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Verizon Motorola Droid Maxx Review: Battery life to please the road warrior

The Moto X is rolling out to all major US carriers and with the Motorola Droid Maxx you get all the software goodies with a battery life that lets you work on the road for a couple days between charges.
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By Matthew Miller, Contributor on
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1 of 32 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Droid Maxx in hand

Last week I wrote my first impressions of the Motorola Droid Maxx and after using it for the past week I am ready to give it my rating. My Moto X review went live yesterday and soon Verizon customers will be able to choose between it and the Droid Maxx. While the Moto X will likely appeal to the masses due to it small size and features, the Droid Maxx is a great option for those who need to go even longer without charging up their phone.

Hardware

The Droid Maxx is a dense device with a weight of 5.86 ounces, but it still fits comfortably in my rather large hand and has a reasonable 0.34 inch thickness. The Kevlar back is attractive and has a matte finish to help you hold onto the device. I love the way the screen goes out to all the edges and curves down into the sides. However, unlike the Moto X, the viewable display does not extend right to the edges so there is more side bezel on the Maxx.

One reason for the hefty weight of the Droid Maxx is the focus on the whopping 3,500 mAh battery. I did not conduct any scientific battery tests, but instead used it as I would any other primary device. My HTC One and iPhone 5 must be charged during the day to go my full long day (4:10 am to 10 pm) so it was quite a relief to see the Droid Maxx go nearly two of these days without worry. Motorola advertises the Droid Maxx with a 48 hour battery life and that may be true for most folks, but I am a heavy smartphone user and am on my phone quite a bit each day. It was so refreshing I am considering keeping my Verizon account and picking up the Droid Maxx.

The Droid Maxx has dedicated capacitive buttons below the display with a small Kevlar chin below these buttons. The right side is blank, the top has the 3.5mm headset jack, and the bottom has the microUSB port. The right side is where you will find the power button and volume controller. Interestinly, the volume controller slides out to reveal the nanoSIM card slot, which is the first time I have ever seen the volume controls used for an access port.

The camera is centered on the upper back with a black metal grill around it. The flash is found to the left of the camera lens and the speaker to the right. Like the Moto X, the mono speaker on the Droid Maxx is very loud and competes well with the HTC One dual front stereo speakers. There is no dimpled Motorola logo on the back like the Moto X, but a textured symbol is found at the center.

The Droid Maxx has the same 720p resolution as the Moto X, but in a slightly larger variant. The Super AMOLED display looks great, but is not as clear as my HTC One and is not as viewable in full sunlight as my One's LCD.

Software

The cool software features from the Moto X, including active notifications, touchless controls, Motorola Assist, Migrate, and double twist to launch the camera are all included on the Droid Maxx. These are welcome additions and offer some innovation compared to other Android, iOS, and Windows Phone devices.

Also like the Moto X, you will find a nearly pure Google experience on the Droid Maxx. There is no overbearing custom UI or anything taking away from the Android experience.

You will find many things pre-installed by Verizon and Motorola, which may turn people off a bit. These apps and services include Amazon Kindle, Amazon App Store, Ingress, iMDb, Quickoffice, Verizon Tones, VZ Navigator, VZ Security, Caller Name ID, and Mobile Hotspot. Most are helpful apps and utilities, but some Android purists won't like seeing apps that take away a bit from the Google experience.

I personally don't care for the industrial Droid branding, wallpaper, and sounds, but I do like the funky clock, weather, and battery widget loaded by default. One tap of the plus expands the three bubbles and it was quick and easy to flip through cities to view weather around the world. I also liked how easy it was to set alarms and access clock functions with this widget.

I am not a fan of the non-removable Google search bar and wish Motorola would give us the option to remove it. With the excellent integrated voice control, there is really no need for this and it takes up valuable screen real estate on the home screen.

Pros and Cons

To summarize my experiences and the specifications of the Motorola Droid Maxx, here are my pros and cons.

Pros

  • Refreshingly long battery life
  • Attractive Super AMOLED 720p screen
  • Solid design and form factor
  • Innovative software/hardware functionality
  • Responsive performance
  • Standard Qi wireless charging

Cons

  • High price
  • Bit too much Droid branding
  • May be heavy for many folks
  • Lack of Android 4.3 OS

Pricing and availability

The Motorola Droid Maxx retails for $299.99 with a 2-year contract or $650 month-to-month. This equates to $27.15/month with the Edge program. This is one of the highest prices around for a smartphone and while I think it is a solid phone, I am not convinced it is worth that high price.

The competition

The Nokia Lumia 1020 is another smartphone priced at $299.99, but that phone has an amazing 41 megapixel camera that can't be beat. The 64GB iPhone 5 is also priced at $299.99 and I would argue that the Droid Maxx offers more than the iPhone 5.

You can also find the comparable HTC One, Galaxy S4, and Moto X from major US carriers at a $199.99 price. I understand the Droid Maxx has a monster of a battery, but the other specs and features are in line with the $199.99 phone models.

Specifications

The Droid Maxx has nearly all the same specs as the new Moto X. Two differences include the Qi wireless charging capability and larger 5 inch display.

  • Customized dual-core 1.7 GHz processor, with quad-core GPU
  • Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean OS
  • 2GB RAM
  • 32GB internal storage
  • 5 inch 1280x720 pixels resolution Super AMOLED screen
  • 10 megapixel camera and 2 megapixel front facing camera
  • 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 + LE
  • 3,500 mAh battery
  • Qi wireless charging support
  • Dimensions of 5.41 x 2.8 x 0.34 inches and 5.86 ounces

Conclusion

I thoroughly enjoyed going a couple of days without worrying about battery life on the Droid Maxx and am still thinking of picking one up. The software and hardware features found on the Moto X (voice control, active notifications, twist to launch camera) were great to also see on the Droid Maxx. In addition, the Qi wireless charging removed one of the cons I had with the Moto X.

If I did not already have an Android phone I was very happy with, the HTC One, then I would likely pick up the Droid Maxx since it does provide all the great things of the Moto X with wireless charging and battery life that will please every road warrior. If you are a Verizon customer looking for an Android phone to take out and about then you should consider the Droid Maxx. Unfortunately, it is only available on Verizon.

Contributor's rating: 8.5 out of 10

Further reading

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Droid Maxx widget

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Amazon services widget

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Motorola Assist

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Assist setup

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Assist driving options

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Specify what you want to happen when you drive

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Assist meeting setup

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Setting up meeting responses

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More Assist settings

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Assist sleep time setup

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You control evening calls

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More settings for Assist

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Migrate from another Android phone

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Get the Migrate utility

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Quickoffice is loaded on the Maxx

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Typical Maxx settings

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Manage your active notifications settings

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Touchless control settings

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Droid Zap settings

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Share media easily with Droid Zap

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Zap is a handy sharing tool

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Battery life that just goes and goes

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Motorola Connect services

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About screen

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VZ Navigator

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Verizon Mobile Security

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My Verizon status

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Photo in Seattle

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Another photo of Seattle skyline

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Sounder rail photo

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