Droid Turbo Review

I am extremely happy with my Droid Turbo phone on Verizon.  A few notes for those thinking about buying a phone:

Why Android over iPhone

  • I have been an iPhone guy through 2 generations of phones, and still love my iPad.  But I am exhausted with iCloud and Apple proprietary calendar and mail.  I don't use those tools, I use Gmail and other Google tools, and I got exhausted constantly farting with setup issues.  Things I had to use IFTTT to do on the iPhone happen automatically on Android.  And don't even get me started on duplicate photos in the iPhone/iCloud world.  Drives me crazy.
  • If on your desktop you live in the Apple world, buy an iPhone.  If you, like me, use Gmail, Google Calendar, Google drive and other such tools, it makes a heck of a lot of sense to switch to Android.  Google drive is woven into the operating system at many points.  And even better than on the desktop, Android is great at working with and recognizing multiple google accounts without signing in and out.  For example, in the photo viewer, you can view all your photos together from all your accounts.
  • The one downside is I don't use Google hangouts and Google+, and those are woven in as well.  I had to replace the text messaging app with something else (I use Chomp) but that is the great thing about Android - things that are fixed in iOS are customizable in Android (it is also the bad part of Android if you don't want to mess with that -- I would never put my wife on Android, for example).
  • As a downside, all the variation in phones and customizations mean that you are not guaranteed to get Android updates when they come out.  It depends on your carrier and phone manufacturer.
  • The ability to load up all my music for free (even FLAC files which they automatically convert online to high quality MP3) and stream it to my phone is way better than Apple's capability.
  • I think that most of the feature and OS leadership in the last 18 months has really be grabbed by Android.  Except for the fingerprint capability on the iPhone, everything in the iPhone 6 and iOS 8 was just catch up with Android.

The Good about the Turbo

  • Honking big battery.  Yes, it makes it a bit heavier and bulkier, but it is way lighter and less bulky than, say, and iPhone with a mophie battery case.  I never even come close to running out, even when I use it travelling as a GPS in the car for several hours.  You don't realize how much your interaction with your phone is influenced by battery life until you don't have to worry about it.  I can even leave the screen on bright all day
  • Wireless charging.  Awesome.  The mini-USB connector sucks vs. the iPhone connector because it is not reversible so it is much harder to insert.  All that goes away with wireless charging.  Love it.
  • Fast charging.  You can use the fast charger to blast a ton of life back into the phone in just 15 minutes.
  • Near stock Android.  I like this over the glossy custom overlays Samsung and Sony and every other company apply.  I did replace the front end with the Google Now front end, which is nearly identical but it has Google now cards on the leftmost screen, which I have come to enjoy.  Fun travelling in particular when it pops up photo sites or destinations near me.  Its news suggestions are tied into my browser history and are pretty spot on.
  • Near stock Android also pays another benefit - you will get Android updates much faster.  All Motorola phones (given Google's ownership) are early on the list of phones that will get Android Lollipop upgrades.

Things that are fine

  • The camera is fine.  Focuses relatively fast, takes decent pictures, but not as good as you might expect from the specs.  But competitive with other phones.
  • The screen is supposed to be a selling point, with its above HD resolution, but almost never can I tell a difference.  At some point, the eye just cannot see more pixel density.  It has some tradeoffs in that the higher pixel density can lead fonts on some websites to be almost unreadable (no one has really programmed for this high of a pixel density yet).  Also, the higher pixel count requires more power, which reduces some of the advantage of the larger battery
  • The screen is AMOLED, like the Samsung Galaxy phones.  It is a love it or hate it thing.  The colors on AMOLED tend to be oversaturated.   Ironically, I can live with that.  I am SUPREMELY fussy about the colors on my TV's and in particular on my movie projection system, but I don't care so much on the phone.  Certainly it makes the desktop bright and attractive

Things that are a negative for many reviewers but don't bother me

  • "Its ugly".  That is the #1 review comment.  Shrug.   I think it is fine.  Sure, the Moto X with the bamboo back is awesome looking.   But I am deeply into functionality here.  The curved back feels nice in the hand.
  • There is only a single speaker.  I have come to understand that millennials are fine listening to music on crappy tinny speakers.  I would never listen to music on laptop speakers, and especially not on a cell phone speaker.  I only use the cell phone speaker for occasional speakerphone calls.  And it is fine for that.

Things that do bother me

  • I wish it had a memory card slot.   I have 64MB which is likely enough, particularly since I have all my music loaded up online with Google play music and I can just stream it most of the time.  But I would feel better with an expansion slot
  • I wish it was water resistant like the Galaxy S5.  Wireless charging makes this even more doable since you can plug up the USB port.
  • I wish it had iPhone's awesome fingerprint scanner
  • Why do they have to design $800 electronic devices that break when dropped to be so slippery?  The edges are finished in some kind of rubbery stuff that is very grippy.  I wish they had done the back in the same stuff.  That fake nylon webbing stuff on mine is slick, though not wet-bar-of-soap slick like, say, the HTC One M8.


  1. Isaac:

    Motorola is now owned by Lenovo. Good luck with the updates. Hope there aren't any security holes that need to be patched.

  2. Daublin:

    Why not use the built-in Hangouts?

    Be aware it is not exactly the same product as the web version. "Hangouts" on an Android phone is just the messaging app. It does messaging, SMS, and voice-over IP calls.

  3. big_z:

    Hangouts does video chat too, if that's your cup of tea.

