Motorola has gone cheap on materials, high on power. I have just received a brand new Droid MAXX, the phone that was teased a few weeks ago by Motorola for their X8 Architecture.
My first phone was a Motorola Razor, you know, the old flip ones? They had been around for a little while and I remember seeing the commercials for them. Sleek metal, sharp corners, and beautiful shapes. They were art.
My next phone was a first-generation Droid. It was brand-new and gave me the same (even more) giddy kid-like love for it. I was introduced to an entire world of mobile computing and browsing, and the heavy-duty machine showed serious consciousness in design. Shaped like a monolith from space,
My third phone, which I am now retiring to be used for mobile desktop control, is a Droid RAZR, the original one, before the MAXX and the . It was thin, light, and gave me a rush of adrenline when I held it, if only so I wouldn't drop it. It was (and still in) the most beautiful smartphone ever built, in my opinion. The big thing was that I felt like I was getting a truly special and cutting-edge phone. That's why the Droid line exists, to sell that cutting-edge capability at a price to compete with the average iPhone.
Now, as of 15 minutes ago, I have a Droid MAXX, the next successor in this venerable line of top-of-the-line phones. In terms of packaging, it is "okay".
I'll add some pictures of the actual packaging soon, but for now bear with my quick review. It's charging up and I'll wait to review its hardware and software after I've used it for a few days.
Before (with both the Droid 1 and RAZR) you'd get a whole box (made of some strange fiber material that was a cross between cream paper and alcantara. with all sorts of cool, emotive designs on it and lots of room. The phone was front and center, and the peripherals around it. Now, the MAXX comes in a single 3x5" box with a much cheaper paper construction (obvious seams, floppier, etc.) and all of the warranty materials stuffed inside.
The charger is a cheap (read: very cheap) plastic knockoff of an iPod charger. That really bothered me. The second time I plugged it into the phone (which put the charging cable plug at the bottom of the phone, where it is not against a flat surface but a rounded lip, and a complete divergance from the previous phones)
Reasons I didn't get a Moto X:
- I was in a time crunch. My old phone's sim card was bad, and non-removable. I couldn't wait 2 weeks for shipping or 2 months for the 32 GB version, which comes completely standard in the Droid MAXX.
- I wanted a droid. I have been suckered into brand name image, and I regret that, because it diminishes me.
- Battery life. The moto X isn't much better than the old RAZR (which was so bad that the original RAZR MAXX was hastily thrown out to calm the masses) whereas the new MAXX is about 3x the length. Since I am a busy university student who often times has to use wifi because 4G won't reach through the stone class buildings, this can really open up possibilities with my phone.
- Screen size. Which I now completely go back against.
- Inductive charging.
Reasons I should have:
- Quality. Every review I have read say its design is top-notch. I like the MAXX from the front, but it is ugly to feel and hold on the sides and back, where I will primarily be holding it.
- Size. My hands are small. I could easily fit a Moto X with a case, I am sure, but I doubt I'll be able to use a case with the MAXX and
- Patience. I could have had everything in the Droid MAXX, minus battery life and + a lot of quality, for not any more money, had I just waited for the 32GB version to come out. I could even get it relatively quickly if I stepped down to the 16GB. I would just have to deal a bit longer with this occasionally (once a day) shut down of the sim card.
- Inductive charging isn't nearly as appealing as possibly a decent charger and port to begin with.
The MAXX is a really, really great phone that feels much worse than it really is, due to all of the shitty packaging and bad ergonomics. Let me go through the details:
The phone is heavy. Really heavy. It's about the same size as the old RAZR +case, but weighs about 30% more. It feels more comfortable in your hand, only because the RAZR was designed for being tiny, not comfortable. If you have large hands though, this phone probably feels right at home.
The screen is about 1/2" larger I'd guess, yet I can still reach it fine because it doesn't have nearly the same overhang as the RAZR did, so being able to reach the screen is not a problem even for my tiny hands, it's just holding the damn thing.
Another swift departure from the Droid tradition is that the sides of the phone are no longer hard plastic/metal. They're that weird "KEVLAR" stuff, which wraps around the edges. It feels nice, but round things feel inefficient to me. They feel popularized and pedestrian, which is exactly what the Droid has become. It's like the Powerwheels version of a go-kart. Soft, rounded, not the same.
Here is a packaging comparison for you Oppo-ites:
My only worry is that the Moto X is this:
And it looks like it might be.
MAXX's best packaging features:
- The screen covers pretty much the entire front end of the phone. There's little wasted spac.e
- The backing material feels really comfortable on your hands, it's warm and soft.
- It's the only 5" screen phone that I could possibly fit in my small hands.
- Removable SIM card.
MAXX's worst packaging features:
- The charger port is stuck on this lip on the bottom, isntead of being on the top where there is plenty of space and a flat surface for it. That was stupid. The second time I plugged the charger in, I had trouble getting it into the slot. This is something I haven't had problems with since the Droid 1, which was known for a defective charger and headphone port in the first few models. Not to mention that the charger itself is the cheapest little glossy plastic box I have ever seen in my life. The cord is about 3' long, which is par for the course for these phones. I cannot express how disappointed I was with the whole charger issue. Thank god this phone has inductive charging.
- Weight. If you have big hands, it probably won't be a worry, but it is the same size as my phone with a case, yet weighs twice as much.
- Volume/power buttons. They went from sleek metal to cheap plastic. But they are larger and easier to press, so there's that.
My standards of comparison is what I think Motorola could have done if they had just thought more carefully about how to package this phone.
Box it came in: 4/10
Materials in Box: 2/10 (6/10, -4 for the charger)
Phone shape/size/weight: 5/10 (its a wash for the battery life)
Feel in hand: 8/10
Specs/Efficiency for the size: 8/10
With Case: 1/10
Case: I was given, at default by Verizon, an Otterbox defender. Don't get it unless you are Sasquatch; I'll be looking into an Incipio feather case possibly, because even the Otterbox commuter (my previous case on the RAZR) might make this thing too big. Finding good fitting cases on Androids has been an issue ever since the Droid 1 and its impossible-to-case design. Even when Otterbox found a way to fit a case on the original Droid that still let you slide the keyboard out, they had a few weak points that would always crack. I went through 3 in a year, but it was better than nothing.
I'll leave you with these foreboding words: I see a serious cheapening and slow death of the once ground-breaking Droid line, and new life for the Moto X.