Motorola Droid Maxx vs Samsung Galaxy S4 vs HTC One – Feature Comparison

Motorola Droid phone on a colorful background

With the Motorola DROID MAXX, Motorola puts itself in the center of  technology innovation and proven that it hasn’t lost its touch.  With the HTC One heading to Verizon and the Samsung Galaxy S4 32GB selling for the same price with month-to-month service and $50 less with a 2-year contract — some will argue that the Droid Maxx is the better phone, others might feel that Motorola little exaggerated with a price. The Samsung Galaxy S4 has a quad-core processor, Full HD Super AMOLED display and many built-in software features that the MAXX lacks.  The Droid Maxx has its own surprises of its own, including the X8 Mobile Computing System and always on voice control.

The HTC One as of the time of writing the sells for $199.99 doe 2-year contract with AT&T and $599.99 for regular price with no commitment. This makes the HTC One the cheapest among the three. In this article I will compare the Droid MAXX versus the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One to see which one comes on top. I’m sure that you are curious to know if the new Motorola DROID MAXX can swim with the sharks and can compete well against HTC and Samsung flagship Smartphones — Let’s find out!

Motorola Droid Maxx

Motorola Droid MaxxThe Motorola Droid Maxx was announced together with the Droid Ultra and Droid Mini. The Motorola Droid Maxx is the most expensive one among the three, costs $100 more than the Ultra and $200 more than the Droid Mini with a 2-year contract at Verizon Wireless. It enjoys the same 5-inch display as the Ultra but larger than the 4.3-inch of the mini. It is much larger than the Mini and slightly thicker than the Ultra. It’s the heaviest among the three, uses AMOLED display (the mini uses TFT LCD), has 32GB of onboard storage (twice than the others) and have a much stronger battery.

The Motorola Droid Maxx was designed to continue the success of the Droid Razr MAXX HD which was known for its durable construction (DuPont™ KEVLAR® fiber encase), beautiful display, thin design — but most of all for its superb battery performance.  The Razr Maxx HD uses 3300 mAh Li Ion Polymer battery, a 30% increase in capacity over the Razr HD which enjoys a 2530 mAh battery. The specs reveal a 21.5 hours of continuous talk time and 15.5 days standby time.

With the Motorola Droid Maxx we are now talking about 3500 mAh battery, 48 hour battery life for average profile use or up to 25 days of standby time. The great thing above all these specs is that the Motorola Droid Maxx is 0,8 mm slimmer than the Droid Razr Maxx HD. This is an amazing achievement for Motorola.  There is not need to use an extended battery with thick back to enjoy a greater battery life. There is no other smartphone on the market, as of the time of writing, that can match that battery performance.

There are two reasons why Motorola was able to achieve such a great battery performance. The first is obvious, due to the size of the device, Motorola could use a larger battery. Second, Motorola uses the new X8 Mobile Computing System that was designed from the start with power consumption in mind . The new X8 Mobile Computing System uses 8 cores, 2 for applications, 4 for the graphics processing and a Contextual Computing Processor and a Natural Language processor, both which consume very little power. Thirds but not less important is the use of an “Active Display” which together with data from the computing system, can turn on parts of the display or turn on sensors only when they are need to be used.

The Active Display can show notifications by turning on pixels at the center of the screen, while the other pixels are turned off. This greatly improves the battery performance. All of those features when used together — makes the Droid Maxx a very efficient device when it comes to power management. If you are a high-end user and doing a lot of multimedia stuff (e.g. Playing 3D games, watching videos, listening to music), you will greatly appreciate the new features of the new DROID MAXX.

The Always One voice control feature uses the two Lower-Power (LP) cores that were designed from the start for devices that have very high standby time. Therefore the always on feature that suppose to drain the battery very quickly, uses very little power and helps brining new innovation to the Droid Maxx but not at the price of reduced battery life. On the contrary, the Droid MAXX has the most impressive battery life than any other smartphone device on the market. Now you can understand why Motorola is very proud of each achievement with this new innovative device.