  4. big_z:

    As to a couple of your knocks:
    The fingerprint scanner is fine, but be aware, courts seem to think that the police forcing you to unlock your phone with a password is a violation of the 5th Amendment, but forcing you to unlock your phone with a fingerprint is not. The former is forcing you to divulge information, in effect testifying against yourself. The latter is forcing you to produce something they know you have.

    They don't make the whole phone out of the grippy stuff because then it sticks in your pocket and you can't get it out. The grippy stuff also tends to be a lint magnet.

  5. Daublin:

    Good point, but I've stopped passwording my phone all together. It's too much trouble for a device that when I use it, I need to use it RIGHT NOW.

    Plus, if an attacker gets physical access, I suspect they could work out a way to get through almost any password protection anyway.

  6. Matthew Slyfield:

    "The mini-USB connector sucks"

    Actually, that is a micro-USB connector, not a mini-USB connector. The mini-USB is significantly larger than the micro USB connector.

    All the phone manufacturers except apple have agreed to standardize on micro USB, so your connector won't change every time you get a newer phone.

  7. Matthew Slyfield:

    "Why do they have to design $800 electronic devices that break when dropped to be so slippery?"

    Not everyone does. I have a Samsung Rugby Pro and it has a textured back that is more like diamond plate steel but much finer. The Rugby Pro is a ruggedized model so it's less likely to break if you do drop it.

  8. Max:

    I sure hope you have 64 GB or they screwed you over ;)

  9. obloodyhell:

    }}} As a downside, all the variation in phones and customizations mean that you are not guaranteed to get Android updates when they come out. It depends on your carrier and phone manufacturer.

    Well, if you want to stay with the Latest Version, then the obvious choice is to go with the Nexus. That will always be the first thing that gets upgraded to the latest Android, since it's Google's flagship product. Never as good on the hardware end, though.

    }}} I think that most of the feature and OS leadership in the last 18 months has really be grabbed by Android. Except for the fingerprint capability on the iPhone, everything in the iPhone 6 and iOS 8 was just catch up with Android.

    Well, the thing that is going to kill apple, as I've noted before, is that they're making the exact same errors they made during the 80s and 90s, and which had them on the ropes by the late 90s.. The only thing that saved them from getting bought out and phased into nothingness was the return of Steve Jobs. And I'll say this: if Jobs comes back and saves their asses again, it'll be a portent of much, much bigger things. :-D

    Their primary mistake is failing to grasp the importance of market share in the long run as vastly more critical to the health of the company than immediate profits.

    Apple is dead, already. They're just a zombie company that looks and acts healthy, for now. But once their share of the pad market dropped below 50% (even though they still outsell any other single tablet), even as their share of the phone market (which they do still "dominate" as the largest single seller, though that may also have changed) fell below 1/3rd, and they did nothing to address that and try and recapture it, it's blatantly obvious that the management does not understand their business any more now than they did in 1995.

  10. obloodyhell:

    As far as phones go, there are really three, at the top end, which are worth serious consideration, all three ca. US$600 one way or another:
    1) Samsung GS5 -- Samsung just makes good stuff, period. But this one needs more new features to really be the best choice.
    Pros: Highly water resistant.
    Cons: Standard HD screen

    2) Sony X3 -- Arguably the best of the three, though I've heard (but been unable to verify) there are security concerns due to some parts being made in China.
    Pros: Quad HD screen, Highly water resistant (works even when fully submerged up to 5m for several hours), and the highest res camera of these three (20mp)
    Cons: That security concern I haven't been able to verify

    3) LG G3 -- Pretty good -- well designed, slim, and with a gorgeous screen, and decent camera @ 13mp
    Pros: Quad HD screen, laser-focus camera that focuses nominally faster.
    Cons: No special water resistance.

    There are other factors which may be important but those are, I'd argue, the three you should take a serious look at if you want to spend that much on a phone, and don't want more of a "budget" model.

  11. obloodyhell:

    I'm sure they will quickly adopt the next gen USB connector (or a micro version thereof) -- it completely eliminates the directionality of the orientation. It's a square plug and it works no matter which of the four possible orientations it is inserted in.

  12. Muddermucker:

    Hated the Droid Turbo. Went from an I-Phone 4S to the Droid because I was sold on it by my service provider that it is the best phone on the market. Not In My Eyes and here is why:
    Could not get Corporate email to properly send emails. I was only able to get work emails on the phone. Was advised I need to wipe everything on phone and start over. Didn't work. Never had an issue with the Iphone.
    Sometimes could not hear caller but they could hear me. Service provided said I have to turn Bluetooth off every time I get out of my car in order to hear incoming calls. Really?? Not with the Iphone.
    Moving around the operations of the Droid usually took 2 to 3 moves more than the Iphone to do what you want to do. IPhone short cuts are the best!!
    Battery life not what they claim but I will say it did last longer than any Iphone I have used.
    "wave over" sensor to bring screen up out of "sleep" or "off" mode was a pain in the you know what. If I was talking on the phone in the car hands free the screen would go blank and when you were done with the call the phone screen went away and you could not physically turn the call off unless you went back into the call screen. Very annoying and irritating to say the least. I always like to make sure my calls are disconnected and its as simple as picking up the Iphone and clicking on the red "call end" button.
    Camera is not great and again to see a picture you just took you have to close out of the camera and open up your picture folder to see it. IPhone you just click on the bottom right of the camera screen and it opens your photo library
    So with out any hesitation I got rid of the Droid Turbo and got a Iphon6 and it was the best decision I have ever made with cell phone choices.
    Best advice - If you are an Iphone user do not go to the Droid, stay with the Iphone and just upgrade to a newer model.

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