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Motorola Droid RAZR Smartphone Review
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Date: Dec 21, 2011
Section:Mobile
Author: Jennifer Johnson
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Introduction & Specifications

In 2004, Motorola released a line of flip phones that became one of the best selling phones in the world. Needless to say, the original Motorola RAZR enjoyed great success and gave Motorola a big name in the wireless industry for a number of years. Over the RAZR's four-year run, Motorola sold more than 130 million units.

Unfortunately for Motorola, the second coming of the RAZR, dubbed the RAZR 2, wasn't quite as successful as the first line. During this period, Motorola's share of the mobile phone market dropped significantly, leaving some to wonder if the company would ever regain the strong foothold it had in the wireless market.

Fast-forward a few years, and Motorola has once again become a major force in the smartphone market. A few months ago, Motorola announced it was bringing back the RAZR name with the Droid RAZR smartphone which is exclusive to Verizon Wireless.

As you would expect from its name, the Droid RAZR features a slim body that measures 7.1mm thick. According to Motorola and Verizon Wireless, the Droid RAZR is the world's thinnest 4G smartphone. And while thin is definitely a key feature in today's competitive smartphone market, we all know horsepower is equally important. Motorola has given the Droid RAZR a dual-core 1.2GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, a 4.3-inchd qHD Super AMOLED Advanced display, 8MP camera, and Android 2.3. This smartphone will be upgradeable to Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) at some point in the future.

In an effort to help protect the phone from life's everyday bumps and bruises, the Droid RAZR features a Kevlar fiber backing and scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass protected display. The phone also has a water repellent nanocoating that protects the phone (including the inside components) from spills. Here's a quick hands-on of the device in action... 


Like some of Motorola's other popular phones, the Droid RAZR is compatible with a Lapdock that can extend the functionality of the phone with Motorola's Webtop application. By connecting the Droid RAZR to the Lapdock 100 (sold separately for $249.99), you'll get a 10.1-inch screen, keyboard, touchpad, Firefox browser, and more.

Motorola Droid RAZR
Specifications & Features

Network
Verizon Wireless
Bands/Modes
CDMA800, CDMA1900, LTE B13 700
OS
Android 2.3.5 (Gingerbread)
will be upgradeable to Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)

Display
4.3-inch Super AMOLED Advanced qHD (540 x 960)
scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass

Processor
Dual core 1.2 GHz processor - TI OMAP4460
Memory
1 GB of LP DDR2 RAM
16 GB internal memory
16 GB microSD card pre-installed, supports up to 32 GB microSD

Talk and Standby Time
Talk Time (Continuous): up to 12.5 hours
Standby Time: up to 8.5 days

Dimensions
5.15 x 2.71 x 0.28 inches / 130.7 x 68.9 x 7.1 mm
Weight
4.48oz / 127 grams
Battery
1780 mAh Li Ion
Connectivity
Bluetooth, 802.11 b/g/n, Mobile Hotspot, microUSB, micro HDMI, DLNA 1.5, aGPS, 3.5mm headset jack
Camera
8 MP rear facing camera with LED flash
1.3 MP front facing camera with 720p HD video capture

Other key features
Made with KEVLAR fiber and scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass
Webtop enabled

Price
$299.99 with contract and discounts

 

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The Droid RAZR is currently available from Verizon Wireless for $299.99 with a two-year contract. We know what you're wondering: Is the Droid RAZR all it's hyped up to be?  Read on to find out.

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Design

When we first picked up the Droid RAZR, our first thoughts were that the phone looks a bit like a thinner version of the Droid Bionic. Indeed, the specifications of these two phones are very similar with the exception of dimensions and weight. The Droid Bionic measures about 0.4 inches thick, while the Droid RAZR is 0.28 inches thin. In addition to being thinner, Motorola was also able to make the Droid RAZR lighter than the Droid Bionic. The Droid Bionic weighs about 5.6 ounces, while the Droid RAZR weighs about 4.48 ounces, making it one of the lighter phones we've reviewed recently. One other key difference between the phones is price. The Droid Bionic is currently available for $100 less than the Droid RAZR.

