The modern smartphone arms race of late has mostly been a pissing contest over screen resolution, processor speed, megapixels, thinness, and extraneous software features. Yet, for the last couple years, everyone has somehow been content to let Motorola walk away with what is perhaps the most important spec of all: battery life.
After all, your awesome screen, super-fast processor, and mega-megapixel camera are rendered worthless once your phone runs out of juice. Motorola created the Droid RAZR MAXX followed by the Droid RAZR MAXX HD. Both phones had terrific battery life, but they just weren’t very remarkable phones. The 2013 model is different. This year, Motorola has dropped the RAZR and made the Droid Maxx, a phone which not only boasts heroic battery life, but is actually an excellent phone, too.
At first glance, there isn’t much that stands out about the Droid Maxx. It has a 5-inch 720p AMOLED display, a dual-core 1.7GHz CPU, and 2GB of RAM. Perhaps I’ve become jaded, but those specs don’t come near the 1080p displays with the quad-core 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800 processors that will come standard on high-end phones being released in the next couple months. But forget the specs for a moment. What actually matters most is that this phone performs well, and will perform well for two days before it needs a charge.
Again, the battery is the banner feature here. Motorola has crammed a 3,500 mAh battery into this phone, yet it has managed to keep the device from looking like a fat monstrosity. At just 0.33 inches thick, it’s technically right between the HTC One (0.37 inches) and the Samsung Galaxy S4 (0.31). That alone is quite a feat — though the HTC One feels thinner because of its rounded back.
That said, it’s a rock-solid piece of hardware, with its laminated Kevlar back and splash-proof construction. And considering the colossal battery, it’s pretty svelte. It’s on the large side, which makes it more of a struggle to use one-handed. The Moto X is a lot more physically compact, despite the screen only being 0.3 inches smaller. The Droid Maxx does exhibit some space-saving tricks, though. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out where the SIM card goes. Turns out, it’s hiding behind the removable volume rocker. Very clever! There’s no micro SD card slot, but it comes with 32GB of built-in storage.
While the phone doesn’t have the fastest processor available, it’s extremely fast and smooth the majority of the time. There is no stutter or lag when scrolling through the home screens or app drawers, and even HD games (like Dead Trigger) play just fine with the graphics cranked all the way up. That said, apps don’t open as quickly as they do on the HTC One, and as games get more graphically intensive over the next year, this phone will be left behind. It’s not very future-proof. But for the majority of people out there, most of whom aren’t hardcore gamers, this phone will be plenty fast throughout the two years you’ll be stuck with it.
Ultimately, if you’re a very heavy user or a person who might not make it to a charger every night (you cad!), it’s probably just what you’re looking for. It’s a Verizon exclusive, and it will cost you $300 with a two-year contract. That’s a serious commitment, but if you’re constantly struggling to make it back home with juice to spare, it’s worth the extra coin.