And when you do need to juice it up, you can use Motorola’s included TurboPower charger to get a quick boost of juice.
The DROID Turbo 2 is priced like a flagship smartphone, carrying a price of $26 per month for 24 months of $624 full retail. It doesn’t have a couple of features that are present several other recent flagship smartphones — namely, a fingerprint reader or USB Type-C cable — but if you’re a Verizon customer and durability or battery life are among your top features when shopping for a new smartphone, the Turbo 2 is worth a look.