Released in September, the Motorola DROID RAZR M for Verizon Wireless
builds upon the line of battery friendly, thin Android phones that proudly adorn the old RAZR namesake. Moderately priced at $99, it’s the little brother to the recently released Droid RAZR HD. Is it worthy of your consideration and how does it stack up to other comparable devices in Verizon’s portfolio. Read on for our Motorola Droid RAZR M review.
The Motorola Droid RAZR M features the manufacturers new edge to edge display. This model features a 4.3-inch qHD display (Super AMOLED) with 540 x 960 resolution. When I hear the term ‘edge to edge’, I expected zero bezel and that’s not the case at all. There is a sizeable black (or white) bezel that surrounds the display, with both the top and bottom of the device reserved for manufacturer branding and the included VGA front-facing camera and notification light. I found the display to average. It’s certainly bright and vivid, but lacked detail when viewing websites or photos. Without direct comparisons to other devices, most will find it more than sufficient.
The build quality is solid, as are the materials that encase the Motorola Droid RAZR M. The kevlar backing is droid-esque and overall there is a lot going on when looking at the back of the device. Different finishes and logo’s detract from an otherwise good looking handset. It should be noted that Motorola bucked the trend with the RAZR M by shipping a smaller device. These days, a 4.3-inch display is considered small. The RAZR is roughly the same size as the iPhone 5. Both claim their phones are capable of one-handed use which is a half-truth. The thin, solid construction of the Droid RAZR M makes it a great device to carry, pocket and use. I cannot understate how refreshing it is to see an Android manufacturer focus on what is the sweet spot for phones. At some point manufacturers are going to grow tired of increasingly larger devices and deliver true, premium handsets that are smaller in stature.
I’ve been using the Droid RAZR M on and off for the past few months. Most notably, I used it extensively during Hurricane Sandy. Being without power for 10 days, outside of a quick trip out of state for a power grab, I relied heavily on my assorted cellphones. The combination of Verizon’s excellent service (AT&T struggled mightily) and the fantastic battery life of the RAZR M, it was my go-to handset. I was stunned at the battery life. I was using heavy data, streaming radio and making calls. The Droid RAZR M responded like a champ. The battery isn’t removable, but don’t let the slim form factor fool you. This phone will last through a day without any problems.
The quality of photos taken with the Droid RAZR M were highly dependent upon the quality of lighting. The shooter is an 8-megapixel camera with support for 1080p HD video. Photos taken outside were crisp and clear. Colors were vibrant and there was a nice amount of detail throughout the image.
The same cannot be said for indoor photos with moderate lighting. Photos taken with the flash were overexposed. When I opted to take images without the flash, the resulting photos were soft, often out of focus. While the camera is certainly capable as shown on some of the photos I was able to snag outdoors, it requires the right environment to truly capture great images and that’s not always an option.
It used to be that if you purchased a Nexus device, you were guaranteed to be first in line for the latest updates, which isn’t always the case (see Verizon Galaxy Nexus). This latest grouping of Motorola Droid phones sees the company aggressively pushing out updates, with the Motorola Droid M already enjoying Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. During my initial visit with Motorola, I was able to test a non-Jelly Bean version of the Droid M and there was no comparison. On this particular phone, the speed improvements and smooth scrolling are readily apparent. This phone feels fast. Whether it be launching apps or moving between screens, it feels fast. Instead of buying promises of the latest update, the Droid M already has it and that’s a big plus. I won’t go in to detail on the benefits of Jelly Bean, but one major feature is Google Now. Tap the microphone next to Google search and ask away. Google will deliver handy cards with relevant information. This service will continue to improve over time. For now, you can find information on flights, restaurants, hotel confirmations and navigation. Google Navigation is also on board and is reliable as ever. I used the Droid RAZR M to navigate from NY to Boston to Maine. I took a few wrong turns, okay I stopped for McDonald’s, and it quickly re-routing me.
Motorola has their own UI and wallpapers. The circle widgets are the most noticable element here and those are easily removable if it’s not your style. The soft menus at the bottom are standard Android. The interface is abrasive and forgettable, but this is Android. Android is all about customizing the experience and you can do that with ease on the Droid M.
Memory and Processor
When combined with Jelly Bean, the included 1.5Ghz dual-processor does a nice job of making this phone zip. Also on board is 1GB of RAM. The internal memory is stated at 8GB, although it’s slightly less due the space taken up by the OS. Another bonus here is support for microSD storage up to 32GB. With the low cost of microSD cards, it easy to push this up to 38GB.
- Refreshing break from giant phones
- Great specs/value ratio
- Jelly Bean update available
- Excellent battery life
- Photo quality from camera was inconsistent
- Display is average
This is a surprising entry among the current crop of Android smartphones. While phones continue to get bigger, that’s not always better for some people. The form factor of the Droid RAZR M feels just right and for many you’ll enjoy one-handed use. At the price point of $99 (with contract), there’s plenty of value here when you consider the hardware, build quality, processor and overall specs. The low cost and support of microSD expansion also provides for an easy upgrade.
Beyond specs, this phone is a pleasure to use. It’s sized perfectly and the quick update to Jelly Bean provides for a great Android experience that includes the excellent Google Now. The Droid RAZR M proves that you don’t need to break the bank in order to get a solid phone.
Verizon Wireless is currently offering a $50 rebate, bringing the price down to $49.99. Amazon Wireless offers the Motorola DROID RAZR M for Verizon Wireless for $0.01. Both require a new 2-year contract agreement.