Moto X (2014) vs. Droid Turbo: Up close

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Gizmag goes hands-on to compare the 2014 Moto X (left) and Droid Turbo (Photo: Eric Mack/Gizmag.com)

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The Moto X (2014) was one of the best phones Motorola ever made ... well, at least until it released the Droid Turbo just a few weeks later. So which one makes the most sense? Read on, as Gizmag goes hands-on to compare the 2nd-gen Moto X and Droid Turbo.

Design

The Moto X is one of the more unique and well-designed smartphones to date. Its curved back and trademark rear dimple feel great in hand, and the phone can be customized in numerous different ways through the Moto Maker website, including novel options like leather or wood backs.

The Droid Turbo sacrifices many of the finer points of the Moto X build in the name of meatier specs, particularly its bigger battery. Its backside has a little less of a curve to it, black and red are the only color choices, and that nifty little dimple on the back has also been filled in.

The Turbo is also heavier and a bit taller – thanks to its capacitive buttons and an extended bottom bezel not seen on the Moto X. And though its default back is made of plastic, it does have a metal frame on the edge that doubles as an antenna.

Both are well-designed phones, but the Droid Turbo has a more substantial feel to it and lacks those subtle details that make the Moto X a special phone to hold.

Specs/performance

Though the original Moto X was a little underpowered, the 2014 version was upgraded enough to be competitive with the year's other top-flight phones. But the Droid Turbo still has the more powerful hardware. Packing 3 GB of RAM, a 32-bit Snapdragon 805 processor with a 2.7 GHz quad-core CPU and Adreno 420 600 MHz GPU, the Droid Turbo not only out-powers the Moto X, it gives bigger phablets like the Nexus 6 some competition.

The 801 processor and most of the rest of the hardware in the Moto X is at least half a generation behind. To be fair to the Moto X, though, we didn't have any issues with performance in either handset. It will be interesting to see if there are any noticeable changes in performance when both of these phones get upgraded to Android 5.0 Lollipop, which is reportedly already starting to roll out to these models.

Sooner or later, as Android and apps become more demanding for resources in the coming months, we wouldn't be surprised to see a subtle performance gap between these phones that will benefit the Droid Turbo. Performance isn't an issue on either handset now, but consider the Turbo the more future-proofed choice.

The display on the Moto X also falls a step behind the Droid Turbo. The former has a nice AMOLED 1080p screen jamming in 423 pixels per inch (PPI), but again Verizon sought to go after the spec-conscious consumer with a screaming Quad HD display that comes out to 565 PPI. The perceptible difference between the two isn't huge, but it is there, and the Droid Turbo delivers just an extra bit of crispness and clarity.

The same goes for the rear cameras on these two phones. The shooter on the Droid Turbo is a 21-megapixel monster, while the Moto X takes 13-megapixel shots. Again, there is a visible difference between images captured with the two phones, but it's not as major as the Moto X's 8-megapixel deficit might suggest (and after all, megapixels are an often overrated part of the equation).

Color accuracy, clarity and white balance seemed to be better on photos from the Droid Turbo, but not by wide enough a margin that it should be a deciding factor when choosing between these two phones.

Battery

This is the most noticeable and important differentiator between these two devices. But before getting too far into this, let's get one important point out of the way: marketing for the Droid Turbo says it can get up to 48 hours on a single charge. This may technically be true for light users, but we never came anywhere close to this mark, even during stretches when we were doing our best impression of a light user.

That said, we did comfortably and consistently get 24 hours out of a charge without having to worry at all about video or GPS navigation killing battery life. The Droid Turbo packs a huge 3,900 mAh battery, compared to 2,300 mAh in the Moto X. It's a huge difference, as there's no guarantee power users will get through a full, busy day with a Moto X.

Small differences

The software on these two phones is practically identical (you can get the full lowdown on Motorola's nifty software features in our Moto X review), though the Turbo does add some Verizon bloatware, along with Droid Zap – a useful Wi-Fi and GPS-powered file transfer app.

The larger, single front speaker on the Moto X delivers slightly better audio than the single front speaker on the Droid Turbo does. Neither phone has a removable battery or microSD card slot, but the Droid starts with 32 GB storage while the Moto X starts at 16 GB.

In our Droid Turbo review, we reported that Verizon had not yet turned on the ability to access 4G data while on a voice call. A recent update, however, fixed that and enabled simultaneous voice and data access, so no problems there.

The Droid Turbo's Verizon exclusivity is a big difference between these two, but it does also spawn one less obvious strike against it: it may take a little longer to get system updates, as America's largest carrier often likes to take its time with such things.

Decision time

When it's time to make a decision, the first question to ask is how much you love or loathe Verizon. If you're not planning on dealing with them, or don't live in the US, then your answer is clear: grab a Moto X. But if you're a fan of (or even willing to tolerate) Big Red, then the Droid Turbo is likely the better choice – especially in the long run, when those deluxe specs could potentially make a more pronounced difference.

The Moto X is a nice phone, and we like its style and how it feels in hand. If you put a lot of stock in the look and feel of a phone – or you simply want to keep the price down – then the Moto X will be the better choice. But if you're looking for maximum horsepower, then the Droid Turbo lives up to its name.

Both phones are available now. The Moto X runs US$500 full retail or $100 on-contract, while the Droid Turbo adds a Benjamin to that, ringing up for $600 off-contract or $200 on. The Turbo is, again, a Verizon (US) exclusive (though there's talk of an upcoming version for certain Latin American and other markets).

For deeper dives on each phone, you can check out Gizmag's full reviews of the 2nd-gen Moto X and Droid Turbo.

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