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Droid Turbo review: A sturdy phone with serious stamina

JR Raphael | Nov. 5, 2014
It may not be the most elegant-looking device, but Motorola's new smartphone is brimming with power.

droid turbo
Credit: Motorola/Verizon

I'll never forget my first Droid device.

It was nearly five years ago. Verizon and Motorola came out with a series of tantalizing ads showing a mysterious new phone that was loud, in your face and industrial. It wasn't pretty -- it was powerful. It was everything the then-dominant iPhone wasn't -- and, like lots of people, I was immediately intrigued.

The original Motorola Droid marked a major turning point for Android, as the platform went from a back-of-the-store footnote to a serious contender in the smartphone race. It helped make Android a household name; for years, "Droid" was to "Android" as "Kleenex" is to "tissue."

The Droid moniker may have lost some of its cachet over time, but Verizon's kept a firm grip on the brand's identity -- and with the new Motorola-made Droid Turbo, on sale now for $200 (32GB) to $250 (64GB) on contract, or $600/$650 off-contract, the carrier is helping us to remember what it represents.

Durable and utilitarian design
Let's get one thing out of the way: The Droid Turbo's style isn't going to be for everyone. The phone is basically a beefed-up and ruggedized version of Motorola's 2014 Moto X -- but while the Moto X is sleek and sophisticated, the Droid Turbo is unapologetically utilitarian. In fact, as I noted in my initial impressions, it's like a Moto X on steroids.

The version of the phone I've been using has what Motorola calls a "ballistic nylon" backing. It's black and has a rough woven texture to it, kind of like what you'd feel on a nice backpack or piece of luggage.

The Turbo is also available in a red or black "metalized glass fiber" configuration that's smoother and has a glossy finish. Both materials are reinforced with Kevlar, and both make the phone feel solid and sturdy but also meaningfully thicker, heavier and less ergonomically pleasing than the Moto X.

Hardware that's impressive -- and excessive
The "Moto X on steroids" simile goes beyond the Turbo's outer surface. The phone's display, for instance, is the same 5.2-in. size as the Moto X -- but instead of using 1080p resolution, the Turbo bumps things up to Quad HD with a staggering 565 pixels per inch.

To be sure, the AMOLED screen looks incredible: Text is crisp, images are stunningly detailed and the colors are rich and true to life. The screen is easy to see even from wide angles or in glary outdoor conditions. But looking at the Turbo next to the Moto X, it's tough to detect any noticeable difference in quality; impressive as it may sound on paper, Quad HD resolution just doesn't add much to the experience when it comes to a screen of this size.

 

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