Motorola Droid Maxx vs Droid Ultra vs Droid Mini – Difference Comparison

Motorola Droid Maxx, Droid Ultra and Droid mini smartphones

In this post will take a look at the differences between the Motorola DROID Ultra, DROID MAXX and DROID Mini. The three Droid Smartphones were announced on the same day on July 23rd, 2013. Those three new Smartphones join Motorola Droid phone’s lineup. All three phones use Motorola’s brand new processor called “Motorola X8 Mobile Computing System” which I will talk about in-depth in a few moments.  The three new devices carry a different price tag. The Maxx is retailed for $299.99, followed by the Ultra  for $199.99 and the Mini for $99.99 — all with two-year contract at Verizon Wireless. Without a contract, you’ll pay $499.99 for the Droid Mini, $599.99 for the Droid Ultra and $699.99 for the MAXX. So that’s $100 difference in price between each more advanced model. For updated prices visit website.

What is that Motorola X8 Mobile Computing System?

The first question that many people want to get an answer to is what is exactly this new ‘Motorola X8 Mobile Computing System‘? — What makes this processor so special among the other processors that we currently have on the market embedded in other modern smartphone devices?

The Motorola X8 is a unique mobile computing system that is, as of the time of writing, available on these three devices and only for Motorola. It’s called a ‘Mobile computing system’ because it combines eight integrated processor, special algorithms and sensors to produce a super fast data and graphics processing power.

A total of 8-Cores:

  • 2 Application Processor Cores
  • 4 Graphics Processor Cores
  • 1 Contextual Computing Processor Core
  • 1 Natural Language Processor Core

The first two cores are used for running applications and are referred to as “Application processors”. They work in the same way like regular CPUs on other mobile devices. The other two cores are the Contextual Computing Processor Core and the Natural Language Processor Core are running at 1.7 GHz clock speed and built using 28mm low-power (LP) technology. Low Power (LP) was the first process that was used for 28nm manufacturing. It offers twice the gate density of 40nm, and allowed reducing the size of the SRAM cell by fifty percent and result in up to 45% speed improvement compared to previous technology.

This highly energy-efficient and high performance technology was designed to meet the demands of  long standby time based device,  like smartphones. These cores will be used to power the always-on voice command system of the new Droid smartphone and future devices as well. This will allow the phone to continuously monitor the user’s voice, even when the phone is in ‘lock’ state. This will help use advanced voice-based technologies without consuming lots of power and quickly drain the battery. One example is the option that allows people to find their device by using a voice command. Just say (or shout): “OK Google Now, Call my droid.” — your Droid phone will sound your incoming call ring tone  and display bright splashing visuals on the display so you can easily locate your phone.

The other four cores are powerful graphics processors running at 400 MHz clock speed. The tight integration of those 8 cores allows the data to move blazing fast from the CPU to the RAM, resulting in 3.2 million pixel fill rate and improve the capabilities the Droid Mini, MAXX and Ultra when running latest 3D applications and HD games.  The four graphics processing cores use 16 shader units. Each of those share units actually behaves like a simple CPU. Each shade unit hosts a Pixel shader code, each one operates on a single pixel on the screen to render the image. The pixel shader gets data about the pixel like its positioning and the pixel shader computes the color of that pixel as it will be rendered on the screen. The shader units were designed to process that type of data, but unlike regular central processing units, they do it much faster, as they designed specifically for that purpose.

The Natural Language Processor core hosts AI algorithms that have automatic learning procedures, which when combined with contextual data derived from the Contextual computing Processor core to recognize your voice and operate the phone without touch (aka “Touchless control”) using only voice verbal commands. This Touchless control operation works in always-on fashion allowing Touchless control even when the phone is locked.

As I mentioned, the Touchless control will be tightly integrated with the two LP cores to preserve battery life. Without those cores using the LP processor, the always-on Touchless control would have drained the battery very fast. Therefore, Motorola solved this problem by using two dedicated low-power cores for that task.

