Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Motorola introduces a new series of Droids: Maxx, Ultra, Mini

We're still waiting on an official Motorola X announcement, but on Tuesday, Motorola unveiled two -- or three, depending on how you count them -- new Droids. Dubbed the Droid Mini, the Droid Ultra, and the Droid Maxx (an Ultra with a bigger battery), these new Droids will surely soothe Verizon's nerves (the X is not going to be a Droid).

The Droid Maxx, as you might expect, was the star of the show. It matches the screen size of the latest "big" device, Samsung's Galaxy S4, with a 5-inch AMOLED Gorilla Glass screen and a 1,280 x 720 resolution (although that pixel density falls short of the GS4's 1,920 x 1,080 resolution and a Retina display).

As its Maxx name implies, though, the Droid Maxx specializes in battery life. It is 8.5mm-thick, 1.32mm thicker than the Droid Ultra, its nearly identical sibling, but that means it ships with a huge 3,500mAh battery that Motorola boasts gives 48 hours of continuous battery life (for the sake of comparison, the Razr Maxx HD lasts 32 hours, yet is 9 percent thicker).

The Droid Maxx's SOC (system-on-a-chip) is a new proprietary Motorola design with eight cores -- a dual-core application processor, four graphics cores, a contextual computing core, and another core for "natural language processing." The Motorola X8 will run at 1.7Ghz. The CPU cores are Qualcomm Krait-based, while the GPU cores are Adreno-based.

It will ship with 2GB of RAM, and 32GB of internal storage.

Its slimmer $199.99 Droid Ultra twin is 7.18-millimeter thick. It has the same 5-inch screen, comes in both black and red, and sports a 2,130mAh battery that doesn't do bad for life, with reported usage time of up to 28 hours.

Unlike the backing on the Maxx, which has a soft-touch matte coating, the Ultra's back sports a glossy coating. Also unlike the Maxx, the Ultra will ship with only 16GB of internal storage.

Finally, finishing off the trio of new devices is the 4.3-inch Droid Mini, which could be seen as the successor to the Razr M. It will sell for $99.99 on contract, and is the only one of the three sans an AMOLED screen, having a TFT 720p screen instead. It will carry a 2,000mAh battery that has a reported usage time of 28 hours, the same processor running at the same speed, and 16GB of internal storage, like the Ultra.

All the devices will ship with the same SOC, the Motorola X8, running at the same processor speed. All will also carry Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, a 10-megapixel rear-facing camera with 1080p HD video recording, and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera.

In terms of software features, the new "touchless control system" we've heard about in reference to the Moto X is on board these Droids. Users can just say "OK Google Now" to activate and then speak their commands to the phone.

There is also an active display feature that -- for certain features -- only illuminates a portion of the screen to conserve battery. These Droids will also have the same suite of new camera features that just leaked for the Moto X, with features like quick capture that lets you flick the phone twice to open the camera app, and then take a picture with a tap anywhere on the screen.

All three variants of the phones will ship on Aug. 20, on Verizon Wireless.

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