Review: DROID Maxx HD

The DROID Razr MAXX was Verizon and Motorola’s original assault on the legion of smartphones with at best, bad battery life. Every once in a while you’d get one that would bump on acceptable levels. But sadly, bad battery life is the name of the game in a world full of ever increasingly large screens, additional cores and RAM count. For the real power users and smartphone junkies, the Maxx is the knight in shinning armor. But is battery life alone reason enough to recommend it over other notable and worthwhile devices from competitors? Let’s take a look.

Hardware

If you’ve seen any of Verizon’s DROID branded hardware since the beginning of time, you’ll quickly find yourself familiar with the way things operate this time around. The second-gen Maxx (HD) is a creature of habit; dark hues, red accents, and a boxy albeit more rounded shape put this phone squarely out of the limelight. No one is going to be drawn to your phone via an outward display of feature or design.

Breaking it down further, there’s a fake carbon fiber cover on the back of the phone that will no doubt throw you off when you first touch its soft touch finish. To some, the pseudo-carbon fiber is a nifty design detail while to others it’s a cheap and unnecessary imitation.

Inside you’ll find a 1.5 GHz Snapdragon processor, 2 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage (with a built-in SD card slot) and a big, 4.7-inch 1280 x 720 display pumping everything to your eyeballs in PenTile glory. Previously, PenTile got a lot of hate because it 1) looked awful with more obvious jagged edges with printed text and 2) over-saturated color reproduction. With the Maxx HD, Motorola has managed to keep jagged edges to a minimum (less noticeable than before) though, color saturation is still over inflated. You usual wireless radios for CDMA/LTE/Bluetooth/WiFi are included.

Photo taking duties are handled by a front-facing 1.2-megapixel sensor while things around back are a bit more serious at 8-megapixels. In my testing the 8 megapixel sensor did an average job of taking pictures. Because Motorola left Android mainly stock, there’s not a lot of software to compensate for Android’s admittedly so-so camera chops. Manufacturers such as HTC and Samsung have added their own software features on top of the stock camera that no doubt include some hardware tweaks as well. Ultimately, mobile photographers aren’t going to find the Maxx HD anything special. For the rest of you, though, it’s more than adequate.

Software

Now that Motorola is under the Google umbrella, we don’t have to deal with awful skins anymore like their old MOTOBLUR *barf*. That said, Motorola’s flavor of Android isn’t completely 100% stock in the purest form of the word. There are some software tweaks laced within, though, nothing visually distracting. In the end, for all intents and purposes, you’ll be looking at stock Android visually.

Battery Life

With a 3,300 mAh battery inside one would expect the Maxx HD to make it quite a bit further in the daily grind than your typical smartphone. And indeed the Maxx HD is a marathon runner in a sea of sprinters. On average, I can usually get from ~5:30am until 6pm on a single charge provided I don’t spend any time in low signal areas (which absolutely destroy battery life). With the Maxx HD’s massive cell I was more than pleased with the additional run time, often making it to around noon the following day. Some days were heavier usage than others, so take that into consideration. But for someone such as myself to go a day and a half on a single charge, it speaks highly of battery performance on the Maxx HD.

Conclusion

The Maxx series is intended primarily for those who think about battery life first and everything else last. Design wise it’s nothing special to look at. The display isn’t going to win any awards and you’re not going to get museum quality photographs out of the Maxx HD’s camera. But if you’d like to get through an honest work day and long into the evening or next day with a true workhorse of a smartphone, the Razr Maxx HD is beaten only by the very few phones with optional, 3rd party extended batteries. Really, I can’t see any reason to recommend the non-Maxx DROID Ultra. It is spec-for-spec identical to the Maxx save for the big battery and a slightly (read: ever so slightly) thicker footprint.

For the price and simplicity the Maxx HD brings to the table, battery conscious consumers will be hard pressed to find a better option.

   
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