Just note that the new X8 processor, although made of 8 individual cores, it’s not an octa-core processor, rather a dual-core smartphone, as it has two application processor cores, rather than having eight of those to count as an octa-core processor.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQkFgSVTSHM

I love the look of the device, but I’ve read many opinions of people who actually didn’t like it at all. Worth saying that the Droid Maxx unlike its peers the Ultra and Mini have a Matte finish cover than a glossy one. The Droid Maxx like all the other three Droids were designed exclusively for Verizon Wireless (at least that’s what the Verizon representative guy said on the video from Phone Dog).

Droid Maxx vs Galaxy S4 and HTC One Compared

The Motorola Droid Maxx has a mid-range sheer CPU performance and it wasn’t designed to compete head-to-head against the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 that boasts quad-cores. Don’t be confused with the X8 Mobile System that has 8 cores, which two of them are application cores, four are dedicated to graphics processing and the other two are low-power cores for the always on voice command features.

The MAXX also has HD resolution not Full HD resolution as the S4 and the HTC One. This doesn’t mean that the Droid MAXX is much inferior to the GALAXY S4 and HTC One, in fact, I bet that many of you are already considering getting the Droid MAXX instead of the S4 and HTC One. The MAXX is in my opinion, the first mid-range phone that can actually pose a threat to Samsung and HTC flagship models, even without enjoying a Full HD display and quad-core of the application processor.

Let’s take a look and compare the specs of the three devices, so you can better understand the differences between the Droid MAXX, Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC One.

 
Droid Maxx
Galaxy S4
HTC One
AnnouncedJul 23, 2013March 14, 2013February 19, 2013
PlatformAndroid 4.2.2Android 4.2.2Android (4.2.2, 4.1.2)
Dimensions5.41 x 2.80 x 0.33 inches (137.5 x 71.2 x 8.5 mm)5.38 x 2.75 x 0.31 inches (136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm)5.41 x 2.69 x 0.37 inches (137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3 mm)
Droid Maxx, Galaxy S4 and HTC One size comparison

The three phones are about the same size more or less, with the S4 being the slimmest and the shortest.
DesignKevlarPolycarbonateMetal
The Droid Maxx uses Kevlar back, a lightweight and very strong synthetic fiber that is 5 times stronger than steel on an equal weight basis. this material is used on all the Mini and Ultra as well.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 is made of plastic, The S4 was critisized for not having an aluminum casing, considering it's a high-end smartphone. Nevertheless, the S4 is the lightest in the group (130 g vs 167 g vs 142 g) and it does feel solid in the hands, not that toyish feeling that you get with much cheaper devices that employ a plastic design.

The HTC One uses a unibody zero-gap has a slick aluminum body. If you still want to protect your phone chassis against scratches (it's aluminum after all), I recommend getting the DevilCase HTC One aluminum alloy protective bumper. It's compatible with earphones and chargers, reduces electromagnetic wave during phone calls, has six shock absorption layers to help protect your HTC One phone.

The HTC One is in no doubt the most impressive one when it comes to build quality, but the Droid MAXX Kevlar Matte finish back also feel great in the hands as well.

The problem with the HTC One unibody metal design is that it doesn't support Qi wireless charging.

In terms of external design, the S4 has the most rounded edges among the three, the MAXX has it's partial rounded corners to make it more futuristic in terms of design, the HTC One has an iPhone-like design if I can call it that way.

It's down to personal taste which one you prefer. I think that the decision shouldn't be made based on the the build quality, but rather on the other features. I agree with those who love the feel of metal and it also gives them the feeling that they upgraded their phone to a better one. Nevertheless, all three are buily with high quality materials, but I give the edge to the HTC One, Droid MAXX next and S4 last.
Weight5.89 oz (167 g)4.59 oz (130 g)5.04 oz (143 g)
Display5.0 inches
720x1280 pixels (HD)
294 ppi pixel density
Super AMOLED

Splash resistant nano coating
5.0 inches
1080x1920 pixels (full HD)
Super AMOLED
441 ppi pixel density
4.7 inches
1080x1920 pixels (full HD)
S-LCD3
469 ppi pixel density
Both the Motorola MAXX and the Galaxy S4 utilize an AMOLED technology display as opposed to S-LCD 3 of the HTC One.

