DROID RAZR MAXX review, It’s time to go unplugged

You have to hand it to Motorola as they released two cutting edge phones in the past few months. First was the DROID RAZR, which is currently the thinnest smartphone available. Then last week, the DROID RAZR MAXX came along, with an unprecedented 3300mAh battery, which is 75 to 100% larger than competing phones. Motorola teased us before CES with an “unplugged” video, and they weren’t kidding. 4G LTE phones have been around for about a year, and the single biggest complaint has been battery drain. They improved a little over the last few months, but Motorola completely changed the game. This isn’t a little tweak, this is a major improvement, and one that actually allows you to be connected to 4G LTE all day and literally stay unplugged for nearly 24 hours. This is my full review, which won’t be all that in depth because the DROID RAZR MAXX is essentially the same phone as the DROID RAZR except for the thickness and battery. You can also checkout my initial hands on review as well as my preliminary battery tests.

Design

The DROID RAZR MAXX is essentially the same look as the DROID RAZR except for the thickness. The RAZR is 7.1mm thick and the MAXX is 8.99mm with the size difference for accommodating the larger battery. I think the extra 1.89mm makes the RAZR MAXX more comfortable in the hands. In my review of the RAZR, I said it was the sexiest phone I’ve ever held, but after some time had past, I realized that thin isn’t necessarily so great. I found it hard to use the phone with one hand when it’s that thin. I still think it’s an amazing device, and I still don’t know how Motorola was able to build that solid of a phone that thin. The RAZR MAXX feels a lot better, and the extra battery ends up being frosting on the cake. That’s not to say that the RAZR MAXX is thick because it isn’t. It’s actually thinner that the iPhone 4S and the Verizon Galaxy Nexus. So Motorola was able to still produce one of the thinnest phones in the world and still pack a monster battery in it.

Since the design is still the same, the same Kevlar backing is in place, and unfortunately, the same plastic glossy sides still exist. This makes the phone slippery in your hand much like a lot of phones available today, which is a big turn off for me. Because of the battery, I’m willing to overlook it.

The other negative is the bezel is larger than most phones. When comparing it to the Galaxy Nexus, which has a screen that’s larger by .35-inches, it’s almost the same size. The Galaxy Nexus is 5.3 inches x 2.7 inches and the RAZR MAXX is tad shorter at 5.15 inches, but the width is essentially the same at 2.71 inches. Again, things I can look past when you consider the battery.

Hardware

At his point, it should already be drilled into your head that the battery is 3300mAh. The rest of the specs are identical to the DROID RAZR, and include  a 4.3-inch (960 x 540) Super AMOLED display, 1.2GHz dual-core TI OMAP 4430 processor, 1GB RAM, 8MP rear camera with 1080p video recording, 1.3MP front camera, 16GB internal storage, 16GB microSD card included (upgradable to 32GB), 4G LTE compatible, Bluetooth, WiFi, micro HDMI, and Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread.

Battery

It’s all about the battery when it comes to the RAZR MAXX. You almost feel like you’re buying a battery with a phone around it. If you’re concerned that it’s non-removeable, forget it. This is literally the first phone in which you don’t panic when it gets down to 10% remaining. With light use, you could still go another 3 to 4 hours on 4G LTE. This is truly a phone that lets you go completely unplugged from the time you wake up till you go to bed. For example, when I’m in the car, I typically listen to a lot of online stuff while streaming via Bluetooth. Even with 3G phones, I always plugged in to conserve my battery. With the RAZR MAXX, I don’t feel the need to ever plug in even in a 4G LTE area. You can even watch a movie at some point during the day and never feel the need to plug this bad boy in until you go to bed at night.

I already posted my first 2 days of results, so if you want to check them out, please do so. For day 3, I was on 4G LTE all day with both the RAZR MAXX and the Galaxy Nexus (for comparison).

I unplugged both phones at 7:00am and the Galaxy Nexus was dead by 4:55pm with light usage. Not only that, it was actually on WiFi for maybe 2 hours. The RAZR MAXX was never on WiFi and still had 50% battery left at 4:55pm plus I had already ran continuous video for 2 1/2 hours. Bluetooth was on, WiFi off, auto brightness off and turned up to 2/3′s brightness, and the GPS was on. When midnight came around, it still had 15% left. It should also be noted that the Galaxy Nexus results were with the 2100mAh battery.

For day 4, I just did a continuous video rundown test on the RAZR MAXX only while on 4G. I was able to go nearly 10 hours straight playing continuous video while on 4G LTE. It actually was 9 hours 40 minutes, and the settings were the same as day 3.

I can go on and on with tests, but this is truly, hands down, the best phone in the market for battery life.

Performance

The processor is the same as the RAZR and it works and acts exactly the same, which is top notch and very smooth. I did run the AnTuTu benchmark, and it came in at 6006, which was actually higher than the RAZR test, which was 5369. Scoring better is nice, but it all comes down to real world experience, and I didn’t notice a difference.

The display is somewhat a disappointment in that it’s only a qHD (960 x 540) screen. With HD screens already out from the likes of LG, Samsung, and HTC, its surprising to see Motorola lacking in this category. At the same time, I can’t blame them. As I mentioned in my RAZR review, I think the display is on par with most non-HD displays. The color has deeper blacks and I honestly don’t think most people will find a big difference as compared to the newer HD screens. I presume this is why Motorola is backing off the HD screens here in the U.S. They are blessed with the “Droid” branding which guarantees a certain amount of automatic success so they can save a few bucks with the cheaper screen. The LG Spectrum, HTC Rezound, and Galaxy Nexus don’t receive the same marketing push. Which is more important? An HD display or battery. Motorola chose battery, and I think they chose wisely.

Software

There really isn’t anything to add here that’s different from my DROID RAZR review. The software is so identical that even the ROM versions and kernels are identical. Motorola has been under a lot of scrutiny for its UI skins, and I think its unjustified. They are doing a lot of really nice things with Smart Actions and MotoCast. For more information about these, checkout my DROID RAZR review.

Camera

Again, there isn’t much here to add. The camera is the same as the DROID RAZR. Motorola has never been known for great cameras, but they’re getting better. The DROID RAZR and RAZR MAXX are not top tier, but there not the bottom of the barrel either. I have included some example photos for your reference (the 4th one utilized flash).

Closing

I said it earlier in the article that the DROID RAZR MAXX is a battery with a phone around it, but it also happens to be a very good phone. There’s only one reason not to buy the DROID RAZR MAXX and that’s the fact that it doesn’t have Ice Cream Sandwich. If you’re a hardcore, then it might not be the phone for you, but if you’re the typical consumer, who doesn’t mind waiting 2 or 3 months, then it’s a no brainer – The DROID RAZR MAXX wins hands down.

» See more articles by Robert Nazarian


  • Richard Bown

    “There’s only one reason not to buy the DROID RAZR MAXX and that’s the fact that it doesn’t have Ice Cream Sandwich.”

    I’ll give you another reason – it’s a Motorola.
    It will come with late, buggy or non-existent updates, there will be a RAZR MAXX 2 within six months, and Motorolas after sales care is abysmal – half an hour on the moto owners forums will be enough to scare you into not buying one.

    You could also argue that after the release of the initial RAZR this is a huge (but not unexpected) slap in the face to Motorolas existing customers who bought it and have complained about battery life on it, especially after Motorola annoucned the special ‘developers’ version of the RAZR with an unlocked bootloader. Bought the original RAZR guess what, you’ve been moto’d again.