Verizon, Motorola to unveil fast-charging Droid in October

The latest smartphone in Verizon's Droid franchise will boast rapid charging as its marquee feature.

Roger Cheng Former Executive Editor / Head of News
Roger Cheng (he/him/his) was the executive editor in charge of CNET News, managing everything from daily breaking news to in-depth investigative packages. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade and got his start writing and laying out pages at a local paper in Southern California. He's a devoted Trojan alum and thinks sleep is the perfect -- if unattainable -- hobby for a parent.
Expertise Mobile, 5G, Big Tech, Social Media Credentials
  • SABEW Best in Business 2011 Award for Breaking News Coverage, Eddie Award in 2020 for 5G coverage, runner-up National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Award for culture analysis.
Roger Cheng
3 min read

Droid still does.

Verizon Droid
Verizon and Motorola team up for another Droid smartphone. Verizon Wireless

Verizon Wireless's premier smartphone franchise, the Droid line, will get a new sibling when the carrier unveils another Droid smartphone next month, according to people familiar with the launch plans. The exact date hasn't yet been determined.

The latest Droid will be built by Motorola Mobility, which has the exclusive rights to build phones for the franchise. Its marquee feature will be the ability to quickly charge, building on its reputation for long battery life.

Unlike the previous two generations, when Motorola would unveil three Droid devices, the company is opting for a single product, the people said. Earlier this month, Verizon teased a Droid launch in a cryptic tweet sent from its @DroidLanding account.

"Reactivation fast approaching, wait and see," it said.

In an era when most high-profile smartphones -- think Apple's iPhone 6 or Samsung's Galaxy S5 -- are distributed across multiple carriers, the Droid franchise is a throwback to a time when devices that were exclusively tied to one carrier ruled the market. The new Droid satisfies a segment of Verizon customers still loyal to the brand, while giving Motorola a secondary revenue stream beyond its core Moto line of smartphones.

Motorola declined to comment.

One name bandied about is the Droid Turbo, first mentioned by Android Authority, but Verizon hasn't yet settled on the moniker, the person said. It has also been listed under the code-name Quark.

The Droid Landing account has already teased the fast-charging capability, so the Turbo moniker would be appropriate.

"Faster charging is a big deal. That's why we made it a bigger deal," the account said last week.

Motorola Mobility catapulted into the modern smartphone age with the original Droid in October 2009. The smartphone was developed closely in partnership with Verizon and Google, and backed by a $100 million marketing campaign , where the original "Droid Does" catchphrase originated. It was seen as the first legitimate competitor to the iPhone, which AT&T had the sole rights to selling at the time.

While the Droid franchise persists, the debut of the new Droid comes as a crop of super smartphones battle for the spotlight. Last week, Apple unveiled the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, and the previous week Samsung unveiled its jumbo Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy Note Edge phones. Other companies such as HTC and LG have opted to widen their distribution to multiple carriers.

The new Motorola Mobility has served as a unit of Google over the last two years but is awaiting a takeover from Chinese electronics manufacturer Lenovo. The Google-influenced company had focused on an unaltered version of the Android operating system, quick software updates to the latest version of Android and long battery life as central tenets for the Droid devices. Over the last two years, the company had a pattern of releasing three models at once: a smaller, more affordable version, a midrange version and a premium device with extended battery life.

The Droid Maxx, with its superior battery life, was the standout product among the Droid line of smartphones from last year. Sarah Tew/CNET

Last year, the line consisted of the Droid Ultra, the Droid Mini and the Droid Maxx.

Other manufacturers such as HTC have built Droid smartphones for Verizon, but last year CNET reported that Motorola had snatched up the exclusive rights to build Droids for the franchise. The franchise is controlled by Verizon, which licensed the Droid name from Lucasfilm, of Star Wars fame.

The Droid line of smartphones that debuted in July 2013 came shortly before the Moto X, which is considered the first true Motorola Mobility smartphone built under the Google influence. The company followed that up with the affordable Moto G and a low-end Moto E. Motorola Mobility earlier this month debuted the second-generation Moto X and Moto G at an event in Chicago.

With the new Droid smartphone, Motorola keeps a valuable customer -- Verizon is the largest US wireless carrier by subscribers -- happy and shows it isn't ignoring its roots.