motorola droid maxx review 1 640x424Motorola is certainly no stranger from turning their popular smartphones into “MAXX” devices as their previously popular Motorola Droid Razr received such a treatment shortly after its release. If you’re unfamiliar with what exactly a MAXX device is, it’s Motorola’s way of stuffing as much battery power into one of its devices without it actually exploding into a billion pieces. Think of it as the Extra Strength version of your favorite pain medication. They give you just enough medicine where it doesn’t completely kill you.

All joking aside, Motorola has released yet another set of Droid devices this year, and as you’d expect, they’ve created one whose emphasis is long-term battery life. The Motorola Droid MAXX shares the same internal specs as the Motorola Droid Ultra, which features a 5-inch Super AMOLED 1280 x 720 display, a 1.7GHz dual-core processor, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, a 10MP main camera, and a 2MP front-facing camera. The only difference between the Droid Ultra and the Droid MAXX is the fact it has a 3,500 mAh battery attached to it, making it slightly thicker than the Ultra.

With that said, the Droid MAXX will most likely completely dominate our battery tests with a battery that large, but how will it fare in the rest of our categories? There’s only one way to find out and that’s by throwing the Droid MAXX into our reviews juggernaut of holiday cheer!

Motorola Droid MAXX Specs

Display: 1280 x 720
Display Size: 5 inches
Display Type: Super AMOLED
Processor: 1.7GHz dual-core Motorola X8
RAM: 2GB
Storage: 32GB
MicroSD: No
Battery Capacity: 3500mAh
Rear-Facing Camera: 10MP
Front-Facing Camera: 2MP
Weight: 167g
Dimensions: 137.5 mm x 71.2 mm x 8.5 mm

Context

Before we get our review started, we always like to take a moment to explain how we like to use our smartphones. In my case, I prefer to use my smartphone as my main form of communication, but outside of actually talking on the phone. I prefer to text, instant message or communicate through social networks than actually placing a voice or video call.

When I’m out and about, I tend to correspond through email for work a lot as well as through Skype. But when I’m not working, I often find myself browsing Facebook, Twitter or Reddit to read stories others have shared, as well as reading some websites that I often check out.

As far as entertainment, I spend most of my time listening to podcasts or music, although I’ll watch a YouTube clip every so often that one of my friends shared on a social network. But if you see me walking around getting around New York City, it’s extremely likely I’ll be listening to a podcast or to some tunes.

Industrial Design

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If you’ve handled a Motorola Droid in the past, the overall feel will seem quite familiar to you although the company has certainly made some changes since its Droid RAZRs. When you pick up the Droid MAXX, the first thing your eyes will gravitate towards is its 5-inch Super AMOLED display. Above the display you’ll find the device’s earpiece and its 2MP front-facing camera. Below the display is three capacitive buttons that are left dimmed when the phone isn’t being used, and light up when it’s in use. Below the capacitive buttons, there’s a small piece of the device’s kevlar material, which was probably needed in order to squeeze in the Droid MAXX’s 3500mAh battery.

The outer rim of the Droid MAXX includes the usual ports and buttons that you’d expect from most smartphones. Since we were focused on the bottom of the phone, we’ll start from there as you’ll find a microUSB port sitting just below its kevlar bump. The right side is where you’ll find the phone’s wake / sleep button, as well as its volume rocker. Both buttons don’t protrude out too much, but they have small lines located at the middle of each button to help navigate your fingers to them. I personally am not a fan of the feel of the buttons, especially when the rest of the phone is so smooth, so they put a slight damper on button-prodding experience. The top of the phone is where you’ll find its 3.5mm headphone jack located close to the edge on the right side.

Motorola has decided to return to the kevlar material that debuted with its Droid RAZR for the rear of the Droid MAXX, although with the phones smooth edges, it feels much better on this phone than it did on the RAZR. Sitting in the top-middle portion of the phone’s rear is a Motorola logo, which the Droid logo sits just above that. And above that, you’ll find the phone’s 10MP main camera, LED flash and speakers. Yes – the Droid MAXX’s speakers are located right next to its camera. Who are we to judge Motorola’s reasoning for this?

