New Droid smartphones launched by Google, Verizon

Smartphones include flagship Droid Ultra, and will become available starting Aug 20.

Droid Ultra, Mini and Maxx pricing and availability

Droid Ultra, Mini and Maxx pricing and availability

Google's Motorola Mobility has upgraded its lineup of Droid smartphones, announcing three new models including the flagship Droid Ultra. The new phones will be available through Verizon Wireless.

The Droid Ultra has a 5-inch screen and at 7.18mm, is the thinnest 4G LTE smartphone available, said Rick Osterloh, senior vice president at Motorola Mobility. The Ultra offers 24 hours of battery life.

Also announced at a New York Verizon event was Droid Maxx, which has a 5-inch screen and 48 hours battery life, significantly more than the 32 hours of battery life offered by its predecessor Razr Maxx. The Maxx is also 9 percent thinner than the Razr Maxx.

Motorola also announced the Droid Mini, which has a ultracompact design with a 4.3-inch screen. The Mini offers 24 hours of battery life on mixed usage. The device weighs 132 grams, and is for those who like small, highly portable devices.

The Mini will be available for $99, Ultra for $199 and Maxx for $299 via Verizon Wireless with contracts. The smartphones will be available for order for drioddoes.com, and will begin shipping on August 20.

The hardware features put the new smartphones at the top of Motorola's Droid lineup. The new smartphones have 24 percent faster CPU, 100 percent faster graphics processors and twice the RAM compared to predecessors.

The hardware also includes a new processor design that Motorola calls X8. The phones include eight CPUs, four graphics processors, contextual computing hardware for sensors, and natural language processing cores.

The smartphones are ready to respond to voice commands, and touchless control is "incredibly useful" when driving or when your hands are full, Osterloh said.

"We found there are countless opportunities where you want to use your phone and are not able to do so," Osterloh said.

For example, saying "OK Google Now" should initiate the Google Now app on smartphones, although the demonstration of the feature by Verizon and Motorola did not work. However, a request to call a person initiated the call.

Other features on the smartphone include 10-megapixel back cameras and 2-megapixel front cameras. Kevlar layers add a level of ruggedness to the smartphones, and the screens have Gorilla Glass screens which make them resistant to scratches and drops.

The announcement kicks off a new wave of smartphones being announced in the next few weeks. Motorola is also expected to share more details of the highly anticipated Moto X smartphone on August 1, while LG is holding an event where it is expected to launch its G2 device.

The new smartphones also comes as wireless companies roll out new data plans, no-contract smartphone plans, or plans in which smartphones can be quickly upgraded or paid for on an installment basis. Verizon's Edge program, introduced this month, allows users to pay the full retail price over a 24-month period in installments, or to upgrade to a new phone after six months if 50 percent of the retail cost has been paid.

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Agam Shah

IDG News Service
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