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The Motorola Droid Turbo wins in a number of contests, but its exclusivity may hurt the phone’s potential.

Motorola released its 2014 Moto X some time ago, and Google just announced the Nexus 6 earlier this month. Just when you thought the year was over, Motorola came out with the Droid Turbo this week – a refresh to the Motorola Droid line that is known (both famously and infamously) as an exclusive Verizon smartphone lineup.

Now, we’re back to perform another spec shootout that places Motorola’s highest-end flagship against the best of Apple (iPhone 6 Plus) and Google’s Motorola Nexus 6. The questions we must ask before we get started are these: did Motorola “one up” its work on the Nexus 6, or did the company release a phone that’s uniquely its own? Can Motorola place itself in serious competition with Apple?

Stay tuned, as we’re about to find out.

Display

The Motorola Droid Turbo is powered by a 5.2-inch AMOLED display with a Quad HD resolution of 2,560 x 1,440 pixels (pixel density: 565ppi). The display itself comes with Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3 for durability.

Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus comes with a 5.5-inch liquid crystal display (LCD) and a Full HD screen resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels (401ppi). The Google/Motorola Nexus 6 boasts a 6-inch AMOLED display with a Quad HD (2,560 x 1,440 pixel) resolution and a pixel density of 493ppi.

iPhone-6-dimensions

Motorola’s Droid Turbo wins the display contest here, as its AMOLED display will produce deeper blacks and better color contrast than Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus display, and the Droid Turbo’s pixel density is the sharpest of these three smartphones. The Nexus 6 wins in terms of its 6-inch display.

Processor and Memory

The Motorola Droid Turbo is powered by a 2.7Ghz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor with 64-bit computing, 3GB of RAM, and comes in with 32GB as the device’s base memory storage. You can also select the 64GB model, but you’ll have to make do with the black ballistic nylon model if you want 64GB of internal memory storage.

The Apple iPhone 6 Plus is powered by a 1.3Ghz, dual-core processor with 64-bit architecture that arrives by way of Apple’s A8 processor chip. Additionally, Apple’s implemented an M8 motion coprocessor chip that’s responsible for all the fitness and gaming data that the coprocessor uploads to the app quickly so that you can have updated stats and information at a moment’s touch. The iPhone 6 Plus has less than 1GB of RAM (but close enough to 1GB so that the difference is negligible), and provides 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB memory storage models.

The Motorola Nexus 6 features a 2.7Ghz, quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor with 3GB of RAM and either 32GB or 64GB of internal memory storage.

Both Motorola phones dominate here in terms of their quad-core processors and starting internal memory storage (minimum 32GB) out of the box. Apple’s implementation of a motion coprocessor is a different way of adding an additional core alongside of its dual-core processor (making it, essentially, a tri-core), but Apple’s optimized its devices to run quickly (even with a slow 1.3Ghz processor for its top-tier iPhone 6 Plus).

While Apple’s A8 and M8 motion coprocessor in the iPhone 6 Plus can outpace both the Droid Turbo and Nexus 6 in single-core tasks (1626 for the 6 Plus, 1040 for the Nexus 6, and 1068 for the Droid Turbo), the iPhone 6 Plus’s A8 chip trails in multi-core performance (2,913 points for the iPhone 6 Plus vs. 3,199 points for the Nexus 6 vs. 2,929 points for the Droid Turbo). The results here show a mixed bag: that is, the iPhone 6 will top the charts in most basic tasks, but, get serious about multitasking and the iPhone 6 Plus will disappoint in some areas.

Many an iPhone evangelist has said that Apple’s optimizations put Android devices to shame, but the results are not so clear-cut. Many point to the Apple’s well-crafted device as the clear winner, but the real winner in the contest would be Apple’s Android competitors who don’t have to optimize their own processor in order to nearly match the capabilities of Apple’s iPhone. It’s easy to optimize your own processor when it’s your own.

In contrast, Apple’s Android rivals need look only to Qualcomm for their processor needs. With Qualcomm’s help, most Android OEMs need not worry about producing their own in-house processors. Of course, Samsung’s Exynos and LG’s Nuclun processors are here to stay – but Qualcomm’s done a formidable job so far. If you think this assessment is mistaken, take a look at how close the Galaxy S5 performs when placed beside the iPhone 6 Plus (despite TouchWiz).

