The new Droid Turbo is a rugged, supercharged Android smartphone with top-tier specs and superlative battery life. Motorola's other flagship phone, the new Moto X, is sleek and affordable, but lacks the raw computing power of the Turbo.
They're both great phones with a lot in common, but the Droid Turbo and Moto X, both made by Motorola, are very different beasts. Still, both devices offer big screens, fast hardware and a slew of productivity-boosting software features. So they're both excellent business phones — but which one is right for you?
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but for my money, I prefer the sleek curves of the Moto X over the beefy, rugged look of the Droid Turbo. You can buy the Turbo in one of two distinct designs: The first features a back made of tough, metallized glass fiber, which comes in either black or red. The other variation sports a black back made of rough ballistic nylon, the same material that's used to make rugged outdoor backpacks and police belts. Whether you like the look or not, it's hard to deny that either version of the Droid Turbo is a durable device, even without a case. That's good news for business users, since a durable work phone is a reliable work phone.
The Moto X, in comparison, is slimmer, sleeker and more customizable. Motorola actually gives you the option to customize your phone in a wide variety of colors and materials when you buy it through the Moto Maker website. If you're willing to pay a little extra, you can even get the phone with premium materials such as a back made from leather or wood. But the best thing about the Moto X's design is its gently curved back, which fit almost perfectly in my palm. The sturdy metal frame around all four sides of the device also adds some premium appeal.
The bottom line is that these smartphones are designed to appeal to different kinds of consumers. The Droid Turbo's unapologetic ruggedness will appeal to no-nonsense business users, but I think most people will prefer the Moto X's more refined design.
Looks aside, there are a few design details that the two phones share, which all buyers should be aware of. Neither device offers a removable back, so you can't replace the battery if its staying power starts to fade after a year or so. And neither phone has a micro SD card slot, so you can't add additional internal storage.
At a glance, most users won't notice much of a difference between these two displays. The Droid Turbo packs a super-sharp Quad HD screen with an eye-popping resolution of 1,400 x 2,560 pixels, compared with 1,080 x 1,920 for the Moto X. Both screens measure 5.2 inches (13.2 centimeters), but the Turbo gives you greater pixel density.
But does it matter? Not really. In a side-by-side comparison, I had trouble picking out any real differences in picture quality between the two displays. Both deliver sharp, colorful images and crisp text. And both displays are big, giving you tons of room to work. The Droid Turbo actually offers slightly more virtual real estate, since it features permanent capacitive buttons below the screen. The Moto X's virtual on-screen buttons, meanwhile, actually hog some of that usable screen space.
The Droid Turbo packs about as much oomph as you could want out of a smartphone, with a blazing-fast quad-core processor and a whopping 3GB of RAM. But I was hard-pressed to notice any real performance boost over the Moto X, whose processor is less cutting edge. The bottom line is that both devices deliver fast performance that's virtually indistinguishable in everyday use. Apps open and close quickly, and multitasking is smooth and responsive on both phones. Unless you're an enthusiast who absolutely must have the latest tech, I wouldn't recommend taking specs into consideration in this matchup.
Both of these smartphones offer a clean, stock Android experience, and that's a perk for business users. For starters, it means you don't have to deal with the confusing and convoluted interface changes that other smartphone makers pack into the devices. It also means that users can expect faster and more frequent updates when Google releases a new version of Android, since Motorola doesn't have to adapt the changes to its own custom interface.
The one major interface difference between the devices has to do with the navigation buttons. As previously noted, the Droid Turbo features permanent capacitive buttons built right into the phone's lower bezel, while the Moto X has on-screen buttons. That means the Droid Turbo's buttons don't rotate when you turn the phone sideways, which makes them hard to reach. Personally, I don't mind sacrificing a bit of screen space for the Moto X's on-screen buttons, which rotate to match your phone's orientation.
Don't fret about features: The Moto X and the Droid Turbo come with an identical set of software extras. For starters, both support always-listening voice commands through a feature called Moto Voice. This lets you wake up your device and issue all sorts of voice commands without ever laying a finger on the phone. It's a great tool to help you multitask, and it comes in handy when you need to place an important phone call or access turn-by-turn directions while driving. Meanwhile, Moto Display is a feature that makes it easy to view and act on incoming alerts and notifications, right from the lock screen. Finally, Moto Assist is a handy tool that lets you silence your smartphone at a particular time each day, perhaps during your daily morning meeting at the office. Of course, you can whitelist important contacts so they can still get through when your phone is silenced.
Motorola brags that the Droid Turbo can run for up to 48 hours on a single charge, but I found that it doesn't last quite that long with normal use. The phone offers a 3,900-mAh battery, the largest on any U.S. smartphone to date. That helped the device last an impressive 9 hours and 30 minutes on our battery test, which involves continuous Web browsing via Verizon's 4G network. With moderate use, I found that that translated into about 40 percent battery life remaining at bed time.
So the Droid Turbo is a long-lasting smartphone, but HTC's One M8 and Apple's iPhone 6 Plus both lasted a bit longer on our battery test. The fact is that the Droid Turbo's powerful processor and super-sharp screen, while impressive, are big battery hogs. One related perk for Droid Turbo owners is support for Verizon's Turbo Charger, which comes packed in the box and gives you about 8 hours of extra battery life with just 15 minutes of charging.
In the same battery test, the Moto X ran for 7 hours and 30 minutes, which is roughly on par with the smartphone average. Still, I found that the Moto X easily lasted through the end of the workday and beyond with average use. You'll have to charge the phone every night, but for many users, that's probably good enough.
Pricing and availability
If you're still looking for a reason to choose the more modest Moto X over the Droid Turbo, consider this: The Turbo costs $199 with a two-year contract, and is available only through Verizon. Meanwhile, the Moto X costs just $99, and is available via Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile, making it a better pick for budget-minded business users. The Turbo may technically boast better hardware, but buyers should think long and hard before shelling out twice as much money for the device. And if you're not on Verizon, it isn't even a choice.
On paper, the Droid Turbo is one of the most impressive pieces of mobile hardware out there. But for everyday use, the 2014 Moto X easily keeps up. The Droid Turbo is a great pick for business users who don't mind shelling out for the latest, greatest hardware. And this phone's durable build and beefy battery are real perks. But for most people, the Moto X is the more complete package, at a more affordable price.