Verizon Motorola Droid Turbo [Review]

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Motorola has killed it lately with some serious phones, seriously. Over the past 6 months we’ve gotten the Moto X, Moto G, Nexus 6 and now they strike again with the all new killer Verizon Droid Turbo.

The Droid Turbo is Verizon’s latest smartphone that carries the “Droid” moniker and this time around Motorola has put together a formidable phone that rivals the Moto X, Nexus 6, Note 4, iPhone 6 and really any phone in a VERY competitive smartphone market. It is a BEAST. But….

Design

Screen-Shot-2014-10-14-at-3.34.44-PM-620x444The design of the Verizon Droid is simple and similar. When I say similar I mean that Motorola has been busy putting out so many phones that the phones they’ve introduced thus far have similar designs with really only subtle nuances that separate one phone from the other. If you take a look Moto X and the Nexus 6 they both look pretty much the same with the obvious exception being the size difference.

If you look at the design of the Droid Turbo, it looks somewhat like both of those phones with the difference again being minor. This is not a knock against the design of any one these phones it’s just to describe what the design of the Droid Turbo essentially is. It’s kind of universal Motorola design and each phone has something slightly different about it, unfortunately though design wise the Droid Turbo is the least attractive out of the big three. It’s ugly. There is however one major difference in the design of the Droid Turbo from its counterparts and that is the woven fabric or Ballistic Nylon as it’s referred to on the back of the phone (64gb model only) as opposed to the plastic backsides of the Nexus 6 and Moto X. This gives the Droid Turbo a bit of a different look and it helps the Droid Turbo feel comfortable in the hands but sadly you can’t customize the Droid Turbo at all and you only get one color choice in 64GB. The 32GB models of the Droid Turbo have the woven fabric hidden underneath a plastic coating and you get two color choices at a smoky black and a red.

Just like the Moto X and the Nexus you have the rear facing camera smack in the center with the dual flash lights on both sides and the Motorola logo etched right underneath the camera and the Droid logo at the bottom to complete the look.

On the front of the phone you have your 5.2″ screen with the home, back and multitask button at the bottom, width wise front facing speaker up top and the front facing camera in the center. The best part about the front of the phone is NO Verizon logo. Typically, you would get that from a Verizon phone but thankfully they left any trace of branding off of the phone.

On the right side you have your power buttons as well the volume up and down buttons. Underneath the volume button is the slot for the sim card since the back of the Droid Turbo is not removable. I’m kind of torn about this feature because it’s a pain in the ass to pull out the sim card and that little holder for the sim just appears fragile and it would be just my luck that it breaks and I can’t use my volume buttons any more. I get why it was done but for me I’m not a fan.

Screen

Screenshot_2014-11-10-20-10-37The screen on the Droid Turbo has a 5.2″ Quad HD Super AMOLED Gorilla Glass 3 Display with a 2560 x 1440 resolution. The look of the screen is sharp and crisp with plenty of pop in the colors. The screen on the Droid Turbo falls right in line with the standards of high-end smartphones and I love that the screen is Super AMOLED. I love AMOLED screens. Watching HD videos was great and watching the playback from my recorded videos were really good especially in 4K. Looking closely at the screen didn’t show any blurriness or grainy pixelation at all, I guess having 565 ppi makes all the difference. Everything on the screen looks sharp, bright, and can be seen at any angle with some slight discoloration but it wasn’t too bad and it’s not a deal breaker.

The screen on the Droid Turbo is beautiful just to repeat, no complaints. If I had a complaint at all it would be on the daytime viewing angles in the sunlight but to play Devil’s advocate I haven’t really ever seen a phone that can overcome that very well but the Droid Turbo held its own. Screen wise it’s at the head of the class with the LG G3, the iPhone 6 and Moto X

Specs and Performance

The Droid Turbo in terms of specs and performance is in all day everyday Beast Mode. No other way to say it. Just if you haven’t heard and you might be a bit unsure of what I mean let me give you the breakdown of the guts of the Droid Turbo. Let’s start with that 2.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor, 3GB RAM, 32GB or 64GB of storage, 3,900mAh battery, 21MP rear camera, wireless charging, 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, water resistance and LTE support.

