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Motorola Droid Maxx 2 Review: Sharp Camera, All-Day Battery

The water-repellent Droid Maxx 2 offers a long-lasting battery and solid cameras for an affordable price, but it could be faster.

Our Verdict

The water-repellent Droid Maxx 2 offers a long-lasting battery and solid cameras for an affordable price, but it could be faster.

For

  • Water-resistant design
  • Affordable
  • Long-lasting battery
  • Bright, accurate display
  • Solid cameras

Against

  • Below-average performance
  • Too much bloatware
  • Relatively outdated OS

The original Droid Maxx was one of the longest-lasting phones when it came out in 2013. The new Droid Maxx 2 ($384 off contract) outlasts its older brother. With an enlarged battery, a sharp 21-megapixel camera and a water-repellent design, the Maxx 2 is designed to please demanding users at an affordable price. However, its lackluster performance prevents it from being a slam dunk.

Design

If you've seen one Droid, you've seen them all. With the same round-rectangle shape and curved back, the Droid Maxx 2 looks so much like the original Droid Turbo, I thought I had grabbed the wrong phone.

Credit: Jeremy Lips / Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Jeremy Lips / Tom's Guide)

Unfortunately, unlike other Moto phones, such as the Turbo 2 and the Moto X Pure, you can't customize the Maxx 2 via the Moto Maker website for a truly personalized device. That stops you from personalizing the color or pattern of your Maxx 2's back and body. Just two options — blue and white — are available via the Verizon website, but you can also buy a Motorola Shell (interchangeable back) in one of seven colors.

Credit: Jeremy Lips / Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Jeremy Lips / Tom's Guide)

The Droid Maxx 2 is covered with a water-repellent coating, so you don't have to worry about getting it a little wet from the rain or the sink, but it isn't waterproof, so you can't submerge it in water. It's not as durable as the Turbo 2, though, which has a shatterproof screen, a clear protective layer and a hard coat on top of that.

Our Maxx 2 had a dark-blue back with a quilted pattern on it. A long round-rectangular strip in the middle of the rear reminded me of LG's and Asus' volume rocker placement (under the back camera), causing me to get confused when searching for the Maxx's volume controls.

Credit: Jeremy Lips / Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Jeremy Lips / Tom's Guide)

The Maxx 2's power and volume buttons are on the right side (when the device is facing you), while a 3.5mm audio jack and microSD card slot sit up top. At the bottom, you'll find the device's micro-USB port.

Measuring 5.8 x 2.9 x 0.35-0.43 inches and weighing about 6 ounces, the Droid Maxx 2 is smaller but thicker than the OnePlus 2 (6.2 ounces, 5.9 x 2.9 x 0.39 inches). Both the Nexus 5X (4.8 ounces, 5.8 x 2.9 x 0.31 inches) and the Alcatel Onetouch Idol 3 (4.85 ounces 6.01 x 2.95 x 0.29 inches) are considerably lighter.

Display and Audio

Watching a 1080p trailer for Goosebumps on the Droid Maxx 2's 5.2-inch 1080p LCD display was a pleasant experience, as colors such as green foliage surrounding R.L. Stine's spooky house were vibrant. I could clearly make out every hair on a giant gorilla as it charged after the protagonists. Unfortunately, unlike the AMOLED panel on the Droid Turbo 2, images washed out slightly at wide viewing angles.

The Maxx 2 has one of the brightest screens in its class, notching 608 nits on our light meter. That's brighter than the smartphone category average (408 nits), the OnePlus 2 (331 nits), the Nexus 5X (453.6 nits) and the Moto X Pure (479 nits). However, the Onetouch Idol 3 took the lead, with a scorching 736 nits.

Credit: Jeremy Lips / Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Jeremy Lips / Tom's Guide)

Reproducing 98.1 percent of the sRGB color spectrum, the Maxx 2's panel is less colorful than the average smartphone (115 percent), the OnePlus 2 (104.4 percent), the Nexus 5X (106.3 percent) and the Moto X Pure (106.4 percent). It did better than the Idol 3 (94 percent).

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The Maxx 2 falls short on accuracy, too, registering a Delta-E error rating of 2.87. While that's truer than the average smartphone (3.26), the Maxx 2 loses to the OnePlus 2 (2.0), the Idol 3 (2.6) and the Nexus 5X (0.51). It's about the same as the Moto X Pure (2.8). Numbers closer to 0 are better.

The Maxx 2 has one of the brightest screens in its class, notching 608 nits on our light meter.

Loud enough to draw in a colleague from outside a medium-size office, the Maxx 2's front-mounted speaker pumped out booming but tinny sound. The brassy chorus of Mark Ronson's "Uptown Funk" clanged unpleasantly, and the vocal "Dohs" in the background could barely be heard above the noise.

Android and Moto Software

Running a relatively outdated and mostly stock version of Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, the Droid Maxx 2 comes with a few software features to make it smarter and more intuitive. Verizon said the phone will get an Android Marshmallow update but had no time frame to share yet.

