Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD offers supreme battery life, great view
It's a cut-throat world out there if you're a new smartphone trying to be one of those people consider the best around. You've got to have some strong tricks up your sleeve to compete with the biggest names on the market.
Motorola's ace in the hole as of late has been its revived Razr line of phones, which debuted a year ago and have gotten an HD upgrade just in time for the holiday shopping season. I recently tested the Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD, which touts its seemingly endless battery life as its main feature, not to mention the HD screen and a lot of other goodies.
It's the eldest sibling in the recent trio of Razr phones that were released (the smaller Razr M, and the same-sized but weaker-battery having Razr HD), and I'll let you know the ins and outs of it. Overall I really enjoyed the experience I had with this phone, though there are some small aspects of the phone's operation that didn't operate as well as I would have liked.
- Processor: The Razr Maxx HD features a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor. This is an improvement from the previous Razr Maxx, which clocked in at 1.2 GHz, and the improvement is definitely noticeable. You'll be zipping around apps at super-speeds, and watching video or movies with no delays.
- 4G: Like all of Verizon's new smartphones, the Razr Maxx HD can access its highly regarded 4G LTE network, which means that your upload and download speeds will be among the best you'll find on any network.
- Looks, materials: When your phone is as important to you as your computer, you want it to last. And the materials used on the Razr Maxx HD - from its Corning Gorilla Glass to its DuPont KEVLAR fiber and water-repellant nanocoating - work to ensure you don't damage it in the case of a fall or liquid spill. It's very sturdy and made to last, unlike many of the cheaper and plasticky phones on the market. It's still a big black slab, like most phones, so it's not exactly a head-turner, but all i care about is that it works well -- and that it does. Being a Razr model, of course this phone is thin — just 9.33 millimeters to be exact. It's slightly heavier than other phones due to the larger battery, but the difference is not too great. It weighs in at 5.54 ounces.
- User experience: I'm pretty picky about some things on my phone, and there are a few little touches on the way the Razr Maxx HD operates that kind of annoyed me. Some of the simple actions you can take on this phone, such as the process of shutting off an alarm, are really annoying compared to the ease with which I can do them on other phones. Overall, I really did enjoy my experience with the phone, and it's still very responsive to touch and customizable like all Android phones, but specific nuances like this made a bit annoyed at times with this phone (and the same thing would apply on the Razr M and the Razr HD). At the same time, there are some very cool little features, like the abilty to add the weather from many different cities on your home page and flip through with the Circles feature - which reminds me a lot of a trip to the eye doctor with the rotation of a circle to change cities. One thing that's small, but of importance to some folks, is the lack of a physical "home" button on the Razr Maxx HD. You have a virtual on-screen home button, which some people might not like. I didn't mind it, though, and it's easy to get used to using it instead of the physical button you'll find on competitors like the iPhone 5 or the Samsung Galaxy S3.
- HD screen: This is one of the main upgrades on both the Razr HD and Razr Maxx HD. For one thing, it's bigger (4.7 inches, vs. 4.3 inches on last year's models), and the screen resolution bumps up from 960x540 to 1280x720. The different in both size and resolution will be a bit of good news to those who plan to view media and play games on their phone on a regular basis.
- Other features: The Droid Razr Maxx HD is a global ready phone in hundreds of countries, so if you're traveling abroad it can be of use (just make sure you get an international plan). It features NFC (near-field communication), so you can share all sorts of data with a bump between it and another NFC-capable phone.
- Battery life: This is the beginning, middle and end of the argument for this phone. Even if you don't like some other aspects of the phone as much, not having to charge it much will be the greatest news some folks can get. They'll put up with a few haggles to deal with it. I only charged it about every 2 days, depending how often I was using it and what kind of apps I had running. (If you're running things like Netflix or Pandora on the regular, it will be drained much quicker. Simple browsing and game play will hardly dent the battery life, though.) This is basically half as often as I have to charge most phones. The 3300 mAH Li-Ion battery is not removable. Normally I'm not happy with this, but here, you don't need to switch to a backup, so it's not as big of a deal.
- Operating system: Like all Motorola phones, the Razr Maxx HD runs Android -- version 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) to be exact. An upgrade to Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) is imminent. Google owns Motorola now, so you can their phones will get Android upgrades quickly. If you haven't used Android before, it's a quick study, easy to use and customize, and very user-friendly.
- Storage: The Razr Maxx HD comes with 32GB internal memory (double the 16GB of the previous version), and it also supports up to 32GB microSD card for expansion purposes. So you won't be lacking for storage space unless you go hog wild -- especially since most data (music, etc.) is stored in the cloud these days.
- Keyboard, calls: Due to its larger size, this phone's virtual QWERTY keyboard is very easy to use for all sizes of fingers, and you can use the SWYPE method to type even easier (without lifting your finger for each letter. Voice calls were high quality on the Razr Maxx HD. I had no experience in my time with the phone of dropped calls or interference or trouble hearing what was on the other end.
- Cameras: The 8 megapixel camera on the Razr Maxx HD was impressive, but not the best I've seen. Outdoor shots turned out better than indoors shots in my experience, as indoor shots seemed a bit more unfocused. Video from the rear camera is 1080p full-HD. The 1.3 megapixel front-facing HD Webcam features 720p HD video recording and is good for video chat.
- Price: The Droid Razr Maxx HD will cost you $299.99 out of pocket with a new two-year contract. If you want to save a hundred bucks, you can get the regular Razr HD for $199.99 out of pocket, but be prepared to charge the phone more often. Full retail price of the Razr Maxx HD without a contract is $649.99.
Bottom line: If you don't want to charge your phone often and still use apps and features that tend to suck down battery life, the Motorola Droid Razr HD is simply the best in the business for battery life. There are little quirks with the user experience I didn't like, and the camera wasn't the best I've tested, but to many people those are minor issues and they'll jump at the chance to not have to worry much, if at all, about whether they have any juice left in their phone's battery life. For that reason alone, this will likely be one of the most popular phones this holiday season.
Matt Myftiu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 248-745-4617. Follow him on Twitter @MattMyftiu or become a fan of the Facebook page "OPTechTime." Check out his blog at realtechtime.blogspot.com