Motorola Droid Maxx

About two weeks ago, Verizon sent me a Droid Maxx to review. Being a Samsung Galaxy S4 user, I was immediately taken by some of the Droid Maxx’s features. So taken, that when I sent the review phone back, I went to Verizon and bought one at full retail price. It’s going back tomorrow morning and I’ll be happy to pay the restocking fee – everything is not always what you think it is.

Dongle Fever

First and foremost, the headphone jack is not a two-way data port, so nothing that you are used to plugging into it (other than headphones) will work. No Jawbone UP, no PayPal or Square dongle… even some volume and mute controls on some headsets with microphones will not work with the phone. This is a hardware issue, not a software issue, so if your device is incompatible with the phone, there is no quick fix in sight.

Camera. What Camera?

Then there’s the camera. No one you know can take a picture of you with your phone. There is no on screen button to snap with, so everyone presses the video camera button and takes videos of you posing for a still – which is funny the first time it happens, but gets old very fast. What’s worse is that the camera is awful. Even after you explain that you just press anywhere on the screen to take a picture, the pictures are remarkably bad. You can go read a tech article about why they are as bad as they are, but I just returned from Oktoberfest in Munich and I am very happy that my friends all had iPhones and Galaxy S4’s — otherwise I would have no pictures from the Hippodrom.

For me, when you combine the useless camera and hardware incompatibility, the phone becomes a liability, not an asset. That said, there are some things to truly love about the device.

Battery Life

Although Moto says that you’ll get 48 hours of battery life, in practice, I am getting a solid 24, which is awesome. Because the Droid Maxx has a Snapdragon processor in it, you can use Qualcomm’s Battery Guru app to help manage and extend your battery life. If you hate switching batteries mid-day with your GS4, you’ll love the Droid Maxx.

OK Google Now

Just say “OK Google Now” and you will get an up close and personal view of how Google Glass is going to work. Google Now is awesome. If you think Siri is cool, you will strongly love just saying “OK Google Now” and getting your device to respond. The Maxx does not even need to be unlocked; it just needs to be powered on. Awesome!

Stock Android, Sort Of

The Droid Maxx comes with Android 4.2 and will be easily upgradable to 4.3. It has almost no bloatware or crapware installed, which makes using it a pleasure. If you are a Google Apps for Business user, you will be in heaven. The Droid Maxx is to Google Apps for Business what iPhones are to Mac users – they’re simply made for each other.

If You Don’t Take Pictures, This May Be the Best Phone on the Market

If you don’t take pictures or if you don’t care about how the ones you do take come out, this may be the best Android available. The tech specs notwithstanding, the phone is fast, powerful and responsive in ways that other devices are not. If you’re just an email and txt person who likes to web browse, game and use apps – you will not find a better Android phone.

If It’s So Great, Why Send It Back?

Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Video, Kids, Friends, and Social Media of all types require excellent visuals – these are simply not possible with the Droid Maxx. Unless you are in perfect natural light and can capture the image you want without a flash, you will hate the results. This is simply unacceptable in 2013. Moto should know better. When Moto upgrades the camera, I’ll revisit the device. Right now, though, it’s got to go back. I’m amazed at how much I hate taking bad pictures.

You Can’t Have Everything

I can’t tell you how much I wish the Moto Droid Maxx did it all. That would have made me very, very happy. What will I use instead? I’m already back to my trusty Samsung Galaxy S4, and anxiously awaiting the Note III, which should be out on Verizon in all its LTE glory very soon.

About Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the Professor of Advanced Media in Residence at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and CEO of The Palmer Group, a consulting practice that helps Fortune 500 companies with technology, media and marketing. Named LinkedIn’s “Top Voice in Technology,” he covers tech and business for Good Day New York, is a regular commentator on CNN and writes a popular daily business blog. He's a bestselling author, and the creator of the popular, free online course, Generative AI for Execs. Follow @shellypalmer or visit



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