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printed December 15, 2017
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Review: Motorola Droid Turbo 2 for Verizon Wireless

Hardware Software Wrap-Up Comments  1  

Lock Screen

Motorola offers one of the most useful lock screens in the market. There are three basic settings. Moto Display shows important notifications as simple, interactive icons on the lock screen. Ambient Display wakes the screen regularly with a list of the current notifications in a more detailed way. Last, users can choose to leave the screen dark at all times. 

The big difference between Moto Display and Ambient Display is what you see on the lock screen. With Moto Display enabled, you'll see the Gmail logo when a new Gmail arrives, or the SMS logo when a new text arrives. That's all. With Ambient Display, you'll see the exact number of Gmails or text messages you have, and who the most recent one is from. Whichever you choose, the notifications arrive and repeat once and then go away. The clock is displayed whenever notifications arrive. The T2 is smart enough to keep the screen dark when it senses that the phone is in your pocket or purse, or face down. 

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Like the Moto X, the Turbo 2 includes motion detectors. A quick wave of your hand over the screen will turn it on so you can see the time and your notifications.

T2 owners can train the phone to wake at the sound of their voice. When it hears the catch phrase, the phone will turn on and obey commands when spoken to. For example, you can ask it to read incoming messages, send replies, and so on. It's a completely hands-free experience.

Pressing the screen lock button wakes the display to show the clock, wallpaper, and notifications. There are shortcuts to the phone and camera available on this screen.

Motorola is leading the field as far as lock screen notifications are concerned. 

Home Screens

The Droid Turbo 2 ships with Android 5.1 Lollipop. Owners of the phone can customize the typical stuff, such as wallpapers, widgets, and so on. The T2 does not employ the Google Now launcher, and instead uses a simple home screen setup. The two default home screens and notification shade behave as expected for a Lollipop device. 

On a stock Android device, the application drawer is configured vertically with four app suggestions at the top. The T2 skips this in favor of a horizontal arrangement with no app suggestions. This means you swipe the app drawer from side-to-side rather than up and down. I like the vertical layout better. The settings menus look and behave exactly as other Lollipop handsets. 

Home Screen  

Thankfully, the T2 includes the Moto application. This tool bundles together a handful of functions. The Moto app controls Ambient Display / Moto Display. It also manages the Moto Assist function, which is used for changing Do Not Disturb settings based on advanced cues such as location and calendar. Last, the Moto app controls the phone's gesture controls. For example, a quick turn of the wrist will launch the camera, and a quick shake of the phone will launch the camera and immediately fire off a photo. 

Moto App  

As for performance, the T2 uses a 2 GHz octa-core Snapdragon 810 processor with 3 GB of RAM. This is the fastest chip available from Qualcomm right now and that's apparent when using the phone. The T2 blasts through app installs, multitasking, and screen transitions lickety-split. The T2 handled every app, game, and task without issue. 

Camera

The T2 uses the same camera app found on the Moto X. It's a simple affair, but has some strengths. 

Without a dedicated camera button, I've come to rely on the wrist-twisting gesture that opens the T2's camera app. This is the fastest way to launch the camera, but it takes some training to get used to.

There are only two visible buttons in the camera app: one for the video camera and another for the user-facing camera. The other controls can only be accessed by swiping from the left side of the viewfinder towards the center. 

The settings are arranged in a rotating dial. The T2 includes HDR, flash, touch-to-focus, and panorama features — plus some minor settings — all in this single dial. The HDR mode and flash can be set to on, off, or automatic. These shooting modes and tools all behave as you'd expect them to. 

The T2 has an always-on burst mode. Press the screen and hold, and the T2 will focus and then capture images continuously until you lift your finger. 

The camera app, in all its simplicity, does not let users adjust ISO, brightness, or white balance. Nor does the camera include filters or fancy shooting modes. It's a basic shooter, more in line with the features found in Apple's camera than those from LG and Samsung, which tend to cram far more functionality into their camera apps.

In terms of performance, the T2's camera is the fastest I've seen from Motorola. It focuses and captures photos so quickly you can hardly tell it's happened. It performs noticeably quicker than the camera of the Moto X and is on par with the speed of the LG G4 and Galaxy S6 Edge+.

Camera  

Photos/Video

The T2 has the same 21-megapixel sensor as the Moto X and I'd say performance is the same (as it should be). The images are generally sharp and have accurate exposure and white balance. Not every images is perfect, but the vast majority are good enough given the conditions in which they were shot. I was particularly pleased with color accuracy. Low light performance was much better than Motorola cameras from past years, which were notoriously awful in poor lighting.

Most people can rely on the T2 as their main camera for general photography. Enthusiasts may still prefer dedicated equipment, but the T2 is certainly good enough for the masses. That said, the LG G4, Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+, and iPhone 6s Plus do take better pictures.

The T2's front-facing camera captures 5-megapixel images and has a wide-angle lens. As with the main camera, I was pleased with the results. Shots taken outdoors looked very good, and the selfie flash definitely helps in low-light environments. 

The video camera does a very good job capturing 1080p HD video. (A 4K video capture mode is also available.) The phone did a great job with focus, exposure, and white balance. The video footage I captured looked very good when blown up on my monitor. The T2 also captures slo-mo video in 720p resolution. The results are in line with the competition. 

I'd happily use the T2 for daily video needs. 

Photos  

Bloatware

OMG, Verizon. OMG. 

There are no fewer than 22 junk apps on board the T2. Verizon jammed an unforgivable amount of bloatware onto the T2, and most of it cannot be deleted (nor even hidden.) Four games consume a staggering 300MB of storage, but at least these can be deleted. Still: for shame, Verizon. 

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Motorola
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