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Motorola DROID MAXX hands-on

Motorola DROID MAXX hands-on

Announced alongside its siblings, the Motorola DROID MAXX, as its name so very much implies, focuses a lot with battery life. Continuing to set the pace for all other things, Motorola was able to improve its battery life over its predecessor, as the DROID MAXX pushes the boundaries to the next level by giving us a smartphone capable of delivering not one, but TWO whole days of juice from a single charge. Needless to say, it’s the one hallmark feature that Motorola has been able to call its own, so let’s take a quick look at how this pre-production model does justice.


Let’s cut to the chase, the DROID MAXX shares the same exact display that’s featured in its slimmer sized sibling, the DROID Ultra. Specifically, it’s a 5-inch Super AMOLED HD display that has a resolution of 720 x 1280 pixels (720p). As we’ve remarked already in our hands-on look at the DROID Ultra, this display is rather underwhelming when you think about what its competitors are offering. At the very least, we would’ve preferred at seeing a 1080p display, but despite that, we’ll admit it’s still detailed looking and vibrant with its saturated color reproduction.


Seriously, one would almost have some difficulty trying to tell apart this handset from its predecessor. Out of the three recently announced Motorola DROIDs, it’s the DROID MAXX that actually stays the most true to the design language of its predecessor. For a smartphone that’s stuffed with a beefy 3500 mAh battery, it’s impressive to find that Moto is able to keep its profile at a uniform 8.5mm thin. Indeed, it’s thicker than the DROID Ultra, but it’s still relatively thin by today’s standards. In the rear, its 10-megapixel auto-focus camera with LED flash manages to stay flush with its rear casing.

Flaunting the same rubbery feeling Kevlar rear casing, this is the only one of the bunch that’s able to maintain a clean appearance at all times – whereas the other two sport glossy finishes, which are prone to smudges and fingerprints. Somewhat expected, the construction of the device is fantastic, as it boasts that sturdy frame to give us peace of mind that it’ll withstand a lot of punishment.


Visually speaking, there’s not a whole lot new with the experience here on the DROID MAXX, and in fact, the new trio of DROIDs share the same experience – a mostly stock Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean interface. Taking a cursory look at the homescreen, it’s obvious that some of the Motorola-specific widgets have been visually updated, but everything else seems to be the familiar UI we’re accustomed to seeing. However, there are a handful of new and notable features that are exclusive to the DROID line – these consist of the touchless controls, active notifications, and quick camera access functions. Who knows how practical they’ll be in the long run, but it’s nice to see some new additions to the experience.

In addition to that 3500 mAh battery, the DROID MAXX isn’t messing around either in the processing department, seeing that it’s boasting one heck of an impressive thing under the hood – a dual-core 1.7GHz Motorola X8 Mobile Computing System that’s complemented by its 2GB of RAM and 400MHz quad-core GPU. Not surprisingly, the handset seems super snappy from our quick look at it, but we’re guessing that the enhancements in software, combined with its 8-core processor, enables the handset to achieve that class leading rated battery life of 48 hours. In the greater scheme of things, we’re dying to know how it performs with real-world scenarios.


Out of all the major smartphone makers, it’s only Motorola who seems to solve the problem of battery life – and the DROID MAXX seemingly proves it for sure. Without a doubt, the DROID Ultra has the chic design, but if battery is most paramount to you, there’s no arguing you’ll want to stick with this, even despite the fact that it’s priced at $299.99 with a 2-year contract when it’s released soon. It might set new records and whatnot in the battery life department, but as always, it’s the all-around performers that continue to attract the most attention with consumers.

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posted on 23 Jul 2013, 18:07 6

1. scsa852k (Posts: 331; Member since: 16 Oct 2012)

I'm sorry but dual-core chip and 720P display are not worthy of 299.99 with 2 years of prison.

posted on 23 Jul 2013, 18:43

2. PapaSmurf (Posts: 10457; Member since: 14 May 2012)

The processor seems pretty snappy so that's not really an issue. The 720p screen is what kills.

posted on 23 Jul 2013, 19:53

6. roldefol (Posts: 4364; Member since: 28 Jan 2011)

I'll withhold judgment on the 720 screen if it truly is RGB stripe (or something like it) until I see it in person. It would still be on the low end of what I would accept on a phone these days, but we've not yet seen near 300 ppi without PenTile.

posted on 23 Jul 2013, 18:47 1

3. joey_sfb (Posts: 6540; Member since: 29 Mar 2012)

I will wait for their actual performance test. More cores does not mean more performance. e.g Mediatek Arm-7 quad can't beat regular Arm-9 dual core. And Arm-9 quad can't beat a regular Arm-15 dual core.

The 720p screen is a total disappointment.

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 20:15

18. PotDragon (banned) (Posts: 214; Member since: 22 Jul 2011)

Must say I agree....not worth $299. Let's not forget that vzw will add a $30 upgrade fee...plus have you pay sales tax on FULL VALUE....so like $50 more. Add in a wireless charging stand? You gonna hit $450 to own this....after waiting a month.

I used my upgrade today for a DNA at $50. Shrug.

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 16:50

20. dafoxman26 (Posts: 1; Member since: 29 Jul 2013)

The dual core processor that runs it is the "brain" of the phone which runs 6 additional processors as needed! An octo-core processor would be like a v8 engine guzzling up battery life like gas! Google invented this processor format to be more efficient and I'd expect it to be more effective than the typical quad core!

posted on 23 Jul 2013, 19:08 3

4. dynamo.one (Posts: 63; Member since: 14 Feb 2013)

I don't think the screen is a disappointment..what i think it is, it's the lack of microsd card slot...

