Motorola DROID RAZR review

The Motorola RAZR was one of the most popular phones in history, and a lot of RAZR fans rejoiced when Motorola decided to resurrect the name with the DROID RAZR. We knew it was going to be thin, but in my wildest dreams I never thought it was possible it would come in at 7.1mm thin. I mentioned in my initial review that it just might be the sexiest phone I’ve ever held, but does it live up to the hype?

Design

As I already mentioned, the main selling point is thin. It’s 7.1mm, but the overall dimensions are a little big at 5.15 x 2.71 inches. In contrast, the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket is 5.11 x 2.71 inches. It’s only a tad smaller, but the display is 4.5-inches vs 4.3-inches on the RAZR. On the plus side, the RAZR is very light, weighing 4.48oz while the Skyrocket weighs 4.66oz.

When I first held the DROID RAZR, I thought it felt really nice and non-slippery, but later, I realized I was wrong. This phone is actually very awkward to hold and control with one hand. My hands are smaller so it might not be an issue for some of you, but to me the DROID X and DROID Bionic are more comfortable in the hand even though they are thicker. The kevlar backing on the RAZR is very nice and smooth, but the shiny plastic bezel sticks out too much which makes it more slippery. This is a complaint I’ve had with a lot of phones, but never Motorola. This was a big disappointment for me.

Hardware

The full specs for the DROID RAZR 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), 1780mAh battery, 4G LTE compatible, Bluetooth, WiFi, micro HDMI, and Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread. The DROID RAZR is also Lapdock compatible for all your webtop needs, of which I didn’t test.

Battery

Most of the newer LTE phones are coming with 1850mAh batteries, so the smaller 1780mAh is a concern, especially since its non-removable. I live and work about 10 to 15 miles from the main city that has LTE so I was not always on 4G all day, but I found the battery to be adequate. I always have a car charger around so the fact that the battery is not removable doesn’t bother me. If you are unable to charge regularly, you should still get through the regular work day with normal to heavy use. Motorola does provide “Smart Actions” software that gives you a lot of flexibility to make settings that could be helpful in conserving your battery. More on that later.

Performance

I found the RAZR to be very snappy and quick with minimal lag. If you’ve read any of my previous reviews, you know I’m not big on benchmarks. It’s just a number, and I don’t think the average consumer is going to choose a phone because of its benchmark. However, I do run one occasionally just to see what’s going on. For the AnTuTu Benchmark, the total score was 5369, which put it below the Galaxy Nexus and just barely below the Samsung Galaxy S II. Not bad at all, but the Galaxy S II was released over 6 months ago. With the RAZR released only a few weeks ago, it should get a higher score. Again, not a reason to buy or not buy the RAZR. In the real world the RAZR is fast so you won’t be disappointed.

There has been a little controversy over the display. The RAZR has a qHD (960 x 540) Super AMOLED display. The DROID Bionic has the same resolution, but the PenTile display was poor. The Samsung Galaxy S II screens seem to be the one that everyone thinks is the best going so how did Motorola do with the RAZR screen? I think I am in the minority, but I feel the RAZR wins. To me, the blacks are deeper in the RAZR. It is difficult to tell in these photos below, but I have pitted the RAZR against the Bionic and the Galaxy S II Skyrocket. The Skyrocket has a bigger screen and less resolution (800 x 480) so the lettering is bigger. To me the lettering is crisper and shows up better on the RAZR with the proper white balance. I set all displays to the exact brightness for these comparisons, and I included the Bionic only for comparison because it never had a chance.

RAZR / Bionic / Skyrocket

RAZR / Bionic

Skyrocket

RAZR / Bionic / Skyrocket

This is far from scientific, but I asked two people, who aren’t display nerds, and they both selected the RAZR as the better display. This is not to say that Samsung’s display is poor. I think if you chose to buy a Galaxy S II, you will be more than happy with it. I will say that as good as Samsung is with displays, I can’t believe they continue to put out 800 X 480 displays on high end phones. This article isn’t about that, so I won’t get into a rant, but let me tell you that Motorola did a fantastic job with the RAZR display.