In short, it takes a lot more work to utilize someone else’s processor in a company’s smartphone and still have the device come close to Apple’s own in-house processor. The beauty of a device’s performance shines when several companies come together to produce different parts of the device and the handset still shines in benchmarks and performance.

3GB of RAM, found in both the Nexus 6 and the Droid Turbo, will prove to be enough for most multitaskers, and the minimum 32GB of internal memory storage in both Motorola handsets will outweigh the measly 16GB of internal memory storage that Apple provides in the iPhone 6 Plus.

In 2014, anything less than 32GB of internal memory storage (at an affordable price, that is) is an atrocity.

Battery and Battery Life

The Droid Turbo has a massive 3,900mAh battery and has a turbo charger that provides 8 hours of battery life after just 15 minutes of charging. Motorola says that the Droid Turbo will provide 48 hours of battery life but provides no specific breakdown of how much Wi-Fi, LTE, video, or talk time you can expect from the Droid Turbo.

Nexus-6-Turbo-Charge

The Nexus 6, on the other hand, features a 3,220mAh battery and provides only 24 hours of battery life (which is stellar for Nexus devices, considering the lackluster battery life of Nexii gone by). As for a breakdown of the battery capabilities, you can expect 9.5 hours of Wi-Fi, 10 hours of LTE, 10 hours of video playback, and 24 hours of talk time. The Nexus 6 also comes with a Motorola Turbo Charger, so you can fuel up quickly when on the go.

The iPhone 6 Plus features a 2,915mAh battery and will provide 80 hours of audio, 14 hours of video playback, 12 hours of Wi-Fi, LTE, and 3G browsing, as well as 24 hours of 3G talk time.

As for battery life, Motorola’s Droid Turbo has the biggest battery of the pack (3,900mAh vs. 3,220mAh vs. 2,915mAh) and should provide the largest amount of battery life between these three devices. We’ve heard claims about Droid smartphones in the past that claim 48 hours but quickly drain the battery when it comes to gaming on Facebook or other intensive tasks. Thirty to forty hours seems reasonable, however.

Cameras

The Droid Turbo has a 2MP front-facing camera and a 21MP back camera and f/2.0 aperture, matching only Sony’s cameras in megapixel count in the Android world. The Droid Turbo also comes with 4x digital zoom, slow-mo video, burst mode, auto HDR, panorama, and tap to focus.

The Nexus 6 has a 2MP front camera and a 13MP back camera with optical image stabilization (OIS). The iPhone 6 Plus features a 1.2MP front camera and an 8MP iSight back camera with optical image stabilization (OIS), auto image stabilization, auto HDR, panorama, burst mode, tap to focus, photo geotagging, and timer mode.

Motorola-droid-turbo-camera

The Droid Turbo is declared the winner when we approach the camera question on paper, but the iPhone 6 Plus’s 8MP camera is a hard contender to beat. Early photos of the Droid Turbo show that the phone’s 21MP back camera is decent but isn’t the best we’ve seen in a long time. The Nexus 6 has yet to prove its camera surpasses that of last year’s Nexus 5, but time may prove otherwise.

Weight and Dimensions

The Droid Turbo has dimensions of 143.5mm x 73.3mm x 8.3-11.2. The Nexus 6 has dimensions of 159.26mm x 82.98mm x 10.06mm. The iPhone 6 Plus has dimensions of 158.1mm x 77.8mm x 7.1mm.

The iPhone 6 Plus comes out the winner as the thinnest phone on the market, but the Droid Turbo is shorter and features a smaller display – making it better to hold and more comfortable in the handling experience.

Conclusion

The Motorola Droid Turbo is, no doubt, one of the most spec-surpassing smartphones of the year, but is it enough to make it the best phone of the year when placed against the iPhone 6 Plus?
The Droid Turbo has a number of things going for it: an AMOLED display, ballistic nylon and metal back covers (depending on the color), not to mention the functionality of Android.

