'OK, Google Now,' Says Verizon, Showing Off Droid Mini, Ultra and Maxx
Verizon has introduced the Motorola Droid Mini, Droid Ultra and Droid Maxx—upgrades, of sorts, to last year's Droid line—that it will begin selling Aug. 20.
Verizon is putting an emphasis on "intelligence, strength and endurance." The Maxx is said to feature 48 hours of battery life (though it's unclear under what conditions).
But more likely to pique user interest may be the phones' voice-activated Google Now technology.
Have your hands in some dough but need to check the recipe? You can wake up the phones by saying, "OK, Google Now," and then tell it what you need.
If you loose the phone around the house, Verizon says you can announce—to a phone likely hiding between couch pillows, or lifted by a hot-fingered toddler—"OK, Google Now," and then tell it to ring.
"These Touchless Controls and Active Display let users make calls, send texts, get directions, play music, set a reminder and preview notifications hands-free without having to unlock the phone, giving DROID users a whole new way of interacting with their phones," Albert Aydin, Verizon corporate communications analyst wrote in a July 23 blog post.
A Quick Capture feature gives a user access to the phone by shaking it twice. A Droid Zap feature will share a photo with friends nearby, and a Wireless Display feature will mirror what's on the phones' screen onto a compatible HDTV.
On the blog, at a New York City event, Verizon was light on the specs.
The Droid Mini, which will sell for $99.99 with a two-year contract, features a 4.3-inch HD display and wireless charging capabilities. Verizon promises it's compact without compromises, which at that price point is hard to believe.
The Droid Ultra, which will sell for $199.99 with a two-year contract, features a 5-inch HD display and, at 7.18mm, is said to be the "thinnest 4G LTE smartphone available." It'll come in black and red versions.
The Droid Maxx, priced at $299.99 with a two-year contract, gets nearly two days' worth of battery life on a single charge, making it the "longest-lasting 4G LTE smartphone available."
All three phones have twice the RAM of last year's models and 24 percent faster CPUs. They're all made of DuPont Kevlar fiber, with a unibody design, and all are available for preorder starting today.
Motorola is currently working on another phone, the flagship Moto X, that will also come with a boast-worthy distinction: It'll be the first smartphone designed, engineered and assembled in the United States.
Verizon announced second-quarter earnings July 18 that included double-digit earnings growth but a churn rate up to 0.93 percent, up from 0.84 percent a year ago, suggesting that, despite the muscle of Verizon's LTE network, consumers are interested in the lower-priced or contract-free options from Verizon customers.
Verizon Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo said on the earnings call that Verizon will continue to focus on being the best wireless network, adding, "We obviously know we have more work to do."
AT&T will announce the results of its second quarter on the evening of July 23.