Verizon launches Motorola's Droid Mini, Ultra and Maxx, with hints of Moto X

As expected, Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) today during a press event unveiled the latest incarnations in its Droid series of Android smartphones from Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Motorola Mobility unit. Although the focus of event was on the Droid franchise, the announcement did give some hints as to what kind of features might be available in Motorola's forthcoming Moto X smartphone.

verizon motorola droid maxx, droid ultra, droid mini

Verizon released a trio of new Droids from Motorola.

Verizon said it will launch the Motorola Droid Mini for $99, the Droid Ultra for $199 and the Droid Maxx for $299, all with a two-year contract. The carrier said customers can pre-order the devices now at and the phones will be available Aug. 20. If customers purchase one of the new phones by the end of September they will get six months of free Google Music All Access service.

"If we look back to 2009 to the day we launched the first Droid, every time we've launched a new Droid device we've set a new sales mark," Jeff Deitel, Verizon's vice president of marketing, said at the company's media event in New York City, according to The Verge. "Today we're here to talk about a refresh of the Droid franchise."

Verizon emphasized that the Mini is a more compact version of the Ultra, and the Maxx is centered around improved battery life. Rick Osterloh, Verizon's senior vice president of products, said the carrier's old Droid Razr Maxx HD was 9.3 mm thick and had 32 hours of battery life, while the new Maxx is 8.5 mm thick and can and run for 48 hours.

The new phones use a Motorola-designed chipset called the "Motorola X8 Mobile Computing System," a new 8-core chip. The chip has two application processor cores, four graphics cores, a contextual computing core and another core for "natural language processing."

All of the phones also use what Osterloh termed "touchiness control," which lets users make phone calls, ask for directions or search through voice. Among the other software features on the phones: "Active display" brings up important notifications on the devices' screen when they are sleeping, and "quick capture" allows users to quickly launch the camera function.

Some of those features may make their way into the Moto X, a phone that Google has started an advertising campaign for. A recent demonstration video reportedly released by Canadian operator Rogers Wireless indicates the Moto X smartphone will integrate an always-on voice command feature enabling users to access services and information without touching the handset.

First spotted by Ausdroid, the video depicts a user speaking the words "OK Google Now" to retrieve the local weather forecast. "Your Moto X is ready to listen and respond," the video states. "Talk to it and it learns your voice. With the power of Google Now, it tells you what you need to know even when you're not touching the screen."

Although Google hasn't released any specifics about the Moto X, the company has said users will be able to customize the device to their liking due to the fact it will be assembled in the United States.

For more:
- see this Verizon post
- see this The Verge live blog
- see this GigaOM live blog

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