The Motorola 8X also uses advanced noise cancelling technology, and with the use of the Natural Language Processor, the Droid smartphone will record a clear recording of your voice to make it easier for the Natural Language Processor to identify your voice, analyze your words, construct context and turn that contextual data into actionable commands and tasks that the phone can execute upon. Furthermore, the Motorola X8’s contextual computing can detect when your phone is facing down or in your pocket and turn off the pixel backlighting to preserve battery life or whether to turn on the gyroscope toe recognize the phone’s orientation. This smart mechanism greatly helps to improve the functionality of your smartphone as well as reduce power consumption by turning off sensor and the display when not in use.

Take a look at this informative video by phonearena that shows you the cool features available on the DROID Ultra, DROID MAXX and Droid Mini.

Super Cool and useful, isn’t it? — Kudos to Motorola for those innovative features.

It’s worth mentioning that although the Motorola X8 SoC features 8 individual cores, the debate is whether this type of processor should be referred to as 8-core (octa-core) or dual-core. A Motorola representative said that they are not saying that they have an octa-core chip, and therefore the system was dubbed as “octa-core Mobile Computing System”.  Remember,  all three phones have two-cores dedicated for applications. The Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC One have four of those types of cores instead of two. So the Maxx, Droid and Mini are actually dual-core smartphone.

Of course what’s important here are the features and performance. We can talk about the amazing hardware specs that all those three phones have, but at the end of the day, what’s important for the customer are the end results. If all that advanced technology and functionality will lead to better performance and useful  features, many customers will probably consider buying one of those phones. If not, nobody will care whether it’s called a 8-core Mobile Computing System or Dual-core processor with quad CPU cores.


OK, it’s time for you to meet the three new DROIDs smartphone, the Droid MAXX, Droid Ultra and Droid min. We’ll start with a side by side comparison table which compares the three DROID’s specs one versus the other, and we’ll continue to discuss about those differences later on.

PlatformAndroid 4.2.2Android 4.2.2Android 4.2.2
Dimensions5.41 x 2.80 x 0.33 inches (137.5 x 71.2 x 8.5 mm)5.41 x 2.80 x 0.28 inches (137.5 x 71.2 x 7.18 mm)4.77 x 2.41 x 0.35 inches (121.25 x 61.3 x 8.9 mm)
The Droid MAXX has the same width and height as the Ultra but it's 1.32 mm thicker. The 'Mini' as its name suggests is the smallest among the three, but also the thickest.

Motorola Droid Maxx, Droid Ultra and Droid mini side by side
Motorola Droid Maxx, Droid Ultra and Droid mini side by side size comparison

You can clearly see from the above image that the Droid mini is indeed much smaller than the Maxx and Ultra.
Weight5.89 oz (167 g)4.83 oz (137 g)4.59 oz (130 g)
Build QualityKevlar backplateKevlar backplateKevlar backplate
All three Droids made of Kevlar, a material that was measured to be 5 times stronger than steel on an equal weight basis. It is used on the Droid phones because it's very resilience , light weight but more importantly it doesn't interfere with the phone's signal transmission. However, when you touch it it does feel like plastic, not metal.

The other difference between the three devices is that the DROID MAXX is the only one that has a matte finish rather than glossy one. I personally prefer the matte finish, make the phone looks less plasticy and also resilient to fingerprints.

The DROID Ultra is the thinnest among the three Droids and it does feel a bit more comfortable in the hands. I really like the profile design of the Ultra. The Droid Ultra is also the only one that is being offered in Red and not just black. There is also a a DROID Ultra by MOTOROLA Employee Edition (limited edition) -- but this design is deserved for Verizon Wireless employees only, and it really looks good! (check this image on

In some places I've read that the Motorola Droid ULTRA Red (not that with the stripe) is sold only for Verizon employees, but after visiting website you can see that the red color and the black are available for non-verizon employees as well.
Display5.0 inches
720x1280 pixels (HD)
294 ppi

"Active Display"

Gorilla Glass 2
5.0 inches
720x1280 pixels (HD)
294 ppi

"Active Display"

Gorilla Glass 2
4.3 inches
720x1280 pixels
342 ppi

"Active Display"

Gorilla Glass 2
Both the MAXX and Ultra boasts a large 5.0 display using AMOLED technology. The DROID Mini has a smaller display but with the same HD resolution and therefor higher pixel density.