Samsung Galaxy S 4G
4.2 ounces
Motorola Droid RAZR         
4.48 ounces
Nexus S
4.55 ounces
Samsung Galaxy SII Epic 4G Touch
4.6 ounces
HTC Droid Incredible
4.6 ounces
Apple iPhone 4
4.8 ounces
Apple iPhone 4S
4.9 ounces
Samsung Droid Charge
5.04 ounces
Motorola Droid Bionic
5.57 ounces
Motorola Photon 4G
5.6 ounces
HTC EVO 3D
6 ounces
HTC Thunderbolt
6.23 ounces

 

Like many smartphones today, the majority of the front of the Droid RAZR is consumed by the large, 4.3-inch colorful Super AMOLED Advanced qHD display that supports a resolution of 540 x 960. We have been impressed by Super AMOLED displays in the past, and the display found on the Droid RAZR is no exception. It's colorful, vibrant, sharp and offers excellent viewing angles.

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Just below the Droid RAZR's 4.3-inch qHD display, you'll find four traditional touch sensitive backlit buttons (Menu, Home, Back, Search).  The front-facing webcam is at the top of the phone just below the A in the Motorola logo.

In keeping with Motorola's Droid design, the Droid RAZR has a thicker area on the back of the device near the top. Here, you'll find the 8MP camera and flash. Motorola has also used this thicker area to house the microUSB port, micro HDMI port, and headset jack on the phone.

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Taking a look at the edges of the Droid RAZR, you'll see a door on the left side of the phone that opens to reveal the Micro-SIM card slot and microSD slot. The right edge of the phone houses a power button and volume rocker. The back of the phone has a soft finish with a zigzag pattern, Motorola logo, and a couple of Verizon Wireless logos. Material used here is Kevlar and is highly resistant to scratches and damage in general.

However, the Droid RAZR doesn't have a removable back plate or a removable battery. We're big fans of Android, but we'll admit that there are times where an app has locked up our phone and we needed to remove the battery to reset things.

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Since the Droid RAZR doesn't have a removable battery, this is not an option. In other words, if for some reason the Power button won't turn off the phone, you're out of luck. This non-removable battery is also a drawback since users won't be able to swap for a spare battery on high-use days that drain the phone.

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User Interface

The Droid RAZR runs on Android 2.3.5 (Gingerbread) along with Motorola's Motoblur interface. Motorola intends to offer an upgrade to Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) at some point in the future, though no release date has been announced.

One of the Motorola features we really like on the Droid RAZR is Smart Actions. With Smart Actions, you can tell the phone to automatically adjust device settings based on location, time of day, battery level, and much more. For example, using the Quiet Location Smart Action rule, you can tell the phone to automatically silence your ringer in places that you have designated as quiet locations. Another Smart Action named Workout, can automatically play music when you plug in headphones.

    

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Motorola offers a number of predefined Smart Actions, or rules, that make it easy to get started. You can also create your own rules from scratch. When creating a rule from scratch, you'll need to add triggers and then decide what actions the phone should take when those triggers occur. During our testing of Smart Actions, we were impressed by how quickly and accurately the phone determined our location—even indoors.

You'll find five customizable home screens on the Droid RAZR. By tapping the home button from the home screen, you'll get a thumbnail view of each of the home screens.

   

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In addition to the four touch sensitive hardware buttons (Menu, Home, Back, and Search) found on the Droid RAZR, you'll notice Motorola has placed four static icons at the base of each of the home screens. These icons provide easy access to the phone, text messaging, camera, and application listing by default. The first three of these applications can be customized by pressing and holding the icon and selecting a new application to add to the Dock.

Like most of today's smartphones, the Droid RAZR comes with additional software. Some of these apps are useful while others we'd rather were left off of the phone. You'll find applications or links for Blockbuster, GoToMeeting, Let's Golf 2, Madden NFL 12, MotoActive, MotoPrint, My Verizon, Netflix, NFL Mobile, Quickoffice, Slacker, Verizon Video, and more on the Droid RAZR. Some of these applications and links can be removed from the Manage Applications menu but others are forever on the phone unless you root the device.

   

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To help you manage both the pre-installed apps as well as your own apps, you can group apps into folders. Links to Groups can be placed on your home screens. There are four predefined app groups by default: All apps, Recent, Downloaded, and Verizon Wireless. From the upper left corner of the app screen, you can view existing groups and add new ones.