The AMOLED display is known for its more saturated colors, deep blacks, wide viewing angles and power efficiency.

The HTC One is the better display when it comes to color accuracey and better outdoor visibility (see video below). I personally couldn't care less about color accuracey on a smartphone, it's not a professional image editing device. Nevertheless, some people just like the more natural look of images than the (over) saturated ones of the Super AMOLED.

Check this Super AMOLED vs Super LCD3 outdoor visibility test dones by minipcpro YouTube user, and you can see that the HTC One does look much better when viewed outdoors against ambient light.



I hope that in future devices we'll have a much better brightness, but the HTC One wins here hands down.

4.7 vs 5.0 inch display size comparison

The big difference is with the S4 and One having Full HD resolution compare to only HD on the MAXX, which put it in an inferior position compare to Samsung and HTC flagship models. The HTC One does have a smaller display
Gorilla GlassCorning Gorilla Glass 2Corning Gorilla Glass 3Corning Gorilla Glass 2
For some reason no one on any large website nor the official sites wrote about whether the Droid MAXX has a Gorilla Glass 3 or Gorilla Glass 2. Some say 2, some say 3 -- I was very confused.

It seems like this is important for people so I went to Verizon to ask them out.

The Droid MAXX has Corning Gorilla Glass 2 not 3 as I perviously though.

Here's a summary of the transcript of the chat with one of Verizon Wirelsss representatives.

Droid MAXX Gorilla Glass 2

So the Samsung Galaxy S4 is the only one in the group to offer GG3. I would just hope that the official specs would give a little bit more attention to this tiny but important details. Some people care about that and I see many people asking those questions in forums.

GG3 is 40% more scratch resistant and 50% stronger than GG2.

Battery3500 mAh

Standby Time: Up to 25 days
Talk time: up to 21 hours

Non-removable
2600 mAh

Standby Time: Up to 15.4 days
Talk time: up to 17 hours

Removable
2300 mAh

Standby Time: up to 21 days (500 hours)
Talk time: up to 18 hours

Non-removable
Some will say that this is the main selling point of the Motorola Droid MAXX, at least when you compare it to the Droid Ultra and Droid Mini.

Motorola MAXX Droid has 48 hours of average profile use (quote from Motorola website: "48 hour claim based on average user profile"), which means that for the average user the Droid MAXX will last to full two days. An amazing battery performance to say at least. The S4 nor the HTC One can come close to that superb battery life.

Motorola was able to achieve that by utilizing a high-capacity battery but also by utilizing two LP cores for its always on voice control features and by being able to light only part of the display pixels to display alert for incoming messages and notifications. This all helps to bring a superior battery life performance that is first of its kind in the mobile phone industry.

The best thing in all this is that the phone remains incredibly slim. For other people to enjoy such an amazing battery life is to purchase a high-capacity battery from 3rd battery manufacturer and replace their current cover with a much bulkier one to support the battery size.

Worth mentioning that both the HTC One and the DROID MAXX have a non-removable battery, as opposed to GALAXY S4 that has a removable battery. So the HTC One has not just that you get the least powerful battery (in terms of capacity), you can't change it. What happens when the battery performance decreases, you don't have the option to replace it. In the S4 you can carry a second battery or replace the battery when its performance decreases over time.

Want the best battery life out-of-the-box? - Get the Droid MAXX!
ProcessorMotorola X8 Mobile Computing System

2 application processor cores (aka Dual-core), 4 graphics processor cores, 1 contextual computing processor core and 1 natural language processor core.
Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 APQ8064T

Quad-core 1.9 GHz
Adreno 320

Also available with Exynos 5 Octa.

With a hack you can utilize all the 8 cores (check this out
Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 APQ8064T

Quad-core 1.7 GHz
Adreno 320
Numbers aside, what's most important is the real life results and see how the three perform in benchmarks. There are so many variables that are not calculated and the sheer number of cores and CPU clock speed and GPU clock speed doesn't always tells us all about the performance.

That's where many people turn to benchmarks to see the performance of a given mobile device.

As of the time of writing, there isn't much done to benchmark the Droid MAXX as well as the Ultra and mini. The MAXX just wasn't designed to compete against the S4 and HTC One when it comes to sheer 3D performance.

