NEW YORK — The bold new feature inside the Droid Turbo 2 smartphone Motorola and Verizon Wireless start selling Thursday is shatterproof glass. The two companies only have to hope that this new feature shatters something else, the idea that Droid is somehow no longer as relevant.
Indeed, a half-dozen years ago when the original Droid launched, it was the carrier’s big answer to AT&T’s original iPhone and the first truly popular Android alternative. The Droid franchise has remained exclusive to Verizon ever since. Turbo 2 ($26 monthly for 32GB, or $30 for 64GB) is the latest flagship in the Droid lineup.
But now, Android is the world’s leading mobile operating system, and there are, it seems, about a gazillion Android handsets out there. So phone makers are constantly trying to drum up fresh features to make their devices stand out. And with Turbo 2, Motorola and Verizon hope to compete against iPhones and Samsung’s Galaxys.
Three years in the making, the Moto ShatterShield feature on the 5.4-display inside the Turbo 2 is the chief way Motorola hopes the new Droid will get noticed, though the device also sports at least one other significant consumer benefit, a battery that the company claims can last up to two days on a single charge. The camera specs have also been bolstered. And you can customize the device through Motorola’s Moto Maker service.
“The (shatterproof) feature is a big deal because it addresses a real consumer pain point. People drop their phones, screens shatter. You see it everywhere,” says Current Analysis tech analyst Avi Greengart. “At this point, the Droid brand doesn’t have the cache of Apple or Samsung, but it still sells well enough for Verizon to order them and Motorola to build them.”
The phone passed my initial drop test. I let it loose from about six feet above a hard floor at the Manhattan launch venue and the screen didn’t shatter. I did peek at another phone that had been repeatedly dropped over several days, and while the screen survived, there was a subtle scratch.
“When we first launched the Droid it had features and specs that weren’t in any other phone in the market,” Jeff Dietel, Verizon’s vice president for wireless devices, says. “That core tenet is embedded in the heritage and DNA of the Droid and we don’t plan to change that anytime soon.”
One thing the new phone doesn’t have (and won’t get) is a fingerprint sensor, such as the one on the many top-tier rivals. That’s too bad.
And one thing it doesn’t have — yet — is the latest version of Android, Marshmallow, though it is promised later in a software update.
Motorola and Verizon separately announced a more budget-oriented Droid Maxx 2 ($16 per month) with the same long battery promise. Don’t drop it – it doesn’t not have a shatterproof screen.
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