Display (good+)

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We’ve been seeing a surge of smartphones with 1080p and beyond that have really blown us away, although Motorola keeps it simple with its 5-inch 1280 x 720 Super AMOLED display. Considering The Droid MAXX is more of a mid-range Android device, 1280 x 720 running on a Super AMOLED will do just fine as you’ll be able to enjoy images and videos at a nice resolution. Sure – 1080p and above is extra nice, but for a 5-inch smartphone running on a 1.7GHz dual-core processor, the 1280 x 720 display will do just fine.

"THE 1280 X 720 DISPLAY WILL DO JUST FINE"  

The Super AMOLED display was able to allow us to view content at extreme angles, which we really don’t see many screens these days offering anything less. Overall, the screen felt pretty bright and felt comfortable to use at around 20% – 25% of its full potential, although we often left the phone’s auto brightness do the work for us.

Motorola Droid MAXX Custom Apps

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Motorola Assist

Motorola Assist is an application that makes adjustments to your Droid MAXX during three important activities we all probably go through in a day: driving, attending meetings and sleeping. The Assist application can help change the settings on your phone when one of these activities is detected that will help make your phone be less of a problem. For example, when Assist detects you’re driving, your phone can read text messages to you and tell you who’s calling, and if you receive a text while driving, you can select to have it send a message back informing the sender you’re currently driving.

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Quickoffice

We know how important it is to be able to manage Microsoft Office documents while you’re out and about as it seems anyone and everyone will send you something to look over. Thankfully, the Droid MAXX comes with Quickoffice. Quickoffice allows you to create and edit Word, Excel, PowerPoint and even PDF files straight from your phone.

Selecting a document to open is pretty straightforward as you’ll need to point the application in the direction where it’s located. It can either be stored locally on your phone or on Google Drive, which you’ll need to log in with your credentials to take advantage of.

Killer Apps

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Virtual Keyboard (very good)

The virtual keyboard that is available on the Droid MAXX reminds us a bit of what Samsung has been offering on their devices for the past couple of years. The first page of the keyboard contains the usual QWERTY keyboard, but the first row of keys allow you to input numbers simply by holding down the key.

Unfortunately, to get to other secondary keys, you’ll need to flip over to the second page of the virtual keyboard. It definitely isn’t a deal breaker by any means, but if you tend to use secondary keys, then this little omission might peeve you a bit. On the other hand, we’re sure you’ll get used to the keyboard layout in no time.

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Facebook (very good)

The Facebook experience you can expect on the Droid MAXX is pretty much standard with what is available across the majority of Android devices out there. You’ll be able to view your News Feed, your Favorites, initiate chats with your Facebook friends and comment and like on any and every post you’re able to.

We didn’t notice any lag or any weird issues with images not showing up properly or low quality. The overall experience with the Facebook app was quick and snappy, which we’re sure users of the social network will be happy to hear. There shouldn’t be anything coming between you and your Facebook content while using the Droid MAXX.

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Google Maps (excellent)

Google Maps has been a fantastic application for those who need help getting around or even learning what businesses are located in their general location. On the Droid MAXX, Google Maps performs just as well as you’d expect it to as maps load quickly and directions are extremely accurate.

Entertainment (good)

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Video Playback (good)

Motorola has kept things simple for the video player on the Droid MAXX as you’ll be able to play and pause your video and fast forward and rewind through a bar located at the bottom of the video you’re watching. Located at the top-right portion of the video is a Share button, which allows you to share the video you’re currently watching through several ways including Bluetooth, YouTube, Google+ and other methods.

Outside of those options, the default video player feels really bare compared to other default video players we’ve seen in the past from rival companies like Samsung. We’re not expect there to be an insane amount of options, but we also would like something more than just the option to play and share a video.

