Motorola Droid Turbo 2 review:

Drop-defying: This phone's screen won't shatter on impact

Close
Drag
  •  
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
Compare These
4 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

3 stars 9 user reviews

The Good The Motorola Droid Turbo 2 has a tough screen that won't crack. Plus, it has top-tier performance, solid battery life and the ability to design your own phone at Motorola's website.

The Bad The Turbo 2's camera lags behind the best you can buy, and the shatterproof screen comes with some trade-offs. In the US, it's exclusive to Verizon.

The Bottom Line The Verizon-exclusive Droid Turbo 2 delivers on its promise of an uncrackable screen -- and it's a great all-around Android phone, too.

8.4 Overall
  • Design 8.0
  • Features 9.0
  • Performance 9.0
  • Camera 7.0
  • Battery 8.0

I've never broken a phone by dropping it. Dings and dents, sure--but I've never experienced that sickening crunch. I've never screamed in frustration at the earth's gravitational pull, and my clumsy hands, for turning a gorgeous touchscreen display into a shattered mess on the pavement. The Droid Turbo 2 is the phone to buy if you're tired of broken glass. It's got a screen that doesn't crack when you drop it.

I don't think I can overemphasize this point: the screen doesn't shatter. It doesn't matter whether you drop it on an edge, a corner, or face-first into the pavement. You can step on it. Run over it with a vehicle. (Yes, we actually did that! You can watch us do that and more in this torture test video.)

It's so durable that Motorola guarantees the screen won't break for four whole years -- a longer warranty than the entire rest of the phone. Note, however, that neither the phone nor the screen are indestructible: you can definitely puncture the screen on purpose, particularly if you use tools. And if you "accidentally" throw the phone off a six-story building, you'll probably end up with an unbroken screen surrounded by a wreck of a phone.

motorola-droid-turbo-2-3975-001.jpg
View full gallery

You can step on the Droid Turbo 2. No kidding.

Josh Miller/CNET

But that unbreakable screen isn't just a gimmick -- the rest of the Droid Turbo 2 is excellent through and through.

As you'd expect from a flagship Motorola Droid -- the name of a sub-brand sold exclusively with Verizon Wireless in the US -- it's absolutely packed with specs, including a brilliant 5.4-inch quad-HD AMOLED display, a top-shelf Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, and 3GB of RAM. It's also got a big 3,760mAh battery with fast charging and two different forms of wireless charging, making it extremely convenient to refill in the middle of your day. It's even got a microSD slot built into the SIM card tray, so you can expand its built-in 32GB or 64GB of storage in a snap.

And for once, you don't need to look like you're carrying a tiny Terminator in your pocket if you want a Droid handset. Unlike past Droids , you're not stuck with a single militaristic, black-and-red phone; you can customize the Droid Turbo 2 at Motorola's own Moto Maker website with a whole variety of finishes, from gunmetal gray with a ballistic nylon rear cover to a white handset with a leather back.

Of course, the Droid Turbo 2 isn't perfect. It's big, and pricey ($624, or $26 a month), and limited to Verizon Wireless in the United States -- with all the carrier hassles and bloatware that can entail. It's a shame, because a lot of people would benefit from a crackproof screen. It also doesn't come with the latest version of Android (6.0 Marshmallow), and while it's on the way, we're not sure when it might arrive.

And honestly, most of this Droid's best qualities aren't unusual for a phone this size and price. If you aren't worried about dropping phones, you should really consider the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 , which boasts similar performance, better battery life, a fingerprint reader and a larger, more vibrant screen. Or the Google Nexus 6P , if you simply want a powerful phone that saves you some money.

But if you want a phone with a practically indestructible screen, keep on reading.

Availability

The Motorola Droid Turbo 2 is a Verizon Wireless exclusive in the United States--though a practically identical phone, the Moto X Force , will ship globally later this year.

In the US, you can buy the phone either direct from Verizon or through Motorola's Moto Maker website. Either way, you're looking at an upfront payment of $624 (or $26 a month for 24 months) for the basic version with 32GB of storage, or $720 (or $30 a month for 24 months) if you want 64GB of storage instead.

If you design your phone at Moto Maker, you optionally add a pebbled leather back for an extra $24. The 64GB version also comes with a "design refresh," which lets you trade in your phone for a new design of your choice within two years of purchase.

In the UK, the Moto X Force will ship this November for £499. We don't have pricing or availability for Australia yet.

Lesser phones would crack after suffering a drop like this.

Josh Miller/CNET

Shatterproof screen

  • 5.4-inch, 2,560x1,440-pixel resolution plastic AMOLED display (540ppi)
  • Integrated screen protector to absorb scratches
  • Four-year warranty against cracking and shattering

A screen that doesn't crack when you drop it. It seems too good to be true. But the Droid Turbo 2's shatterproof screen really is shatterproof. It's not just some marketing baloney: we put it to the test. I've dropped this phone dozens of times onto hard surfaces. I've stepped on it. We threw it off a tall ladder.

Each time, the screen survived without so much as a tiny fracture.

So we decided to do some nastier things -- like dropping giant metal toolboxes on the phone. Running it over with a vehicle. Even when we put a nasty bend in the handset (we thought for sure it would break) the screen barely seemed to notice. We had to drop a sharp, heavy metal construction tool onto the screen before it saw its very first crack -- and the phone still worked after.

