The Droid Turbo. The one great Verizon exclusive phone. The battery life champ. This spec sheet monster was released more than half a year ago and we’re here to answer one simple question today. If you’re going to upgrade at Verizon today, is this phone still worth your money?
Can the Droid Turbo hold its own against newer phones like the Samsung Galaxy S6 and LG G4? Does it still have the features to stand out in the crowd?
My journey began with the Droid Turbo on just that — a Journey. For my birthday, my wife and I drove off to Virginia from our midwest home. Through the corn fields of Ohio, the mountains of West Virginia and the more mountains for Virginia before finally stopping in Richmond, the capital of the confederacy and home to some very congested networks.
While T-Mobile has improved its network, especially along busy highways, to maintain LTE, there’s still no-one better than Verizon and my Droid Turbo test unit held a signal almost the entire way here, even though some of the quiet zone in WVA. While maybe not a feature of the phone itself, the only way you can get the Droid Turbo right now is either buying it unlocked and importing the international version (which is expensive and still lacks bands for other carriers) or buying it from Verizon who is the standard-bearer in coverage.
The Droid Turbo has a strong set of radios and microphones to make use of the network. Not only did I pull fast LTE speeds when available but voice calls were clear and easy to understand. People on the line reported that I was easy to hear and background noise was never a problem. On the flip side the speaker on the Droid Turbo are loud and make any call a breeze.
And this is where my first negative with the Turbo comes in. There’s only a speaker, not speakers. Like the HTC One M9 or Google Neuxs 6 (also made my Motorola), there should have been a second front facing speaker here. While the single speaker does get loud enough and has the clarity to get its point across, dual stereo front facing speakers would have made this a media monster. This is a clear missed opportunity from Motorola.
Staying on the topic of all things media, the screen is beautiful. The 5.2″ 1440 x 2560 screen features 565 PPI (right there with the Galaxy S6 for leaders in the segment) and Super AMOLED technology. Viewing pictures and video on this thing is definitely a treat. The Super AMOLED screen means that blacks are as deep as you can get making the contrast excellent. Colors aren’t the most accurate in the game but they do a good job of not being blown out and noticeably bad.
If streaming isn’t your thing, you’ll have plenty of room to store all of that media. The Droid Turbo comes standard with 32 GB of on board storage with the option to move up to 64 GB. Unfortunately, there’s no Micro SD card slot to be found here.
Also absent is a removable backing and battery. This may not be a big issue though. Since the backing cant be removed, you get water resistance. Which in this day and age is a beautiful feature. Whether it’s being pushed into a pool by your friends or taking pictures of your kids at the lake, this feature will keep you from dropping more money on replacing that phone and potentially losing your data.
Also, the embedded battery is a bit of non-story. I consistently rail on OEMs for not giving us access to the battery to replace it when it goes dead. Because what good is a phone if you can’t turn it on. But Moto made all the right moves with the Turbo. It features an eye-popping 3,900 mAH battery. That’s HUGE. Like leading its class huge.
Motorola advertises this as a two-day phone, which in this day and age you’re not going to see much. I think the only phone out there that could even come close to making that claim is the Apple iPhone 6 Plus with moderate usage or maybe the LG G4 if you’re being generous. I can’t make it through two days with normal use with the Turbo but I can push it further than most other phones. 5+ hours of screen on time with around 36 total on battery is not abnormal for me.
Knowing that if I forget to plug it in at night that my alarm app is still going to go off in the morning is a nice feeling. And having a true all day battery in my phone on heavy usage days like vacations when I’m taking pictures and using GPS a lot is even better.
The Droid Turbo features near stock Android which is a blessing and a curse. You don’t have a lot of the features that other OEMs place in their skins like multi-window but you do have a near stock look with minor improvements. Moto Assist, which is just called Moto in the app drawer now can set profiles for sleeping, driving, at home and in meetings along with quick launching apps and tasks to silence your phone, turning on the camera, turning on the display and turning on the flash light.
Easily the best feature the Droid Turbo has built-in is active display. You’ll get black and white notifications on your lock screen with the ability to quickly launch into the app, get a preview of the notification or just launch straight into your phone regularly. This is a great way to check your notifications quickly and move on if they’re unimportant.
The camera on recent Motorola phones haven’t been their strong point and this continues to be the case with the Turbo. Even after a few updates the camera is still just average. I do love the wrist twist gesture to quickly turn on the camera but it doesn’t save a frustrating camera app and even more frustrating lack of ability to get macro pictures. Getting close to the subject in a picture was a lesson in patience and frustration. Moto would seriously have to step it up to be considered a big boy in the smartphone camera world again.
The Droid Turbo can be a really mixed bag. It seems like every negative I can come up with somehow has a positive associated with it. No removable back? Huge battery, water resistance and solid build. Only one front facing speaker? It’s still loud and clear. Not many added features in their skin? The ones they do add are great and really add to the experience.
If you’re going to Verizon today and you’re looking for a phone with close to stock Android, a huge battery, and a beautiful screen, this is your phone. If you don’t have to upgrade right now, you may want to consider holding off until the fall when a new version MAY be released but as of today, this is a great use of your money.