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Gaming (very good)

Even though the Droid MAXX only has a dual-core processor, it still performs very well across the games that we played on the device. For the purpose of our review, we tried out Candy Crush Saga, Temple Run 2 and Riptide GP2 to give us a good idea of how the device would perform when playing a wide variety of games.

All three games we played on the Droid MAXX played very well as we didn’t notice any slowdown when playing any of our test games. In regards to 3D games, like Temple Run 2 and Riptide GP2, we thought both games performed very well, although what held us from giving the MAXX an excellent rating in this category is due to its limited display as we’ve seen these games look really good on devices with 1080p and above screens.

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Speaker Quality (poor)

We were as surprised as you probably were to hear not only does the Droid MAXX have its speaker located at the rear of the device, but it’s placed right next to its main camera. In regards to its actual sound, those of you who enjoy listening to tunes on your smartphone’s speaker will be disappointed by the speaker available on the MAXX.

"THE BASS, LOWER AND MIDDLE RANGES ARE NEARLY NON-EXISTENT ON THIS SPEAKER"  

Listening to a wide variety of songs, we noticed the speakers are extremely tinny and favor higher ranges than anything else. We believe the favoritism towards the higher ranges makes listening to anything more difficult as you can barely make out anything else in a song besides the higher ranges. The bass, lower and middle ranges are nearly non-existent on this speaker.

Digital Imaging (very good)

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Camera Application (very good)

Motorola packs a pretty nice camera application into its Droid MAXX as from the get-go, you’ll be able to take HDR photos, change its flash settings, activate “Tap to focus,” take Slow motion videos and take Panoramic shots. The camera also has a quick launch setting that automatically launches if you flick your wrist twice while holding the Droid MAXX.

Once you’ve taken your photo, you’ll be able to access it from the MAXX’s gallery, which is done by simply flicking the screen in the left direction. What’s great about the gallery is it includes several filters for you to choose from, while also giving you access to some frames and options to edit your photo, such as cropping it or adjusting the color or contrast.

Photo and Video Quality (very good)

For the purpose of our review, we pit the Droid MAXX’s 10MP main camera up against the iPhone 5’s 8MP camera. For the record, these images were taken indoors during an overcast day with internal lighting.

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As you can see from the sample images above, the Droid MAXX does a very good job at capturing the color, definition and contrast of the subject. At this close of a range, the autofocus also does a nice job keeping everything in focus and looking crisp.

Performance (very good)

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The Motorola Droid MAXX doesn’t feature the latest and greatest processor as the company has kept things mid range for this device as it runs on a 1.7GHz dual-core Motorola X8 processor. We don’t expect the 5-inch Droid MAXX to blow away high-end competition by any means, so let’s see just how well it performs compared to other mid-range phones.

Antutu 3.x is an overall system performance benchmark which takes into account everything an Android device has to offer, including its CPU, GPU, and storage. The majority of Android devices tend to fall into a comparable performance footprint, which means unless you need to do something very specific with your device, like gaming, then you can expect a similar performance across the board.

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With an Antutu 3.03 score of 20655, the Droid MAXX actually scored higher than we anticipated it to compared to other mid-range Android devices. The Droid MAXX even beats out another popular Motorola Android smartphone, the Moto X, which scored just an 18117 according to our records.

GFXBench 2.7 was designed to stress the Android device’s graphics processor by running a game-like demo which features a fight between various characters in a number of different environments.

Unfortunately, we ran into trouble each time we attempted to run GFXBench on the Droid MAXX. We couldn’t get a score from the application due to it crashing several times.

The last benchmark we ran on the Droid MAXX was SunSpider, which is a Javascript benchmark which gauges just how well the Javascript engine will run on a device. SunSpider doesn’t test a device’s specs, instead it allows us to see just how fast it’ll render web pages, which may hint at how powerful a device is, but in no way should be considered an actual test of specs.