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 11:04

17. SupermanayrB (Posts: 892; Member since: 20 Mar 2012)

You & me both. So I guess those of us with multiple 16GB & 32GB SD cards are assed out.

posted on 23 Jul 2013, 19:48 2

5. antmiu2 (Posts: 369; Member since: 19 Jun 2011)

dont care about the cores bc more cores doesnt necessarily means more performance or the 720p bc the screen looks really sharp and nice ... it the lack of a micro sd card slot & i didnt see a micro sim card slot wtf?

posted on 23 Jul 2013, 20:19

8. biophone (Posts: 1994; Member since: 15 Jun 2011)

The design kills me. I love the phone especially the battery but the htc's look so much better. If this was metal it would be perfect.

posted on 23 Jul 2013, 20:11 2

7. PermanentHiatus (Posts: 267; Member since: 22 Jun 2012)

Why bother posting pictures if you'll just put a big hideous watermark on it?

posted on 23 Jul 2013, 21:34

11. pwnarena (Posts: 1129; Member since: 15 Feb 2013)

to prevent other bloggers from stealing them. they're still adequately perceivable anyway. still, we know phonearena also gets content from other websites/blogs. they should've just made those watermarks smaller.

posted on 23 Jul 2013, 20:38

9. Luuthian (Posts: 287; Member since: 09 Sep 2011)

Yawn again?

I'm always impressed with Motorola's battery life, but their devices never seem sexy enough. They just don't have that WOW factor other Android sets garner. The HTC One is sexy, but durable, tech. This isn't.

posted on 23 Jul 2013, 20:57

10. rantao333 (Posts: 322; Member since: 21 May 2013)

this is one of the best phone out there

motorola focus on area that help users the most but not selling spec!

1.Build quality & durability

2.Battery life!

3.Snappiest android phone - this is very important!

4. Outlook! 3500mm battery in a 8.15mm body!

5.Camera - Clear Pixel 10mp!

6. Active display etc help improve user experience & flexibility

for the parts that most ppl think meh is actually not so important

1.720p screen, there is not much different than a 1080p,

2.dual core?? who need an octa core when it doesn't improve the smoothness & snappiness ?

3.SD card slot - well it depend on users.

posted on 23 Jul 2013, 22:31

12. Shinigami168 (Posts: 4; Member since: 08 May 2013)

1080p is not much different than 720p unless you have super human eyes.
It will make your phone more power hungry though.

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 00:20

13. joey18 (Posts: 595; Member since: 20 Jul 2010)

is realy ugly big but alot bazel

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 00:42 1

14. kabhijeet.16 (Posts: 813; Member since: 05 Dec 2012)

For all people who are not satisfied with dual cores, I feel that in the race of specs, companies have now realised that real life performances of these devices are very good with dual cores & do not need quad cores etc. Vanilla android works well even on single cores (example my HTC One V which has android+"heavy" HTC sense+512MB RAM. The performance is "OK". Without HTC sense, it would run just fine on single core.)So I can say that dual core is enough for any OS (iOS, Android, Windows, Windows desktop etc). Plus it is coupled with 2GB RAM+better GPU, which would help it give great real world performance.

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 01:52 2

15. AnukulVcool (unregistered)

phone of the year!

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 04:00

16. jackhammeR (Posts: 1548; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)

the look is abit dull even though it has this fancy kevlar back. Anyway, if I were to pick some andro phone, I would definitely consider this one.
Looks like Moto has come up with a different approach and it may pay off.

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 20:48

19. gtrxman (Posts: 129; Member since: 10 Sep 2011)

These phones look pretty interesting. I like the fact that Moto is trying to make the user experience better rather than just chasing after the next "hot" processor or trying to win a paper "spec" war. I think the Droid Does campaign might be a winner.

We can all acknowledge that a quad core processor is the leading edge in mobile, but it is not necessary for the phone to perform well. There are many other factors that affect the total user experience. From the looks of the videos, this phone is fast. I like the fact that Moto developed their own specifications for the chipset and defined functionality for the cores. The jury is still out, but based on what we see here, there do not seem to be any speed or lag issues. The same can't be said for the S4, for which several reviews have commented that even with a newer chip, it seemed to lag a bit.

Some people are upset about the 720p, but I really don't see that as a major issue. It's a 5" screen. It's not as if you're watching a cinematic masterpiece, more likely it's a YouTube clip. Why push around 1080p resolution when most content is 720 or less. Sure it's nice to have but all the edge of the art stuff has a trade off in battery life and performance. I think they've struck a nice balance in technical sophistication vs. usability.

posted on 31 Aug 2013, 07:42

21. jjcanny1 (Posts: 1; Member since: 31 Aug 2013)

If you're going to talk about dual core vs quad core you have to remember this isn't just a stand alone CPU. It still had the same GPU as the s4 and one. Also the dual core isn't a standard s4 pro. It was customized using the current krait 300 cores not the old 200. And this dual core 1.7Ghz+adreno 320 GPU+ 2 additional cores for sensors and voice recognition beat out the s4 and HTC one in all but one benchmark test. People need to stop relying one the number cores to try and determine what's best. This proves that efficiency is superior to raw horsepower.

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