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Droid Turbo 2 review: A souped-up smartphone marred by carrier bloat

Florence Ion | Dec. 10, 2015
Motorola’s powerful smartphone would be better off if it were freed from Big Red's shackles.

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Credit: Florence Ion

My first smartphone was a Verizon Droid-branded device. I’ve nothing but fond memories about my time with it. Motorola is now exclusively making Droid-branded phones for Verizon in the U.S. (selling them under different names overseas), and they’ve become yet another living example of how much control the carriers have over us as users.

The Droid Turbo 2 is a wonderful phone. Actually, almost every phone Motorola has put out this year has been impressive, and this one is even more so because of its long-lasting battery life and durable chassis. But the Droid branding behind it feels outdated. What does that even mean anymore? That you’re buying a phone with Verizon’s applications that you can’t remove? I’m not convinced that the Droid Turbo 2 is worth the extra $200 or so it costs over its predecessor, the Moto X Pure edition. 

A body that’s bland, but tough

The Droid Turbo 2 is, essentially, a supercharged, souped-up version of the cheaper Moto X Pure. In the rest of the world, it is sold as the Moto X Force, direct through Motorola without carrier interference. I noticed that a few reviewers around the web were not particularly keen on the design of the device, but I’ve never known the Droid series to sport anything but a bloated industrial aesthetic. Still, if I walked into a Verizon store and I saw one of these devices laying out on one of the demonstration tables, I probably wouldn’t gravitate towards it. At the very least, this year’s Turbo 2 comes in various colors, so if you hate the bland white-and-silver color combination featured here, you can customize your own Droid Turbo 2 with Motorola’s Moto Maker.

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Ugh. Carrier branding. What is this, 2005? Credit: Florence Ion

Remember when Verizon would emblazon every phone it sold with its logo? Apparently it still does so in some cases. The Turbo 2 features Verizon’s logo on the front side, right where your chin rests when you’re talking on the phone. Unfortunately, you don’t get a discount for advertising the carrier (like it needs it), and the Turbo 2 is still a whopping $624 off contract.

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A closer look at the Droid Turbo 2’s patterned backside. Credit: Florence Ion

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At least it’s thin...ish. Credit: Florence Ion

In an effort to justify its price tag, the Turbo 2 offers both a water resistant shell and a shatterproof display, which Motorola achieved by sandwiching the OLED display between four layers of protective glass, plastic, and aluminum. I did not try throwing this phone off of a three story building to test its durability, but Gizmodo dropped it on a concrete floor over 70 times and it was still looking pretty good. Conversely, Android Central experienced screen shattering on its first drop, though Motorola was quick to replace the unit and even claimed the damage as an anomaly.

 

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