Droid Razr Best Motorola Android Phone Yet

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2011-11-10

Droid Razr Best Motorola Android Phone Yet

Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI) is clearly taunting me. One year after purchasing the Android OEM's serviceable Droid X smartphone, I am playing with a phone that blasts it apart in speed and aesthetic beauty: the Motorola Droid Razr, which goes on sale Nov. 11 for $299.99 on contract from Verizon Wireless.

The Droid Razr is the phone the Droid X should have been. I didn't consider the Droid X with its 4.3-inch screen to be clunky a year ago. Yet I can't help but think that's the case as I view it next to the Razr, which breathes new life into Motorola's best-selling Razr feature phone legacy.

The handset runs Google's Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread with a 1.2GHz processor and 1GB of LP DDR2 RAM on Verizon Wireless' 4G Long-Term Evolution (LTE) network.

Verizon's 4G LTE is typically a force in Fairfield County, Conn. Ookla's Speedtest application showed the phone getting anywhere from 12 to 16M bps download speeds, and 5 to 8M bps upload speeds on a consistent basis.

Applications such as Angry Birds, Netflix, YouTube and Facebook and Twitter for Android hummed along beautifully on this handset, which is a super-thin 7.1 millimeters, or 0.28 inches, compared with 0.4 inches for the Droid X.

It's even thinner than Samsung's thin Galaxy S II smartphones, which measure around 8.9 millimeters, or 0.35 inches. It's also a full ounce less than my Droid X, only 4.5 ounces, which is in my opinion the ideal weight for a phone.

While Motorola has been outfitting its premium smartphones such as the Motorola Atrix and Droid Bionic with quarter high-definition (qHD) screens for the last several months (the Droid X launched with a 4.3-inch WVGA (854 x 480) screen), the Razr's screen is a gorgeous 4.3-inch Super AMOLED (active-matrix organic LED) Advanced qHD display with 960-by-540 resolution. It's easily the best Motorola handset screen to date.

Moreover, the screen is super sturdy. A smartphone so thin needs to be sturdy, so Motorola has packed this gadget in Corning Gorilla Glass for the screen and Kevlar-yes, the synthetic fiber renowned worldwide for its use in bulletproof vests-as the enclosure. For added protection, it has a water-repellent coating.

Phone calls were great on this device, whose thinness made it a real joy. I held it up to the ear, and I detected no tinny sounds or echoes. Pictures shot with little latency via the 8-megapixel camera, which is complemented by an HD 1.3MP shutter in front for video chats. Video shot from that rear-facing camera captured in 1,080p HD and output at 1,080p via High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) to my TV.

Also, it should be noted that the virtual QWERTY keyboard-different from even that of the Droid Bionic-offers crisp, white lettering against a jet-black backdrop, something that really stands out on this device.

Droid Razr Is Great but Pricey

The phone has many of the requisite applications and access to the 300,000 applications in the Android Market. The free MotoCast application lets users stream music, pictures and documents from their computers through the Razr, adding some nice media portability. Motorola has also added what it calls a Smart Actions application, which is a personal phone management assistant of sorts that boosts battery life and automates utilities.

No, not like Apple's Siri virtual assistant. What Smart Actions does is let users create rules that trigger the phone to perform certain actions, such as silencing itself, or turning off power-draining features to preserve the battery based on where a user is with their Razr. Smart Actions will automatically launch news in a widget on the Razr in the morning and open Google Maps to optimize it for use in the user's car.

The phone, which has 16GB of internal memory, expandable to 32GB with a microSD card, also connects to Motorola's docking stations, allowing users to port the Razr's content to a larger display.

To my mind, the only thing that could make this aesthetically-pleasing, speedy handset better than it is would be if it were loaded with the new Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" platform, with holographic icons and soft navigation buttons, among other perks. Alas, we must wait until next year for that on the Razr.


Motorola packed this puppy with a 1,780-mAH battery, which I assumed would provide a full day's use. It did, albeit for email, Web browsing, phone calls and texting.

What OEMs won't tell you-and what is incumbent on me to tell you-is that whether you're using 3G or 4G LTE networks, the phone's battery goes kaput fast when you stream video or play a lot of games-anything that involves a lot of data.

I tested the Razr's power source by playing TV episodes on mute as I worked on other stories. On a full charge, the Razr made it through just two-and-a-half X-Files episodes. X-Files runs about 45 minutes per episode, which means I wore down the battery in less than two hours. The battery got hot, but not fry-an-egg-on-it hot the way the HTC Evo and other phones before the Razr cooked.

So if you're going to be out and about and watching Netflix or a lot of YouTube, make sure you bring your Razr's charger. Don't think about swapping out the battery either; it's enclosed and non-swappable, which on the plus side lends itself well to the thinness and lightweight design of the Razr.

Also, at $299.99, the Razr is as pricey as a phone on contract gets here in the U.S. That will ward off some who perhaps want to buy Verizon's Samsung Stratosphere 4G LTE QWERTY slider for half the price, or even a shiny new Apple iPhone 4S for $199.

Of course, if you place a premium on speed and cutting-edge design without concern for the hardware cost, you can't go wrong with the Razr. It's at the top of its class from Motorola, and the Android OEM was at the top of its game for this smartphone.  

Rocket Fuel