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Perceived Performance

As important as it is to run benchmarks on devices to see just how powerful they are compared to their competitors, we find it’s equally important to make a note of a device’s perceived performance. In regards to the Droid MAXX, we didn’t notice any sort of slowdown or lag when using it during our review time with the phone. Everything launched quickly, and the only crashing application we came across was GFXBench, although we’re sure most consumers wouldn’t need to run it on their phones to begin with.

Battery (excellent)

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One of the main selling points for the Droid MAXX is its 3500mAh battery, which Motorola has touted it by saying it should last a full 48 hours on a single charge. A 3500mAh is certainly large, but we’re sure most of you are just a tad skeptical on how long the MAXX will really last for. With that said, let’s get down to the battery portion of our review.

Moderate Usage (excellent)

For our moderate usage test, we used the Droid MAXX off and on for about an hour performing tasks that weren’t exactly going to push the smartphone too hard. We checked Facebook, corresponded to emails, read some news stories and other activities that you’d consider to be typical for most people while connected to a wireless network. After an hour, we noticed the battery of the MAXX dropped a total of 4%, which means you should expect roughly 25 hours of battery life under these conditions. Those who use the Droid MAXX’s 4G LTE, expect your battery life to drop as a result.

Video Streaming Test (excellent)

For our video streaming test, we streamed a 1080p video for one hour with the display set to 50% of the Droid MAXX’s full brightness. After streaming the video for an hour, we noticed a drop of 8%, which means you should expect around 12 ½ hours of battery life under these conditions.

Intense Usage (excellent)

For our intense usage battery test, we played Riptide GP2 for an hour, which is a 3D racing game that pushes the hardware of our Android devices to their limits. After an hour of playing Riptide GP2, we noticed a drop of 17% in the MAXX’s battery. This means you should expect close to 6 hours of battery life when playing games or performing other intense activities.

Charging Time

As important as knowing how long a battery will last is, we find it’s equally important to know just how long a battery will take to recharge itself. In the case of the Droid MAXX’s 3500mAh battery, we noted the device recharged itself by 24% after leaving the phone plugged in after an hour. This means you should expect it to take a little over 4 hours to fully charge your phone if you’ve completely run its battery dry.

Value For Specs

If you read our laptop reviews, we tend to see how valuable they are when compared to their weight. Since we don’t have to worry about the weight of a smartphone too much, we thought it’d be important to compare the Droid MAXX’s mid-range specs along with other devices and how much you can spend for them. The Droid MAXX currently sells on Verizon Wireless for $199 with a two-year contract as of the date this review is published. Now to compare, you could pick up an iPhone 5S for $199, a Samsung Galaxy S4 for $199 or an LG G2 for $99. These devices may not offer the same kind of battery life as the Droid MAXX does, but they offer internal specs that blow the Droid MAXX out of the water.

At the end of the day, it all depends on what kind of phone you want. The Droid MAXX’s main selling point is its battery life in a compact form factor, which is certainly a good thing to have in a device. But purchasing an external battery pack for you to carry around for your high-end Android smartphone is also a viable option. Again, this is completely up to you, the consumer, and how you want to interact with your smartphones.

Conclusion (good+)

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The Droid MAXX can certainly keep you from having a dead battery for a very long time, although we didn’t find it anywhere close to the 48 hours Motorola has been touting in their recent ads for the device. The phone is a nice step up from the previously released Droid RAZR MAXX, although it isn’t without its faults.

Considering how much you touch a phone’s power and volume buttons, we wish Motorola would have chosen another material rather than its plasticky-feeling rigged buttons. On the other hand, the kevlar rear of the phone feels really smooth and comfortable to use. The MAXX has a very good camera along with a number of options, although its speaker is terrible.

Ultimately, we guess the Droid MAXX’s popularity depends on whether or not a large battery on a standard-sized smartphone is important to you. If you need something that can last for way longer than your current phone, then consider the MAXX. If you’re looking for fancier bells and whistles on your phone and could do without such a large battery, then you won’t be missing much here.

Overall product rating: 7/10

Filed in Cellphones >Featured >Reviews. Read more about Droid MAXX and Motorola.

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