Motorola Droid Turbo 2
We want our gadgets to be beautiful. Maybe it started with the phonograph, the princess phone, Braun radios, or the iMac. Who knows? But now it’s hard-coded into our brains: We want our gadgets to be beautiful. Tech capabilities advance, miracles become commodities, and soon, it’s not enough for our gear to do everything. It has to look good, too.
Motorola Droid Turbo 2
‘ShatterShield’ screen will not crack, no matter how many times you drop it. The battery charges very fast and lasts for two days. Big, sharp display. Expandable storage. Features and performance are competitive with any flagship smartphone. Customizable backings via Moto Maker.
The wide bezels and Verizon logo on the front are hella gauche. It’s a Verizon exclusive, which means there’s tons of bloatware. Runs ye olde Android Lollipop. No fingerprint reader, if you’re into that sort of thing.
This creates a catch 22 in the world of phones. You buy a flagship device, and you expect a handheld powerhouse built out of premium materials, with elegant curves, maybe a wraparound display. But none of that matters if the phone has a smashed screen. So to prevent our phones’ screens from getting smashed, we put protective cases on them. And when we put cases on them, we hide the craftsmanship that compelled us to buy them in the first place.
The Motorola Droid Turbo 2 doesn’t have that problem—because it doesn’t need a case. You can drop it face-down onto marble, jagged concrete, bathroom tiles—the screen couldn’t care less. It is the Kimmy Schmidt of phones. It is a Volvo. Try as hard as you want, you cannot smash this phone’s screen by dropping it. Go ahead and toss it around, let other people have a go, watch everyone cringe when it repeatedly meets the ground with a gnarly sounding SLAP. It’s all good. You can confidently flip it over, the big reveal every time, and see a perfectly intact screen. No spiderwebs, no shards, no exceptions.
You will do this about 10 times before remembering that even though that screen is drop-proof, the parts that aren’t the screen can dent. Plus, there are electronics tucked inside. Still, after about 30 drops, my phone worked perfectly and only had a few minor scuffs.
That unbreakable screen is really sharp, too. It’s a 5.4-inch OLED display with a 2,560×1440 (Quad HD) resolution and a pixel density of 540ppi. The screen itself is plastic, but it feels a lot like glass to the touch.
The Droid Turbo 2’s durable display is its marquee feature, but it might not even be the most impressive thing about it. It has the best battery life of any phone I’ve ever used, period. Motorola says it gets up to two days of juice from a single charge, and it’s true. I even got more than that when I wasn’t using it all the time. When you finally do plug it in, another miracle happens: The included 25W “Turbo Charger” gives you 13 hours of battery life in a quick 15 minutes, and you can fully charge the 3,760 mAh battery in about an hour.
Outside of the phone’s groundbreaking durability and battery life, nearly everything about the Droid Turbo 2 is on par with the best smartphones available. The 21-megapixel camera is absurdly fast—the shutter fires instantly. It’s like you’re taking a screenshot rather than a picture. Its eight-core, 2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 SoC is backed by 3GB of RAM, and performance is predictably zippy. It shoots 4K video at 30fps, offers a microSD slot if you want to go beyond its 32GB or 64GB configurations, and although it’s not fully waterproof, it’s built to withstand splashes of water.
But—there’s a catch (I warned you, didn’t I?). The tough-as-nails build means that design-wise, the Droid Turbo 2 isn’t a knockout. It’s not a terrible-looking phone: You can design your own via the Moto Maker site, and you can trick the phone’s back out in materials like ballistic nylon and pebbled leather. The one I tested was a standard-issue, all-white affair with a textured, rubberized “soft grip” backing. It felt fine in the hand and looked fine face-down on the floor, ready for its multiple “the screen is fine” reveals. But it’s nothing special.
And from the front, it’s far from slick. It brings the bezels like a picture frame: Despite having no physical buttons or fingerprint reader under the screen, it has a sizeable chin, forehead, and sideburns. There’s also a big ol’ Verizon “V” logo right between the stereo speakers on the bottom of the handset. This is not an elegant phone, and despite its metal frame and camera accents, the whole thing feels kind of plasticky.
Despite having up-to-the-second components and features, the Droid Turbo 2 is running last year’s version of Android. Out of the box, you get Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, but Motorola and Verizon say an update to Android Marshmallow is coming soon. (They said similar things about last year’s Droid Turbo, and it took almost nine months for that phone to get an OS update.)
The Turbo 2 is a Verizon exclusive in the U.S., and it has all the bloatware to prove it. If you are really, really bothered by preinstalled apps, you will not like this phone. Thankfully, you can hide many of the preinstalled apps from view by holding your finger on the icon, dragging it to “App info,” and then disabling them.
But let’s be realistic here: Compared to the ability to withstand drop after drop after drop and run on a single charge for two days, it’s hard to complain about things like pedestrian looks and bloatware. This is an excellent Android phone, one that’s neck-and-neck with the Android flagships in terms of performance. And it goes beyond that, offering features no other phone can match. Here’s hoping that shatterproof screen and quick-charging, high-capacity battery become commonplace across Motorola’s lineup, on slicker-looking phones, and possibly even a future Nexus device.
But for now, the Droid Turbo 2 is a singular, carrier-exclusive phone that knows exactly who it’s made for: The pragmatists; the people who know they’re bound to drop their handset from time to time and will forget their charger occasionally. Beyond its Verizon-only status, bloatware, and elderly OS, perhaps the biggest thing holding the Turbo 2 back is that we want our gadgets to be beautiful.