Motorola Droid MAXX First Impressions

The Droid MAXX is the evolution of a simple idea, the third generation of something that was always done right: more than enough battery life for anything, even multiple-day use. Two years after the debut of the Droid Razr MAXX, the Droid MAXX is even more of a powerhouse than its grandfather with a 3,500mAh battery, Android 4.2.1, and a 1.7GHz dual-core CPU. It should suffice.

I’ve played with the MAXX this whole week and it is a real champ. Two and a half days later it’s resting at 9%, and as you can see in the picture above it’s pretty thirsty. You would be too if on day one you spent over seven hours as a hotspot, half of that time while driving, the other half for at least one laptop, one cellphone, and one tablet. Oh, and lest we forget, all the while downloading emails, being used for watching videos and responding to text messages, and the occasional phone call (people still do that!).

Besides for the fact that the LTE available through Verizon puts most local Wi-Fi hotspots to shame, and that coverage is regularly amazing in Los Angeles (though the MAXX has on several occasions failed to load map data on LTE faster than AT&T 4G, though this may be a software issue; Android Google Maps vs iPhone Google Maps…which if that sounds absurd that Google would do a better job on the iPhone than on Android, it’s happened plenty of times before).

But with such a massive battery, and experience with both the previous Droid Razr MAXX and Droid Razr MAXX HD, I knew that battery life wouldn’t be a problem. Both had smaller batteries but lasted just as long regularly. That’s just what the phone is built for, longevity. The other improvements make a world of difference.

Firstly is the processor. The Droid Razr MAXX was never slow, but it wasn’t particularly fast. The MAXX HD did chug along at a caboose pace because of the last-gen processor it used, which was in part to help with battery life. But jumping up to a 720p display made it too difficult to process all that data quickly and effectively. The 1.7GHz chip is very quick, much faster than it’s predecessors and more than enough to get you through any of your daily needs; it certainly held up under pretty tough conditions of streaming HD video while handling a lot of data going to other devices. It doesn’t suffer through any of the daily jitters the previous MAXX models have.

Along with the faster processor are all the benefits that come with Google’s purchase of Motorola, or at least the presumed benefits. The MAXX features some very neat software that is always-active and makes a world of difference for daily phone use. Take for example the new notification system. Instead of a bothersome blinking light, the MAXX activates the whole screen with a very slight notification, just like the one in the photo above. The icon shown is the kind of notification, such as text, email, voicemail, etc. The MAXX will also activate if it senses movement near it, like if you pick it up or take it out of your pocket. That way you can see the full list of notifications (and the time, which is equally informative) without having to press a button. If you want to get into the phone, just swipe down to unlock. And if you don’t, leave it as is and after a few seconds the screen will turn off.

That’s just scratching the surface of the MAXX features, which also includes voiced Google Now integration, where users can talk to the phone while it’s unlocked to gain access, again without pressing a button. I’ve used some of these features, and will write more about them in the full review.

What’s important to note in the first impressions is that the MAXX fulfills the promise of it’s namesake: it’s an impressively fast and powerful phone that lasts for days. Not a full day’s use, not for most of a day or a little more than one, but several days.

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James Pikover

Spawned in the horrendous heat of a Los Angeles winter, James was born with an incessant need to press buttons. Whether it was the car radio, doorbells on Halloween or lights, James pushed, pressed and prodded every button. No elevator was left unscathed, no building intercom was left un-rung, and no person he’s known has been left un-annoyed.

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    1. I actually haven’t held the Moto X, though Editor in Chief Christen Da Costa has. The MAXX is significantly thicker than the X though; of course, all that extra girth is specifically for the battery. I like the way it feels. As someone who lives with an iPhone and generally has 1/2 Android phones on hand at all times, the light and big ones feel…cheap. The MAXX feels very solid, which if you’re used to Android phones is a relief. I could definitely live with this for two years based on the feel alone, no problem.

      Stay tuned for the full review!

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