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Motorola Droid Maxx 2 (Verizon Wireless) review: Battery power you can afford

The Motorola Droid Maxx 2 offers an enduring battery and a water resistant design for under $400.

Lynn La Senior Editor / Reviews - Phones
Lynn La covers mobile reviews and news. She previously wrote for The Sacramento Bee, Macworld and The Global Post.
Lynn La
9 min read

It has been an emotional rollercoaster getting to know the Droid Maxx 2. When Motorola first announced it'd be releasing a sequel to its 2013 Droid Maxx , a high-end device known for its enduring battery life, I was excited. And when I took into account the company's emphasis on handset customization, I got even more excited.


Motorola Droid Maxx 2 (Verizon Wireless)

The Good

The water-resistant Motorola Droid Maxx 2 has built-in high-definition audio and video calling, a solid camera and expandable storage.

The Bad

The handset has a lot of extra preinstalled apps you can't delete.

The Bottom Line

Water resistance and a long-lasting battery make the Motorola Droid Maxx 2 a standout midrange phone, but it's limited only to Verizon customers.

But during the first few days when I used it, some of my initial enthusiasm dwindled. First, the phone is essentially the Moto X Play (which is sold in Europe, Latin America, and Canada) dressed up as a Verizon Wireless exclusive. While there's nothing essentially wrong with that, the phone isn't as fast as I expected from the Maxx line, and even though the battery lasts long, it didn't last as long as its predecessor. It also comes with a bunch of apps that I personally wouldn't use, and there's no way to delete them from the device entirely.

Yet (and here's act III of this drama) I couldn't write the phone off altogether. It had one major saving grace that I couldn't deny: its competitive $384 off-contract price tag (you can also buy it for $16 a month for 24 months). I can easily see most devices of this caliber going for about $500 or more unlocked.

With all that in mind, the Droid Maxx 2 is indeed a quality phone worth considering, especially since it's a water-resistant device with a great 21-megapixel camera and a long-lasting (compared to other phones in its price bracket) 3,630mAh battery. Within Verizon's portfolio, the handset stands out as a reliable mid-range offering that comes with more than enough good to outweigh its bad.

Verizon's wallet-friendly Droid Maxx 2 (pictures)

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Is it only available with Verizon?

Yes, the Droid Maxx 2 is sold exclusively on Verizon Wireless. But you can try to purchase its unlocked, international counterpart, the

Play, and bring it to a carrier that operates on the GSM standard, which includes AT&T and T-Mobile.

How bad is the bloatware?

Aside from the handful of signature Motorola features like Moto Display and Moto Voice, the Droid Maxx 2 has a lot of preinstalled apps that take up memory (aka: bloatware). Not all of them can be uninstalled and Verizon included nine of its own preloaded apps. This includes its branded cloud storage, caller ID and navigation apps; a mobile sharing app called Droid Zap; apps to help set up your mobile hotspot and visual voicemail; My Verizon Mobile, which helps you manage your device's data usage and payments; and a security app called VZ Protect. Even the carrier's messenger app, Message+, is the handset's default messaging service, so if you don't want to use it, be sure to change it in Settings.

Then there are the five apps from Amazon, four games (these you can fortunately uninstall), the movie app IMDb, NFL Mobile and Slacker Radio.

Though some users don't mind having extra apps here and there, I personally find that having this much unremovable bloatware annoying. It takes up space in the phone and it's irritating to have to see apps I had no choice in installing appear everyday in my drawer.

Are there any software features you consider useful?

It's not all bad news though -- there are a few software features that I actually like. One is the control center widget, a mainstay in Droid devices, that displays the time, weather and battery percentage. It's useful and if you don't like it, you can remove it off the home screen.

The second is the fact that the Droid Maxx 2 is compatible with Verizon's advanced calling and high-definition voice technology for audio and video calls. In addition to having boosting audio quality, you can also start video calls (with another handset that's compatible with the service) without having to install a third-party chat client. Finally, there's the Loop app. Made by Motorola and only available for certain carriers, Loop lets you keep track of your family's whereabouts and activities, all through an attractive user interface.

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Built-in video calling (left) and the Loop app from Motorola.

Lynn La/CNET

How long does the battery really last?

With its promise of a two-day battery life, the phone had no problem surviving the weekend on standby and with mild usage, it can last an entire workday without a charge.

However, when I ran our lab tests for continuous video playback, it didn't last as long as I expected. After two trials, the device took 12 hours and 33 minutes to completely drain. That's notably shorter than the 15 hours and 45 minutes the Moto X Play lasted on average, despite them being practically the same handset with the same 3,630mAh battery.

In addition, the Droid Turbo 2 lasted an average of 13 hours and 28 minutes with its 3,760mAh battery, making both Droids from this year fall behind its predecessors. For example, the original Droid Turbo had a 3,900mAh battery that looped video continuously for 14 hours and 43 minutes, and the Droid Maxx from 2013 had a 3,500mAh battery that lasted 15 hours and 50 minutes before it completely depleted.

That's not to say the phone is a slack altogether. Twelve and a half hours is still an excellent time to clock in, especially for a device of this price bracket. And when it comes to the real-world usage the Droid Maxx 2 will undergo with a regular user, its battery will have no problem enduring throughout the day.

Can I remove the battery?

No, it's embedded into the handset, a design that Motorola and many other phone manufacturers have begun to embrace. This helps keep the phone water-resistant as well.

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Though it's non-removable, the battery does feature Quick Charge 2.0 technology from Qualcomm.

Josh Miller/CNET

Does it include wireless charging? What about quick charging?

The Droid Maxx 2's battery does not have wireless charging, but it does features Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 technology, and its stock charger is a specialized Turbo Charger from Motorola. Together, it means the device charges very quickly -- about 25 percent in 20 minutes and 100 percent in two hours from what I've observed).

What was your call experience on Verizon?

In general, call quality was good. I tested it in our San Francisco offices by calling a landline and my partner was clear and easy to understand. I also didn't pick up any extraneous buzzing or noise. Speaker quality was great as well; even though the sound quality thinned out a bit, volume range was appropriately loud. And while my partner did mention that voice sounded a little static-y at times, I didn't hear notable static coming in from the other line.

How were the network speeds?

Data speeds on Verizon's 4G LTE network were unusually slow. For example, the average download and upload rate, according to Ookla's speed test, was 3.26 and 3.92Mbps, respectively. Loading the CNET mobile site took 13 seconds and the full desktop version loaded in 21 seconds. Download and installing the 44.54MB game Temple Run 2 took 2 minutes and 44 seconds and downloading the 1.7GB movie "Gravity" in high-definition took an hour and 5 minutes.

As always with data tests, speeds differ widely depending on several factors such as location and time of day. What I observed here is just a minuscule sample and may not be what you experience in your location.

How is the phone different than the Droid Turbo 2?

The Droid Turbo 2 is the higher-end device. It's more expensive at $624, has a slightly smaller 5.4-inch display but a higher 2,560x1,440-pixel resolution. It also has a shatterproof screen, a bigger 3,760mAh battery, more internal memory (64GB) and more expandable memory (up to 2TB) too.

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.

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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

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.

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

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

Lynn La/CNET
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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 7946 720 2607Motorola Moto G 4473 528 1609Motorola Moto X Pure Edition 19725 1271 3528Motorola Droid Turbo 2 25442 1324 4761
  • 3DMark Ice Storm (unlimited)
  • Geekbench 3 (single-core)
  • Geekbench 3 (multi-core)
Note: 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.

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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.


Motorola Droid Maxx 2 (Verizon Wireless)

Score Breakdown

Design 9Features 8Performance 8Camera 8Battery 8