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Motorola Droid Razr Maxx Review
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Date: Feb 23, 2012
Section:Mobile
Author: Jennifer Johnson
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Introduction & Specifications

Not long ago, Motorola and Verizon Wireless brought back the popular Razr line of cell phones in the form of the all new Droid Razr. Now, the two companies are teaming up again to offer another new Razr known as the Razr Maxx. Although these two Droid Razr smartphones are alike in many ways, there are also a few key differences.

The most notable of these differences is battery life. The Droid Razr Maxx claims to offer the longest talk time of any 4G smartphone. Motorola says the Razr Maxx will last for 21 hours of talk time, 7 straight hours of web browsing, 15 hours of movie watching, and two and a half days of music playback. By comparison, the original Droid Razr smartphone claims to offer a battery life of up to 12.5 hours of continuous talk time.

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Because it has a larger battery, the Razr Maxx isn't as thin as the original Razr (7.1mm thick), but it's still relatively thin. In fact, the Razr Maxx measures just 8.99mm thick. The Razr Maxx also offers the same durability features as the original Droid Razr, including KEVLAR fiber, Corning Gorilla Glass, and water-resistance.

When we reviewed the Droid Razr, Verizon Wireless had the 32GB version of the phone priced at $299.99. Since then, the wireless carrier has dropped that price by $50 to $249.99. Since the Droid Razr Maxx is currently available for $299.99 with a contract and compatible plan, its obvious the price drop on the original Droid Razr is an effort to help differentiate the two Razr phones. The Razr Maxx comes with 32GB of storage (16GB onboard and 16GB microSD).

With all of the great smartphones on the market today, we know what you're wondering: Is the thicker and slightly more expensive Droid Razr Maxx a better alternative to the first Droid Razr and other smartphones available today? We'll seek to answer this question and many others in our full hands-on review. But first, a short video of the Maxx in action...

Motorola DROID RAZR MAXX
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
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 21.5 hours or
Standby Time: up to 15.8 days

Dimensions
 5.15 x 2.71 x 0.35 inches
Weight
5.1 ounces
Battery
3300mAH 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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Design

The Droid Razr Maxx looks like a slightly beefier version of its older brother, the Droid Razr. In fact, a head-on shot makes the two phones look pretty much identical. If you were to hold the two phones side-by-side, however, you'd quickly notice the difference in thickness and weight between these two smartphones.

The Droid Razr Maxx measures 0.35 inches thick while the Droid Razr measures 0.28 inches thick. In addition, the Droid Razr Maxx weighs a bit more than its brother (5.1 ounces versus 4.48 ounces). With its slightly heavier form, the Droid Razr Maxx has a mid-range weight compared to other phones available today.

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 Razr Maxx
5.1 ounces
Motorola Droid Bionic 5.57 ounces
Motorola Photon 4G
5.6 ounces
HTC EVO 3D
6 ounces
HTC Thunderbolt
6.23 ounces

The Droid Razr Maxx and the Droid Razr feature the same 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Advanced qHD (540 x 960) display with scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass. Just as we liked the Super AMOLED display on the Droid Razr, we have found the Droid Razr Maxx's screen to be colorful, vibrant, and have excellent viewing angles.

   

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As far as the placement of hardware ports and keys, the Droid Razr Maxx and the Droid Razr have an identical configuration. Below the Droid Razr Maxx's 4.3-inch qHD display, you'll find four traditional touch sensitive backlit buttons (Menu, Home, Back, and Search).  The front-facing webcam is at the top of the phone just below the A in the Motorola logo.

Like the Droid Razr, the Droid Razr Maxx has a thicker area on the back of the device near the top. The difference between the thin and thick points on the Droid Razr Maxx isn't as pronounced as on the Droid Razr, but it's still evident. You'll find the 8MP camera and flash as well as the microUSB port, micro HDMI port, and headset jack in this thicker area on the back and top of the Droid Razr Maxx.

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Also like the Droid Razr, the Droid Razr Maxx has 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 the same soft finish and zigzag pattern as found on the Droid Razr.

