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Motorola Droid Maxx 2
What we like
What we don't like
Motorola Droid Maxx 2
It has been a long since the Motorola Droid Maxx was launched; mid-2013, to be exact. Fans of the battery beast have been hoping for a successor, and this year Motorola has finally decided to bring the series back to life, again in collaboration with Verizon. The equation has been changed this time around, though. In fact, the Droid Maxx 2 is pretty much a re-branded Moto X Play.
Regardless, it is battery life that characterized the Maxx series, and the second iteration sure takes care of that department. Just how good is this phone, though? Does it deserve that precious spot in your pocket? Let’s find out!
The first thing you’ll notice on the back of the device is that Verizon logo on top of the ‘Droid’ branding. And this is to be expected, as both the Droid Maxx and Maxx 2 are Verizon exclusives, something that plays a huge part in setting this phone apart from the Moto X Play. Also on the back are the camera, flash and that beloved Motorola dimple we have gotten so used to, all housed in a metal frame. This dimple acts as a nice resting point for your finger.
To add even more comfort to the phone, Motorola has included a very nice rubbery material along the back. It has a different pattern than what we have seen in the Moto X Style/Pure Edition, which also feels a bit softer to the touch.
This material choice provides a great grip on the device, but it also comes with a downside – the phone does get dirty quite easily.
There’s another caveat in the design department. Unlike its twin, the Moto X Play, the Droid Maxx 2 has no Moto Maker support. On the bright side, users are still able to remove the back plate, giving them the freedom to exchange textures and colors at will.
Flip the phone around and you will find a classic Motorola look. The speaker grills pop out ever so slightly, and the front-facing camera can be found up top. By the way, don’t mistake these for dual speaker grills; the bottom one is the only one that will output sound while playing media.
This can create a little bit of an awkward, unbalanced listening experience, but at least the speaker is on the front, which is definitely a plus. It’s nowhere near being the best audio around, but it does offer some crisp sounds and ample treble.
Motorola is very good at making bezels small, and the Droid Maxx 2 is no exception. This makes the phone easy to hold, even with that massive 5.5-inch screen. What we do have here is some added volume and mass to the phone, as it measures in at 10.9 mm of thickness and weighs 169 grams. Regardless, it has a great grip to it and is among the most comfortable to hold.
Going around the handset we can also find the volume and power buttons on the right side. I do wish the power button had a Moto X Pure-like texture, though, as operating the Maxx 2 simply by touch makes things a bit confusing.
Speaking of that 5.5-inch screen: we have a beautiful HD LCD display on the front of the Droid Maxx 2. It does not consist of Motorola’s shatter-proof technology (like the Droid Turbo 2), but its Gorilla Glass 3 should hold up as well as most 2015 flagships.
While QHD is quickly becoming the standard in higher-end phones, FHD is a common resolution for mid-tier devices, and so the inclusion of a 1080p display here makes a lot of sense. Not to mention, this is one of the best FHD panels we have seen!
It’s interesting to see Motorola going with LCD technology, though, as one of their biggest features is Moto Display. This capability showcases notifications over a black background, which saves energy in the case of AMOLED screens. But then again, this is a more affordable handset, and some sacrifices had to be made. On the bright side (literally), this screen is quite vibrant and dazzling.
Performance & Hardware
Under the hood, the Droid Maxx 2 houses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor, backed by an Adreno GPU and 2 GB of RAM. And though it only comes with 16 GB of internal storage, users do have access to a micro SD card slot capable of handling 128 GB cards.
On paper, the new Droid Maxx 2 doesn’t seem like anything to write home about, but I must say the phone performs exceptionally well. It runs very smoothly while performing most tasks and handles multi-tasking with no hesitation. It may fall short of your needs if you are a heavy gamer, but for the most part it delivers pretty fast performance.
As for battery life, this remains one of the biggest selling points for the Droid Maxx series. The Droid Maxx 2 has a huge 3630 mAh battery (nonremovable). Along with the power-efficient 1080p resolution and lower end specs, you can surely get some great battery life out of this smartphone. It will last you an entire day, even with heavy usage.