The Mini also has a TFT LCD display rather than AMOLED, so it doesn't enjoy the same low-power consumption advantage that the AMOLED display, it's thicker, doesn't enjoy the "True" black but it does enjoy better visibility / viewability in direct sunlight, a weakness of AMOLED displays.

The "Active Display" is a new feature that can light only the pixel at the center of the display and pulsate in order to grab the users' attention of an incoming notification. Definitely consumes much less power and helps prolong the battery life.

The user can then click to read the message or hold and drag to dismiss it.The Active Display knows how to recognize when the device is in your pocket or on a flat surface and shut the pixels off to preserve battery life.

According to Thinh Pham from, the screen is is also coated with a water-repellent nano coating as well (couldn't confirm this from the official sites)
Battery3500 mAh2130 mAh2000 mAh
The DROID MAXX has a very powerful battery and industry-leading battery life, up to 48 hours. It's quite amazing that Motorola was able to both use a large capacity battery but still maintain the Maxx 8.5mm thin.

If you want to best battery performance, the Maxx will be the way to go. The other alternative that we've seen in other devices is the use of a third-party high-capacity battery but ones that requires a cover and greatly adds to the volume of the phone.

The Motorola Droid Ultra and Droid Mini should offer roughly 28 hours of talk time or 13 days of standby time, ~12 days less of the standby time of the Maxx.

The DROID MAXX should last for two days of average use (as stated on official Droid MAXX page, I quote: "48 hour claim based on average user profile").

Motorola doesn't state what an "average user profile" actually is, but I assume that the DROID MAXX will certainly outperform the RAZR MAXX HD that has 32 hours of talk time if the Mini and Ultra has around 28 hours of talk time.
Wirelss ChargingYesNoYes
The Motorola DROID Ultra lacks the wireless charging feature. The Mini and Maxx has Qi wireless charging. This means that they should be compatible with all the Qi standard wireless pads on the market.
Wi-Fi802.11 b/g/n

Hotspot with support for up to 8 devices
802.11 b/g/n802.11 b/g/n
BluetoothVersion 4.0 LE+EDRVersion 4.0 LE+EDRVersion 4.0 LE+EDR
GPS and LocationGPS / aGPS / eCompassGPS / aGPS / eCompassGPS / aGPS / eCompass
CameraFront: 2MP (1080p recording)

Rear: 10MP Clear Pixel (RGBC), LED Flash, 1080p video recording, 4mm F2.4 lens
Front: 2MP (1080p recording)

Rear: 10MP Clear Pixel (RGBC), LED Flash, 1080p video recording, 4mm F2.4 lens
Front: 2MP (1080p recording)

Rear: 10MP Clear Pixel (RGBC), LED Flash, 1080p video recording, 4mm F2.4 lens
All the three features the same front-facing and rear-facing camera specs and capabilities.

The rear-facing camera on the Maxx, Mini and Ultra utilizes a Clear Pixel technology.

The Clear Pixel Technology was created by Kodak that was developed it for 5 years (dubbed "Panchromatic technology").

Instead of a a conventional Bayer digital sensor in which prior to the light reaching the sensor is passed through a filter to collect light data for different wavelengths (For Red, Green and Blue).

The Clear Pixel Sensors use RGBC color array instead of the conventional RGB as in the Bayer sensor. Unlike Bayer sensors, the Clear Pixel sensor use an unfiltered pixels (aka C = Clear) along the red and Blue filtered pixels. This allows 50% more light to be gathered by the light sensitive photodiodes and therefore improves the camera low-light performance, allowing improved S/N performance, faster shutter speeds and overall improved image quality.

