Verizon Droid Maxx hands on: Moto X's software features, but better hardware

Verizon Droid Maxx hands on: Moto X's software features, but better hardware

Summary: Verizon's Droid Maxx brings all the great Moto X software functions to a more compelling piece of hardware with amazing battery life.

SHARE:
Droid Maxx hands on: Moto X software features, better hardware

I received a Verizon Droid Maxx to test out yesterday and after just a few hours of use I think this Droid may have me reactivating my Verizon account soon. It has all of the cool software features of the Moto X, but it's a better piece of hardware.

Moto X features in the Droid Maxx

A lot has been written of the slick software features in the Moto X so I was pleased to see them also appearing in the Droid Maxx. You will find the following in the Maxx:

  • Active Notifications: Notifications for most apps can be selected to appear on the display when it is off. You can then swipe up to jump right to the application. Sleep mode is also managed in the Active Notifications settings.
  • Motorola Connect: You can use your Google account to connect to your phone from a computer. This is a great way to stay connected via text messaging while your phone is put away.
  • Touchless Control: The "OK Google Now" functionality from the Moto X is fully supported on the Droid Maxx.
  • Launch camera with a twist: The ability to launch the camera by twisting the phone with your wrist twice is provided on the Droid Maxx.
  • Motorola Assist: The Assist utility lets you manage what actions take place while driving, in meetings, and while sleeping at night. It is a smart utility that I will be using daily.

You will also find an additional feature called Droid Zap that lets you easily share photos and videos wirelessly to anyone in the area with the Droid Zap application loaded on their Android phone. The recipient, or sender for that matter, do not have to be using a Droid.

Why is the Droid Maxx hardware better than the Moto X?

I am getting used to the Moto X hardware a bit more, but still find the device to have a mid-range feel and some fit-and-finish issues (sloppy buttons and raised SIM door). The Droid Maxx definitely has a more premium feel with solid fit and finish. The glass display extends all the way to the edges and curves down into the sides; the Kevlar soft touch back feels great in your hand; the buttons are solid with ridges to help you manipulate them; and the SIM card is ingeniously hidden under the volume rocker switch.

In terms of hardware specifications, the Droid Maxx beats the Moto X in the following ways:

  • Wireless charging: Nokia has spoiled me with wireless charging and I now have Qi devices in my home office, bedroom, and work office so the convenience of just setting my phone down to charge is a bonus.
  • Battery: The Droid Maxx has a 3,500 mAh battery, the Moto X battery is 2,200 mAh.

The two Motorola smartphones have the same custom Motorola X8 processor, same display resolution, 2GB of RAM, 10 megapixel camera, and same version of the operating system. The Droid Maxx weighs in at a hefty 5.86 ounces while the Moto X is just 4.59 ounces. I have large hands and, if the battery is as great as advertised, the additional weight is worth it to me.

The Droid Maxx is assembled in China, whereas the Moto X -- assembled in the US -- offers AT&T customers the ability to customize the casing colors. The Droid Maxx looks to be an amazing business phone while the Moto X may be more fashionable and pocketable for the masses.

As I wrote last month when the Droids were announced, I never really considered picking up a Droid device. After just a day, though, I am already thinking the Droid Maxx may become my prime Android device.

I performed the initial full charge and am now seeing how long I can go between charges. With a reported 48 hour usable battery life, if this thing can go a day or two with my extreme 4:15 am to 11:00 pm time period then I may not be able to resist. No other phone can really go for this long without some kind of charge or limit in what I use it for.

As I work on my full review of the Droid Maxx, please let me know if there is anything specific you want me to check out.

Topics: Mobility, Android, Reviews, Smartphones, Verizon

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

36 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Droid Maxx

    Mat, how much storage and how much VZW cruft is on the Maxx that can't be uninstalled?
    rreifsnider@...
    • Tons of bloatware, but still worth it

      There are at least 10 apps on top of stock android that cannot be uninstalled. 2 from Amazon, 1 from Audible and about 7 from Verizon.

      You can go in the apps settings and disable most of them. I think that it is a great phone even with the extra crap! Don't regret buying it.
      nadocrew
  • 32GB storage with no microSD on the Maxx

    There is not much in terms of Verizon stuff (Navigator, Security, Tones) and like the Moto X it is a pretty pure Google experience on the device. I'm pleased with it so far, but have to spend a lot more time with it too.
    palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
    • re: SD card

      The mSD slot is in the sim compartment. Which allows for up to an additional 16gb I believe of space.
      jammerg55
  • Motorola Skip

    Hi Matt, any input on the ability to utilize Motorola Skip with the Maxx (Granted, it isn't free like it is with the Moto X)? Thanks,
    stevewingjr
  • Always Listening?

