Motorola Droid Turbo Review

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Verizon introduced the Droid lineup back in 2009 when Android was still in its infancy. The Droid name and advertising is something that became synonymous with Android and still is to this day. The Droid line of phones from Verizon was pitched as the most powerful phones on the planet and with the Droid Turbo this tradition is continued. After spending a few weeks with this new phone and using it as my daily driver this is what I have found.

 

Exterior

 

The Droid Turbo is not a phone that was based on beautiful design and its utilitarian design shows that was never the main focus when they built this powerhouse. Motorola has shown it knows design and beauty with the Moto X and I am somewhat disappointed they did not bring that same type of attention to design and appearance to the Turbo. The back of the device comes in Glossy Black, Glossy Red (the one I have been using), and a really unique Ballistic Nylon. The glossy versions are constructed with what Motorola calls metalized glass fiber, which makes the phone very smooth to the touch, but also makes it more slippery in the hands. The ballistic nylon version has a lot more grip and feels more like a metal mesh covering the back of the phone.

 

You will also find the headset jack up top and power and volume rockers on the right side of the phone and the Micro-USB charging port on the bottom. The overall feel of the phone gives the impression of being very well built but heavy. I never felt like I needed to worry about scratching or damaging the phone even without a case with Gorilla Glass 3 covering the front side and a water-resistant nano coating covering the phone from the inside out. Note that it is water resistant not waterproof so you do not want to go swimming with this phone, but it is enough to not have to worry about spilling liquid on it or being caught in the rain.

 

Display

 

The Droid Turbo’s AMOLED display is the real main attraction at 5.2 inches and a 2560-by-1440 resolution not only is it Quad-HD it has a pixel per inch count of 565 which is the most dense display on any phone around. How do those retina searing specs play out in real world usage? Really well actually the display is clear, crisp and you will not notice any pixels no matter how close you hold your phone. The viewing angles are pretty good, but I have seen better. The only complaint that I have with the display is AMOLED causes the whites to be dull and yellowish when compared to a LCD display. I have been using a HTC One M8 before this so it was very noticeable to me at first but now it is unnoticeable unless the Turbo is sitting beside a phone with a LCD panel. The benefits definitely outweigh this small compromise as the AMOLED is able to pull off some great battery friendly features such as Moto Display which I will cover later in this review. The front facing speaker sits at the top of the display and is loud and clear. Only distorting when playing music at full volume.

 

Performance

 

Tucked away behind the display is a Snapdragon 805 (APQ8084) processor with a quad-core CPU clocked at 2.7 GHz and Adreno 420 @ 600 MHz GPU with NLP (Natural Language Processor). If you are not the techy type, then all you need to know is the Turbo is packed with some of the most powerful guts you can get. Couple that with the 3GB of LPDDR3 RAM (with 64-bit access) you get a phone that never slows down and can multitask without stutter. Even switching between multiple apps and listening to music I noticed zero lag and side by side with the Samsung Note 4 the Turbo was smoother and did not bog down under multiple apps like the Note did. Storage options are limited to 32 and 64 GB with the latter only coming in the black ballistic nylon finish.

 

All of this powerful hardware is powered up with a huge battery. 3900mAh which Motorola claims will get you two days (48 hours) of battery life. In my few weeks with the Turbo I have seen it last around a day and a half. Even with extreme power user usage I have always been able to make it through the entire day with a single charge. The Turbo’s battery life is the best I have used on a phone since before smartphones. If you can manage to drain the battery and need to power up fast the non-removable back does not allow for battery swaps but Motorola has this issued covered too. It is called Motorola Turbo Charge and with the included Turbo Charger you can get up to 8 hours of battery life in just 15 minutes of charging. This is achieved using Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 so if you need a spare charger you can use any compatible charger to achieve the same results. Also it will charge using any regular Micro-USB charger but at slower speeds.

 

 

 

Software

 

The Droid Turbo comes out of the box with Android 4.4.4 KitKat but according to Motorola there is a sweet treat coming soon. Android 5.0 Lollipop which is expected to come to the Turbo as soon as it receives carrier approval. Which that upgrade will add even more features and battery life. Motorola has done a great job at not adding a skin to Android or adding in a bunch of gimmicky features. That is part of the reason why Motorola can update Android quickly and also why it runs faster on the same hardware than other Android flagships. What Moto has added though I have to say is all solid features that do a great job of staying out of the way and helping you be more productive.