At the same time, however, the Motorola Droid Turbo is, a Verizon exclusive in the United States. Exclusives are never a good thing, despite the success the iPhone achieved when Steve Jobs and company launched the device on AT&T back in 2007. Most exclusives, such as the Amazon Fire Phone, prove to be a flop because carriers such as AT&T and Verizon don’t understand that customers will never abandon their current carrier to do business with another in order to purchase or experience one smartphone out of many high-end handsets on the market.

While the Droid Turbo may go international and Motorola may release it under another name, sales in the US will prove to be as paltry as they’ve always been. Even if the Motorola Droid Turbo proves to have the best display, camera, speed, look, and image, it will still undersell because of its Verizon exclusivity. Motorola may have a deal struck with Verizon that remains eternal, but doing business with Verizon in an exclusive deal may come back to hurt the company’s bottom line.

Key Specifications:

Features Motorola Droid Turbo iPhone 6 Plus Motorola Nexus 6
Processor Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 805 processor with 2.7 GHz quad-core A8 chip with 64-bit architecture, M8 motion coprocessor Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 – Quad Core 2.7 GHz
Main Memory 3 GB (LPDDR3 with 64-bit access) 1GB of RAM 3GB of RAM
Display 5.2” 1440p Quad HD 2560×1440 AMOLED, 565 ppi 5.5-inch Retina HD with IPS technology (1920 x 1980 pixels at 401 ppi) 5.96-inch 2560×1440 QHD AMOLED display at 493 ppi
Storage 32 GB (All models)
64 GB (Black Ballistic Nylon only)
16GB, 64GB and 128 GB 32 GB, 64 GB
Camera 21MP rear-facing with optical image stabilization, 2MP front-facing 8MP iSight camera with Focus Pixels, True Tone flash and OIS, and 1.2MP front-facing sensor 13MP rear-facing with optical image stabilization, 2MP front-facing
Connectivity 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth version 4.0 LE, Micro USB Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n, 3G, 4G LTE, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, NFC 802.11ac 2 x 2 (MIMO), Bluetooth 4.1, NFC
Dimensions 143.5 mm x 73.3 mm x 7.8-10.6 mm 158.1 mm x 77.8 mm x 7.1 mm 82.98 mm x 159.26 mm x 10.06 mm
Weight 169 grams, 176 grams 172 grams 184 g
Sensors Accelerometer, Ambient Light, eCompass, Gyroscope, Hall Effect, Infrared, Proximity Touch ID, Barometer, Three-axis gyro, Accelerometer, Proximity sensor, Ambient light sensor GPS, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Magnetometer, Ambient light sensor, Barometer
Battery 3900 mAh Not Disclosed 3220 mAh
OS Android 4.4.4, KitKat iOS 8 Android 5.0 Lollipop
Colors Black Ballistic Nylon, Metallic Black, Metallic Red Silver, Gold, and Space Gray Midnight Blue, Cloud White

7 COMMENTS

  1. The conclusion lost me. How does the fact that the phone may be less popular due to the exclusive factor into whether its the best choice?

    • It’s not that hard to follow. The phone can’t be the best if it’s not available for a large part of the American population. Any phone that makes itself hard to buy is not a phone that can be relevant to the majority of Americans. It’s like saying that a certain movie theater in California or restaurant is the best when citizens in Idaho, for example, can’t visit the movie theater or eat at the restaurant.

      Obviously, Motorola could care less about making its phone competitive in the US; if it cared, the company would stop making exclusive deals with Verizon and put its phone side-by-side with the iPhone 6 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 as well as the GS5. If Apple and Samsung can make their phones available on all carriers, what’s the problem with Motorola?

      • So the best wine is the one most people drink? The best car is the one most people drive? I’m sorry, most popular simply does not equal best. The “best” phone is a subjective decision, the one that best suits my needs. That may be a different phone for you. If its important to you that a lot of other people carry the same phone, fine. That’s not a requirement for me.

  2. While it lacks the style and charm of the 2014 Moto X, the Droid Turbo is a powerhouse that manages to outperform its relative in nearly every way that matters. Sadly, it’s a Verizon exclusive so the rest of you (unless you live in Brazil and Mexico and buy a Moto Maxx) need not apply.

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