Motorola Droid Turbo review

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Screen with 2K resolution? Check. Premium materials? Check. High-resolution camera? Check. Long-lasting battery with fast-charging capability? Check. Fast processor with 3GB RAM? Check. No, we are not talking about the new Samsung Galaxy S6 here; it’s the new Motorola Moto Turbo that we are looking at.

Probably one of the least talked-about smartphones in Motorola’s portfolio, Moto Turbo is a beast of a smartphone that commands a price tag of Rs 41,999. But at this price, you can buy the fantastic Sony Xperia Z3 or save almost Rs 10,000 by buying Lenovo’s Vibe Z2 Pro. Or you can add a few thousand and buy iPhone 6 or Samsung Galaxy S6.

So without further ado, let’s dive straight into our Moto Turbo review to see if the new Motorola smartphone has what it takes to warrant a rather high price tag…
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Design

Time and again, Motorola has used some materials that distinguish its smartphones from the rest. In the past, Kevlar was used in its top smartphones, namely the Moto Razr models. More recently, it used wood and leather back panels for the Moto X smartphones. This time around, it has employed ballistic nylon to create the rear casing of Moto Turbo; mind you, the Verizon branded Motorola Droid Turbo in red colour comes with Kevlar.

To put it in context, ballistic nylon is a material that was used to make jackets that protected World War II soldiers to protect them from shrapnel. It is pretty tough material and pretty hard to scratch; we used nails, keys and other objects with sharp edges on it, but they left not a single mark on the panel. The ballistic nylon back provides excellent grip when you hold the Moto Turbo and does not allow fingerprints on the back.
We have gotten used to seeing the dimpled Motorola logo in the company’s smartphones, but in Moto Turbo you only get a flat circle made of metal to hold the brand’s logo. Above it is the camera, flanked on both sides by LED flash.
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The front panel is dominated by, of course, the 5.2-inch touchscreen, with three haptic keys (Back, Home and Task Switcher) below it; the display is surrounded by chrome plating. Located above the screen are the front camera and a single front-facing speaker.
On the side of the smartphone is a frame of plastic with rubbery texture that feels soft to the touch; this frame connects the back panel and the chrome plating. At the bottom, this soft plastic material creates a sort of chin for Moto Turbo.

Another unique aspect of the Moto Turbo’s design is the sim card slot. Instead of using the conventional sim card tray that you would expect in a unibody design smartphone, Motorola has used the Volume Rocker as the sim card tray. This tray is easy to remove, but we worry that it may come loose after some time.

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Moto Turbo is not a particularly huge smartphone, but it does feel a little heavy at 166grams. And it is not very slim either, measuring 11.2mm at its thickest point and 8.3mm at the thinnest. However, this is understandable considering it packs a rather big 3,900mAh battery.

Though the smartphone’s earphone jack and microUSB port remain uncovered, the whole body is covered by a nano-coating to protect the smartphone from accidental liquid spillages.

Display

Moto Turbo has a 5.2-inch Super AMOLED touchscreen with 2K (1440x2560p) resolution and 565ppi pixel density, just a shade lower than category-leader Samsung Galaxy S6’s 577ppi. Motorola has covered the display panel with Gorilla Glass 3 to protect it from scratches.

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In terms of quality, the screen of Moto Turbo is pretty good, but certainly not the best. You get great viewing angles, contrast and sunlight readability on the smartphone, but the colour reproduction is not accurate since this is a Super AMOLED panel. So, be prepared for slightly oversaturated colours, though the bluish tinge earlier associated with this panel is not too dominant on Moto Turbo.

Motorola has used its Moto Display feature in this smartphone, so that it shows details like the time and notifications you have missed even

when you are not using it. The function works as well as ever, and what’s better is that the phone detects when your hand is approaching the screen and shows the missed notifications or time automatically.

Hardware

Moto Turbo runs on the quad-core Snapdragon 805 processor clocked at 2.7GHz and Adreno 420 GPU, with 3GB of RAM to back it up. The smartphone packs 64GB of internal storage, but has no slot to slip in a microSD card for storage expansion. On the back is the 21MP primary camera and the dual LED flash, while the front camera has a rather low resolution of 2MP.