The Droid Turbo really screams. It’s using basically a stock version of Android 4.4.4 and this is a big part of the reason the Droid Turbo is so smooth. It’s not often that I use a smartphone that doesn’t have a hiccup or a freeze here and there but I’ve used the Droid Turbo as my daily driver for about two weeks and I can tell you that I haven’t had an instance of freezing or delay which is pretty rare and I’ve used a few smartphones this year. Going in and out of apps was smooth and seamless. It’s been really easy to do whatever I need on this phone.

For me though, the way I prefer to gauge how good a phone’s processor is or isn’t is by playing some games. Different games, lots of games. I tried out only the most intense games of course. I played Riptide, Asphalt, Beach Buggy Blitz, all the Final fantasy games and I had almost no delays. I had a crash or two but that had everything to do with the game itself and not the performance of the phone. Motorola had this in mind when they built this phone, multitasking means MORE POWER.

I ran everything I could on this phone and it wasn’t a problem so the Droid Turbo is not lacking for power. It might even have some extra to give away it’s got so much power. That’s how impressive this phone is in that regard.

Battery

Screenshot_2014-11-26-18-14-13The Droid Turbo has one major attribute that both Motorola and Verizon are touting and that’s the battery. The Droid Turbo has a huge 3,900 mAH battery. This comes at the cost of the size or “thinness” of the phone which has become a grossly overrated selling point thanks in part to Apple. Motorola didn’t care about that here and I’m glad. Some will complain about this but it didn’t bother me at all. Phones aren’t really that thick as it is and I would rather have my phone be able to get me through a whole day as opposed to sacrificing that for aesthetic reasons. The Droid Turbo is the all day phone. Truly

For the most part I’ve been able to get through a whole day with the screen brightness at about 70% and the attentive display feature (which detects motion to recommend you of time, emails, notifications on-screen via an IR sensor) active. I never had a real sense of urgency to charge my phone at all since I’ve had it. That’s a good thing, however…..

Verizon and Motorola both claim that this phone has a 48hr battery life before a charge. I’m not sure what metric they’re using to make such a claim but I haven’t experienced that, not even close. I’ve gotten battery life at more realistic 22 to 24 hrs which is pretty damn good if I didn’t do too much with it during the day you could stretch that to about 30 hours but 48 hours?. Nope. Like I said you’ll get a full day, that’s about it.

Screenshot_2014-11-26-16-54-03I don’t want to write off Verizon’s claims about their phone but I would say its a bit of an exaggerated claim and I would like to know what the circumstances have to be to get 48 hours out of the Droid Turbo before a charge is necessary.

To credit the Droid Turbo’s battery there was an instance when I got a little careless and it died, I wasn’t home and I needed to grab a quick charge. Thankfully I had my charger on me. I’ll say The Droid Turbo’s “Turbo” Charger is the real deal. I charged it for about 20 minutes and I was able to get through the rest of my day with some juice to spare and I made it home. Despite my skepticism about the 48 hour battery life, getting a significant charge in 15 or so minutes was the truth and it got me out of a jam. The Droid Turbo does have great battery life and it’s an added bonus if you’re a person that’s always on your phone. So no exaggerated claims with that one.

Camera & Pictures

The Droid Turbo has another great asset aside from its battery life and that’s the camera. It comes in at 21mp in 4:3 mode and 15mp in widescreen mode. The camera option is feature packed here with a dual LED flash, touch capture, 4K video capability, HDR, slow mo, burst mode, etc. All the bells and whistles you find in a flagship phone camera app.

