I'll be blunt: the Droid Turbo 2 ($624 and up) is pretty ugly. If you took a Moto X Pure edition and somehow sucked out most of its charm, you'd be left with this thing. The white version I've been testing is especially bland, and does nothing to hide the sensors that make tricks like Moto Display possible. Thankfully, you can do something to potentially remedy this. The Turbo 2 is the first Verizon Droid you can run through Motorola's MotoMaker customizer, with three different material choices for the back and a host of color options for the metal frame and oblong accent on the rear.
In fairness, the backside isn't bad; my test unit has a neat soft-touch plastic back with a tessellating triangle pattern and a sturdy silver metal rim around the edges. Still, some things remain annoying no matter the finish you choose. Hefty bezels encircle the 5.4-inch Quad HD screen, making the Turbo 2 feel wider than it actually is. Also, while the Turbo 2 made its official debut after Verizon's big rebranding, it still has the discontinued Verizon Wireless logo on it. Fortunately, it's only on the external lens -- Motorola's name for the thick, plastic screen protector that'll catch all those pesky scratches -- so you if you really wanted to you could peel it off.
Of course, you might disagree with me about all of this. Great! We can probably still agree that the Droid reputation hinges more on pure power than style and fortunately, the Turbo 2 has that in spades. A high-end octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 thrums away inside, paired with 3GB of LPDDR4 RAM and an Adreno 430 GPU. Since Motorola is a big fan of its contextual computing tricks (as am I), there are also two additional co-processors to help the phone monitor motion and listen for your voice commands. The combination makes for some seriously snappy (not to mention thoughtful) performance, but I'll dig into that more later.
The Turbo 2 was also blessed with extra power in the form of a hefty, if sealed, 3,760mAh battery. Sure, last year's Droid Turbo had an even bigger cell, but Motorola claims you'll be able to squeeze about two full days of usage out of this year's model. Throw in a microSD card slot to supplement the 32GB or 64GB of internal storage -- expandable up to 2TB, whenever those cards show up -- and you've got a device that ticks almost every box that power users care about. If anything, I wish Motorola had bothered to make the new Turbo waterproof just for good measure, especially considering how sturdy the phone is otherwise.
Display and sound
We can't talk about the Droid Turbo without talking about its "shatterproof" screen. In brief, Motorola built layers of redundant protection over a 5.4-inch OLED panel -- specifically, one layer of scratch-resistant plastic and another layer of thicker, sturdier polycarbonate. There's another touch-sensitive layer under those strata to make sure you'd still be able to use the phone if something else went awry. Thanks as well to an aluminum frame, the phone is so durable that it should be able to survive all but the most tragic of drops.
Before we go any further, you should know that I've broken maybe two phones in the past and I took it really hard both times. Ask anyone who knows me: I form unhealthy personal attachments to gadgets. Anyway, I put all that aside for two weeks so I could treat the Turbo 2 the way a careless asshole would: tossing it across the room at my desk, letting it slip out of my pocket and watching it skitter across asphalt for kicks. Normally the ultimate drop test would be giving me the Turbo after a few Manhattans, but I decided to try something even more provocative: running it over with my car. It survived. It survived!
Basically, then, this "shatterproof" business really works. Within reason, anyway. The rest of the phone didn't always fare as well -- its metal rim now has a few chunks missing and the screen is scratched -- but there's no question that the Turbo 2 can take a licking. Just, you know, don't get any bright ideas and toss it off your roof.
It's too bad, then, that the screen being protected is otherwise unremarkable. The high resolution (2,560 x 1,440) and 540-ppi pixel density mean your eyes won't be hurting for crispness, but the display is a touch dimmer and a lot more contrast-y than the Moto X Pure's. Consider this wallpaper: The ribbon looked magenta on the X, but appeared a lurid red on the Turbo 2. Ditto for just about every photo on Instagram; some people will adore the Turbo 2's punchy colors, but they're a little over the top for me. On the flip side, the front-facing speakers etched on either side of the aging Verizon logo aren't terrible: They pumped out some surprisingly deep (if sometimes muddy) sound and are more than enough for the occasional YouTube video or podcast.
Last year's Turbo ran a nearly stock build of Android 4.4.4 loaded up with enough Verizon bloatware to get me seeing red. Guess what happened this year? Bingo! Exactly the same, except we're working with a tweaked version of Android 5.1.1. (I'm told work on the Turbo 2's software wrapped up just as Marshmallow became available to OEMs so we're stuck waiting for an OTA update.) Anyway. Lollipop. All of its usual strengths and foibles (here's looking at you, notification volume controls) are back, as are Motorola's contextual computing tricks. I won't delve into them too much -- we've tested them on a few other devices already year -- but I'm still very glad to have them.
Motorola's approach to gussying up Android has always been my favorite: By mostly leaving the core OS alone, the company can instead focus on adding valuable, hardware-powered features that pick up where Android leaves off. Moto Display, for instance, works as well as it always has, which is to say you can swipe your hand over the screen to get a quick glance at the time or what notifications have rolled in. The additional contextual core baked into the chipset also means the Turbo 2 is always listening for your voice commands, and Moto Voice still goes a great job interpreting and acting on them. Does it feel a little silly talking a phone the way one would speak to a secretary? Maybe a little, but I can't argue with the results.