Name: Motorola Droid RAZR Maxx HD
Price: $300 (w/two-year contract)
The Back Story: Last year, Motorola successfully resurrected one of its most well known product lines with the Droid RAZR. Like the best-selling, game-changing flip phone, the smartphone was ridiculously thin—it measured in at an, for the time, anorexic 0.3 inches thick. The iPhone 5, released a month ago, measures the same. The only weak points, from our viewpoint at least, were the underwhelming display and anemic battery life. The company released a new version of the phone, the RAZR Maxx, which solved half the problem by integrating a larger battery that increased vitality up to 60 percent.
This year, Motorola hopes to give customers the full package with its RAZR HD lineup—spearheaded by the monstrous (and monstrously named) Droid RAZR Maxx HD. A powerful spec sheet boasting a gorgeous HD display, powerful processor, and the largest battery found on any smartphone is enough firepower to compete with Samsung and HTC’s end-of-year offerings. But is that enough to make it Verizon's best Android smartphone or is the latest Droid still coming up short in certain areas?
• Incredible battery life: The RAZR Maxx left us floored with its long-lasting power. The HD produces even better results. Equipped with a 3,300mAh battery, the device is capable of holding a charge for an entire day on moderate use. Heavy use of GPS navigation, Netflix streaming, and gaming should get you anywhere between 8 to 14 hours. Motorola's patented Smart Actions app should help users squeeze every bit of juice from the cell. Now you know why its being dubbed the "Energizer Bunny of smartphones."
• Amazing display: Out goes the unfavorable PenTile qHD panel from the previous RAZR series and in comes the vibrant and sharp 4.7-inch Super AMOLED HD display, which pushes out a 1280x720 resolution and a higher pixel density (331 ppi) than Galaxy S III and iPhone 5. YouTube clips and Neflix videos are a treat to watch on the 4.7-inch window. Clarity levels are accurate to where you can read emails and text message clearly without having to zoom in or adjust screen brightness. The larger size makes for better viewing angles as well.
• Great LTE and call quality: Fast data speeds are to be expected on any Verizon 4G smartphone and the latest Droid entry is no exception. Average download speeds hovered around 18.3Mpbs, where as uploads measured around 12Mbps. Web pages loaded instantly and Google Play purchases reached completion in less than five seconds. The phone also keeps intact the solid voice calling of its predecessor. Vocals were crisp, reception was strong, and the speakerphone delivered loud audio. We even paired the headset with Plantronics Voyager Legend Bluetooth headset and experienced better results.
• Speedy processor: Let's not sit here and debate over Motorola’s decision to choose a dual-core processor over a quad-core. That wouldn’t be giving the handset its just due on the performance end. Surprisingly, the 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 does a great job of keeping the RAZR Maxx HD sprinting at quick speeds. Videos and games play lag-free. Its multitasking capabilities are quite impressive and UI navigation is smooth, even when running several programs in the background.
• Storage galore: Moto’s fact sheet claims the device carries 32GB of internal memory, though only 25GB is user-accessible. There’s also a microSD card slot to accommodate memory expansion of up to an extra 32 gigs. Nearly the same memory capacity (in total) as the latest and biggest iPod Touch model at $100 less.
• Same camera issues: We’ve harped on Motorola’s biggest weakness for over a year and the manufacturer still has yet to polish its mobile camera technology. Delayed shutter speeds and auto focus continue to be an inconvenience, but image quality seems to be the primary problem here with a majority of captured shots coming out dark and blurry.
• No Jelly Bean and too much bloatware: Considering new models from some of Motorola's biggest competitors (Samsung Galaxy Note II and LG Nexus 4) are launching with Android 4.1, the promise of a software update by end of year might seem a little too far off for holiday consumers. And like the Droid RAZR M, Verizon customers should expect to encounter a large number of apps that can't be disabled or uninstalled.
• Steep price: That $300 price tag is pretty heavy for a smartphone not carrying a quad-core or Google's latest OS.
Final Say: It’s not the game-changing upgrade consumers were highly anticipating, but Motorola has implemented the necessary changes (for the most part) to create a great premium smartphone in the Droid RAZR Maxx HD. Battery life is the best of any smartphone on the market and the inclusion of a high-quality HD display, NFC technology, and massive storage options add to its appeal. Still, the lack of the latest Android OS and a quad-core processor make the $300 price tag seem steeper than it already is. Unless keeping a full-day's charge is your number one priority when picking a phone, you may want to look for a more affordable option.