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The connectivity suite of Moto Turbo is pretty packed, offering 2G, 3G and Wi-Fi to access the internet, while data can be transferred over microUSB 2.0, Bluetooth 4.0, infrared and NFC. Sadly, Moto Turbo does not support India’s 4G band, making it one of the few top-end smartphones that are not future-ready.
The battery capacity of Moto Turbo is rated at 3,900mAh and features fast-charging and Qi wireless charging technologies.

Software

Stock Android, devoid of all the clutter that manufacturers preload on a handset, is widely deemed to be the best software for smartphones. Motorola, as you would expect, has used the stock build of Android 5.0 (Lollipop) in Moto Turbo, with only a few of its own apps (namely Moto Alert, Connect, Help and Migrate).

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In the Settings app, you will find a few more custom Moto features: Assist, Actions, Voice and Display. We have discussed all of them in previous reviews of Motorola smartphones, but Voice deserves a mention once again.
Though Moto Voice’s functionality remains the same as it was on last year’s second-generation Moto X, the voice-recognition technology has seemingly improved. This time around, Moto Turbo picked up our voice every single time when we said the ‘OK Moto Turbo’ command; this figure was around the 70-80% mark when we reviewed the new Moto X.

Performance

If we had one word to describe Moto Turbo, it would be ‘powerhouse’. The smartphone can handle any task you throw its way with ease, so much so that it feels faster than iPhone 6 Plus (due to the faster animations of Android Lollipop). We did not notice any lag or stuttering while performing the day-to-day tasks, though there were a few frame drops here and there while playing resource-consuming games.

Nevertheless, the gaming experience of Moto Turbo is far superior to that of Sony Xperia Z3, which has the Adreno 330 graphics processor¬†compared to the former’s Adreno 420. The graphics rendition is further enhanced by the 2K display of Moto Turbo, which breathes life into the games and even highlights areas that are sometimes masked over due to the relatively lower-resolution Full HD screens.

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One qualm we have with the Moto Turbo is the use of the soft-touch keys. With Android Lollipop, there is no actual need of these keys, as the on-screen keys would serve the purpose just as well (like they do on Moto X smartphones) while reducing the overall size noticeably.

The battery life delivered by Moto Turbo will satisfy most people. It lasts over a day and a half with ease when constantly connected to 3G and Wi-Fi networks, and can even be stretched to nearly two days. This includes three social media accounts and two email accounts syncing constantly, as well as several data consuming apps (like Pocket, Quora and 9Gag). Add to this YouTube videos for almost two hours and nearly an hour of gaming.
The fast-charging technology used in Moto Turbo ensures that you don’t need to remain connected to a plug too long. In our experience, the 3,900mAh powerhouse goes from 0 to 100% in approximately 2 hours, but it reaches 60% in about 45-50 minutes.

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Call quality offered by Moto Turbo is also pretty great, as we did not notice any call drops. The voice quality is good even on the bundled earphones, which look too much like Apple’s EarPods to ignore.
As a multimedia device, you would be a little disappointed by the audio output of this smartphone. The sound delivered by the single mono speaker located in the front does not crack at high volumes, but isn’t loud enough for a large room and cannot be used as a bedside speaker. The video playback is butter-smooth, as Moto Turbo is able to handle all video formats thrown its way.

Camera

The 21MP rear camera of Moto Turbo gives sketchy performance, with excellent outdoor shots and rather disappointing indoor shots. You can expect sufficient details from the photos taken using this smartphone, but we personally feel they are a little lacking considering the high resolution of the sensor.
Panorama shots are the Achilles’ heel of the camera, with poor stitching. However, photos taken up close turn out pretty well. The two LED flash on the back are quite bright, but you will still notice a little noise creeping in the photos taken in the dark.

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The selfie camera has a rather low resolution of 2MP and does not take particularly great self portraits.
The smartphone supports Motorola’s software feature that allows you to start the camera app by twisting your wrist twice. The app itself has the same minimalist look that we have seen on Motorola smartphones before.

Verdict

Motorola’s most expensive smartphone, Moto Turbo, offers a pretty neat package, even though the camera performance can be a downer for some. Essentially, it is the perfect smartphone for you if you want a long-lasting battery and ultra-smooth performance and don’t go into the details of the camera too much. Otherwise, you can go for the Sony Xperia Z3, which delivers similar performance but has a better camera and audio performance.

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