The Droid Turbo delivers long battery life, a beautiful sharp display and very close to stock Android with cool additional features added to round out the user experience. Motorola is able to deliver this in a svelte Kevlar coated package that is easy to hold, even with a 5.2-inch display.
In a year where you can choose from the Motorola Nexus 6, the Moto X 2014 and the Moto G 2, there is still a strong reason to return to the Droid Turbo — and it’s about more than just the battery life that Verizon features in most commercials.
Five years ago the Motorola Droid launched on Verizon, giving Android a viable competitor to the iPhone. Now the Droid Turbo arrives among a strong showing of Android smartphones like the Galaxy S5, Galaxy Note 4, LG G3 and Apple’s new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus to round out Motorola’s second coming as a leader in Android.
The Droid Turbo is not a perfect phone, but it is one of the best Android smartphones you can buy today. The Droid Turbo features software we’d love to see on every Android device, a wonderful screen and a design that allows owners to forget about shopping for a case. Verizon also includes one free screen replacement during your two-year contract.
Verizon sells the Droid Turbo for $199 on a two-year contract in gray, black and red color options. There is currently a $150 bill credit if you switch to Verizon.
Droid Turbo Review Summary
In the Droid Turbo video below we’ll show you the new Droid Turbo with the black Kevlar back and an overall look at the smartphone and a rundown of the Droid Turbo specs and features.
What We Like: Beautiful display, Moto Voice control, Design and build quality, wonderful battery life.
What We Don’t Like: No expandable memory, camera inconsistencies, no customization like the Moto X.
Bottom Line: The Droid Turbo is an amazing smartphone that lasts all day thanks to a massive battery, but it delivers so much more than just long battery life with great software features and an impressive design.
Droid Turbo Design
The Droid Turbo doesn’t share the same curved design of the Moto X and the Nexus 6. While it would be incredible to see the same customization options as the new Moto X 2nd gen, the overall look and feel of the Droid Turbo is top-notch.
The back of the Droid Turbo features metalized glass fiber and a Kevlar back cover as well as an aluminum frame. These come together to deliver a smartphone that is durable, yet offers a soft touch back that is pleasing to hold for long periods. The top, bottom and sides curve to help the thicker-than-average smartphone slip into your hand.
Unlike many big-screen curvy smartphones, it is not slippery. At no point during our Droid Turbo review did we feel that a case was necessary, and with one free screen replacement there’s really no reason to add any bulk with a case or to take away from the beauty of this design.
Verizon also sells a Ballistic Nylon Droid Turbo model that offers more texture and grip than the Kevlar backed options.
Droid Turbo Display
Motorola packs a bright 2k display into the Droid Turbo. The 5.2-inch display uses a 2,560 x 1,440 resolution that is higher than the HDTV in most living rooms. On such a small screen this pushes pixels incredibly close, so the screen shows a lot of detail in photos and videos.
Right now there are not a lot of apps and video streaming services that offer 2k or higher videos, especially geared towards a smartphone screen, but it is still a wonderful display that shines when reading, browsing the web and watching HD content.
The large screen is also great for showing off your photos to friends and family. The display offers very wide viewing angles, so you are able to see the display even when sharing it with a few friends.
With a 5.2-inch screen the overall size is still very manageable, but there is enough room to comfortably watch a TV show or catch up on some football with the Verizon NFL Mobile app, Sunday Ticket or Watch ESPN.
Droid Turbo Camera
There is a 21MP camera in the Moto Droid Turbo with dual LED flash, which would make you think that you can’t take a bad picture with the Droid Turbo. Unfortunately that is not the case. The camera is better than on the Moto X 2nd generation, but it remains less reliable than the iPhone 6, but it’s much closer than we’ve seen on other Motorola phones.
You can see some excellent Droid Turbo camera samples below, highlighting what the camera is capable of in good light. In low light, like many smartphones, photos start to get grainy. The front facing camera is fine for Facebook and Instagram photos.
By switching the tap to focus option on, photo quality improves a lot over allowing the camera to automatically choose the focus point, and the Droid Turbo is fast to focus. It’s not that the Droid Turbo camera is bad, but there are still many photos that need taken a second time to get it just right and overall it feels like the camera is on the edge of what it can offer.
You can shoot 4k video using the Droid Turbo’s rear-facing camera, which results in great looking footage that you can enjoy on the 2k display.
Overall the Droid Turbo camera app is pretty sparse, but with Touch to Focus on you can capture many good-looking photos. You can shake the phone to activate the camera and use voice control to launch the camera as well. You can download other camera apps from Google Play if you want more features.
