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Motorola Droid Maxx vs. Samsung Galaxy S4

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July 24, 2013

Gizmag compares the specs (and other features) of Motorola's new battery life king, the Dr...

Gizmag compares the specs (and other features) of Motorola's new battery life king, the Droid Maxx, with the Samsung Galaxy S4

Image Gallery (14 images)

Today Motorola and US carrier Verizon rekindled their old romance, releasing three new phones under the Droid brand. We have the Droid Ultra, a high-end phone with a razor-thin build (but no Razr branding), and then we have the Droid Mini, which offers a smaller form factor without skimping much on quality. The one that really turned our heads, though, was the Droid Maxx, with an advertised battery life of 48 hours. Let's put it side-by-side with the Samsung Galaxy S4, and see how they compare.

Size

Sizes are otherwise very close, but the Maxx is quite a bit thicker

The two phones are nearly identical in size. The only significant difference is that the Droid Maxx is nine percent thicker than the svelte GS4.

Weight

The Maxx is quite a bit heavier than the GS4

There are heavier phones than the Droid Maxx, but a featherweight it is not. It tips the scales at a full 28 percent heavier than the Galaxy S4.

Build

The Droid Maxx's kevlar probably won't stop a bullet, but it should provide more protectio...

The Droid Maxx sticks with the kevlar build that Motorola has been using for its Droid Razr line for the last couple of years. Here it's covering more of the phone than ever.

Display

Both phones sport 5-inch screens, but the GS4's is much sharper

Both displays give you the same spacious 5-inch layout, but the Galaxy S4 is much sharper. The Droid Maxx's 294 pixels per inch should make for a pretty sharp screen, but that's still a fairly low number for a high-end 2013 smartphone.

Processor

Both versions of the GS4 have faster processors than the Maxx's Snapdragon-based SoC

The Motorola X8 is the branding for the system-on-a-chip in the new Droid phones, but the processor is (according to Ars Technica) a slight variation of a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro, which was featured in several high-end handsets in late 2012.

So the GS4 wins this round. But let's keep this in perspective: both phones blow away the fastest phones from just a couple of years ago, and will be plenty fast for most users.

RAM

RAM is equal, at 2 GB a pop

Both phones pack 2 GB of RAM.

Storage

There's only one 32 GB option– and no SD card – for the Droid Maxx

The Galaxy S4 offers more options for storage, along with expandable storage via its microSD slot. But the 32 GB offered in the Droid Maxx should prove ample for all but the biggest data hoarders.

Battery

Behold: a smartphone with insane battery life ... or so Verizon says

This is the Droid Maxx's killer feature: insane battery life. Verizon estimates 48 hours of uptime with "average" use. That number can obviously vary, and we haven't had the chance to verify these claims. But nobody has ever claimed that the Galaxy S4 can last anywhere near that long.

One potential advantage for the GS4 is that its battery is removable. The Droid Maxx's unibody design prevents any swapping on the go.

Wireless

Both phones ride speedy LTE networks

No skimping on wireless speeds, as both phones max out on LTE networks (if available on your carrier and in your area).

Cameras

The Maxx's camera lags a bit in megapixels, but that might not mean anything

We haven't yet put the Droid Maxx's camera through the paces, but a 10-megapixel sensor is a good start. Just don't get too swept away by megapixel mythology.

Software

Both phones run Android 4.2, but the Maxx's is much closer to stock Android

Both phones run Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. The Galaxy S4 has Samsung's TouchWiz UI in tow, along with its overflowing bag of features (some kinda useful, many more leaning towards gimmickry). The Droid Maxx almost runs stock Android. Just a few minor tweaks separate it from pure Google, which is quite a discrepancy from the overpowering TouchWiz.

However, the Droid Maxx does have several unique new software features of its own. Want to snap a picture with the Maxx? Shake the phone twice, then tap the screen. Need to share something with a nearby friend? A two-fingered swipe up on the screen uploads it, and a two-fingered swipe down from your friend downloads it. These features might be a little gimmicky too, but we could also see them coming in handy for some.

Hands-free voice control

The Maxx's hands-free voice control is another potential killer feature

Okay, technically the Galaxy S4 will let you control a few functions with voice commands, but the Droid Maxx takes this to a new level. Your phone can be asleep, with its screen off, and you can say "Okay, Google Now" to trigger a variety of voice actions. The idea is that it's a new way of using your phone. Expect more on this front from the upcoming Moto X.

Starting price

On Verizon, the Maxx will cost you an extra $100 with your fun new two-year contract

The Galaxy S4 is sold in a variety of price points on carriers around the world, but the above numbers are for the Verizon (US) version, being that the Droid Maxx is a VZW exclusive. If Motorola follows the same pattern from previous years, though, non-US smartphone shoppers will see a (non-Droid branded) version of the Maxx in the coming months.

These prices, as you'd expect, are with a two-year contract.

Wrap-up

If you don't need a phone with cutting-edge resolution or a benchmark-shattering processor, then the Droid Maxx can remedy one of smartphone owners' longest-lasting complaints. If its battery life is anywhere near as long as the advertised 48 hours, then it shatters all previous expectations for smartphone uptimes. That and the expansive voice control are probably the two biggest reasons to consider the Maxx.

But remember that this is simply an initial spec-based look at the new handset. It's usually wise to wait for more extensive hands-ons before throwing down US$300 and making a two-year commitment.

For more on the Galaxy S4, you can check out our in-depth comparison to another popular Android phone, the HTC One.

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About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin is Gizmag's Mobile Tech Editor, and has been part of the team since 2012. Will has a Master's degree from U.C. Irvine and a Bachelor's from West Virginia University. He currently lives in New Mexico with his wife, Jessica.
  All articles by Will Shanklin
3 Comments

Droid (built in China) was announced for Verizon but I am reading that the Moto X (built in Texas) is expected to be announced on August 1.

The Moto X is supposed to have a 7.7" 720p screen, 10MP camera, 2.1 MP front camera, 2G RAM, 1700 Mhz Snapdragon S4, and 2200 mAh battery.

The specs look pretty close to the non maxx version of the new Droid and they could probably make a maxx version of it pretty easily. The timing of announcing a couple of flagship phones a week apart seems interesting.

Maybe it means the verizon network won't be getting the X? Manufacturing a competitive smartphone in the US can't be an easy task either and I suppose it could be related to that as well. Maybe verizons demands for locked bootloader and bundled software are behind it. I'm curious but I guess I'll probably find out in a week or 2 after the X announcement.

Daishi
24th July, 2013 @ 02:04 am PDT

You forgot to mention charging. The Droid Maxx offers wireless charging. The Galaxy S4 does not.

Chris Wheeler
13th August, 2013 @ 05:05 pm PDT

Motorola is by far a better quality-made handset, with superior call/voice quality.

Patrick Timmons
6th October, 2013 @ 05:03 am PDT
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