Be it that I live in NYC you get a lot of great and random scenery. No shortage of it. The Droid Turbo showed some really nice color in the daytime and some not so bad colors in the night-time and some lower light circumstances. Colors were natural and not washed out, blacks weren’t overwhelming to where they looked fake and complex scenery looked crisp. With pictures its sometimes a matter of how you perceive things although bad pictures are just bad pictures, with the Droid Turbo no matter what I took a picture of I always got a pretty good shot (see gallery) and there was great attention to detail with each one. The only thing I could say that I probably missed having is some form of OIS which isn’t present on this camera and it doesn’t help that it takes forever for the camera to take a picture on this phone especially with the shaky hand that I have. If you have a steady hand and you don’t mind that lag when taking shots then this camera is not too shabby.

I shot some videos on the camera in standard HD and 4K and the Droid Turbo did a pretty good job with the playback. Videos came out crisp and they looked realistic without that weird kinda soap opera effect. The LG G3 and the Moto X have similarly good cameras if not a bit better in some areas but I don’t want to nitpick too much about the slight technical differences in the camera shots and video. All in all the Droid Turbo has a solid camera for all of your photo and video needs.

Software

Screenshot_2014-11-24-15-03-38What Verizon left out in branding they added to the Droid Turbo in the form of software. Useless software. I hate to be so forthright and blunt but it is what it is, and most people who are going to buy this phone are already going to know what they want from their apps. Verizon has a bit of software on this phone, such as you have their messenger app for texting, caller name id, cloud, droid zap, message, NFL mobile, VZ navigator and VZ Protect. You’re probably already using apps like dropbox, textra, contacts+ or some other app which makes the need for these apps entirely unnecessary. Bloatware / Crapware is never a good thing and Verizon should have left it off of the Droid Turbo. I’m sure they’ll try to make a compelling case about why its necessary for these apps to be there but I can tell you in no uncertain terms that I don’t personally know anyone who uses these apps at all. Ever.

Moto

Screenshot_2014-11-25-23-45-51Moto was actually pretty cool. It’s basically an extension or added function of the “Ok Google” feature built into the Google home launcher. I was able to give it a cool opening phrase and it opened some of my apps and made some calls and texts for me (sometimes) and it did work really well as a reminder app and it was attempting to learn my tendencies by habit and motion but like Siri and Cortana I find it to be gimmickry and not useful. Most of what you expect from voice activated apps you can probably, no, definitely do faster on your own with your fingers. Although Moto is super cool and nice add-on and whether you use it or not is totally up to you but not necessary and it doesn’t in my opinion add to the value of the Droid Turbo.

Final Thoughts

The Droid Turbo is a phone that I’ve used for a bit of time as a my daily driver about 2 weeks. I do love the phone for a lot of reasons. It’s sturdy, great screen, good camera, great battery life, great ability to charge quickly and Verizon service is as always incredibly fast and reliable. Would I recommend it? Yes and No. When I say yes it’s because it’s a powerhouse of a phone and it has specs that can match if not best any phone on the market now. When I say no it’s because of design, the Droid Turbo is kind of ugly duckling compared to the Moto X, the LG G3 and the Nexus 6. The camera being so slow is also a big problem but that could be worked out in a software update later but if you’re buying it now it’s a problem.

Despite its problems there are positives and as always what I see as a negative you may not notice. The Droid Turbo is still without a doubt a very solid phone. It’s not a phone that you would have and be disappointed it’s just a phone that you would have and feel that something is missing. Great specs and hardware does not make a smartphone great all the time, there’s so much more to a complete smartphone experience considering you may be stuck with it for at least a year. The Droid Turbo is basically a juiced up Moto X and it may not be enough for you to choose it over the Moto X and there lies the problem

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Mike Bitter is a born gadget head and true lover of technology. It all started with computer classes at age 10 and his first PC the Tandy 1000. From then on he found his love and he became a gamer and a PC builder and has not stopped since. He specializes in hardware, troubleshooting and custom PC building. He’s known as the “fixer” amongst his friends whenever there is a problem with a PC or a Mac. He’s also fully immersed in all things that pertain to the world of computers and gaming. He's an 80's baby and he grew up watching technology evolve from the NES to PS4 and from the Commodore 64 to the iMac. He has a unique and minimalist perspective on technology and is here to help the average person to understand technology today.