Name: Motorola Droid RAZR
Price: $300 (w/two-year contract)
The Back Story:
Back in 2004, Motorola changed the cell phone game when it introduced one of the most stylish and trendsetting handsets ever created: the Motorola RAZR. Remembered most for its thin profile, aluminum finish, and horrendous battery life, the RAZR became a huge hit selling over 130 million units during its four-year run. But as the mobile climate changed, Motorola decided to lock up its fan-fav model, while working on a new franchise that would lead the brigade for Google’s new Android mobile OS: the Droid. After becoming the most popular Android handset on the market, Moto felt it was time to resurrect the Razr name and give it the Android treatment to create the Droid RAZR.
Combining the slim form factor of the original with today’s high-powered specs, the new RAZR has its sight set on the Android throne this holiday season. And with the slimmest profile of any Android phone on the market, along with strong benchmarks and Verizon’s LTE network, it definitely has the potential of capturing it. But can it live up to its overhype?
• Slimmest, most opulent smartphone design out: Motorola really sets the mark for industrialized mobile designs by building a smartphone that’s slimmer than a CD case at 0.3 inches thick. In addition to its slender arrangement, the company claims to have assembled the chassis around “sculpted glass and diamond-cut aluminum accents.” The front is reinforced with Corning Gorilla Glass to prevent scratches and heavy damage, plus the phone features water-repellent coating that guards the interior and exterior from any water damage. But the most valued piece of real estate comes in the form of the Kevlar posterior, which provides solid protection and smooth texture for a firm grip.
• Fast 4G and processor performance: All of Verizon’s LTE-enabled phones produce lightening fast results and the Droid RAZR joins the soiree. Our Speedtest.net analysis showed us reaching download speeds of up to 18Mbps and a solid 3Mbps for uploads. As usual, Android Market purchases zipped through completion in no less than 5 seconds, plus websites and streamed YouTube videos loaded instantaneously. The 1.2 GHz TI OMAP dual-core chip can take credit for the faster web performance, as well as the quick navigation and highly responsive display feedback. Multitasking was also spot-on with no lag present after having 8 plus programs running in the background.
• Smart Actions feature: Motorola’s been really pushing the Droid RAZR as a battery life preserver that promises up to 30 percent more power (est. 12.5 hrs of talk time). The handset does manage to hold stronger charges thanks to Moto’s new Smart Actions application. The automated program allows users to squeeze every ounce of juice from the battery by creating triggers and setting actions on the phone to execute at specific times. For instance, you can send out notifications for charging and battery levels, designate the phone to lower screen brightness, or put it to sleep at particular hours. It’s also capable of decreasing processor speed and slowing down data when the battery is near depletion. Even though we managed a standard eight hours on heavy use, the software did come in handy, and serves as a stepping stone for the future of mobile battery utilities.
• Multimedia and corporate beast: There's a ton of entertainment and business-centric features preloaded onto Moto's handset. The new MotoCast app can stream media files (even iTunes and Windows playlists) from the phone to any compatible PC or laptop. Another awesome exclusive is the option to view Netflix videos in HD quality—making it the first phone to support high-def playback from the streaming service. Motorola also integrated an enhanced music player that grabs album art and lyrics from the Net, and a built-in podcatcher that retrieves newsfeeds and podcasts. Business-wise, the Droid RAZR comes with full Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync support, along with high-end security features such as remote wiping, PIN lock, and government-grade FIPS 140-2 encryption for emails, contacts, and calendar.
• Accessories galore: The manufacturer continues to roll out a huge accessories selection with every new device. Besides offering the majority of add-ons featured for the Droid Bionic and Atrix 2 (see a full list in our review), the Droid RAZR stands out by being the one phone that’s both compatible with two different Laptop docks (100 and 500 Pro models) and runs smoother on Webtop mode than the Atrix. Another notable extra is the Smart Controller: a remote that dons a touchpad and pinch-to-zoom functionality, allowing users to control the phone and view content via HDTV or monitor. Check out the rest of the Droid RAZR accessories over at Motorola’s website.
• Huge storage capacity: For a phone that's slimmer than a No. 2 pencil, Motorola manages to load it with tons of memory. Like the Droid Bionic, you'll find a good 8GB of internal storage and a 16GB microSD card sitting in the memory expansion slot. There's always the option of upgrading to a 32GB card, too.
• Expensive: Subscribers looking for an Android upgrade this holiday season might end up spending all their Christmas loot on the RAZR. But if you act quickly, Amazon is offering the phone for $200. Also keep in mind that if you're big on accessories, adding several to the shopping cart will run you an extra $200-$300 on average.
• Long and no rear access: In comparison to Moto's compact dumbphones of the past, the new RAZR is a Lurch that stretches out at 5.2 x 2.7 inches. Luckily its lightweight and slim profile make for a comforting pocket fit. Another issue present with the RAZR redesign is the Kevlar backend, which is sealed shut and prevents owners from accessing the battery compartment. So if there's any power issues, Motorola might have to pry it open for you.
• Camera software bugs: Our demo unit struggled to open the camera app, crashing several times and giving us the following error message: "camera is unable to initialize." The auto focus also had trouble targeting objects, while the shutter suffered a two-second delay when snapping shots.
Final Say: The Droid RAZR excels and prevails at combining style and substance. It just does it at a hefty cost. Verizon’s LTE network is guaranteed to have you downloading and streaming content at ridiculously fast speed rates, while the dual-core will ensure brisk results on the productive end. The redesign is both hit and miss, as the phone’s slimness is remarkably attractive. On the other hand, its sealed back becomes a major problem should a battery issue arise. Luckily with the assistance of the Smart Actions feature, the new RAZR can do what it never could with previous models: hold a charge. But again, the phone’s biggest vice is the price tag. $300 for a phone that offers niche upgrades and near-identical performance to that of other Verizon-Android offerings is pretty steep, and will force consumers to check out more affordable selections. But if the money is there, or Santa blesses you with some heavy greenbacks, the Droid RAZR will suffice as a great personal gift.