    So far I've been leaning toward the Moto x over the HTC One because of Moto X's always listening feature (important to me) .. even though the HTC One appears to be a better smartphone in most other respects.

    Does the Droid Maxx have the Always listening feature?


    The Moto X phone call quality gets a grade of good but not great (often reviewers forget that these are smartPHONES)

    How would you rate the phone call quality on the Droid Maxx?
    KennyJr
    • Great all around!

      I have the Maxx. It has the always listening feature and has great call quality.
      Amazing phone with 2 downsides, but small

      Verizon Bloatware
      Little too wide in the hand ( Feels a little uncomfortable, but the build quality is really good)

      Pros:
      Really Good Build Quality
      Amazing Screen (I had the Galaxy Nexus before and it's night and day better)
      No Lag (Never interacted with a UI so smooth)
      Active Notification (So Useful)
      Always listening Google Now
      .. tons more
      nadocrew
  • Droid Maxx camera

    How about the quality of the MAXX camera and what is the deal with miracast?
    wrightdw
    • I would love to know how the camera compares with HTC One?

      I have had the HTC One Developer Edition since it was released and now have to move to Verizon. This leaves me choosing between the HTC One verizon version and the Droid Maxx. Aside from how the HTC One burns through its battery by noon on only moderate use, another weakness is its camera. I have taken over 800 pictures with it, and the HTC One X+ I had before did a much better job in terms of picture clarity and trueness of the colors. So, for me, the battery life sounds like it should make the Droid Maxx a better choice but the real clincher for me in my decision making would be if the camera was better on the Droid Maxx. I've read reviews that the camera app is mediocre but nothing commenting on the image quality. So, how does the picture quality compare on the Droid Maxx to the HTC One?
      robschertzer
    • Camera is OK

      The camera has a decent sensor, but will not blow you away. I would rate it on par with the Galaxy S4, but the camera is really dumbed down. You just click the screen (can't even focus, but you can change in the settings). I tested the HTC One camera in the store and the HTC one appears to have a better camera.

      My last phone was the galaxy Nexus and I can say that this phone takes much better pictures than the Galaxy Nexus, but it's still no where near a dedicated compact camera.
      nadocrew
  • Any WiFi Issues

    Previous RAZR models (M, MAXX, MAXX HD) would sometimes drop the WiFi for no apparent reason. This is a drag when watching/listening livestream video/audio. It would cut off momentarily before picking it up by the cell radio. Then it would automatically pick up the WiFi signal again.

    I've notice this happening to some people, but not all.

    Is this true also happening on the MotoX or DroidMaxx?
    rtrujillo@...
    • No issues so far

      I have been using the Maxx for about 2 days now. I have not seen any wifi issues. I have used wifi for about 2-3 hours of streaming youtube.
      nadocrew
  • WiFi 2.4 and 5 GHZ ?

    Can anyone confirm 2.4 and 5 GHZ support on the new Droid MAXX? Verizon website specs show a/b/g/n and 2.4/5 GHZ hotspot. Motorola website specs show b/g/n only?

    Hope it has both, my original maxx has just 2.4 b/g/n. Would like to have both bands for wifi connection options and for tech apps like wifi analyzer to test 2.4 and 5 ghz coverage of AP's.
    Bruce0
    • Both 2.4 and 5ghz

      I can confirm that it supports both bands.
      nadocrew
      • Both 2.4 and 5ghz

        THANKS for the response/info - picked one up Monday and its working great in both 2.4 and 5 ghz wifi ranges.

        Huge improvement over original razr maxx I've been using. Very fast jumping thru screens and the screen is crisp / much brighter versus original maxx. Easy to read / navigate for us older folks with bi-focals.

        No negatives for me yet. Great job on design Motorola/Google.
        Bruce0
  • Foxfi?

    Matt, does Foxfi work for tethering on your Droid Maxx?
    SvZurich
    • Nope. :(

      Just bought one, and I can confirm that FoxFi does not (yet?) work on the Droid Maxx.
      SvZurich
  • ppi

    The Moto X has higher pixel density (4.7" @ 316 ppi) than the Droid Maxx (5.0" @ 294ppi). You've looked at both. Do you see a difference in display quality between the two?
    KennyJr
  • Backwards Choice -

    Picking a service for a phone. One should choose the service for its coverage, reliability, value, and customer service and then pick the phone with features to suit the user's needs.
    cardhun@...
  • Serious Bloatware

    I just played with the Maxx at a Verizon store in NYC and counted a total 92 loaded apps. I didn't keep count of the # of bloat items, but seemed like a lot of bloatware. How many total apps came pre-loaded on your phone?
    REITdude