The DROID MAXX was designed to support the always on voice command features which are the highlight of this device, but at the same time provide "enough" performance to satisfy the demand of those who love to play latest 3D games.

It's focused as an all-around greatest performer, rather than relying on beating the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One flagship Smartphones in their own game. It's a mid-range Smartphone when it comes to sheer performance, and those who buy the Droid MAXX will do it not for its benchmark score, but rather for its great battery life and innovative features that are backed by the new innovative X8 processor.

The X8 is a custom made processor that uses Qualcomm processor. It's not a Motorola designed processor as you might think, but the architecture apparently was designed by Motorola.

Both the HTC One and Galaxy S4 are top performers and you can expect high frame rates on latest HD games as well as a smooth performance running any app that is currently available on the market.
RAM2GB2GB2GB
Storage32GB16GB / 32GB32GB
Micro SD SlotNoYes (up to 64GB)No
Wireless ChargingYes (Native Qi Wireless)Yes (optional using wireless cover)Wireless charging not supported
CameraFront: 2MP
Rear: 10MP + LED, F2.4 lens

Both can capture 1080p
Front: 2MP
Rear: 13MP + LED, F2.2 lens

Both can capture 1080p

Digital image stabilization
Front: 2.1MP
Rear: 1/3" 4MP + LED, F2.0 lens

Both can capture 1080p

Optical image stabilization
One of the main selling points of the HTC One is its UltraPixel camera low-light performance. The HTC One UltraPixel camera (the rear-facing camera) has only 4MP resolution, but that leads to a 2.0 µm pixel size. The combination of large pixels with a fast f/2.0 lens result in an excellent low-light camera performance, beating the Droid MAXX And the Galaxy S4 rear-facing cameras.

Both the Galaxy S4 and Droid MAXX took the traditional approach with large megapixel cameras with a small sensor, that lead to much less impressive low-light performance of course.



In the video above by Danny Winget about you can see how the HTC One compares to the Galaxy S4 in video. Make sure you watch the video above in 1080p. The S4 deals with the lack of light by boosting the ISO which therefore lead to much more grainy image and lose of details. The HTC One produces superior image quality.. look at the fine details in full screen and you can see what I'm talking about. The same will be if we compare the Motorola Droid MAXX camera.

The main disadvantage of the HTC One rear-facing camera is of course it's relatively much lower resolution. This resolution therefore isn't recommended for large prints. If you take pictures for sharing on Facebook, posting on your website, Flickr and just as a hobby, the HTC One 4MP is more than enough I assume. I think for most people 4MP will satisfy all their needs, and also result in much smaller image file size as well (although resolution can be reduced to reduce the file size on the S4 and the Droid MAXX).
NFCYesYesYes
Bluetooth4.0 4.0 4.0 with aptX™ enabled
Wi-FiIEEE 802.11 a/ac/b/g/nIEEE 802.11 a/ac/b/g/nIEEE 802.11 a/ac/b/g/n
DLNAYesYesYes
Other Features- always on Touchless Control
- Droid Zap (hassle-free way to share content with other droid devices)
- Command Center
- Wireless connect to HFTV (Miracast-enabled TV)
- Call Noise reduction
- Shake to wake the phone in Camera mode
- Minimum battery battery notification alerts
- Group Play
- Sound & Shot
- Dual Shot (front + rear capture also in video)
- Drama Shot (series of photos of moving subjects)
- Air Gestore
- Smart Pause
- Samsung Hub
- S Translator
- ChatON
- WatchON
- S Health
- Story Album
- Adapt display
- Adapt Sound
- Samsung Home Sync
- BoomSound Dual frontal speakers powered by built-in amplifiers
- Beats Audio
- HTC Zone
- HTC BlinkFeed
- HTC Video Highlight
- Infrared Port (remote control) + Interactive TC guide
- Sense Voice (dynamically boost the in-call voice)

Sheer Processing Power is NOT Everything

As you can see from the above specs, the main selling points for the Motorola Droid Maxx are its awe-inspiring battery life and advanced always-on voice recognition system with voice commands. The Motorola X8 Computing System power all those amazing feature that we see on the Droid MAXX. Having said that, the MAXX does have its cons. It lacks a micro SD card slot for storage expansion, has only HD screen resolution with Gorilla Glass 2 and not GG3,  its battery is not replaceable / removable and it uses only dual-core CPU (not to be confused with the 8-core computing system).