With moderate usage we were able to get over 5 hours of screen-on time. Some days I was at around 40% by the time I went to sleep (light to moderate use). Taking that into account, you could say some users will get up to 2 days of battery life. The Droid Maxx 2 can also be charged with Motorola’s Turbo Charger, which is one of the fastest in the market. The sad part here is that the phone doesn’t come with this charger, but you can buy it separately.
This camera is light years ahead of what we saw on the 2013 Droid Maxx. Just like other 2015 Moto phones, the Droid Maxx 2 sports a 21 MP rear camera and a 5 MP front shooter. Photos are consistently great, producing substantial amounts of detail, while keeping colors bright and vibrant.
With that said, I do have to mention the camera has a tendency to over-expose images a bit. But that is an area in which Motorola’s camera app really helps, as exposure is easily adjustable. However, the rest of the shooting experience can be a bit weird, at least if you are like me and dislike the whole drag-to-focus and tap-to-shoot mechanics.
As it goes with other phones, shooting in low-light scenarios will result in a significant quality degradation. That’s to be expected, but we did notice it even falls behind other 2015 smartphones. These images aren’t horrible, however. And though there is no OIS to help shots being blurry, the software stabilization found in video works great. By the way, 4K recording also works great.
The 5 MP front-facing camera has a wider angle lens, which does create really nice looking selfies with a good amount of detail.
I would say the cameras on the Droid Maxx 2 are among the best Motorola has ever made, and there’s a lot to love here.
One of Motorola’s main lures is their near vanilla Android experience, which is something the Droid Maxx 2 inherits from previous generations. Our main gripe is that we do find plenty of Verizon bloatware here, however.
Out of the box, the Droid Maxx 2 is running Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, which is a little disappointing considering Marshmallow is starting to spread out to some devices. Android 6.0 is starting to become something we expect out of new phones, given that it came out of the box with the HTC One A9. Sure, there is the promise of an update coming, but you know how things go with Verizon. We might have to wait longer than expected.
Besides those couple disappointments, everything else is great about the Droid Maxx 2’s software. You can expect the same Material Design look; from the pull-down menu to the settings and recent apps.
Motorola phones are interesting, because people praise their stock feel, but they also love their customizations. The Droid Maxx 2 may have slightly less features than other Moto handsets, but it’s still worth a look. Moto Display is still there, but since there are no movement sensors in the front, and so you can’t wave your hand over the phone to activate it. Users will have to move their phones a bit, instead.
Moto Voice also makes sure you can access content without having to touch the phone. It’s similar to the “OK, Google” command, but you can program it to listen to any phrase of your choice. This one is actually quite fun! Gestures like twisting your wrist to launch the camera are still there, but we are missing the chopping one, which turns on the flashlight.
The software itself does run perfectly. I found no shutters, hiccups of animation choppiness. Since you can uninstall most Verizon apps, bloatware also won’t be too much of an issue after doing some housekeeping.
|Motorola Droid Maxx 2|
1920 x 1080 resolution, 403ppi
Gorilla Glass 3
1.7GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615
Up to 128GB
Universal LTE bands
GSM/GPRS/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
UMTS/HSPA+ (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz)
CDMA (850, 1900 MHz)
4G LTE (2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 13, 20)
21MP rear camera, f/2.0 aperture
5MP front camera
Android 5.1.1 Lollipop
Upgrade to Android 6.0 Marshmallow coming eventually
Black with Deep Sea Blue Back
White with Winter White Back
Interchangeable back plates also available
148 x 75 x 8.9-10.9mm
Pricing and conclusion
As the Verizon phone that it is, customers can purchase the Maxx 2 for zero dollars down and $16/mo over a 2-year period. It’s full retail price is only $384, though whether that’s a good or bad deal for the specs, depends on you. It is worth mentioning that Verizon is doing something pretty cool here, allowing users to trade in their old phones for up to $300 towards the purchase of the Droid Maxx 2.
You get a lot with the Droid Maxx 2 for a relatively affordable price. With its great camera, fantastic battery life and great software, it’s definitely worthy of your consideration, especially if you were tempted by the Moto X Play and had hoped to see it come stateside. Sure, there are plenty of other phones that are priced and spec’d similarly or better, but this remains one of the best mid-range options out there for Verizon customers.