Like clockwork, Motorola and Verizon have refreshed their joint Droid lineup, and we're here to check out all three devices. The two more premium handsets, the Droid Ultra and Droid Maxx, are the most promising of the bunch for advanced users, replacing last year's Droid RAZR HD and RAZR Maxx HD and offering the requisite 4G LTE connectivity. Both of those smartphones were at the top of their game in 2012, and that trend appears to continue here -- the Ultra and Maxx are very similar, with the latter boosting the battery capacity, enabling power users to make it through a full day.
Like its predecessors, the Ultra and Droid Maxx (pictured above) sport Kevlar bodies, both of which look sleek and feel sturdy. The Ultra we saw has a glossy red finish, which Motorola helpfully suggested is "a lot like a sports car." The Maxx, on the other hand, has a soft-touch black finish. At any rate, we prefer the Maxx's look; as we've said about Samsung's Galaxy lineup, a glossy, plasticky finish tends to look cheaper. Both phones feature a 10-megapixel camera with a f/2.4 lens; we'll have to wait for our review units to test the shooter's mettle.
What the Ultra's design does have going for it, though, is an extra-thin profile. At 7.18mm, it's already being touted as the "thinnest 4G LTE smartphone available." At 4.94 ounces, it feels very light, and though it sports the Droid family's usual boxy form factor, the edges are gently curved to make for a nice fit in the hand. It packs a 5-inch, 720p Super AMOLED display, which, while not quite as pixel-dense as the Mini's 4.3-inch TFT panel, offers crisp images, vibrant colors and wider-than-average viewing angles. The Ultra is priced at $199, 100 bucks higher than the Mini and 100 lower than the Maxx.
Apart from the different backings, the Maxx is very much like the Ultra, with that same 5-inch HD display. The biggest exception, of course, is the beefier battery; its 3500mAh pack is larger than the Ultra's 2130mAh cell, and it's even bigger than the RAZR Maxx's. Motorola said it will last about 48 hours with "normal usage," though we imagine crazy techies like us would see a few hours less. On contract, the Droid Maxx will go for $299, though it will also be available for an unsubsidized $699 (the Ultra will be offered for $599). Like the Ultra, it will be up for pre-order until it launches on August 20th.
All three new phones pack 2GB of RAM, with 16GB of internal storage for the Ultra and 32 gigs for the Maxx. When we poked around on the Ultra and Maxx today, the phones' dual-core processors seemed speedy. It's worth expounding on that processor, since "dual-core" isn't the whole story: both phones feature Motorola's new X8 arrangement, which includes two dual-core, 1.7GHz Qualcomm 8960 Pro CPUs plus a quad-core Adreno 320 GPU and two additional contextual cores. That setup may explain the numbers we saw in some hastily run benchmarks.
Motorola Droid Ultra, Maxx, Mini
Motorola Droid RAZR HD (2012)
Samsung Galaxy S 4
SunSpider 0.9.1 (ms)
SunSpider: lower scores are better.
On Quadrant, the chip turned in a score of 8,775, which falls significantly short of quad-core competitors but is none too shabby for a dual-core processor. On the comprehensive AnTuTu test, the processor scored 18,553, which is also pretty solid. On SunSpider, the Ultra and Maxx's silicon notched a laudable 844ms (remember: lower numbers are better in that test). We also ran the CPU test CF-Bench, and got an average result of 14,357 -- also quite respectable.
Of course, Motorola and Verizon also touted the devices' new software features. The Droid Zap features lets you share photos between Droid devices by uploading photos to the cloud and bringing it down when you use a swiping gesture. Active Display, on the other hand, displays previews of notifications when you pull the phone out of your pocket. These new features, along with the Ultra and Maxx's impressive early performance numbers, have us excited to jump into full-review mode. We'll follow up as soon as we can with in-depth reviews, and in the meantime you can tide yourself over with the video preview below.
Zach Honig contributed to this report.