Verizon’s Droid line played a crucial role in making Android famous. When the original Motorola Droid launched in the fall of 2009, with its Texas Instruments processor and sliding QWERTY keyboard, it was pushed as an industrial wonder, a powerful piece of machinery that had come from the factory to death-laser the iPhone into oblivion.
That didn’t exactly happen, but all of the marketing hype helped make the Droid the first Android flagship that stuck around in the minds of the American public. Times have changed for Verizon, Motorola, and Android since then, but the message of the Droid phones really hasn’t — these things still want to be the Terminators of smartphones.
So it shouldn’t be surprising to hear that the new Droid Turbo preaches this same ideal, only updated for today’s standards. Formally introduced by Verizon this morning, the Droid Turbo is once again manufactured by Motorola, butarrives as a complete aesthetic foil to the warmer and more understated design of the Moto X.
In other words, the Droid Turbo wants to be a beast. It’s big, with a 5.2-inch display — though it isn’t a full-on phablet like a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 or iPhone 6 Plus — and its back is covered in an all-black or -red coat of metallic fiberglass or ballistic nylon. Traces of the new Moto X’s design are there, including a circular back logo and camera ring, but outside of the stitched nylon material, the Turbo doesn’t look like it strays too far from the flat look of last year’s Droid Ultra at first blush. The front is coated with Gorilla Glass 3; the same capacitive keys and buttons are there; and Verizon’s still branded the back with its own markings. We’ll reserve judgment with how well all of this feels until our full review.
The spec sheet is where the Droid Turbo really wants to flex its might, however. That 5.2-inch panel incorporates a Quad HD (or 2550 x 1440) resolution, which we found to be overkill on the LG G3 but should at least eliminate any sharpness from square one. It’s also of the OLED variety, which should make for good contrast ratios and fuller-looking colors than those on an LCD display.
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 805 SoC sits as the beating heart of the Droid Turbo, bringing in a 2.7 GHz quad-core processor and an Adreno 420 graphics unit. That’s all joined by a hefty 3 GB of RAM, and either 32 or 64 GB of storage space. A 21-megapixel camera lies on the back of the device, and is complemented by a 2-megapixel front-facing shooter that can capture 1080p video. The usual ports and connectivity features are here, and the device will support Verizon’s speedier “XLTE” bands as well, naturally.
Almost all of this borders on the excessive, but the Droid line has never been about restraint. The Turbo should be able to stand with the strongest handsets out there right at launch, though we’ve been nearing the point of diminishing returns when it comes to flagship performance for a few years now.
One part of a phone that can never be overemphasized, though, is battery life, and it’s there where Verizon is touting the Droid Turbo’s capabilities the hardest. The carrier claims that the Turbo can get up to two full days of juice thanks to its 3,900 mAh battery. That kind of pack isn’t unheard of, but it’s usually reserved for the beefier displays of a Note 4 or Huawei Ascend Mate 7, so cramming it in there is an impressive feat of design, if nothing else. Verizon made similar promises with last year’s Droid Maxx (which had a 3,500 mAh battery) and wasn’t totally off, though we’ll wait for a full review to see if that super high-res display does more harm than good on this year’s model.
On the software front, the Droid Turbo comes with Android 4.4.4 KitKat out of the box, and Verizon promises an upgrade to Android 5.0 Lollipop in the near future. It comes with Motorola’s usual skin, which lightly blankets stock Android with a few nifty first-party features. One thing to be wary of its bloatware: Verizon saddled its 2013 Droid lineup with copious amounts of redundant apps, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see its latest exclusive suffer the same fate.
Judging by this first look, the Droid Turbo aims to take the power of a phablet and cram it into the body of more reasonably-sized flagship. For Motorola, it comes off like a mating of the Nexus 6 and Moto X, stuffed into a Verizon-approved body. Fortunately, we’ll get to see if this mixture works very soon: Both Motorola and Verizon will start selling the Droid Turbo on October 30. The 32 GB version will go for the usual $200 with a two-year contract, while the 64 GB model will cost $50 extra with the same agreement.