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Droid Maxx boasts 48-hour battery, beefed-up power (hands-on)

At the pinnacle of Verizon's Droid devices stands the new Droid Maxx flagship, offering a two-day battery, fresh electronics, and hands-free search.

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Brian Bennett Lynn La
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Brian Bennett

Senior writer

Brian Bennett is a senior writer for the home and outdoor section at CNET. He reviews a wide range of household and smart-home products. These include everything from cordless and robot vacuum cleaners to fire pits, grills and coffee makers. An NYC native, Brian now resides in bucolic Louisville, Kentucky where he rides longboards downhill in his free time.

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Lynn La

Senior Editor / Reviews - Phones

Lynn La covers mobile reviews and news. She previously wrote for The Sacramento Bee, Macworld and The Global Post.

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3 min read

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Verizon took the wraps off its new line of Motorola Droid phones during a press conference today in New York. Among the new devices is the Droid Maxx flagship, the Droid Ultra, and the Droid Mini. Preorders begin today, and devices will ship out August 20.

The Droid Maxx, however, certainly was the star of the show. On the surface the device looks like your typical high-end handset, sporting a unibody design and 5-inch AMOLED Gorilla Glass screen with a 720x1,280-pixel resolution.

Inside its 8.5mm-thick construction, though, is the Maxx's ace in the hole: a gargantuan 3,500mAh battery that boasts 48 hours of continuous battery life. (As a comparison, its Razr Maxx HD predecessor lasts 32 hours and is 9 percent thicker.)

The Droid Maxx's CPU is also reportedly 24 percent faster. Inside is a proprietary eight-core X8 mobile computing system, which includes a quad-core graphics processor, a dual-app processor, one contextual computing processor, and a natural language processor.

Droid Ultra, Maxx, and Mini.
From left to right: Verizon's Motorola Droid Ultra, Maxx, and Mini. Brian Bennett/CNET

Meanwhile, the $199.99 Droid Ultra has a 7.18-millimeter profile, making it the thinnest Droid ever. While it definitely feels thinner and lighter than the Maxx, it doesn't look much slimmer to the eye.

The Ultra has a 5-inch AMOLED 720p display as well, comes in both black and red, and features a 2,130mAh battery that has a reported usage time of up to 28 hours.

The Ultra's back features a glossy coating that feels slippery to the touch. Frankly, we prefer the backing seen on the Maxx. Its soft-touch matte coating doesn't attract grease or fingerprints like the Ultra's, and it feels easier to grip.

The Droid Ultra flaunting its thin profile Brian Bennett/CNET

Finally, finishing off the new line is the 4.3-inch Droid Mini, which will sell for $99.99 with a carrier agreement. It has a TFT 720p screen and a 2,000mAh battery that also has a reported usage time of 28 hours.

Unlike the other two, the Mini doesn't have an AMOLED screen. As such, the display was less impressive; colors weren't as vivid, and images didn't appear to have as high of a color contrast.

In addition, compared with the Droid Razr M (which was Verizon's lower-tiered Droid model of last season), the Mini's screen doesn't seem to have that chic edge-to-edge feature the M's flaunted. We were told, though, that the display comes within a millimeter of the phone's width.

As for memory, the Maxx will feature 32GB of internal storage, but both the Ultra and Mini will only have 16GB of storage.

All Droids, however, will be equipped with a 1.7GHz dual-core processor with the same X8 system, Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, 2GB of RAM, a 10-megapixel rear-facing camera with 1080p HD recording, and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera.

The devices also have a few touchless controls. This enables users to make phone calls and search for directions without touching the screen -- a useful function when driving. Even more interesting, and no doubt borne out of Motorola's recent assimilation into Google's corporate empire, the new Droids will constantly listen for your voice commands. Essentially you'll be able to speak to your handset, saying something along the lines of, "OK, Google," and the gadget will immediately perk up and await your instructions.

Furthermore, these enhanced Droids offer other nifty tricks such as a Quick Capture camera launch feature, wireless charging, and Droid Zap. Zap allows you to send images within 300 feet of you, and you can swipe with your fingers to share media files.

Additional software functions include an Active Display that will light up certain parts of your screen for important notifications, and a Droid Command Center (a revamped version of Motorola's handy Circles widget) where you can launch Miracast TV for wireless media streaming to compatible HDTVs and other devices.

Itching to get your hands on the Droid Maxx? You can preorder it now; Verizon says it will ship the handset on August 20 for $299.99 under a two-year contract.

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