Hidden features of Motorola Droid Razr Maxx

Published: 19th March 2012
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The Droid Razr Maxx by Motorola is a very special phone. You see, I had a bit of a thing for the Droid Razr when it first came out, but it wasnít quite perfect. It felt a bit light, and I had trouble holding it in my hand since it was so big and so thin at the same time. Plus, battery life was a bust. It wasnít awful, but it only lasted about nine hours, meaning most people would need to bring a charger along every day.

Specifications:

Powering the RAZR MAXX is a fast 1.2GHz dual-core TI processor, 1GB of RAM, and LTE connectivity. The display is of the qHD variety, and carries a size of 4.3-inches and an aspect ratio of 16 x 10. Additional features include a back facing 8MP camera with 1080p video capture, HD front facing camera, 16GB of storage on an included microSD card, microHDMI out, GPS and the all important 3,300 mAh battery to keep everything running all day long.

Hardware:

The phone itself is beautiful. Many of you may be bothered by the fact that its 8.99mm thick compared to the Razrís 7.1mm waist line, but I actually found the extra bulk to both feel more premium and lookÖ well, better. Because the Razr is so very thin, the classic ďMoto humpĒ on the back is much, much more pronounced than it is on any other Droid. On the Razr Maxx, the hump is actually quite subtle.

The phone is a tad heavier than its predecessor, which I think lends itself to that premium feel, as well. Though, size may still be an issue for me. As I said with the Razr, my hands are pretty big for a girl and I still have trouble performing one-handed actions on the Razr Maxx.

Software:

This was my other big problem with the DROID RAZR MAXX, and fortunately this one can be corrected. I have never felt the downgrade in the OS so greatly when reviewing a device as I did in moving from Android 4.0 on my Galaxy Nexus to Android 2.3 on the DROID RAZR MAXX. Thereís nothing specific on the update timeline from Motorola yet, but itís shared software with the RAZR should help.

Iíll also say that Blur is just a non-issue to me at this point. Iím sure itís slowing the updates a bit which is obnoxious, but I donít see it as really marring the users Android experience anymore. Weíll see whether that holds true in the move to Android 4.0.

Battery Life:

So as my preamble suggested, the 3300 mAh battery is the big highlight feature for the DROID RAZR MAXX. So if it failed to impress, this review would have kinda blown up on the launch pad. Fortunately it manages to live up to the billing and beyond.



In my time with the DROID RAZR MAXX I never once was able to burn the battery down completely in less than 18 hours and with light usage I managed to eke out over 60 hours on a single charge.

Sure that light usage result is unrealistic for the power users, but then again we canít imagine not plugging our phone in at night anyway. For more casual users, and thus users that are less likely to remember to plug their phone in, I can see 36-48 hours of battery life as a real possibility.

This kind of battery life in a 4G LTE phone is quite simply astounding and gives the DROID RAZR MAXX a huge advantage over the rest of the current crop of devices out there that can often struggle to make it through a regular work day.

Display:

As mentioned before, the display on the RAZR MAXX measures 4.3-inches diagonally and has a resolution of 960 x 640. Because of the very wide 16 x 10 aspect ratio, though, the RAZR MAXX is not very wide, and is instead quite tall. While this is good for in hand feel, it does mean that while the display does technically measure 4.3-inches, it feels a bit smaller than 4.3-inch panels with more square aspect ratios, such as the HTC EVO's.

Quality is still very good, and the Super AMOLED display manages to make multimedia, websites, and the OS in general look quite good. However, compared to the 720p Galaxy Nexus, the Droid RAZR does fall a bit short in terms of the display. It's not so much the resolution that's a problem, but the lower pixel density makes the PenTile matrix evident. When looking at black and white text, especially with a small font, the pixelation caused by the PenTile arrangement is painfully evident. It can also be seen in some of the notification bar icons, and throughout other places in the OS if you look closely.

Despite this problem, the MAXX's display is perfectly suitable for normal use. In normal use, it's not very noticeable and causes no problems, and there's nothing that's overtly ugly. I only notice it because I've just used Samsung's wonderful 720p Super AMOLED Plus display on the Galaxy Nexus, and the difference is noticeable enough to warrant a mention. Generally, I would say not to let the "lower" quality of the display put you off here, its just worth noting that the MAXX doesn't quite compare to 720p panels.

Camera:

I kind of brushed over the camera performance in my Razr review, so I figured Iíd show you guys what Iím talking about this time around. Still image quality is very good, especially in bright environments (see below). Even zoomed in, the camera still takes quality shots though it still wonít replace a nice point-and-shoot if you take pictures more than the average bear (that Yogi reference is weak, but Iíll still leave it.)

Low-light pictures arenít as great, but it still gets the job done as far as stills are concerned (see below). Video capture in low-light environments doesnít really cut it though. I tried to take a little video at my friendís birthday party last night in a bar and had no luck. Just a lot of squiggly, blurry darkness.

If you know how to use the camera and focus before you hit the shutter button, the lag between tapping shutter and taking the picture isnít that bad at all. If you try to focus and hit the shutter to early, youíll be waiting a while.

Motorola packed all kinds of fun goodies into the camera application, which can be accessed by a rather slick drop down bar that sits right on top of the view finder. It offers up basic settings (like where to save the pic, geo-tagging, etc.), effects (like B&W, negative, and sepia), scenes (some of which help a bit with low-light shooting), modes (including panorama), exposure and flash.

All of this is majorly helpful, but I did have one small complaint with panorama. Unless youíre really steady, the shot can look a bit awkward. If you tilt a bit, for example, while moving from frame to frame, the shot can have bendy lines that should be straight and other strange qualities (in the image below, the train tracks dip a bit toward the right even though they are completely straight and level in real life).

Call Quality:

Motorola continues to be my gold standard for call quality amongst the Android manufacturers and the DROID RAZR MAXX was no exception. Callers were consistently loud and free of static and really thatís about all Iím looking for from my phone.

Iím not a big speakerphone user, but in my cursory testing with the DROID RAZR MAXX it worked as advertised with just a slight hit to the audio quality as compared to the earpiece.

Build Quality:

The DROID RAZR MAXX shares the Kevlar backing and splash proof coating of the original RAZR. Itís just a well constructed phone and I really canít find anything to complain about here.

The thicker 8.99 mm frame actually is an improvement over the original RAZR to me as I just couldnít find a comfortable way to hold the original. The advertising showing the RAZR slicing through everything in sight failed to mention that your hands would be itís main target.

Conclusion:

At the end of the day, Iíd say this is probably my favorite new 4G LTE phone, mostly because it actually makes LTE a viable option. Past that, itís quite beautiful, reliable, and well-built. You wonít scratch the screen by dropping it a few feet (thanks to that Corning Gorilla glass) and the Kevlar fiber casing is not only durable but it adds a nice touch in the design department.

Iím a bit concerned about the overheating issue, but Iím also aware that I was using the phone in a way that most users wonít since I was testing. Still, if youíre a power user, Iíd think twice about this and maybe see how others are faring as far as freezing is concerned.

Last, but certainly not least, I want to apologize on behalf of Motorola for screwing over Droid Razr owners. If youíre happy with your Razr and love how thin it is, than just ignore me. But for most of you, I assume that battery life is really bugging you on the original. Itís only been a couple of months since the Razr debuted, and thatís probably the biggest problem I have with this phone. I applaud Motorola for seeing an issue and nipping it in the bud, but you have to be careful that you donít screw over your original customers in the process.

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