Verizon Wireless, the biggest US mobile service provider, on Tuesday announced three new phones under its Droid smartphone brand from Google Inc’s Motorola and said that Motorola would be its exclusive Droid phone vendor going forward.
The phones, the Droid Mini, Droid Ultra and Droid Maxx will go on sale for $99, $199 and $299 for customers who sign a two year contract and will be available in Verizon stores August 20, according to Verizon Wireless.Verizon said the full retail price would be $499 for the Mini, $599 for the Ultra and $699 for the Maxx.
The latest Droid line-up marks the first phone range that Motorola has designed since it was bought by Google in 2012. It will be followed in little over a week by the August 1 unveiling of the Moto X, a hotly anticipated smartphone from Motorola.
The exclusivity agreement with Motorola could be a blow for phone makers including HTC Corp, whose devices have also carried the Droid brand in the past as have devices from Korea’s Samsung Electronics.
Verizon Wireless Vice President of Marketing Jeff Dietel said that since Droid phones should only include its “elite” phones based on Google’s Android software it wanted a manufacturer “that matched all the expectations” for unique hardware and services.
Dietel said that his company would still carry Android phones from vendors besides Motorola.
The lowest price Droid phone the Mini is a compact device with a 4.3 inch display. Motorola boasted that its mid-priced phone in the range, the Ultra, is the skinniest smartphone that can run on high-speed Long-Term Evolution (LTE) networks.
The 5-inch screen Droid Maxx has the longest lasting battery life of any smartphone that can connect to 4G LTE cellular networks. It can be used for as long as 48 hours without being charged, compared with a previous version of the device which boasted 32 hours of battery life.
Besides impressive battery life, Droid Mini and Droid Ultra, can be controlled mostly using voice commands. Users can simply say “OK Google Now” and they’ll be able to give their device numerous commands without using their hands.
“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,” Verizon said in a statement.
(with inputs from Reuters and LA Times)