One of our complaints about the Droid Razr was that it lacked a removable back plate as well as a removable battery. Unfortunately, Motorola didn't change this design with the Droid Razr Maxx; this new version of the phone may solve some people's concerns by offering a longer battery life, but it still lacks a user-replaceable battery which is a feature we miss on any phone regardless of battery capacity.

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User Interface

The user interface on the Droid Razr Maxx is the same as on the Droid Razr. Both smartphones run on Android 2.3.5 (Gingerbread) along with Motorola's Motoblur interface. Motorola has said an upgrade to Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) will be available at some point in the future, though no release date has been announced.

One of the features we really liked on the Droid Razr and some of Motorola's other recent phones is Smart Actions. Thankfully, Motorola has also included this app on the Droid Razr Maxx. As you may recall, Smart Actions will automatically adjust device settings to your liking based on your location, the time of day, battery level, and or another trigger of your choosing. The Smart Actions app comes with a number of predefined rules to help you get started. You can also create your own rules from scratch. While testing Smart Actions, we were impressed by how accurately the phone determined our location and responded to other configured Smart Actions.

      

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The Droid Razr Maxx has five customizable home screens. If you tap the Home button from the main home screen, you'll see a thumbnail view of each of these five home screens. Just above the four touch sensitive hardware buttons (Menu, Home, Back, and Search), 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.

   

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It's no secret the majority of today's smartphones ship with additional applications. The Droid Razr Maxx is no exception. Among the list of preinstalled apps on the Droid Razr Maxx, you'll find Amazon Kindle, Blockbuster, GoToMeeting, Let's Golf 2, Madden NFL 12, MotoActiv, MotoPrint, My Verizon, Netflix, NFL Mobile, Quickoffice, Slacker, and others. Some of these applications such as Blockbuster and Let's Golf 2 can be uninstalled using the Manage Applications menu. Many of these preinstalled applications cannot be removed without hacking the phone. We've said it before, and we'll say it again: We wish wireless carriers and manufacturers would give users the option to install these applications rather than automatically installing them on the phone. At the very least, we wish there were more applications that you could uninstall without rooting the phone.

     

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To help you manage the apps on the phone, you can group apps into folders. You can also place Links to Groups on your home screens. By default, there are four predefined app groups: 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. 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 Maxx comes with both the standard Android keyboard and the SWYPE keyboard.

     

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Camera Performance and Battery Life

When we reviewed the Droid Razr, we felt it was very responsive. Since the Droid Razr Maxx has basically the same key hardware specs (a 1.2GHz dual core processor and 1GB of LP DDR2 RAM), we expect it to perform equally as well, and it did just that. During our everyday usage of the phone, the Droid Razr Maxx was quick to respond to our demands of checking email, browsing the web, placing calls, launching apps, etc.

The Droid Razr Maxx has a really great high-resolution qHD Super AMOLED Advanced display that supports a resolution of 540 x 960. Not only is the screen clear and vibrant, but it also has excellent viewing angles.

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You'll find 16GB of internal storage in the Droid Razr Maxx as well as a preloaded 16GB microSD card. The phone supports microSD cards up to 32GB in size. Although 16GB on board and a 16GB microSD card will give most users plenty of storage, those who demand additional capacity will appreciate the easily accessible microSD card slot located on the left edge of the phone.

The Droid Razr Maxx has an 8MP rear-facing camera with LED flash. The sensor in the Droid Razr Maxx is the same as the one found in the Droid Razr so we didn't find many differences in the overall image quality between the two phones. Overall, we were satisfied with the images taken with the Droid Razr Maxx's camera. During our tests with the Droid Razr Maxx's camera, we found the continuous auto-focus lens to work well and felt it improved the overall speed at which we were able to take images in comparison to other camera phones. 

   

   

   

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We had no complaints or issues with the Droid Razr Maxx while placing and receiving calls. Verizon Wireless is continuing to roll out its LTE network. Chances are good that if you live in a large (or even moderately large) metropolitan area, you have or will soon have access to Verizon Wireless' LTE network. With this high-speed connectivity, however, many users often complain about battery life. That's where the Droid Razr Maxx comes in. With its extended 3300mAH Li Ion battery, Motorola says you should be able to browse the web for 7 hours straight or talk for 21 consecutive hours. Although most people won't do either of these two activities for this long of a consecutive time, it's still nice to have the power to do so.

