Remember the Moto RAZR? Motorola has brought back the RAZR brand and this is certainly no flip phone. The Droid RAZR from Verizon Wireless is the latest Android phone from Motorola and we’ve spent the last few weeks putting it through the paces. Read on for our full Motorola Droid RAZR review.
The Droid RAZR packs a massive 4.3-inch display into a super slim slab of Kevlar lined hard plastic. While incredibly thin, at just 7.1mm, the phone feels solid. The RAZR is also light, at just 127 grams, but still feels incredibly sturdy. It feels like an expensive device, which is not always the case, even in the $200 plus range. The back is lined with kevlar serving the dual purpose of protecting the RAZR from the elements and differentiating itself among other phones. The backing is tastefully done.
As you travel up the top of the device, it curves out to make room for the 8-megapixel camera with an LED flash. Standard ports include an HDMI out and a microUSB port.
The power button is neatly positioned, so that it’s easy to turn on using your thumb. Just below are the volume up/down buttons, which at times can be tough to distinguish from the side panel, since they tend to get lost in the side panel. The width of the Droid RAZR can certainly present problems for one-handed use. At times, I wish that either my thumb was longer or the phone was not as wide.
On the storage front, the RAZR ships with a generous 16GB microSD card. There is also an additional 8GB of internal storage. The card is removable, so you could easily double your memory to 32GB for roughly $36.
Under the hood is a 1.2Ghz dual-core processor coupled with 1GB of RAM. No surprise that with this amount of processing power, navigating around the operating system is fluid and applications open almost instantaneously. At no point did I find the device getting sluggish. It just continued to hum along at a nice clip.
The Super AMOLED qHD display measures in at 4.3 inches at 540×960. Motorola uses a pentile display and there has been some debate as to whether the Droid RAZR compares to other Super AMOLED screens, as pointed out by Nilay Patel at The Verge. I did not compare it to the Droid X2, but was plenty happy with the display and thought it was both sharp and vibrant. Perhaps the difference will present itself when compared to the Galaxy Nexus, but I don’t think it’s an issue for most users.
To achieve the thin frame, Motorola was forced to internalize the battery, so it’s not user replaceable. You won’t be able to carry a spare battery in times of need, which certainly could be an issue for power users. I was able to squeeze a day out of the battery with mixed use. A quick look at Battery Use (Settings > Battery Use) reveals that the display accounted for 40% of battery use. Lowering your brightness and reducing the number associated with the Screen Timeout should help some.
Motorola has included a utility with the RAZR titled ‘Smart Actions’ and it’s incredibly useful. You can create custom smart actions that are based upon a set of rules that you determine. One that I used was a Nighttime Battery Saver, which did the following:
- Disable Background Sync
- Set GPS to Off
- Ringer Volume Silent
- Disable Cellular Data
- Bluetooth Off
- WiFi Off
They have a list of presets that you can use or create your own. Yet another useful smart action is the Charging Reminder, which notifies you to plug in your phone if you forget to charge at night. At times, managing battery life felt like a job, but at least these smart actions automate some of those tasks. Power users or travelers might want to opt for the Universal Portable Charger for the Droid RAZR. It can provide up to 8 hours of talk time utilizing the USB port.
Smart Actions can also extend to other non-battery related activities. You can set it launch an app like Google Music when headphones are inserted.
All in all, this utility is excellent.
Fast Like Lightning 4G LTE
The Droid RAZR runs on Verizon’s LTE 4G network. This is pure 4G speed and in our tests it blazed a trail of glory. In my testing using the Speedtest.net app, downloads were 16841 kpbs and uploads up to 8103 kbps. Web pages, videos and more loaded nicely at these speeds.
Voice calls were consistently clear on both ends, which is likely a byproduct of a good phone and Verizon’s service.
This phone comes with Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread Motorola has packed some customization throughout the Android experience. If you prefer a stock Android experience, then it’s easily removed using the very excellent Launcher Pro. Also included are applications from Blockbuster, GoToMeeting, Madden NFL 12′ demo, MOTOACTV, MOTOPRINT, NFL Mobile, My Verizon Mobile, Vcast Tones, Verizon Video and possibly a few more. I download a fair amount of apps, so this just provided for more congestion in my apps drawer.
At a time when Verizon is preparing to launch the first phone with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. The Droid RAZR will at some point get this update, but that likely won’t be until sometime next year.
The camera on the RAZR did admirable job taking photos and video, provided there was good lighting. Colors were rich and vibrant, although backgrounds were less detailed. In low-light situations, the resulting images were average at best. There is room for improvement here when it comes to optics, something we’ll hopefully see with the Droid RAZR 2. The camera app ships with assorted options, effects, ability to shoot panorama and modify exposure.
The camera also shoots 1080p HD video. Video quality was also good and I was impressed with that my video didn’t suffer from any shake. The sound quality was also superb. Using zoom during filming can be a bit janky, but the video still looked crisp after zooming.
Line of accessories
If you buy into the Droid RAZR, you get the added benefit of picking up on of Motorola’s flagship phones. This enables you to use a number of OEM accessories, all which extend the capabilities of your device. Some folks aren’t so much interested in spending additional cash on accessories, but it’s certainly nice to have options and Motorola provides plenty of them.
Universal Portable Charger: We touched up this one earlier. It will provide up to 8 hours of additional talk time. Just plug in your device to start charging.
HD Station: Allows for easy connection of your Droid RAZR to an HDTV or monitor. Great for viewing photos, videos or pretty much anything.
Vehicle Navigation Dock: The Droid RAZR comes with VZW Navigator, which appears to be a rebranded version of Google Navigation. It works brilliantly and this dock effectively replaces any need for a separate GPS.
Laptop Dock 100: Compatible with a number of Motorola phones including the RAZR, this can effectively charge your phone and run Android on a 10.1″ display with full keyboard.
- Beautifully designed, well built and ultra-thin
- Will be upgradable to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
- Offers support for Verizon’s LTE 4G network
- No removable battery
- Poor photo quality in low-light
- Too much bloatware and Blur UI interference
The Droid RAZR on Verizon Wireless is a stellar device on a great network, that comes with a higher price tag. It’s rock solid hardware that delivers excellent performance and features. The thin, but solid construction with kevlar lined backing results in a beautiful piece of hardware. Those considering the RAZR will need to sharpen their battery management skills, given the lack of a removable battery, but Motorola’s included Smart Actions utility is a capable assistant in helping to extend battery life. With Motorola’s promise of an Ice Cream Sandwich update forthcoming, you can count on a vast number of improvements coming to an already excellent phone.