Droid Maxx Review: A Battery Beast for Major BucksS

The playing field has sort of leveled out with phones when it comes to specs. Most are fast enough, and most help you do the things you want to do easily. Most have good enough cameras. But battery remains final frontier, that last puzzle piece that even the best phones are missing. The Droid Maxx found it.

What Is It?

Motorola's more powerful follow-up to the Razr Maxx HD. The previous version boasted a 3,300 mAh battery, which was just about the most you could get in an Android smartphone at the time. The Droid Maxx packs in 200 more mAh but still manages to keep a relatively trim build. The Maxx is also a step up from the Droid Ultra, which is pretty much the same phone with a smaller battery.

The Droid Maxx refreshingly runs about as close to stock Android as you can get, with a few customizable features that manage not just to be gimmicks. But you're not buying the phone for those. You're buying it for the battery.

Who's It For?

People who want a phone that they don't have to plug in every night (and are willing to pay for it).

Design

A black rectangle of a phone that, despite packing a giant battery inside, manages to be relatively sleek. It has a laminated kevlar back that makes it splash-proof and gives the Droid Maxx zaggy stripe pattern on the back.

Droid Maxx Review: A Battery Beast for Major BucksS

Droid Maxx Review: A Battery Beast for Major BucksS

Using It

Battery life gets top billing on this phone, so let's just get that out of the way. While the Droid Maxx didn't make it the full 48 hours Motorola promises, I generally got around 42 or so hours of talking, texting, and browsing, which is pretty close and a whole lot more than your standard smartphone.

Although battery life is impressive, it also means the phone has to be bigger. The Maxx isn't overly cumbersome, but it's a lot of phone to handle, and it's noticeably wider and taller than the Moto X. If you have smaller hands, this Droid might feel a little too big to you.

The 5-inch AMOLED display is sharp, but at just 720p it doesn't stack up to other Android phones on the market that are full 1080p like the HTC One or the Samsung Galaxy S4. It's basically the display you get with the Moto X in a larger package.

The Maxx is responsive and quick, although sometimes it lagged slightly when switching back and forth between apps. It handled most games just fine, although without quite the same zip you'll find in other Android flagships.

The 10-megapixel camera takes great photos if you're working in bright light. In low light, however, it's a different story. Images show up with a lot of noise and look oversaturated. The camera has a feature called Quick Draw that will wake up the camera when you flick your wrist just right, but it's awkward and hard to master.

Droid Maxx Review: A Battery Beast for Major BucksS

Droid Maxx Review: A Battery Beast for Major BucksS

The Maxx is pre-loaded with a bunch of other Droid features as well, like Command Center, from which you can quickly access all your apps, the weather, and essential settings. There's also Touchless Control, which is awesome when it works right. Wake up your phone by saying "Ok, Google Now," send a text to mom, or whatever. It's handy to be able to send a text or make a call completely hands-free, but if you don't nail the inflection every time it refuses to work. A more dependable feature is Ring My Drioid, wherein you use a trigger word to wake up your phone if you've lost it, and it will ring louder and louder until you find it.

Rounding out the Droidish features are Active Notifications, which light up your device every time you have an email, a text, a reply on Twitter, a Facebook invitation, and so forth, and Droid Zap, which lets you send photos to anyone else with a Droid on your local network by swiping up with two fingers. It's fast and it works well—if and only if your friend has a Droid and you remember to use Zap. In other words, you won't be using it very often.

Droid Maxx Review: A Battery Beast for Major BucksS

The Best Part

Not having to charge it twice a day.

Tragic Flaw

The price. At $300, the Droid Maxx is $100 more than the Moto X, which has similar specs in a sleeker package. So you're pretty much just dropping another hundred dollars for the battery life.

This Is Weird...

The volume rocker actually doubles as the SIM card slot, which means you have to pull the SIM out of it using tweezers or whatnot. It is a space-saving design feature but you have to know what you're looking for.

Test Notes

  • Touchless control is great, but it could do more. For example, it will only read your texts when it thinks you're driving, which is great if you're in the car, but not so great if you don't drive. And it has a tendency to misunderstand you, so you have to speak very clearly.
  • I had to remember to turn off Active Display at night. It would light up and vibrate when a notification came through at night and it woke me up a few times. It would be great if it could learn when I actually needed it based on usage patterns.
  • Although the Maxx runs on what is about as close to stock Android as you can get, the custom Droid features will take getting used to. And you'll end up ignoring most of them.
  • The Maxx is supposed to boast top of the line low-light features. But pictures taken in darker settings had a lot of noise and were just pretty bad in general.
  • Auto HDR never actually engaged, which is a bummer.

Should I Buy I?

It's really hard to turn down a battery that lasts so long. We've said it before, but it's wroth repeating: battery is one of the most important specs. It is really, really wonderful to be able to go out for an entire day (or two!) and not wonder whether or not the phone will still be alive and kicking when the sun goes down. If you value longevity above all else, this is the phone you should buy.

It's worth remembering, though, that the Droid Maxx is a little heftier than its competitors, while also costing $100 more than several new Android phones out there. The Maxx has most of the advantages of the Moto X, for example, but the Moto X is $200 on contract. The Moto X is also slightly smaller and more comfortable to use. If battery life isn't a major concern, you've got better Android options. Hell, you've got better Motorola options.

The Droid Maxx is available now, exclusively on Verizon, from DroidDoes.com.

Droid MAXX Specs

• Network: Verizon
• OS: Android Jelly Bean 4.2
• CPU: 1.7 GHz dual–core
• Screen: 5.0” Super AMOLED display, 1280 x 720 resolution
• RAM: 2GB
• Storage: 32G GB
• Camera: 10MP rear / 2MP front
• Battery: 3500 mAh Li–Ion
• Dimensions: 5.41 x 2.8 x 0.33 inches
• Weight: 4.94 ounces
• Price: $300 with a two-year contract