Credit: Jeremy Lips / Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Jeremy Lips / Tom's Guide)

Like other Motorola phones, the Maxx 2 comes with Motorola Assist, which detects where you are or what you're doing, and activates relevant modes to make it a bit easier to use the phone in different situations. For instance, when you're driving, Assist will read your messages aloud. When you're sleeping, it will keep the screen off and silence your ringer.

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Other Moto features include Motorola Connect, which is most useful when paired with one of the company's accessories, such as the Moto 360 smartwatch or the Keylink key finder.

Credit: Jeremy Lips / Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Jeremy Lips / Tom's Guide)

Because it's a Verizon phone, the Droid Maxx 2 also comes with the carrier's own Caller ID, Cloud, Mobile Hotspot, My Verizon Mobile and Message+ apps. While the latter lets you use your phone number across your laptop, tablet and computer — which is a welcome feature — the other apps are mostly redundant. Most people could also do without preinstalled games such as Sugar Smash, Panda Pop and Cookie Jam.

This phone took a slow 13 minutes and 22 seconds to convert a 1080p video to 480p on our video editing test.

Of the 16GB total storage on the Maxx 2, the Android OS takes up 5GB, while apps hold 3GB straight out of the box. That leaves you with approximately 8GB for photos, videos, music, downloads and additional apps you might want to install.

Performance

Packing a 1.7-GHz octa-core Snapdragon 615 CPU with 2GB of RAM, the Droid Maxx 2 can easily handle simple tasks such as posting to Facebook or playing a round of Sugar Smash. I noticed some minor lag when trying to go from an open app back to the home screen, though.

In a general performance test using Geekbench 3, the Maxx 2's multicore score of 2,170 is poorer than the average smartphone (2,664), the octa-core Snapdragon 810-powered OnePlus 2 (3,894), the hexa-core Snapdragon 808-backed Nexus 5X (3,507) and the hexa-core Snapdragon 808-armed Moto X Pure (3,494). The octa-core Snapdragon 615-equipped Idol 3 did worse than the Maxx 2, though, with 2,029.

The Maxx 2's graphics performance result of 7,902 on 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited also pales in comparison to the competition. The average smartphone (14,886), the OnePlus 2 (21,507), the Nexus 5X (14,599) and the Moto X Pure (19,842) all did better. Only the Idol 3 (6,384) fared poorer than the Maxx 2.

Taking 13 minutes and 22 seconds to convert a 204MB video from 1080p to 480p on our real-world video editing test, the Maxx 2 is much slower than the competition, with the average smartphone taking 7:17. The OnePlus 2 (5:38), Moto X Pure (3:51) and Idol 3 (8:22) all finished faster than the Maxx 2, and within 10 minutes.

Cameras

Credit: Cherlynn Low

(Image credit: Cherlynn Low)

Motorola put a supersharp 21-megapixel rear camera in the Droid Maxx 2 that takes clear, accurate pictures. The stars and stripes of a flag hanging off a building had accurate reds, whites and blues in my shots, while details such as patterns on a distant roof were tack sharp.

Credit: Cherlynn Low

(Image credit: Cherlynn Low)

Red tomatoes and green vegetables popped against the brown pastry and chopping board in my shot of a mouthwatering food display.

Credit: Cherlynn Low

(Image credit: Cherlynn Low)

In low light, the Maxx 2 continued to impress, clearly capturing the words "Single Origin Chocolate" and "República Del Cacao" in my shot of a sack inside a dark display.

Credit: Cherlynn Low

(Image credit: Cherlynn Low)

The Maxx 2's flash lit up the scene without being overwhelming, but added a reddish hue to the picture.

The 1080p video I shot of passing traffic was similarly clear and bright, and the words advertising the Saints & Strangers TV show on a moving bus were sharp.

Credit: Cherlynn Low

(Image credit: Cherlynn Low)

Up front, the Maxx 2's 5-MP camera took selfies sharp enough to depict the subtle weave pattern on my colleague's shirt. The green wire dangling off his headphones was accurately colored.

Battery Life

Thanks to its massive 3,630-mAh battery, the Droid Maxx 2 is one of the longest-lasting phones you can buy. It clocked in at 10 hours and 16 minutes on our battery test, which involves continuous Web surfing over 4G LTE. That's longer than the average smartphone (8:12), the OnePlus 2 (8:07), the Moto X Pure (6:27) and the Idol 3 (9:16). Only the Nexus 5X held out for longer (11:30).

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When your Maxx 2 does eventually run out of juice, charging it back up will take a matter of minutes, thanks to the phone's support of quick charging and its included TurboPower 15 charger. The TurboPower charger got the Maxx 2 from just 6 percent to 19 percent in about 10 minutes, then to 57 percent in about a total of 45 minutes.

Bottom Line

Long-lasting, splash-proof and modestly priced, the Droid Maxx 2 has nearly all the ingredients of a winning smartphone. Its capable cameras and helpful software also impress, but slow performance and a lot of bloatware hold this handset back.

For around the same price, you could get the Nexus 5X, which provides not only faster performance but even more endurance and the latest Android Marshmallow OS. The Nexus 5X also has a convenient fingerprint sensor and solid cameras. However, Verizon customers who want a phone that can get a little wet and go the distance should consider the Droid Maxx 2.