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Motorola Razr Review: In Depth

The Good

  • Design
  • Pre-installed apps
  • Camera performance
  • Battery-life

The Bad

  • Screen performance
  • Some customisations unrefined
  • Default audio settings
4

The original Motorola RAZR was the ubiquitous, stylised flip phone that reignited Motorola’s profile in 2004, selling more than 50 million units worldwide with its dual screens and razor sharp styling. Future iterations of the RAZR which copied the tried, tested formula weren’t as well received however, so Motorola put the RAZR line to rest. Fast forward to 2011 and it’s all change, with Google backing Motorola Mobility, the new RAZR on the market and in our hands, and if our first impression is anything to go by, this screams innovation. With its lithe design, bespoke UI and top-notch spec-sheet, it seems Motorola have listened to critics and are on track to deliver a strong flagship for 2011/2012.

Design

Unmistakably a Motorola handset and yet like no other, design-wise, Motorola seems to have hit the mark with their new RAZR. The angular corners, slick fascia and curved backing make the handset visually striking while the solid build, soft-touch detailing on the reverse and comfortable size make it feel extremely comfortable to hold.

Speaking of the reverse, this is the real stand-out point for us. With a Kevlar coating and measuring in at just 7.1mm, the lithe body of the RAZR protrudes out to 11.1mm thick at the top end to accommodate the camera module. This also manages to provide a very natural finger rest when holding the handset in the hand or to the ear.

The screen doesn’t live up to AMOLED handsets we’ve seen in the past. There is a visible dot-matrix pattern upon close inspection, which is surprising, considering the Motorola RAZR has a qHD Super AMOLED display and colours appear to bleed across pixels, reducing visible clarity. This is a real shame as with Gorilla Glass protecting the screen, fantastic viewing angles and vibrant colours coupled with deep blacks, it could have been great.

The Motorola RAZR ditches the traditional SIM card in favour of a micro SIM card, with the micro SIM card and microSD card slots both hidden under a flap on the right side of the phone. Another point worth mentioning is the inclusion of an HDMI micro port at the top next to the micro USB port.

Android interface

Motorola was largely criticised for making MOTOBLUR, their custon Android skin too pervasive in past Android handsets, so the RAZR sees a welcome break from this. While we don’t get stock Gingerbread (Android 2.3.5) by a long stretch, what we do have is a largely customizable launcher, optional social networking integration and some charming visual flourishes.

With five homescreens to navigate across, swiping left to right activates a 3D transition and a subtle glow across the screen. Each screen can be personalised with widgets and shortcuts and there are four sticky shortcuts at the bottom of the display, set by default to phone, text, camera and apps, though these can be changed.

There are a couple of great widgets Motorola have created. The first, social networking is a scrollable feed that pulls Facebook and Twitter updates together for easy access from your homescreen. The second is a widget displaying your favourite contacts, minimized by default and expanding via a charming animation.

Motorola have also bundled some great functionality into their RAZR in terms of apps. MOTOPRINT for example lets you print a range of documents from your phone, while Smart Actions offers a Locale type trigger system, allowing you to set rules to trigger actions such as:

Rule: between the hours of 9am – 5pm
Action: switch off mobile data

In our tests this worked very well, adding a good amount of value to the phone and rounding our impression of the interface off nicely. We like the direction Motorola are taking and while some elements of the UI feel unrefined with some 3D visualisations looking laboured, on the whole, the RAZR is functional and the interface is cohesive.

Browser

With a pretty stock Android browser, internet browsing on the Motorola RAZR is predictably good. While not quite as fast as the Samsung Galaxy S2, the 1.2GHz dual-core OMAP Processor is under a second behind in side by side tests which is perfectly respectable. Interacting with web pages is effortless with pinch to zoom working efforlessly while flash video plays back smoothly.

 

Camera and music

An 8-megapixel sensor and f/2.4 lens are behind the Motorola RAZR’s camera which performs well overall. Most shots are over-softened to counter noise so tend to be slightly lower on detail. That said, the reduced noise means better low-light performance which is a plus. The macro functionality on the Motorola RAZR is exceptional. While at 100% things look a little soft, they are certainly good enough to be printed 7×5 or viewed on screen.

Full HD Video performance is pretty good but nothing spectacular, with above average overall detail marred by occasional jerky moments and uneven metering.

Unfortunately, when it comes to multimedia the screen lets the handset down all over again, with photos looking far better exported to a PC than on the native screen and movies looking slightly hazy and over contrasted. It isn’t a bad experience per se, out performing most handsets out there, but it does fall behind both the HTC Sensation and the Samsung Galaxy S2 in this department.

As far as audio goes, Motorola MUSIC is the on-board app to manage music content. It also manages podcasts, internet radio and DLNA making the Motorola RAZR a complete solution out of the box. By default, the equaliser on the Motorola RAZR is set to extreme bass and performs poorly for most types of music other than hip-hop. Once changed however, it sounds great, with the custom equaliser allowing for a good amount of audio personalisation

Performance

With its 1.2GHz OMAP processor and 1GB RAM it’s little wonder the Motorola RAZR powers through most tasks with applications running smoothly and as mentioned, good overall web-browsing. There’s also 8GB of storage on-board for your files as well as up to 32GB extra via microSD card.

While there isn’t a removable battery, this shouldn’t worry too many people as the Morola RAZR easily manages to last a full day which is great given how thin the phone is. With moderate use and auto-updating switched on, we got 30 hours out of the handset.

Verdict

The Motorola RAZR shows glimmers of brilliance throughout. There’s no getting away from the fact that the handset is heavily let down by the screen. That said, the inclusion of apps such as MOTOPRINT, Smart actions and MUSIC add huge amounts of function while the design is considered, sharp and elegant. Throw in a great camera and smooth performance and it’s easy to like Motorola’s latest flagship. It’s pricing is competitive, free on a 24 month £30/month contract, so if you want a svelte smartphone with a sharp name and a sharper spec-sheet, you can do a lot worse than bag yourself a Motorola RAZR.
 

Specification

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