Droid Turbo Battery Life
The Droid Turbo packs a 3,900 mAh battery that is an absolute monster. During days of medium to light usage the phone lasted with more than 36 hours of use, but the bigger test is if it can last a full day of heavy use. Not surprisingly, even on days of heavy use with video calls through Google Hangouts and some traditional calls as well as many using a lot of apps like Facebook, Gmail and others, this phone can last a full day.
It will be hard for a user to drain the Droid Turbo battery in a single day of use, and that’s all most of us want from a smartphone — the ability to last a full day no matter what we are doing.
While working on the Droid Turbo review I typically used the phone for a full day, didn’t need to charge it overnight and it would last most of the next day. If I had to run and needed more power the included Turbo Charger delivers a fast charge – giving enough power to last the rest of the day in just 15 minutes. Officially Motorola says you get 8 hours of battery life from 15 minutes, and anecdotally this seems in line with our experience.
Droid Turbo Performance
Don’t worry about the Droid Turbo not keeping up with you and your apps. This phone is blazing fast thanks to a quad-core processor and 3GB of RAM. In short, the apps and games we use run fine on the Droid Turbo. Switching apps and opening apps is fast and snappy.
The only problem we experienced came down to a Facebook app bug that caused that specific app to crash until a new update arrived.
There is a single front facing speaker that does a good job, although it is not as powerful as the Moto X or HTC One M8. This is still a major improvement over back facing speakers that force users to cup their hand to hear a YouTube video. At full volume the Droid Turbo speaker is loud and delivers good quality.
Droid Turbo call quality is uncharacteristically poor for a Motorola device. Callers sound muted and flat, and the speaker phone is not loud enough. The Droid Turbo does not support VoLTE or simultaneous voice and data, so it is not possible to use the Internet while on a phone call.
Droid Turbo Software
The Droid Turbo runs Android 4.4.4 with the promise of an Android 5.0 upgrade in the near future. Motorola delivers a very close to stock Android experience, so users should see the new features and looks very soon. Overall Android runs well on this device and Motorola does a great job of including useful features like Moto Display and Voice Control.
Instead of LED notifications the full display acts as a notification area, showing icons for three recent notifications and offering the chance to see more about the notification with a tap. Swipe up to go straight to the notification or down to the lock screen. This is way better than an LED and you can wave your hand across the top of the phone to see your notifications. Check it out in the video above.
Motorola also includes Voice Control that works at all times. You can even set a custom phrase. In the video below we use “Obi-Wan Kenobi” to activate voice control. You can use the Motorola Voice control to post to Facebook, send a WhatsApp message, make a call, see your Verizon bill, data usage take a photo set reminders and much more. You can also launch right into a Google Search. Watch a preview of what the Droid Turbo can do in the video below.
When you are connected to a Bluetooth device you can set it to a Trusted Device, which keeps the phone from locking. This is handy for while you are in the car, or when you are wearing a Bluetooth device like a watch or a headset.
Verizon also includes Droid Zap, which allows you to quickly share files and items with other users nearby who also use Droid Zap. There is NFC in the Droid Turbo, so you can use Soft Card or Google Wallet.
Droid Turbo Review Unit Specs
You can see the Droid Turbo review unit specs below. The Droid Turbo is available in 32GB and 64GB storage options.
- 5.2-inch 2560 x 1440 Quad-HD display
- 2.7 GHz Snapdragon 805 Quad-core processor with 3GB of RAM
- 32GB storage, 64GB option for $249
- Android 4.4.4 KitKat (Android 5.0 coming soon)
- 21 Megapixel Rear and 2.1 front camera setup
- 4k video recording
- Front facing speaker
- 3,900 mAh battery (wireless charging)
- Turbo Charger Support
- Water repellent (coating guards against everyday spills and up to 20 minutes in a downpour), scratch resistant
The Turbo Charger is indeed very useful, and even though this is not waterproof or as water-resistant as some phones, the coating does help to prevent some water damage.
Droid Turbo Review Verdict
The Droid Turbo is an amazing smartphone that shoppers need to consider right along side the Galaxy S5, LG G3 and Note 4. Although the camera is hit or miss on quality, it remains one of the best Android phones on the market. You will have a hard time burning through the Droid Turbo battery in a single day, even with heavy use.
The overall size, design and screen of the Droid Turbo hit the sweet spot of usability and durability and the software delivers features owners will use daily.
It would be wonderful to see a fully waterproof Droid Turbo, but with everything else it packs in, the water-repellent is something we can live with. We also like that the Droid Turbo includes 32GB of storage at $199, which is more reasonable than the 16GB iPhone 6.