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Motorola Droid Turbo review: Professional design, Moto experiences, massive battery

A common concern with the Moto X is its rather small capacity battery. Verizon and Motorola fixed that with the Droid Turbo and this is the Moto X you want if you are a Verizon customer.

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Topic: Mobility
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1 of 18 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Hands-on with the Droid Turbo

The was released back in September and brought a larger screen with enhanced Motorola experiences. Verizon's new Droid Turbo takes that Moto X reference design to the next level with a massive battery, improved camera, more storage capacity, and the latest Snapdragon processor.

If you are on Verizon and trying to decide if the Moto X is for you, throw out that idea and go for the more powerful Droid Turbo. It is the device that the Moto X should have been. Just about everything has been improved here just a couple months after the Moto X release.

Specifications

  • Processors: Snapdragon 805 2.7GHz quad-core processor and Adreno 420 GPU
  • Display: 5.2-inch 2560 x 1440 pixels AMOLED screen with Gorilla Glass 3 (565 ppi)
  • RAM: 3GB
  • Internal storage: 32GB (64GB will also be available)
  • Cameras: 21-megapixel rear and 2 megapixel front facing
  • Radios: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC
  • Battery capacity: 3,900 mAh with stated mixed usage up to 48 hours
  • Dimensions: 143.5 x 73.3 x 11.2 mm (8.3 at the edges) and 176 grams

 

As you can see in the specs list, the Droid Turbo has a newer processor, more RAM, more internal storage, higher resolution rear camera, and higher capacity battery than the Moto X. The Nexus 6 is also a larger Moto X variant that has similar specifications to the Droid Turbo.

On the hardware

The first thing that struck me when I pulled the Motorola Droid Turbo out from the retail Verizon box was the ballistic nylon back. I have never seen such a material on a smartphone and it gives the device a very professional, business look and feel. It likely matches a piece of luggage you have too.

You can also buy the Droid Turbo with a black or vibrant red back, but there is no 64GB option for these other colors and styles.

The display is awesome with the AMOLED technology supporting very dark blacks and vibrant colors. One interesting departure from many modern Android smartphones is the use of dedicated capacitive buttons under the display. These don't bother me, but I know some people only want soft keys on their devices today.

The edges are well designed with soft touch material transitioning into the glossy black plastic of the front display frame. The SIM card is actually a part of the volume button on the right, which is an interesting way of hiding a port cover.

There is nothing on the left side, a 3.5mm headset jack on the top, and a microUSB port on the bottom. Like the Moto X and Nexus 6, the Droid Turbo supports the turbo charging technology. A Motorola Turbo Charger is included in the package and can provide up to eight hours of battery charge in just 15 minutes.

A 21-megapixel camera is centered on the back with a protected lens design. Dual LED flash lights are positioned on either side of the lense with the Motorola logo and subtle black dimple below.

The Droid Turbo is a bit thicker than other modern smartphones, but Motorola does a nice job of tapering this into the edges. It is thick because of the massive 3900 mAh battery. The phone feels quite dense, which doesn't personally bother me.

Motorola advertises a 48-hour battery life. While that is likely for ideal conditions, I definitely had no issue going at least a full, busy day with the Droid Turbo. The high-resolution display consumes power so if they had gone with a 1080p display they may have been able to add more hours to the stated battery life.

Pros/Cons

  • Rock solid design, fit, and finish
  • No microSD expansion card slot
  • Attractive and durable ballistic nylon back 
  • Huge capacity 3900 mAh battery 
  • Gorgeous high-resolution display 
  • 3GB RAM, 21 megapixel camera, Snapdragon 805 processor, and other high end specs 

 

On the software

The Droid Turbo gets all of the great Motorola experiences I detailed in my so I won't go over all of them again. You will see Assist, Actions, Voice, and Display enhancements in the Moto application along with the lock screen notifications.

Moto Voice, previously known as Touchless Control, is present so you can ask your phone things without touching anything. By the way, you can change your settings in Google Now and make this happen on other new Android smartphones too.

In typical US wireless carrier fashion, there are some Verizon apps loaded on the Droid Turbo. These include Caller Name ID, Verizon Cloud, Message+, Mobile Hotspot, My Verizon Mobile, VZ Navigator (really Verizon), VZ Protect, and Voice Mail. The rest of the device is nearly a pure Google experience though so that is helpful.

Pricing and availability

The Droid Turbo is a Verizon exclusive, but there are rumors that a GSM version could be coming to overseas carriers in the near future. Pricing for the 32GB model is $199.99 with a two-year contract and $599.99 with no contract obligation. The 64GB model is $249.99 and $649.99, respectively.

The competition

Motorola itself has some competing products with the new Moto X and Nexus 6. The Droid Turbo is definitely an improvement over the Moto X. It is a different device than the Nexus 6 with a smaller display and focus on the Motorola experiences rather than the Nexus experience.

The Sony Xperia Z3v looks like more of a consumer product when compared directly with the Droid Turbo, but is still a device to consider. The Droid Turbo definitely has an enterprise professional look and feel.

If you are not on Verizon, the new Moto X is the closest thing to the Droid Turbo. However, there are plenty of other Android options such as the Xperia Z3, Samsung Galaxy S5, Samsung Galaxy Note 4, and HTC One M8.

Conclusion

I bought and used last year's Moto X for nearly a year even with lower-end specs because the Motorola experiences were so great. With the Droid Turbo, Motorola is offering up even better experiences while providing one of the highest end devices available today. You won't be left wanting with the Droid Turbo.

The ballistic nylon back is quite unique and I personally love it. Combined with high-quality fit and finish around the edges and one of the highest resolution displays available, the Droid Turbo is very compelling.

If I were a Verizon customer, the Droid Turbo would be my first pick. I prefer the Android platform and on Verizon it is tough to find anything better than this new smartphone. It is exactly what I want in a Moto X and I am even considering adding a Verizon account to pick one up.

Contributor's rating: 9.5 out of 10

Browse the Gallery

 

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Droid Turbo retail package

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A Motorola Turbo Charger is included

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Ballistic nylon looks great on the back

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21 megapixel camera and Motorola logo

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This volume button hides the SIM card too

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Headset jack and edge design

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2014 Moto X, Droid Turbo, and 2013 Moto X

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Default Droid Turbo home screen

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Verizon widget

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Highlight videos are provided on the Droid Turbo

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Excellent Moto experiences

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Application launcher

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Some Verizon apps

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Explaining some Moto features

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Always listening is supported

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Moto app setup screen

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Droid Zap application

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