Razr by name, razor by design, Motorola's latest smartphone nabs the title of "world's thinnest" from the Samsung Galaxy II by 1.4mm, measuring in at 7.1mm along its thinnest point. The handset does bulge slightly at the top to accommodate the handset's 8-megapixel camera, and while this may seem awkward it actually gives you something to grab onto when you're yanking the phone out of your pocket.
Optus is selling the Razr with a Work and Play Kit, including a car mount, HD Dock, Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, and an HDMI cable.
The slim profile of the Razr does have a few drawbacks, however. To achieve this shape, Motorola has sealed the handset so that the battery is inaccessible by the user. The Razr also has a much larger footprint than most other smartphones with a 4.3-inch screen, something we attribute to the alignment of components below the glass. It's as though Motorola has taken a phone like the Atrix and squished it down from the front, making it thinner but expanding the width and length of the unit in the process.
The AMOLED screen looks fantastic; its blacks are rich and dark, its colours are vibrant, and text and images look sharp. It has the same qHD resolution as the LCD panel in the Atrix from earlier this year, but it looks much better.
Interestingly, Motorola has coated the entire phone, inside and out, with a water repellent, and though they say this isn't water-proofing the phone, any liquid that is splashed on the handset should bead and slide off. The phone's ports are exposed, however, so a drop in the kitchen sink while doing the dishes will likely still be fatal for the phone.
User experience and performance
Moto fans will be pleased to know that the Razr is easily the fastest Android smartphone from the company to date. It packs a dual-core 1.2GHz processor, 1GB RAM and a PowerVR SGX540 graphics chip (similar to the iPhone 4). But if we could take a guess, we'd say this new-found speed is a product of the phone's freshly optimised software, and though the Razr uses more glitzy animations than the Atrix it still manages to seem light years faster and more responsive.
The Motorola user interface on top of Android Gingerbread in the Razr is also a huge step forward in regards to design and speed, with an overhauled aesthetic, some excellent new widgets, slick animations and some very handy shortcuts. This improved performance is evident across the user experience. The Razr pulls instantaneously from apps drawing on databases, like the Address Book, and it loads 3D games in a timely fashion.
As mentioned earlier, battery life is better than average, but by a matter of hours, not days. On days when we've left our 3G data switched on and received push notifications from email and social networks, the battery lasts about 16 to 18 hours. If we turn on Smart Actions and manage our data better, you can double this, stretching out the battery life to halfway through the next day.
If there is one area of the Razr that we've found lacking, it's the 8-megapixel camera. Not that this camera is a complete failure, but it is definitely a few steps behind the similarly specced cameras from Samsung, Apple and HTC.
Colours can appear washed out in photos taken on the Razr.
The position of the camera is also a bit of a problem. The lens is tucked right into the top-left corner on the back of the phone, with the flash immediately beside it, so every couple of photos our fingers would cover a small portion of the image or the flash would reflect off a finger and blows out the photo. Put this down to another pitfall of being the world's thinnest phone.
The Macro shooting mode works well, but we wish the colours were stronger.
The Razr's 1080p HD video recording fares better than the camera in still photography mode. It's far from being a camcorder replacement, but it captures motion reasonably well and adapts to changes in lighting.
|iPhone 4S||HTC Sensation XL||Motorola Razr||Samsung Galaxy S II|
|iOS 5||Android 2.3.5 with HTC Sense||Android 2.3.5||Android 2.3 with TouchWiz|
|512MB RAM||768MB RAM||1GB RAM||1GB RAM|
|16, 32 or 64GB storage||16GB storage||8GB storage||16GB storage|
When Apple announced the iPhone 4S, everyone was talking about Siri, the virtual assistant app. We're guessing the same people won't spend as much time speaking about two unique software features that Motorola has introduced with the Razr, which is a shame because both are well executed.MotoCast
If you have a PC full of media and you'd prefer not to clog up the Razr's 16GB storage with this content, MotoCast is the solution you've been looking for. Once installed, MotoCast will stream music, photos, videos and documents from your computer to your handset over the air. Whenever both devices are connected to the internet, MotoCast opens up the option to access media from your PC to your phone. There is also a web version, so you can access the same files on a remote computer as well.
MotoCast installs on your PC when you first connect the Razr over USB. During set-up, you select which folders on your computer you want MotoCast to access. The service is password protected, so your data should be safe between your PC and your phone.
It works surprisingly well, even over a 3G data connection. The handset seems to cache some objects locally, like image thumbnails, so that the experience feels like a local one with very little buffering. Even video plays quickly, but you will notice the service compresses video pretty heavily, which is a shame if you were planning to connect your phone to a TV over HDMI.Smart Actions
In an effort to assuage the growing complaints by all smartphone users about the length of battery life, Motorola has created a tool it calls Smart Actions. Basically, the user defines a Trigger, like the time of day or a GPS-acquired location, and then designates actions to take at this trigger. These actions might include turning Wi-Fi on or off, changing the volume or sound of the phone's ringtone, or even changing the wallpaper image.
Motorola is claiming "up to 30 per cent" extra battery life when Smart Actions are used effectively. We're not sure we've seen such a massive improvement, but the Smart Actions we've created do mean we comfortably get through to the end of a busy day with charge to spare.
It may have been a while between hits for Motorola, and the competition may be stiff, but nothing detracts from the fact that the Razr is a killer release. The shape and size might not be for everyone, and the camera is disappointing, but it stands out as being one of the fastest-feeling phones of the year, with a slim, unique design and a genuinely pleasing user experience.