In the autumn of 2004, there was a phone revolution. In bringing the Razr V3 to the market, Motorola set the standard for a mobile phone. At a mere 14mm thick, the phone was razor-like, and with its altogether sleek design, the Razr was a hit, remaining in production for over three years, and selling over 130 million units, becoming the best-selling phone of all time in the process.
Rather than produce a series of good, solid phones following on from the Razr, Motorola instead chose to attempt to again revolutionise the way we look at mobile technology, tending to choose style over substance. As a result, they failed recapture the success of the Razr, and have arguably struggled in the phone market, falling well behind the likes of Samsung, Sony Ericsson and HTC.
Recently though, it appears that Motorola may have started getting their act together, releasing phones that showed genuine promise in 2011, such as the Defy and the Atrix.
On the 18th October, Motorola announced their latest attempt at re-kindling past glories- the Motorola Droid Razr. Yup, it has pretty much the same name as its daddy, but with 7 years since the first Razr, the name is about as far as the similarities go. The problem is, in the days of 2004, mobile phone technology was still relatively in its infancy, and the market was less difficult to crack. This time, the Droid Razr has to square up to some smart-phone behemoths such as the Samsung Galaxy SII and the recently launched Samsung Galaxy Nexus. So how does it fair?
Well, not badly in truth. Styling has always been something that Motorola have prided themselves on, and with this beauty, it’s not hard to see why. At just 7.1mm thin, the Razr name has never been so apt.
The rear of the phone is covered in Kevlar fibre- that’s what they make bullet proof vests out of! I wouldn’t advise exposing it to gunfire, but at least you can be safe in the knowledge that your mobile will take plenty of punishment.
Something that has helped keep the device so thin is the lack of rear cover. This means that the battery is sealed in, leaving only a side hatch to access memory card and micro sim card slots. The battery itself boasts rather hefty 1780mAh, meaning you should have no trouble getting through the day with medium to heavy usage.
The front of the device is covered with a 4.3 inch screen, boasting Super AMOLED technology. It’s not quite as good as the Samsung screens, but you will be hard pushed to find anything else that comes close. Some have mentioned that the Pentile Matrix pixel layout leads to jagged edges. If it does, I can’t see them, and unless you’re extremely picky, or use your phone from 3 millimetres from your face, I would say that you won’t be able to either.
Coming with an 8mp shooter, the Razr sits in line with its competitors, rather than ahead of them. 8 mega pixels seem to have been the choice of phone companies for the last 2 or 3 years now, and whilst the Razr takes pretty decent pictures, if you want a camera, buy a camera rather than a phone. For point and shoot pictures, the Razr performs quite well, particularly in natural light. Indoors and in low light however, it does seem to struggle, with many pictures seemingly quite grainy.
The Razr shoots video at 1080p that is crisp and more than good enough for the average person, who only wants to take a few videos of friends etc. Again, if you want a decent camcorder, buy one, as phones still have some way to go before they can compete.
On the front of the phone is a 1.3mp camera that also shoots video in 720p, perfect for video conferencing.
The one major disappointment that most seem to be talking about is the lack of Ice Cream Sandwich, with the handset only coming with the Gingerbread version of Google’s android pre-loaded. Motorola have promised that ICS will be available for the Razr, although when has yet to be disclosed. To me it’s not a major problem. At the moment only one phone does come with ICS- the Galaxy Nexus- so if you want the very latest android has to offer, then that’s the phone for you. If you’re like me and aren’t that bothered, then it won’t be a major problem.
On top of the stock Android 2.3.5, Motorola have used their own interface. It’s come a long way in the past few years, but many may feel it still lags behind the likes of HTC’s sense and Samsung’s Touchwiz. Personally, I love it because it isn’t either of those. I’ve played with both the Samsung Galaxy SII and the HTC Sensation XE, and although Motorola’s effort perhaps isn’t as slick, it’s a refreshing change from having the same UI on nearly every phone. The good thing about android is that personalisation is literally limitless, with 1000’s of wallpapers, widgets; unlock screens and themes all available to download from the Android market.
With a 1.2GHz dual core processor and 1 GB of RAM, the Droid Razr has more power than most computers did at the time of the original Razor’s release. It is more than enough to allow the phone to run smoothly, even with multiple apps running, and will play even the most demanding of games without a hitch. The device comes with 8 or 16GB of internal storage space, with a micro SD card slot for additional room, should you need it.
The Motorola Razr is connected in all the ways you would expect a new smartphone should be. With HSDPA at speeds of up to 14.4 Mbps, web browsing is a smooth experience. 3G and Wi-Fi mean you will rarely find you are unable to access the internet, whilst the phone boasts Bluetooth 4.0, something only a handful of devices currently have. One issue I did have when testing the Wi-Fi was that sometimes when signal strength was weak, the handset struggled to connect, whilst other handsets tested alongside connected without too much difficulty. When signal strength was increased however, the Razr was fine.
Two of the main features on the new Razr are Moto cast and Smart actions. We’ll deal with them one at a time. Moto cast, once downloaded onto your PC, allows you to wirelessly stream documents, music and video on your Laptop or computer to your phone, Provided your laptop is on and both devices are connected to Wi-Fi. It works pretty well provide you have decent internet speeds and means that you can effectively take your laptop with you in your pocket.
Smart Actions is another great idea from Motorola. Effectively, it lets you control your phone’s settings based on external factors. Say for example, when you get to work, you wanted your phone to automatically go to vibrate. Well, you can set up a smart action to do it. There are literally 1000’s of combinations that range from saving your battery at night, to sending an automatic text when you reach a specific location. In testing it worked pretty impressively and often gave us helpful new suggestions that made the overall user experience of the Razr much better.
The phone is also compatible with Motorola’s webtop app system.
After using the phone now for a few weeks, I cannot particularly find a fault. The specification is more than a match for any other device around at the moment, and whilst it isn’t yet running Ice Cream Sandwich, it should be just around the corner. With Samsung having sold over 20 million of their Galaxy SII, it seems unlikely that the Razr will ever be recognised as the top dog, but if you’re prepared to stand out and step away from the likes of HTC and Samsung, then the Motorola Razr may just be the phone for you.