Software

The DROID RAZR comes with Android Gingerbread 2.3.5 and Ice Cream Sandwich is promised for early 2012. Of course, Motorola has their own UI (don’t call it Blur) on top. Motorola’s software enhancements are considered the worst among tech enthusiasts, but I think it’s overblown. It’s just a launcher, some widgets, and some other enhancement applications. It’s in no way intrusive like HTC’s Sense. There are 5 home screens and the transitions are nice. Motorola threw in some nice extras as well like the ability to hide apps. This is great for the pre-installed bloatware that comes with the phone out of the box. They even let you uninstall some of them. For example, in your app drawer, if you long press on an app you will have a few options which include, Add to Home, Share, Add to Group, or Uninstall/Hide. With Let’s Golf 2, you are given the option to uninstall, but with the My Verizon app, you are give the option to hide. This is a nice touch.

Some other nice additions is Motocast and Smart Actions. Motocast allows you to sync with your home or office computer, basically creating your own cloud. You can access files, listen to music, or play videos from anywhere. I believe in this, but a lot of consumers have issues with setting this up or having an “always on” computer at home. Ultimately I am not a fan of using Motocast only because I prefer using a third party app. The problem with all of these OEM applications is if your next phone is not the same OEM, you have to set up and learn something new. Either way, Motocast works well.

Smart Actions is all about making your “smartphone smarter.” Ever since the Verizon launched its 4G LTE network, the biggest complaint has been battery life. With Smart Actions, Motorola lets you be in control with various settings that involve your location, action, or even the time of day. For example, you can set it to turn off bluetooth when you get home. There are so many options and settings that it can be overwhelming. Motorola understood this and offered various samples, and if you don’t set any up, you will receive notifications with suggestions. The settings go above and beyond battery saving. For example you can set it to turn off your ringer when you go to bed or automatically launch the news in the morning. Again, there are 3rd party apps that will handle most of these because Smart Actions won’t come with your next phone unless its a Motorola. They did a great job with it though.

 

Camera

The DROID RAZR comes with an 8MP rear facing camera that takes video up to 1080p, along with a 1.3MP front facing camera. Motorola has never impressed anyone with their cameras, but this camera might be there best ever. I’m not a camera connoisseur by any means, but it’s a dream taking photos with the RAZR as opposed to other Motorola phones. The shutter lag is non existent and the color blends are nice. Here are some example shots, with the first picture taken at night.

Closing:

The DROID RAZR is one beast of a phone. If you are a Verizon Wireless customer and you are in the market for high end, you have the choice of the RAZR, the HTC Rezound, or the soon to be released, Galaxy Nexus. For me, it comes down to the RAZR and the Galaxy Nexus as the Rezound is too bulky. I have yet to get my hands on a Galaxy Nexus, so it’s hard for me to say hardware wise which is better. For me, it really comes down to Ice Cream Sandwich. If it’s ICS that you want, then I have to obviously recommend the Galaxy Nexus. If you can wait a few months, then I would recommend the RAZR. My only real complaint is the plastic glossy texture, but I don’t expect the Galaxy Nexus to be any different, and it probably won’t bother most people. So its decision time, Ice Cream Sandwich or the DROID RAZR with a 3 month wait for ICS? I have to go with Ice Cream Sandwich now since I can’t wait, so I choose the Galaxy Nexus. Which way will you go?

 

» See more articles by Robert Nazarian


  • mushkers

    WARNING:: the phone’s okay but a little pricey. BAD SERVICE AND ATTITUDE. The phone is lauded to have “gorilla glass”. This is obviously a marketing ploy. 35 days after activating the phone (verizon) it dropped out of my pocket while bending over. 3 feet or less. It landed on my foot and the glass shattered. The Motorola service people are outside the country and they are very hard to understand. They refused to address the problem and want to charge me $129.00 to replace the glass. The original Droid is more durable and has a keyboard which is a distinct advantage. If I had to do it again I WOULD NOT BUY THIS PHONE. Maybe made in the USA but not handled that way.

  • http://www.motoask.com motorola droid

    This DROID is the king of DROIDS. Just look at those specs, so much better than the iPhone. This is a great example of freedom and openness and choice that is great for the consumer. Yeah it looks like the DROID X but it has incredible specs and the DROID OS that is incredibly open and free. You don’t need apps with DROID OS like with the iPhone because of this openness and freedom of droid. This is DROID RAZR totally beats the Galaxy DROID Nexus.