Name: Motorola Droid RAZR Maxx
Price: $300 (w/two-year contract)
The Back Story: Fast, powerful, and super slim, the Motorola Droid RAZR garnered universal praise and broke the top 10 in our 25 Best Smartphones of 2011 list. But despite being an exceptional handset, the Droid RAZR's LTE capability and strong processor caused the battery life to be shorter than Herman Cain's presidential bid. Realizing that shortcoming, Moto hit the lab and developed a second-gen model with a stronger battery: the Droid RAZR Maxx.
Laced with the same spec sheet and gorgeous profile as its predecessor, the Maxx is billed as the “longest-lasting kid on the smartphone block,” packing twice the battery power under the hood. So has Motorola birthed the most energy-efficient Android phone ever created or are we looking at just another pretty energy guzzler?
• Best battery of any Android phone: The headline speaks for itself. Motorola has built the quintessential smartphone battery, and with the Smart Actions feature users can expect to hold a strong charge even while doing the most taxing of activities. The fact sheet claims the Maxx can manage up to 21.5 hours of talk time and 15.8 days of standby time. We saw about 15 to 17 hours on moderate use, 10+ hours during heavy web browsing, video games, phone calls, and YouTube sessions. All the energy-saving options available via Smart Actions (which you can read in our Droid RAZR review) only strengthens the phone's battery life. Motorola outdid themselves.
• Great 4G service and processing power: The first RAZR was a work mule and we’re stoked to see the Maxx take after its brethren. What can we say about Verizon’s LTE service that we haven’t already covered? It’s ridiculously fast and generates results quicker than any other mobile 4G network. We clocked slightly higher benchmarks with the Maxx, as our Speedtest.net readings picked up average downloads speeds of 19Mbps and 3.2 Mbps for uploads. The 1.2-GHz TI OMAP 4430 dual-core and 1GB of RAM make for a smooth multitasking experience. Web pages, widgets, and applications open instantly. Multi-touch commands and menu navigation was spot-on, too.
• Improved call quality: We found the reception and voice calling on the Maxx superior to the original Droid RAZR. In-call audio was loud, clear, and distortion-free for the most part. Strong signal strength resulted in little-to-no dropped calls, as we maintained a solid four (out of five) bars throughout New York City. Plus the built-in speaker picked up and transferred vocals pretty well. Motorola was also cool enough to let us take its new Elite Silver Bluetooth headset for a ride, which delivered rich callback audio and voice clarity courtesy of its CrystalTalk dual-mic technology. It's also compatible with any other NFC-enabled device.
• Entertainment and corporate beast: You’ll find a number of awesome features on the Maxx that cater to multimedia and corporate buffs. Topping the list is the exclusive MotoCast app, which lets users stream files from the phone to any PC or laptop. Netflix comes installed and supports high-def playback, along with a MOTOACTV app for fitness freaks to keep tabs on their workout stats. On the corporate end, you’re looking at Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync support, remote wipe, and government-ready PS 140-2 encryption for emails, calendar, and contacts.
• Increased storage capacity: Where as the original came preloaded with 8GB of internal memory and a 16GB microSD card, the Maxx ups the ante by including the same microSD expansion amount (upgradeable to 32GB) and 11.6GB of free storage.
• No Ice Cream Sandwich: A recent study showed only 1 percent of Android handsets available are running Android 4.0. Unfortunately, the Maxx is apart of the 99%. Ice Cream Sandwich would have served as additional bait to lure in new and upgradable Verizon subscribers. Instead, we're stuck dealing with the latest Gingerbread version and Moto's non-user-friendly skin.
• Thicker and heavier: To the naked eye, both handsets look identical. But when pairing the two together, you’ll notice the Maxx is thicker at 0.35 inches (0.7 inches more than the RAZR), and is heavier at 5.11 ounces. To its credit, that's slightly slimmer than the HTC Rezound and on par with the Galaxy Nexus.
• Get more, pay more: If you’re M.O. is execution and speed, you can get the same results from the first RAZR. You just won’t receive the huge energy boost. Although an extra $100 for improved battery life seems a little steep, especially when ICS is missing from the equation.
Final Say: Make no mistake about it: The RAZR Maxx is by far the longest-lasting Android handset ever created, and, tenably, one of Verizon’s best phone. Big Red's warp speed LTE service, its heavy CPU power, and the monstrous battery that enhances electric vitality by nearly 60 percent, make it a clear winner. Some of the same gripes we had about the first RAZR still apply, however, such as the Kevlar-sealed rear and camera stutter. And with such a short release window between the two handsets, we're curious as to why Moto didn’t just make the Maxx the first handset in the series. The price tag is way up there as well for a non-ICS phone. However, the pros easily outweigh the cons here. So if the budget's looking sharp at this moment, we highly recommend purchasing the RAZR Maxx.