Given the hype surrounding the Moto X, it’s easy to overlook the trio of Droids Motorola and Verizon revealed just days before the new Motorola flagship. After all, sans battery and screen size, there is not much difference between the various models in the new crop of Motorola smartphones, which are likely the first to be developed and built completely since Google acquired the Droid maker more than two years ago.
Of the four, the Droid Ultra and Droid Mini represent opposite ends of the size spectrum, measuring 5 inches and 4.3 inches, respectively, and Brighthand has both in house (video).
While the team is not yet ready to fully review the devices, there are some obvious elements that stand out after some time with both.
In regards to the build, Verizon touted the Droids as each having a “DuPont Kevlar fiber unibody” in press materials. That may or may not make them bulletproof (Brighthand won’t be testing that), but it does make them fingerprint magnets to such extent that the lightest tap produces a smudge. Critics often criticize Samsung for its reliance on plastic builds, and the same applies to the Droid Ultra and Droid Mini. Both are extremely glossy, feel like toys, and those with sweaty, wet, or greasy hands are going to want to wipe down before handling.
It’s a shame too, as both are wonderfully designed, with a comfortable shape that lends itself to an easy-to-hold handset. Similar to the Droid Razr models, the new Droids are oblong, with rounded corners and a thickness that slightly tapers downward heading toward the bottom of the device. The Droid Ultra is slightly thinner than the Mini, but the Mini is a bit lighter, but both meet the increasingly absurd thinness and weigh standards set by other flagship phones.
Outside of screen size, another key difference between the two is display technology. The Droid Ultra has an AMOLED display, while the Mini sports and LCD. As such, the Ultra has a greater contrast, while the Mini is a bit brighter. But it’s hard to complain about either, as both are top notch at a glance.
BH is also not going to complain about the software. Both ship with Android 4.2.2 and Moto’s new voice activation features. Just as advertised, the phrase “OK Google Now” can awake a device and be used for basic tasks, such as sending emails, making calls, setting up navigation, and more. Following an initial setup process, the Droids “learn” the user’s voice, so that only he or she can voice activate a particular phone.
Guess what? It works. Well, it works in initial testing. BH will have to push the Droids to discover the limits, including its usefulness in noisy settings.
Otherwise, the Droids seem reasonable stable and swift, with near stock Android, at least with casual use. Though, they are preloaded with the usual Verizon garbage apps, which unfortunately cannot be entirely uninstalled. But they can be ignored, and stricken from the homescreen. As can the aggressive and garish Droid branding.
But that’s a matter of taste, and the BH team intends to separate that from the objective truth to figure out if the new Motorola Droid Ultra and Droid Mini are worthy of your dollars and, maybe a two-year commitment in our full reviews.