   

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While viewing the groups, you can add a new group. Once you create a new group, the phone will ask you to select which apps belong in that group.

The Droid RAZR comes with both the standard Android keyboard and the SWYPE keyboard.

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General Performance and Battery Life

During our everyday usage tests of the Droid RAZR, we felt the phone was very responsive. We checked email, browsed the web, placed calls, etc and were pleased with how quickly the Droid RAZR responded to our requests. Indeed, with a 1.2GHz dual core T.I. OMAP4460 processor and 1GB of LP DDR2 RAM, we expected the phone to be snappy and smooth and it held up to these expectations.

We also appreciated the high-resolution qHD Super AMOLED Advanced display found on the Droid RAZR. With a resolution of 540 x 960, we definitely noticed a difference compared to other devices such as Samsung's Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch which has a slightly larger display (4.52-inches) but lower resolution of 800 x 480. Although you probably won't notice a huge difference between the Droid RAZR and another high-end phone that's currently available unless you have these two phones side by side like we did. The Droid RAZR definitely has one of the better displays. In addition to clarity and vibrancy, the Droid RAZR's screen also has excellent viewing angles.

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The Droid RAZR comes with 16GB of internal memory as well as a 16GB pre-installed microSD card. We appreciate the extra storage that Motorola and Verizon Wireless have provided with the Droid RAZR in comparison to some of today's other phones. We also like that the microSD card slot is very easily accessible on the side of the device. This makes it very easy to swap cards, though with 16GB, we hope you won't run out of space too soon.

The Droid RAZR offers an 8MP rear-facing camera with LED flash. We were very satisfied with the images captured using this phone's camera. Although the images won't compare to a standalone digital camera, we felt the Droid RAZR's camera did a better than average job at taking good photos. As is the case with the flash found on most every camera phone, it was not uncommon for indoor shots to be washed out by the flash or too dimly lit by the flash (if the subject was far away) to get an excellent shot. With adequate ambient lighting, however, we were able to capture good images indoors as well as outside.

                     

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As one should expect, we had no complaints or issues with the Droid RAZR while placing and receiving calls. The Droid RAZR supports 4G LTE connectivity. We tested the phone in one of the new markets Verizon Wireless recently added, and we definitely noticed a big difference in surfing speeds when connected to the new 4G LTE network. Of course, there are a few tradeoffs to this high-speed connectivity: increased battery drain and the potential to consume more data than you realize. If you don't have one of the "old" or grandfathered unlimited data plans from Verizon Wireless, you'll definitely want to keep tabs on how much data you're consuming, particularly if you're using the phone to stream video and for other data-intensive tasks. 

Battery Testing:

Speaking of increased battery drain while using 4G LTE connectivity, we felt like the Droid RAZR's battery didn't last as long when we were putting the fast connection to good use streaming movies or surfing the web.

In addition to using the phone for everyday tasks, we also like to put a quantitative measure on the Droid RAZR's battery life. To do this, we set up our own Web-surfing test. In this test, we set up a webpage with a mix of graphics and text. The page automatically refreshed itself every three minutes. We set the Droid RAZR's display to 50% brightness and turned off Wi-Fi.

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When we ran this test, the Droid RAZR lasted for a 200 minutes while connected to a 4G network before giving up. Recognizing that many of the phones we've included on our Battery Test chart in the past have used 3G connections while running this same test, we also ran the Battery Test with 4G connectivity turned off. With 3G connectivity, the Droid RAZR lasted for 275 minutes – an increase of one hour and 15 minutes over the battery life when connected to a 4G network.

Motorola and Verizon Wireless claim you should get up to 12.5 hours of talk time and up to 8.5 days of standby time from the Droid RAZR while connected to the Verizon Wireless network. In our everyday usage of the phone—checking email, surfing the web, etc—the phone was able to make it through a work day (approximately 8-10 hours) with light to moderate use without a problem. Of course, your mileage will vary depending on how you use the phone.

If you consider the longevity of the Droid RAZR's battery when connected only to a 3G network, its battery life is respectable at over 4.5 hours of continuous web surfing.

