Motorola Razr M Proves It's Possible to Have It Both Ways

By Michelle Maisto  |  Posted 2012-09-07 Print this article Print

REVIEW: The Motorola Razr M, the $100 Android smartphone Motorola introduced Sept. 5, isn't a compromise. It's a small phone with a larger-than-expected display.

Motorola, under Google's tutelage, introduced three new smartphones to its Razr lineup Sept. 5. On Sept. 13 it will begin selling the smallest-and one imagines the least expensive-of these, the Droid Razr M, for $99.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate and with a two-year contract from Verizon Wireless.

The Razr M runs Android Ice Cream Sandwich, though Motorola has promised an upgrade to Jelly Bean by year's end, and features a Super (active-matrix organic LED) AMOLED Advanced display that crisp and color-saturated. At a New York launch event, Google and Motorola together had a lot to say about the phones, and how they constitute a "new Motorola," but for me the Razr M is most compelling for resembling, in the hand and in the pocket, a tiny old Motorola feature phone I once loved.

The Razr M is a speedy, Long-Term-Evolution- (LTE-) enabled smartphone with 40 percent more screen area than the iPhone 4S, but in a package that belies its display size and capabilities.

Motorola figured out how to essentially remove the borders from around a 4.3-inch display. This means the display is the same size as the display on the (already-thin) original Droid Razr introduced in October 2011, but everything else about the phone-expect for battery life-has shrunk. The original Droid Razr measured 130.7 by 68.90 by 7.1mm; the Razr M measures 122.5 by 60.9 by 8.3mm. 

Another older phone, the original HTC Evo 4G-which was notable at the time of its release for its seemingly tremendous display-also features a 4.3-incher, but in a body that measures 122 by 66 by 13mm. Those extra millimeters are the difference between being able to leave a phone in one's front pants pocket when one sits, and having to place it on the table.

I'll get beyond the form factor in a minute, but first it should be said that Motorola has covered the back with Kevlar fiber and water-repellent nanocoating, which is baby-soft to the touch, and the front with Corning Gorilla Glass, that familiar, slick surface that adds to how nice the phone feels in the hand-singular. This is a phone for people unable to palm a basketball, and for whom one-handed use still seems like a nice idea.

Turn on the Razr M and from the onset there are nice software perks. From a locked state, the phone can be launched directly into the camera, phone or messaging apps.  

Michelle Maisto has been covering the enterprise mobility space for a decade, beginning with Knowledge Management, Field Force Automation and eCRM, and most recently as the editor-in-chief of Mobile Enterprise magazine. She earned an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University, and in her spare time obsesses about food. Her first book, The Gastronomy of Marriage, if forthcoming from Random House in September 2009.

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