When it came time to pick up my review unit, I was left with a terrible choice: I could go for the more traditional black/red Kevlar-weave models, or the comparatively exotic ballistic nylon. You can guess which path I took.
Back in the day (by which I mean three years ago), Motorola used to have a notable flat-and-thin fixation. If you needed any proof that those days are over, just a take peek at the Turbo's considerable heft and generous curves. This isn't one of those anorexic phones that some companies keep churning out, and that's a welcome change; after all, the Turbo's more ample dimensions are put to good use here. For one, they make the handset feel reassuring to hold, with that prominent curve helping the Turbo nestle into your palm. And the second, arguably more important reason? To accommodate those precious innards, which include a speedy quad-core 2.7GHz Snapdragon 805 chip, 3GB of RAM and that tremendous 3,900mAh battery (Motorola says it'll net you around 48 hours of continuous use on a charge, but we'll revisit that claim later on). Anyway, yes, the Droid Turbo feels great, except for maybe the gummy-feeling volume rocker/SIM tray combo.
Too bad it doesn't look nearly as good. Between that wide swath of ballistic nylon and the teensy raised Droid logo on the phone's bum, the Turbo looks like miniature luggage from behind -- a Stuart Little-sized suitcase, if you will. The front is somehow even less visually interesting, though that changes when the 5.2-inch Quad HD screen comes alive. Other than that, though, there isn't much to look at: just a wide speaker grille sitting above the 2-megapixel front-facing camera, and the capacitive touch buttons baked into the bezel beneath the screen. Android purists might wail in favor of on-screen buttons, but they're plenty responsive and light up evenly when the going gets dim. The only other bit of flair is a slim band of shiny plastic that runs around the screen, though it has a nasty tendency to chip without much provocation. I'll be the first to admit my bag has plenty in common with a junkyard, but even storing it a few times in one of the emptier pockets was enough to mar the finish. Sure, this might not sound like a huge deal, but it's mighty obnoxious when the rest of the phone feels like it's meant to take a licking.
Display and sound
The Moto X and the Droid Turbo both sport 5.2-inch AMOLED screens, but that's where the similarities end (much to the chagrin of X owners, I'd wager). That's because the panel Motorola used on the Turbo runs at Quad HD (or 2,560 x 1,440, if you haven't already committed it to memory), making it one of the most pixel-dense displays you'll find on a smartphone. The effect, as you'd imagine, is pretty stunning. Your stories, your videos, your apps; they're going to look just lovely. That said, a screen like this will make you all too aware that the internet is peppered with low-res images and icons, so be ready to shield your eyes whenever you come across them. Skype is a good example of this visual discrepancy in action: Your messages will look crisp, while emoticons will be tiny since they're so low-res.
At some point, though, you've got to wonder when (or even if) enough will be enough. Do all those extra pixels crammed into each linear inch really make a difference? We're getting to the point where the inability to distinguish one pixel from another is just a given, so all the other factors suddenly become more important. The Turbo's Super AMOLED panel, for instance, can oscillate between bright, punchy colors and sumptuous blacks. The downside is that images and video take on a slightly warm cast (Sutton Foster look distinctly tanned in one of my test videos), which won't be everyone's cup of tea. Viewing angles are solid too, if not the best I've come across, and even at maximum brightness, the Turbo's screen still doesn't light up the night with quite the same vigor as the Moto X.
Ah, but here's the rub! That screen might lend itself well to your video collection, but the single-speaker setup isn't going to thrill you. Frankly, this part's a little frustrating -- even the budget-priced Moto G has a pair of front-facing speakers, while the clearly higher-end Turbo has to make do with one less driver. The end result is audio that's plenty loud, but cramped and muddy, without much distinction between channels. That's not to say the speaker's bad, per se; it's on par with most of the speakers in other smartphones, which is to say they get the job done and don't aspire to much more. Keep a pair of headphones handy and you'll never have to worry about it.
If you've handled a Motorola phone in the past year, you've probably noticed that the company doesn't like futzing around with pure Android when it doesn't have to. Thankfully, that philosophy hasn't changed, so we're treated to almost the same, nearly stock version of Android 4.4.4 that graced the Moto X... except without the lovely Google Now Launcher preloaded. That also means Motorola's thoughtful add-ons like Moto Display and Moto Actions have made the leap to the Turbo, too, so waving your hand over a darkened screen will still give you a sense of who or what is trying to get your attention at any given moment. Always-on voice commands? Those are here too; I trained my Turbo to respond to, "Hey Turbo, you there?" and the system seems just as sensitive and responsive as ever. If you read my Moto X review, you'll know that in addition to helping the Turbo feel almost like an assistant waiting to do my bidding, Moto Voice is also a lifesaver when you occasionally forget where you put the thing. It was even eager enough for my voice that it responded from underneath a pile of gym clothes in my hamper, saving from it from a few rounds in the spin cycle.
So what's actually different here? Uh, not much. The biggest addition to the mix is Motorola's Droid Zap feature (though iOS and Android users can download it from their respective app stores) -- the sorta-neat tool lets you fling photos and videos to people nearby or onto a Chromecast if you've got one hooked up. Droid owners can set up distinct regions called Zap Zones to speed up the sharing even more; once activated, you're basically broadcasting every photo you take to a pre-selected group of people. It's a neat enough tool (not to mention an easy one to use), but I just haven't been able to stick with it. After all, you've got to coax your buddies to download yet another iOS or Android app to really use the feature, and it's not like there's a shortage of ways to share photos anyway. Finally, of course, all of Verizon's trademark red bloatware is present and accounted for. You can expect to see 16 apps (some useful, some trash) taking up space in your app launcher, but you can at least disable them from the settings menu if you're itching to tidy up.
The Moto X's lackluster 13-megapixel camera might've been one of its biggest failings, and it's clear that Motorola wasn't about to let that happen again. That would explain why the Turbo instead packs a 21-megapixel rear shooter with a wide f/2.0 lens, a combination that's just utterly, staggeringly better than what its poor cousin has to offer. The full-resolution photos I snapped looked crisp and vivid, though not to the point where I'd worry the shots were technically inaccurate somehow. That said, low-light performance wasn't much to write home about -- smartphone cameras have historically been pretty lame when the lights start to dim and it wasn't long at all before I started noticing grain creeping into my shots. At least Motorola's HDR mode is surprisingly solid when it comes to eking a little extra depth and verve out of those dim photos. All told, though, the Droid Turbo produced livelier and more detailed shots than the Moto X, and occasionally captured a few shots I preferred over those I took with an iPhone 6 Plus.