In comparison to the Droid Razr and many other phones we've tested in recent months, we definitely noticed greater longevity with the Droid Razr Maxx's battery. Because the battery life on the Droid Razr Maxx lasts longer than on the Droid Razr, it was easy to get through an entire work day (approximately 8-10 hours) while checking email, surfing the web, making calls, etc without needing a charge. Of course, your mileage will vary depending on how much you demand of the phone.

In an attempt to quantify the battery life, we put the Droid Razr Maxx through our standard HotHardware battery 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 Maxx's display to 50% brightness and turned off Wi-Fi.

Battery Life Testing
Connected Web Browsing Performance
When we ran this test, the Droid Razr Maxx lasted for 400 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 Maxx lasted for 434 minutes – an increase of 34 minutes over the battery life when connected to a 4G network. We were very pleased with these results, especially considering some phones we've tested recently have had a much larger gap in battery longevity between 3G and 4G testing. 

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Performance Testing

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

CPU testing
Android CPU testing

Graphics testing
Android graphics testing

 

JavaScript testing
JavaScript Android and iPhone testing

 

In the Linpack test, the Droid Razr Maxx outscored the original Droid Razr and posted pretty high scores in both the single- and multi-threaded tests. Overall, the Droid Razr Maxx ranked third.

In the An3DBench, the Droid Razr Maxx edged out the Droid Razr to earn the top score. In the An3DBench XL test, the Droid Razr Maxx also earned the top spot in the Emperor's New Clothes test. It also fared exceptionally well in the Magic Island test, earning first place. With the Flower Power test, the Droid Razr did well, but came in just behind a handful of devices including the original Droid Razr.

The Droid Razr Maxx also performed very well in the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark, earning second place behind the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

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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 Maxx compares to some of today's hottest smartphones.

The Droid Razr Maxx scored well in the Xtremelabs 4G test, but it didn't top the charts. Even with a lower score than some other Verizon Wireless 4G LTE phones we've tested, the Droid Razr Maxx still bested even the fastest speed achieved on other networks.

The Droid Razr Maxx didn't score very well in the Xtremelabs 3G download test, but it managed an excellent score in the upload portion of the test.

The Droid Razr Maxx beat a number of phones in the Speedtest.net 4G test and earned the fourth spot in the rankings. In the Speedtest.net 3G test, however, the Droid Razr Maxx didn't fare as well and came in near the bottom in comparison to other phones we've tested.

Although these tests are designed to put a quantitative score on connection speeds, 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 Maxx and felt the speeds were in line with other phones we've seen recently.

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Conclusion

In many ways, the Droid Razr Maxx is the same phone as the Droid Razr but with an extended battery. The phones have a similar look and feel as well as a similar user interface. In many cases, the two Droid Razr phones were also neck-and-neck in the benchmark tests. Although the Droid Razr Maxx isn't quite as thin as the Droid Razr, the extended battery life is a worthy tradeoff for a bit of extra bulk.

Even though the Droid Razr Maxx has a long battery life that will get most people through a work day and possibly even through the night depending on how demanding you are of the phone, we still wish the phone had a removable battery. Although its becoming increasingly less common, there are times when it's easier to reset an Android phone by removing the battery, and this is not an option with the Droid Razr Maxx.

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Overall, there's a lot to like about the Droid Razr Maxx. This phone has a great 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Advanced qHD display with scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass as well as a fast 1.2GHz dual core processor and 1GB of RAM. The Smart Actions app is also a nice touch that adds some useful features to the phone.

We're still waiting on the Droid Razr Maxx (and most other phones) to receive an upgrade to Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich. Motorola has promised an upgrade will be made available, but we're still waiting to hear more about an actual release date for the update.

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If you're looking for a 4G LTE phone from Verizon Wireless that offers great battery life on a single charge and don't mind the lack of a user replaceable battery, the Droid Razr Maxx is definitely a phone worthy of your consideration.

 

     
  • Much better battery life than other phones
  • 1.2GHz dual-core processor and 1GB RAM
  • 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Advanced qHD (540 x 960) display
  • 4G connectivity
  • No user-replaceable battery
  • No Android 4.0—yet

 



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