So Motorola instead of going with a large sensor or use a lower resolution to improve light sensitivity, went with the Clear Pixel technology.instead.

This technology is used only for the rear-facing camera from what I can tell from the official specs on Motorola website.
Micro SD SlotNoNoNo
SensorsBarometer, Magnometer, Gyroscope, Proximity sensor, Ambient light sensorBarometer, Magnometer, Gyroscope, Proximity sensor, Ambient light sensorBarometer, Magnometer, Gyroscope, Proximity sensor, Ambient light sensor
Storage Capacity32GB16GB16GB
ProcessorMotorola X8 Mobile Computing SystemMotorola X8 Mobile Computing SystemMotorola X8 Mobile Computing System
All three devices employ the brand new Motorola X8 Mobile Computing System. Finally Motorola takes a real advantage of its long-time experience as a semiconductor manufacturer. However, the new X8 processor use a custom SoC that uses Qualcomm Krait CPU core and Adreno GPU cores.

2 Application Processor Cores
4 Graphics Processor Cores
1 Contextual Computing Processor Core
1 Natural Language Processor Core

For more information see the opening section of this article.

ConnectivityWi-Fi, 4G LTE, EV-DO Rev.AWi-Fi, 4G LTE, EV-DO Rev.AWi-Fi, 4G LTE, EV-DO Rev.A
ChargerMicro USBMicro USBMicro USB
Carrier AvailabllityVerizonVerizonVerizon

As you can see from the above table, the Motorola Droid Mini features the same 8X processor as the other two devices, so it enjoys the same performance as the high-end model. All three phones therefore enjoying the 8X processor capabilities. Another cool software feature is the Droid Command Center, a circular widget on your home page that allows you to easily share photos, view the weather, view the battery life and access the settings of your phone with just a few clicks.

Motorola also added a new cool feature that with a slight shake of the device you can wake the device up into the camera app, allowing you to quickly take snaps to never miss a great shot. Taking a shot is very easy in this mode, just click on the screen to take a shot or click and hold to take a sequence of shots. The number of sequenced shots captured is displayed in a circle at the center of the screen. Other gestures include press and drag up to zoom and drag down to zoom out.  Swipe right for camera app settings or swipe left to view the image gallery and the photos you’ve taken.

Sharing photos with other Droid devices couldn’t be easier. With the Droid Zap function you can use your two finger swipe up gesture to share your photos with other droids devices around you. The images are saved to the Droid Zap album  You can also password protect the images so only people with the proper password can view the photos. When a photo is locked with password, you’ll see a message “Locked Zap found” and you need to click the “Enter Code” text and enter the password to decrypt the file to view its content.

Regarding battery life, the Motorola Droid Maxx is the real beast among the three, offers 48 hours of mixed / average usage compare to “only” 24 hour battery life of mixed usage on the Droid Mini and Droid Ultra.

So despite the differences in screen size and display technology, physical size and design, wireless charging and battery capacity, those three device features almost exactly the same specs. No matter which device you decide to pick up, you know that you can enjoy those great features that we discussed here — no one is left unsatisfied. Of course many people will certainly want to put their hands on the MAXX due to its superior battery performance. The MAXX will appeal to high-end users, games and those who love to watch lots of videos and consume multimedia content on their mobile phone.

I’ve read many comments from people who said that the those three devices are relatively expensive considering that these are dual-core smartphones. Furthermore, they all have HD resolution rather than Full HD (1920×1080 pixels). At the ned of the day, you need to ask yourself whether or not the extended battery life and 8X-based features worth the cost. I personally really like the always on voice command system and I think that Motorola will further improve it in future devices. The Droid MAXX, Ultra and Mini aer new generation smartphones that shows us what companies are capable of when they invest their money in hardware technology innovation.

What do you think about the new Motorola Droid smartphones?, Which one you prefer and do you think that Motorola maybe priced those phones a bit to high?

Share your thoughts by posting your opinion in the comment section below. Thanks.


Source:  Taylor Wimberly,

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