The Motorola Droid MAXX is also less impressive than the Samsung Galaxy S4 when it comes to the range of built-in software features, doesn’t enjoy the dual-frontal speakers as the HTC One, don’t have an infrared port nor a fast lens as the HTC One rear-facing camera.

The Motorola Droid Maxx even without those features is it characterized by interesting and useful features. This is the first time that we see a correct implementation of the constant voice control communication features on a Smartphone. It can therefore can and will offer a great alternative to those who used Siri on the iPhone. This feature will get improved with each generation of new Smartphones. Motorola made a smart move focusing on a feature that, in the near future, might revolutionize the way we use our phone. The voice has always been the easiest and quickest way to control our mobile devices. We can run a specific app or get information without needing to use the virtual keyboard or diving deep into the Android menu system.

The question that still remains is whether this formula will work and convince people to buy a Motorola Droid device instead of other mid-range devices and even instead of a flagship model from other companies. According to the latest opinions that I’ve read in different forums, blog comments and reviewers, it seems that people are really excited about the new Droid phones, especially with the Droid MAXX. My only criticism for Motorola is that it didn’t make the MAXX looks as good as the Droid Ultra. Other than that, Motorola did a remarkable job with the MAXX.

The Droid Maxx isn’t cheap and put itself along the HTC One and Galaxy S4 when it comes to the price segment. I had a chance to use the Samsung Galaxy S4 for a few days. I found the Samsung Galaxy S4 to be a remarkable Smartphone with tons of great features and amazing display. I personally would buy the S4 over the HTC One for its removable battery, larger display, wireless charging and a lot of  software features, as well as its addictive Air Gesture feature. Others might prefer the HTC One for its better build quality (all metal unibody design), superior sound quality and its incredible rear-camera low-light performance.

As you can see, there isn’t a clear winner here. Each of the cell phones that we compared here has its own cons and pros. The question that you need to ask yourself is whether the Motorola Droid MAXX features are useful to you or not. Some people might find the MAXX to lack the core features that they are looking at a next-generation smartphone. Some will find it very expensive considering its relatively lower resolution (HD vs Full HD) display and dual-core processor.

If you want my opinion, I would probably be getting the Samsung Galaxy S4 after all, but it doesn’t make the DROID MAXX less of the device, just make the S4 a better phone for my personal needs.

Now it’s your choice to decide. Which one do you prefer and why? — Post your opinion in the comment section below and tell us why do you think the Droid MAXX is better or not than the Galaxy S4 and HTC One.

{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Chuck July 31, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    Thank you for the added detail on the Droid Maxx! I have been a loyal Moto user since my Droid X. My co-worker was a loyal Moto buyer and just grabbed a new S4 and loves the 1080p screen and high performance processor for gaming. He is still evaluating battery life.

    I have a long commute and will benefit from the touchless voice commands more than a 1080p screen. I am not a gamer, so I just want a smooth UI. My hope is the new Droid line from Moto will be close to pure Android OS and work as buttery smooth as the iPhone but still offer the benefits of Android’s open (PC like) environment. It looks like the Moto Droid Maxx is a better fit for me — only concern is no SD slot! (That is a fail in my opinion).

    Reply edit
  • Darlene August 17, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    I am due for an upgrade and trying to decide between maxx and s4 . I like the battery life of maxx my main concern is if you keep phone for a while and battery goes you can’t just replace it like the s4

    Reply edit
  • Mobile & Phone August 17, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    Hi Darlene. I totally agree with you. I think that the safest thing to do is to call the carrier that you are about to purhcase the phone from and ask them if it’s possible to replace the battery in their repair lab.

    Reply edit
    • Kra November 23, 2013 at 5:37 pm

      No to the battery replacement, would cost too much. They want you to carry a replacement plan where you pay 6-8 bucks a month for a remanufactured phone or 10-12 bucks a month for a new replacement.

      Reply edit

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