Verizon Droid Maxx, Droid Ultra and Droid Mini Hands-on

Motorola and Verizon have teamed up once again to launch a series of Droids, including the $299 Droid Maxx with a claimed 48 hours of battery life. Motorola also introduced the $199 Droid Ultra, dubbed the world's thinnest 4G LTE smartphone and the compact $99 Droid Mini. All three phones feature a new X8 mobile computing system that consists of 8 cores, including one dedicated to hands-free voice commands.

The Droid Maxx, Ultra and Mini have very similar specs, including a 1.7-GHz dual-core processor as the main engine, 720p AMOLED displays and 10-megapixel cameras. There's a 2-MP shooter up front on each handset. The Droid Maxx and and Ultra have 5-inch screens, so the lack of 1080p is a bummer. Here's our quick hands-on impressions of the new Droids.

All three phones let you activate the camera by shaking it a couple of times in your hands, making it easy to shart shooting. From there you can use a new Droid Zap app to share images with other Droid users within a 300-foot radius. Just swipe up with two fingers. The Command Center circle widgets on the main homescreen lets you easily share content to Miracast-capable TVs, as well access the Zap feature, weather and battery settings.

The other major highlight is touchless voice control. On the new Droids you can say "Okay, Google Now" and then use one of 60 commands, from checking the weather to setting reminders. A new Google Chrome extension lets you send and receive texts for your new Droid right from the browser.

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Droid Ultra

The Droid Ultra is super thin at 1.78 millimeters (.28 inches) and sports a cool Ferrari red glossy coating on the back. Dont' worry, it's made of tough and made of Kevlar. The 3D weave pattern on the back really pops. You'll also The phone is so thin that the volume control doubles as SIM card tray. The Ultra will also be available in black. This device has a 2430 mAH battery.

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Droid Maxx

The new Droid Maxx is all about endurance, boasting up to 48 hours of usage time via it's whopping 3,500 mAh battery. The handset is definitely chunkier in the hand at .33 inches thick, and you get only one color option. We like the ridged power button and volume rocker buttons, which make them easy to find by feel. 

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Droid Mini

The new Droid Mini is the successor to the Droid RAZR M, but it offers all of the same features as its higher end cousins. You get the same X8 mobile computing system, sharing and voice recognition features, along with an identical 10-MP camera. For the Mini the only trade-offs are the smaller 4.3-inch display and the smaller 2,000 mAH capacity battery.

Bottom Line

In a perfect world we'd love the battery life of the Droid Maxx in the gorgeous red color on the Droid Ultra, but overall we like what the new Droid line brings to the table in terms of voice control and improved camera capability. However, the lack of 1080p on the 5-inch Maxx and Ultra puts Motorla at a disadvantage next to the HTC One and Galaxy S4. Stay tuned for our full review of all three handsets.

Mark Spoonauer
Responsible for the editorial vision for, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.