Aug 24 AT 4:40 PM Sean Riley 51 Comments

Motorola DROID MAXX first impressions


The new DROID lineup (mini, Ultra, MAXX) hit Verizon stores this week, and we’ll have reviews of all of them for you soon. But after about 24 hours with the DROID MAXX, we thought some first impressions were in order.

When taking the MAXX out of the box, it’s immediately recognizable as a member of the Motorola DROID family. The DROID branding on the back is kind of a dead giveaway. Beyond that, the carbon Kevlar fiber backing that wraps around the front and sides of the phone has been a hallmark of the DROID line for the last couple years. The camera placement, both front and rear, the flash and even the logos for Motorola and Verizon all more closely resemble previous DROID offerings than what Motorola has done with the Moto X.

The phone has a fantastic soft-touch feel, and at least in my case, fits well in the hand allowing for easy one-hand usage. The MAXX has naturally slimmed down from the RAZR MAXX HD of last year, but it is still perceptibly not the thinnest of phones. The illusion of thinness is improved upon this year with smooth curves wrapping from the back of of the device to the front as opposed to the metallic band that separated the front and back on the RARZ MAXX HD. Like its predecessors, it has slightly more heft to it than you might expect, which rightly or wrongly, gives the phone a slightly more premium feel to me.

Powering the phone on, you are first greeted by the Motorola logo (“a Google Company”) and then the rapid flashing red DROID boot up that ends with the familiar red eye. I realize most of us rarely if ever turn off our phone, but the boot time seemed fairly quick with about 22 seconds from dead stop to the phone being usable.

My initial impressions of the somewhat contentious 720p screen are that it isn’t something that most people will care about. While I wouldn’t turn away a 1080p screen, it also isn’t something that I find crucial to my usage.

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Now I won’t get too much into the software side of things, as that’ll be covered in the full review next week. And, given the great deal of shared DNA with the Moto X, you’ll be hearing about much of it in that review soon. I’ve had Google Glass for a couple months now, so I’m already fairly accustomed to a device that is basically always ready to take action on what you say. I haven’t had enough time with the DROID MAXX yet to decide how valuable I find that ability on a phone. As with Glass, if I’m in a crowded or noisy environment I’m naturally not inclined or even able to use the voice commands. I guess it depends on how often you find yourself in that sort of situation. If you have your own office or spend a lot of time in the car, it might be of tremendous value to you.

The voice recognition for the “OK Google Now” command has been spot-on in my experience, so far. I’ve had a few other people try to wake it up to no avail. This is a welcome change from Glass, which has no loyalty at all and will take commands from anyone around me.

I was thinking it goes without saying, but the battery life is fantastic. I haven’t been beating it up by any means yet, but the battery life after a little over 24 hours of mixed usage is at 44%. I’ll do some more standardized tests for the full review, but suffice it to say that if battery life is on top of your smartphone checklist, you aren’t going to beat the MAXX.

While the Moto X has been getting all the limelight now, it’s been the DROID line that kept Motorola somewhat relevant for the last few years. I have enjoyed the direction the company has taken with the hardware since the RAZR, specifically. Motorola has also continued to step back its software overlay. While the MAXX isn’t the virtually pristine Android install that the Moto X is, there isn’t a lot of oppressive bloat that I’ve experienced.

I’m really enjoying using the MAXX and have been having fun with the Motorola software additions, like the touchless controls and active display. I’ll let you know whether that impression holds up in my full review next week.

If you have any questions about the MAXX that you would like to see addressed in the review, just let me know in comments. If it’s something quick I’ll go ahead and answer it as soon as I can.

Sean has been with Android and Me for over 4 years and covering mobile for the last 5. He occasionally muses about gadgets and tech outside of the Android universe at Techgasms.

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