Handheld Devices

Verizon takes the wraps off a trio of Droid smartphones

As consumers wait for the official unveiling of the much-hyped Moto X next week, Verizon spent Tuesday heralding three new additions to the popular Motorola Droid family of phones.

Agam Shah/IDGNSVerizon and Motorola show off pricing and availability for the Droid Ultra, Mini, and Maxx phones.

The carrier unveiled the sleek Kevlar-encased Droid Maxx, Droid Ultra, and Droid Mini phones, with all three boasting the bleeding-edge features today's top-shelf handsets require. The latest Droid trio will be available on August 20, with pre-orders starting immediately.

The workhorse, the waif, and the affordable one

Motorola Droid Ultra

According to Verizon, the Droid Maxx will be the longest lasting 4G LTE phone powered by a 3500 mAH battery. That sort of energy source should keep the phone running for 48 hours of mixed usage. At only 8.3 mm thick, that battery life is quite impressive, considering that last year's Razr Maxx, which boasted an impressive 32 hours of battery life was 9 percent thicker (9.3 mm). Even more impressive, the Maxx's battery is powering an impressive 5-inch AMOLED display. The Maxx will cost $300 with a two-year contract.

With the Droid Ultra, Motorola claims to have released the thinnest 4G LTE phone at 7.18 mm and a svelte 4.7 ounces. Like the Maxx, the Ultra will also come available with a 5-inch AMOLED display, but will only offer 24 hours of mixed usage powered by its 2130 mAH battery. It will be available for $200 with contract.

The Droid Mini is the family member with an "ultra compact design"--a 4.3-inch display and a weight of 4.58 ounces. Despite its relatively diminutive size, the Mini can still provide 24 hours of mixed usage from a 2000mAH battery. The Mini will be available for $99 with a two-year contract.

New beefy specialized eight-core architecture

The three new Droids also share a lot of advanced digital goodies that will make any phoneophile drool. Start with the basics: Each phone will run on Jellybean 4.2 and carry 16GB of onboard storage running with 2GB of RAM. Each phone boasts a 10-megapixel back-facing camera as well as a 2-megapixel front camera and 720p AMOLED display. These new Droids can all boast a 24-percent faster CPU, a 100-percent faster GPU, and twice the RAM of last year's bunch.

The most impressive addition (or at least, most impressive sounding) is a proprietary and specialized eight-core architecture dubbed the "Motorola X8 Mobile Computing System." The system consists of two application processor cores, four graphics processor cores, one contextual computing processor core (which helps the phone realize its environment at all times--in your pocket, in a car, and so forth), and one natural language processor core. That last core allows the devices to recognize and awaken from sleep with the user's voice commands of "Okay Google Now"--part of Google's effort to augment search with speech commands.

If that's not impressive enough, the new Droids will be the first smartphones to come preloaded with the augmented reality game Ingress; users will be able to invite five friends to join in as well. In addition, users who preorder now will get six months free of Google Play Music All Access, the subscription music service unveiled during May's Google I/O conference.

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