Motorola Razr

Motorola revives its favourite brand with a cracking Android-powered release in the Razr; a fast phone with a unique design and a few killer apps.


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CNET Editor

Joe capitalises on a life-long love of blinking lights and upbeat MIDI soundtracks covering the latest developments in smartphones and tablet computers. When not ruining his eyesight staring at small screens, Joe ruins his eyesight playing video games and watching movies. Twitter: @Joseph_Hanlon


Design

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.
(Credit: CBSi)

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.

Camera

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.
(Credit: CBSi)

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.
(Credit: CBSi)

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.

Compared to

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
3.5-inch
640x960 pixels
4.7-inch
480x800 pixels
4.3-inch
540x960 pixels
4.3-inch
480x800 pixels
Apple A5
Dual-core 1GHz
Qualcomm
1.5GHz
TI OMAP
dual-core 1.2GHz
Samsung Exynos
dual-core 1.2GHz
512MB RAM 768MB RAM 1GB RAM 1GB RAM
16, 32 or 64GB storage 16GB storage 8GB storage 16GB storage

Killer apps

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.

Overall

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.



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IronMegadeth
10
Rating
 

"Overall is a great phone, the best you can buy for its price."

IronMegadeth posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Dual core performance. Size & Weight. The screen quality is awesome. The kevlar on the back makes the most comfortable phone ever to my hand. Sotage: The internal capacity (16GB) + a micro sd is all you can ask.

The Bad:Not removable battery. Not a great support by Motorola, not even needed for advanced users.

Excellent, incredible! I'm so freaking happy with this phone, after a week of using it I find no flaws.
It has an outstanding performance with Android Ice Cream Sandwich.
The camera is not as bad as many reviews say, it's a really decent phone camera.
The front camera is a 1.3 mp, much better than pther phones of this gama.

BillF3 Facebook
1
Rating
 

"Wasted potential. Non-existent support"

BillF3 posted a review   

The Good:Ease of use, size, features

The Bad:Hopeless battery, who-knows-when updates, average camera, crashes, freezes

Woeful experience! The battery life is disastrous - even with Smartactions, Juice Defender, blah, blah, blah. Advice/service from Motofail is (if you're lucky to get a response) condescending and irrelevant.

Feature wise - great. Performance wise - if and when it has enough power in its' tragically underwhelming battery - pretty good. Damn shame it cuts calls off, drops signal, reboots randomly, needs to be charged several times a day, EVERY day. I could go on. It's such a damn shame because it COULD have been an awesome phone.

However, any good points are FAR outweighed by the atrocious lack of interest from Motorola in any problems you may have. Don't ever expect a response from through any form of contact - you'll more than likely be sadly disappointed. First and last Moto experience for me and by the looks of the Motorola forums, I'm far from the only one.

LizK1 Facebook
9
Rating
 

"motoriscious, bigger the better!"

LizK1 posted a review   

The Good:its a mini tablet wats not to love!

The Bad:cant find many accesories for it in shops

OMG i love it got 2 on a transact plan as the plan is so affordable i can have so much fun with it. Ill never buy apple again. Lets hope this one lasts longer then the last 2 apple phones i had and had them sent back with contract canceled for free cause they had so many issues. Love the fact i can get most apps just like iphone and more cause its IOS not stuck on apple products only. Camera is awesome, had photos printed only way you would get better quality is if u used a professional camera. Screen is heaps strong unscratchable, sound is brilliant. my friends own samsung galaxy ll and they are jealous.

 

KamW posted a comment   

I just want to know why the **** this phone is $200 in America, and over $800 here in Australia.......

 

JoshuaB1 posted a reply   

check again, phones in america cost money and then also lock you into a plan, aren't functional on some other networks and it charges you when someone calls you or sms's you, I was told the Iphone cost around 300 there.. till I checked the details (unlocked it costs even more than here)

 

DannyM2 posted a comment   

Got this phone about 3months ago. It died (black screen, no restart) about 2 months ago, took Optus a month to fix (no charge) and return to me.

Now, only a few weeks after fix, it died again. Overheat and then black screen. Wont turn on, wont start, nothing!!!

AVOID!!!

Iv never dropped or abused this phone, no water, nothing to affect its performance.

This is disgraceful...

 

mattplug8 posted a comment   
Australia

I just signed up to Optus and got this phone but the wireless does not work. Now I have to send it away to be repaired instead of Optus just giving me a new one. It's a shame as I was excited to get this phone, now I'm a little turned off.

 

MattC3 posted a comment   
Australia

Smart actions....... exactly the same (minue GPS locaion which is cool), as Timeriffic. I wish this came out before/same time as Sensation cause this would have been a smart choice

 

Joseph Hanlon posted a reply   
Australia

Yeah, Timeriffic is a good example of a similar style of app. I love that Moto has pre-installed this though, hopefully it will help more people to remember to switch their connectivity on and off.

 

RobertP4 posted a reply   
Australia

Joseph, just got the RAZR for my fiance yesterday and i love it, although it doesn't seem to have text reflow. is this a HTC feature only?

 

eDDie posted a comment   
Australia

Looks really nice. Saw it in the shop randomly, was hoping to be blown away at first glance, but I'm sure I'd be happy if I get a chance to got through it.
Would love it if it had the 720p screen, but anyway. Looking forward to the video reveiw.
I jus don't get why a mouse is included? I mean, it's a big screen sure, but it aint that big. THough I guess being in a lecture room with a keyboard and mouse, and screen as big as a .. well mobile phone, may have its something.
Would prefer to do that on a tablet, or just a laptop.
I do love th fact it comes with a car mount! My Desire HD is always tucked in somewhere and I have to rely on the navigation voice to direct where I'm going. It's terrible in the city..

 

Will1505 posted a comment   

Had a play with one of them in an optus store the other day. Was really impressed with how responsive it was, on par with the galaxy S2.
The only thing that bugs me about it is its size. its about a cm wider than the galaxy and it really tells. nice and slim though.
What is nice is that the Zoom 2 will look exactly like this just bigger, sort of a universal form factor.

 

DominicC posted a comment   
Australia

thanks god I was so worry this phone wont be available on Optus the whole night.

Had the Razr V9 for like 4 years and nothing ever went wrong, had to switch to iPhone 4, since it was just too severely outdated.......

Will definitely look forward to this and the next iPad, (lets face it, the best combination has always been Android phone with the iOS tablet :P)


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User Reviews / Comments  Motorola Razr

  • IronMegadeth

    IronMegadeth

    Rating10

    "Excellent, incredible! I'm so freaking happy with this phone, after a week of using it I find no flaws.
    It has an outstanding performance with Android Ice Cream Sandwich.
    The camera is..."

  • BillF3

    BillF3

    Rating1

    "Woeful experience! The battery life is disastrous - even with Smartactions, Juice Defender, blah, blah, blah. Advice/service from Motofail is (if you're lucky to get a response) condescending and i..."

  • LizK1

    LizK1

    Rating9

    "OMG i love it got 2 on a transact plan as the plan is so affordable i can have so much fun with it. Ill never buy apple again. Lets hope this one lasts longer then the last 2 apple phones i had and..."

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