That doesn't mean the Droid Turbo 2 is completely indestructible, though. Even though the screen stood up to a nasty beating, the rest of the phone can still take damage. Repeated drops onto rough stones left all sorts of dents and dings. We cracked the metal rim right near the Micro-USB charging port, too. And when we tried to puncture the screen, we actually wound up piercing the battery and setting the phone on fire. ( Don't try this at home.)

In short, you might still want a case if you drop your phone on the regular.

And you also shouldn't expect to get the Droid Turbo 2's durability without a few trade-offs. While that screen takes drops like a champ, the protection comes with a cost: instead of your typical big, bright, beautiful glass screen that resists scratches and scuffs, the Droid Turbo 2 actually has a smaller plastic screen with a built-in, factory-equipped screen protector that I found would attract lint and dust.

Other phones around this size have bigger screens, but the Turbo 2's display still looks great.

Josh Miller/CNET

Honestly, it's still a pretty great screen, and I doubt you'll even notice the difference in optical quality between the glass screens you're probably used to, and this plastic one. The 5.4-inch quad-HD AMOLED screen is crisp and colorful, and even if it's not the equal of the gorgeous panels you'd find on a Samsung Galaxy smartphone, it does the job beautifully. Both in terms of size and optical quality, it's more than enough screen for me.

But I have to admit, it's weird to need a screen protector again. I'd really gotten used to modern smartphones with Gorilla Glass screens, which are extremely scratch resistant and super-easy to clean. Now, I'm back to a phone where my fingerprint smudges show up much more readily. I've already put a few noticeable scratches in the screen protector without even trying, and I can see it's a component I'll eventually need to replace. (Motorola will sell replacement protectors for $30.) Oh, and I wouldn't recommend that you remove the screen protector -- it's dreadfully easy to scratch the plastic display underneath.

For many, the screen protector won't be a huge deal, particularly if they need the durability the Droid Turbo 2's screen offers. I just want you to know that the screen comes with some trade-offs.

Multiple bevels on the Turbo 2's metal edges make it easy to grip.

Josh Miller/CNET

Design and build

  • 5.90 by 3.07 by 0.36 inches (150 by 78 by 9.2 mm)
  • 6.0 ounces (169 grams)
  • Customizable design

I wasn't a big fan of the Moto X Pure Edition , released earlier this year. Why do I bring that up? The Droid Turbo 2 is an alternate reality version of the same phone. It's a streamlined, turbocharged, ruggedized Moto X designed around the new shatterproof screen. Only it feels way better too, if you ask me.

At first, the Turbo 2 and Pure look much the same -- the same as any of Motorola's recent handsets, to be honest. Both have a solid metal ring around the edge of the phone, a Micro-USB port at the bottom, a headphone jack up top, and a nice ridged metal power button and volume rocker on the right edge of the handset.

But where the Pure's tall, smooth, rounded frame could feel a little unwieldy, the Turbo 2's distinctive beveled edges and flatter back fit far easier into my hands. They look sleeker, too, if you ask me, and I like the way the phone's camera module and fingerprint divot are flush with the phone's back. Those components tended to jut up awkwardly in previous Motorola handsets.

Josh Miller/CNET

And though I'd never call the Turbo 2 a beautiful phone, the array of different materials you can choose from at the Moto Maker website can make it a pretty handsome one. We tried a few, and I'm particularly partial to the optional black pebbled leather back with the silver rim. It's a nice contrast.

I can't say I'm a big fan of Turbo 2 designs with the white front, though. Not only can you see all the ugly little sensors jutting through the front of the casing -- on the black version, they're hidden opaquely underneath -- but the white design really serves to highlight how small the screen is compared to the phone's casing. The new shatterproof screen is notably smaller than the one in the Moto X Pure, and it makes the Turbo's bezels look pretty big. I also don't like the way dirt can easily get trapped in the cracks of the rubber rear panels.

Speaking of trade-offs Motorola made to fit that shatterproof display, here's one more: unlike other top-tier Motorola phones, the Droid Turbo 2 has a single front-facing speaker instead of twin stereo speakers. At least it's nice and loud! I definitely didn't mind watching TV shows with the single speaker, even if I prefer stereo.

You also won't find a fingerprint reader to help you securely log into the phone.

Software and apps

  • Android 5.1.1 Lollipop
  • Hands-free voice control
  • Moto Actions gesture controls
  • Moto Display

Unlike the new Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X , the Motorola Droid Turbo 2 doesn't come with the latest Android 6.0 Marshmallow operating system, and we don't know when that will change. While Motorola tells us it's working as fast as possible, history has shown that Verizon phones can take a long time to get updates.

Yet I don't think I'd let that stop me if I needed a new phone today. For one thing, Android Marshmallow simply doesn't add a whole lot of extremely desirable features. But for another, the software load that ships on the Droid Turbo 2 is one of the most unobjectionable sets of phone makers' custom software that I've seen in a while.

Editors' Top PicksSee All

  • Samsung Galaxy S7

    Starting at: $595.00
    4.5 stars

    We reviewed the new Samsung Galaxy S7 in London, Berlin, San Francisco and Sydney. It's...

  • Apple iPhone 6S

    Starting at: $32.41
    4.5 stars

    3D Touch promises a new type of future input on iPhones. It joins an improved camera and...

  • OnePlus 3

    Starting at: $499.99
    4.5 stars

    You just don't see cheap phones with this combination of price, polish and prime-time...

  • Motorola Moto G4

    Starting at: $149.99
    4 stars

    The G4 packs everything you need from an everyday phone into a water-resistant body. And...

 

Discuss: Motorola Droid Turbo 2 (32GB, Black Soft...

Conversation powered by Livefyre