Motorola Droid Maxx 2 (Verizon Wireless) review:

Battery power you can afford

Can I customize my own design like I can with the Moto X Pure Edition?

You can customize some features on the Droid Maxx 2 through Verizon's site. You can choose between two colors themes (white and silver, or dark blue and black), and purchase a swappable shell that comes in five colors for $19.99.

By comparison Motorola's Moto Maker site offers more design options for its Moto X Pure Edition . For example, you can choose the look of the device's front color, metal trimming, accent colors and rear plate.

Is it water resistant?

Yes, but it is not fully submersible. So while it won't survive a full-on dunk in the pool, a few drops and splashes of water shouldn't hurt it.

No, you can't take it swimming. But a few droplets wouldn't hurt.

Josh Miller/CNET

Does it have the latest version of Android?

No, the handset runs the 5.1 Lollipop version of Google's mobile operating system, Android. Currently, many of Motorola's unlocked Moto phones feature a nearly untouched versions of this OS, and includes only about two or three of its own apps. In early October, Motorola announced it will upgrade certain devices with the latest Android 6.0 Marshmallow version. The update includes features like the battery- and power-saver Doze, and an expansion of Google's digital voice and search assistant, Now on Tap.

Though exactly when Motorola can roll out Marshmallow remains unknown, as a carrier, Verizon has its own hurdles to get through as well to update its handsets. This means its users may need to wait longer until the latest update is available for them.

How good is the camera?

The Droid Maxx 2 and the Moto X Play have the same cameras and it works well; it takes sharp and vibrant photos and records clear video. There's a 5-megapixel front-facing shooter and a rear 21-megapixel camera that records 1,080p high-definition video and 540p slow-mo video. For more information on camera quality, read the full Moto X Play review and click the sample photos below to view them at their full resolution.

In this late-afternoon outdoor photo, objects look sharp and in-focus.

Lynn La/CNET

For this indoor image, the colors in this Día de Muertos altar are vibrant and rich.

Lynn La/CNET

In our standard studio shot, the flash lights up these objects evenly, without leaving any unwanted color tones.

Lynn La/CNET

Which one's better, this or the Moto X Pure Edition? What about other Moto phones?

As Motorola's marquee device, the Moto X Pure Edition is better all around: It has a more advanced 1.8GHz Snapdragon 808 processor, a memory capacity up to 32 or 64GB, a sharper 5.7-inch, 1,440p display and lots of design options as I laid out before.

However, it does have a smaller 3,000mAh battery that doesn't last as long as the Droid Maxx 2 (it took only 8 hours and 46 minutes to drain during our battery tests), and it's slightly more expensive at $400 unlocked.

As for performance, with the Droid Maxx 2's 1.7GHz Snapdragon 615 octa-core processor from Qualcomm, it doesn't have the most powerful innards available -- especially when compared to the Moto X Pure and the even more expensive Droid Turbo 2 counterpart, with its 2.0GHz Snapdragon 810 processor. However, it's much faster than the budget-friendly Moto G, and the handset still operates smoothly, without any notable lag or hiccups. I had no problems with everyday tasks like launching apps, calling up the keyboard and swiping through the app drawer. Playing graphics intensive games like Riptide GP 2 was smooth and opening up the camera took around 2 seconds, while powering off and restarting took about 47 seconds.

Motorola Droid Maxx 2 benchmark tests comparison

Motorola Droid Maxx 2
Motorola Moto G
Motorola Droid Turbo 2


3DMark Ice Storm (unlimited)
Geekbench 3 (single-core)
Geekbench 3 (multi-core)


Longer bars indicate better performance

What other similar handsets could I buy?

As I mentioned before, the unlocked Moto X Pure starts out at $399, which is $16 more and has a more advanced processor. However, its battery drains faster and its larger display may not be as comfortable for those with smaller hands. If you don't mind either those factors, however, the Moto X Pure is a better phone and you don't have to pay that much more to get it.

For Verizon customers, there's also the big-screen LG G Vista , which costs $240 and has a 5.7-inch display. It has an impressive 3,200mAh battery that lasted 17 hours and 21 minutes, but its 960p screen isn't as sharp and it has an 8-megapixel camera.

As older Android devices, the $300 HTC Desire 612 and $400 Kyocera Brigadier both run Android 4.4 KitKat and sport an 8-megapixel camera too. However, the latter is a rugged phone with a durable display and can be fully submerged in water.

Lastly, there is the BlackBerry Classic . For $400, it features a small 3.5-inch screen paired with an onboard tactile QWERTY keyboard that's ideal for messaging. It also has support for Android apps on the BlackBerry World and Amazon app stores.

Is it worth the price?

All things considered, the Droid Maxx 2 is a great value, offering a lot for less than $400. Compared to other Verizon handsets in that price bracket, the device runs a rather recent version of Android, a powerful 21-megapixel camera and a crisp 1,080p display.

Should I get the Droid Turbo 2 instead?

The Droid Turbo 2 is definitely the better phone. But at $624, it is pricier. If your personal budget can make that $240 jump in price, by all means consider the upgrade. But if you can't go over $400 and you're choosing between the two, go with the Droid Maxx 2.

Is the Droid Maxx 2 right for you?

Josh Miller/CNET

Final thoughts

By billing its latest Droid Maxx 2 as a mid-range device, Motorola made sacrifices with the handset. It didn't outfit the phone with a high-powered processor or cram the screen with a razor-sharp resolution. And while it still does have a respectable battery life, it isn't as record-breaking as we were expecting.

However, Motorola did make the Droid Maxx 2 affordable at $384 without a contract, and added some welcomed goodies like water resistance, a fast-charging battery and built-in video calling. With those perks, it succeeds as an excellent and reasonably priced device.

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