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Performance Testing: CPU and Graphics

In addition to using the Motorola Droid RAZR in a variety of everyday usage scenarios, we also conducted some formal performance testing to see how well the Droid RAZR compares to other smartphones.

CPU testing
Android CPU testing

In the Linpack test, the Droid RAZR posted a middle-of-the road score, coming in a little bit behind both of the Samsung Galaxy S II devices we've reviewed.

Graphics testing
Android graphics testing

In the An3DBench, the Droid RAZR edged out the Samsung Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch to earn the top score. In the An3DBench XL test, the Droid RAZR earned the top spot in the Emperor's New Clothes test. It also fared exceptionally well in the Magic Island test. With the Flower Power test, the Droid RAZR did well, but came in behind both of the Samsung Galaxy S II devices.

JavaScript testing
JavaScript Android and iPhone testing

The Droid RAZR also performed very well in the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark, earning the best score by a reasonable margin.

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Performance Testing - Web Browsing

Since browsing the Web is a key feature of any smartphone, we also conducted some formal speed tests to see how well the Motorola Droid RAZR compares to some of today's hottest smartphones.

Of the Verizon Wireless phones in our test database, the Droid RAZR earned the last spot on the Xtremelabs 4G test. Even as the lowest of the Verizon Wireless 4G scores, the Droid RAZR still bested other networks' 4G offerings in this test.

In the Xtremelabs 3G test, the Droid RAZR again struggled to offer one of the best download speeds (it was in the lower third of scores), but it managed excellent upload speeds.

In the Speedtest.net 4G test, you'll see that the Droid RAZR had a hard time competing with all but one of the phones in our reference database. The 3G Speedtest.net test showed much of the same: the Droid RAZR came in near the bottom when compared to other phones we've tested.

Although these tests are designed to put a quantitative score on web browsing performance, it's important to keep in mind that network speeds can vary depending on many factors and the test results can also vary from one day to the next. Overall, we were satisfied with the real-world browsing speeds on the Droid RAZR and felt the speeds were in line with other phones we've seen recently.

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Conclusion

There's a lot to like about the Droid RAZR, but there are also a few drawbacks. We really like the thin design of the device and the fact that it's significantly lighter than many of today's phones. We also love the gorgeous 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Advanced qHD display that offers a resolution of 540 x 960.

Some of the durability features built into the Droid RAZR are also very nice. This phone features a scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass display as well as a water repellent nanocoating that is designed to protect even the internal components of the phone from spills. The Droid RAZR's back panel is made with Kevlar fiber for extra durability as well.

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Although there's a lot to like about the Droid RAZR, we really wish the phone had a removable and user-replaceable battery. We feel every Android phone should offer a removable battery. In addition, the Droid RAZR's battery didn't always last as long as we would have liked, particularly when streaming lots of content at 4G speeds. If the Droid RAZR had a user-replaceable battery, at least power users could be assured of added usability time by swapping batteries in the middle of the day.

We're also anxious for the Droid RAZR to get Android 4.0. Although no release date for this update has been set, we're hoping updates to this new version of Android will begin rolling out sooner rather than later now that the Galaxy Nexus has officially launched (the first phone to feature Android 4.0).

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The Smart Actions features found on the Droid RAZR were also quite handy, and could be used to help the phone conserve battery life. We found this app to be useful in a variety of situations and appreciated having a phone that would automatically silence the ringer in certain locations and perform other tasks for us automatically.

Overall, the Droid RAZR has a lot of good features and a really sleek, beautiful design. We feel battery life on the Droid RAZR may be a weak point for some (particularly when 4G is enabled), but also realize that some users may not demand as much from their phone as we do. In those situations, the Droid RAZR's battery life may be a non-issue. There are also guides from XDA-Developers and others that offer many suggestions and methods for significantly improving the phone's battery life, such as changing background data usage. With plenty of power, a gorgeous thin and lightweight design, and plenty of useful features, the Droid RAZR lives up to the RAZR name and the expectations users have with Motorola's legacy of cellphones and smartphones.


 

     
  • 1.2GHz dual-core processor and 1GB RAM
  • 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Advanced qHD (540 x 960) display
  • Thin and lightweight design
  • 4G connectivity
  • No user-replaceable battery
  • No Android 4.0—yet
  • Battery life is a bit of a mixed bag



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