 

Droid Zap

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Is an awesome app that allows you to share and send photos with people that are nearby. All you have to do is slide upwards with two fingers when you are on a picture and it will automatically “Zap” it. Other users can pick up those photos by downloading the Droid Zap app on their smartphone. Also Droid Zap works with Google’s Chromecast so you can fling photos right up to the big screen easily.

 

Moto App

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The Moto app is where all the settings for Motorola’s add-ons live. Open the app and you will find Assist, which allows you to silence your phone, have call and message read out or even auto reply if you are in a meeting. Assist allows you to have these things change for you automatically without having to do anything. It uses your calendar events, location, speed and time of day as triggers for these changes. This comes in very handy when driving. When moving over 10mph or so the phone will recognize you are driving and can read incoming calls and texts for you as they come in. Making it safe to remain in contact with your friends or boss even while driving. Actions are also in the Moto App, Actions allows you to wave your hand above the phone to silence calls and snooze alarms, Twist the phone to quickly pull up the camera, and also allows you to turn on “Approach for Moto Display”.  Moto Display is the benefit of having an AMOLED display, which can turn on certain pixels while leaving others off to conserve battery. with approach turned on the Droid Turbo uses three infrared sensors located in the front bezel to see you reaching for your phone and can show you the time and any new notifications that you may have. Making it even easier to check the time or if you have any new messages without the need of even picking up your phone. Voice allows you to set up custom launch phrases for voice control over your phone. This makes the OK, Google command even more personal but one small problem is the lag between Moto software and Google’s. The commands have to be sent over between the two software suites and that cause a small but noticeable lag between asking a question and getting an answer.

 

 

 

Camera

 

Even in this department the Turbo keeps up the act with impressive specs the back facing camera is 21 megapixels and the front facing shooter is a more common 2. The back camera while packing a huge number in megapixels takes so-so quality photos. The photos during the day come out clear but with a strange unrealistic feel to them when compared to devices such as the iPhone 6 or Samsung Note 4. Taking shots at night are hit and miss some photos I have taken end up looking great while others tend to be dark and grainy. Overall the camera sums up the pretty good but not great quality we have seen from most Android shooters. The file sizes are another thing to consider. Some photos are too large to upload to social media and have to be resized before they can be uploaded. Also the lack of IOS really limits the capabilities of the camera. Below are a few photos I have taken with the Turbo Camera.

Turbo Downtown Louisville Turbo Snow Kitchen Turbo Walking Bridge Turbo Cherokee Park Turbo Cherokee Park Turbo 2

 

Video

 

The 21mp shooter on the back is also capable of recording video in 4K. The phone has got really hot on the backside when recording in 4K along with a pretty noticeable hit to the battery. All in all the video in 4K looks good but again the file sizes of these videos are massive and will need to be uploaded to your computer right away if you plan on taking them often.  Below is a sample.

 

 

 

Verizon

 

The Droid Turbo on Verizon has been as reliable as you would expect any other Verizon Wireless device to be. Coverage is unmatched and LTE is pretty speedy so that means the Turbo is able to perform just about anywhere you go. One thing I noticed during my time with the device is that you cannot use data and voice at the same time, but I was quickly briefed by a Verizon spokesperson that the issue will be resolved within 30-45 days with a update to Verizon Advanced Calling 1.0 (VoLTE). Call quality was good but not great and that is something I expect will change with that upcoming Verizon upgrade as well.

 

 

Conclusion

If you are on the Verizon Network and looking for a good reliable Android phone the Turbo is currently the most powerful in the carrier lineup. Looks may not be beautiful, but the Turbo makes up for all that with it’s staying power and sheer ability to power through multitasking and graphic intensive apps. A almost pure and untouched version of Android also means it will most likely see updates faster and receive additional features later on in it’s life. I highly recommend anyone to go into their local Verizon Wireless Store and give this phone a look.

The Droid Turbo starts at 199.99 on a 2 year contract, 24.99 per month on Verizon EDGE or 599.99 without a commitment for the 32GB. If that is not enough space the 64GB variety of the Turbo goes for 249.99 on contract, 27.08 on EDGE, and 649.99 out right.

If you have any questions about the Droid Turbo please feel free to ask anything down in the comments section.

 

 

 

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