The battle for “World’s Thinnest” presses on with the release of Motorola’s latest flagship. Resurrecting the name of a phone that became an icon, the RAZR is back, but aside from the name, it bears little resemblance to the phone-in-skinny-jeans of 2004.
The new RAZR, or the XT910 as Motorola define it, is an Android slate measuring a trim 7.1mm at its thinnest point, handily eclipsing the Galaxy S II’s now portly 8.49mm figure. Make no mistake; this is a seriously thin phone.
But like a Lamborghini, it may hug the ground when laid flat, but it’s seriously wide. At 69mm its wider than the G S II’s 66mm, and completely dwarfs the iPhone 4S at 58.6mm.
The RAZR has a premium feel to it, something the Galaxy S II lacks. The front panel is all-gorilla glass, aside from a spun-metal Motorola logo at the top, no doubt a tribute to the RAZR V3’s signature keypad. Moto is making a big fuss of it’s Kevlar backing, which they same makes it both sleek and solid.
There are no arguments here. The design is beautiful, and in the hand it’s light without feeling cheap.
To achieve 7.1mm Motorola said goodbye to a removable battery, something I doubt will hurt sales. Having never seen the average user carry around a spare battery, the loss of the battery cover is a worthy tradeoff. They’ve even made the switch the microSIMs, just like the iPhone and Nokia N9. Media moguls will be pleased to see a microSD slot nestled up next to the SIM slot.
The edges of the RAZR are wrapped in a thin band of rubberized plastic, meeting at the top where you’ll find a microHDMI, microUSB and the 3.5mm headphone jack.
Power on the RAZR and you’ll be greeted by the 4.3” qHD Super AMOLED display. Considering the size of the RAZR, it would have been nice if they’d shoehorned a 4.5” display under the hood, but since the display uses a PenTile matrix, the smaller the better.
Now I’m no fan of PenTile displays, the usual 800×480 Super AMOLED screens just look awful, but as the resolution increases (or more importantly, the pixel density), the PenTile grain starts to become invisible.
Having done a fair bit of Kindle reading and web browsing on the RAZR, it looks great except for the smallest text.
While the Galaxy Nexus manages to pull the wool over your eyes, the RAZR is only half-way there. The grain is still visible up close and when trying to read very small text (like when a webpage is zoomed out), but at the usual bent-arms-length, it’s tolerable.
Unlike the Galaxy S II’s noticeable blue colour temperature, the RAZR’s display is more neutral, with better colour accuracy. It still boasts AMOLED’s deep blacks and high-contrasts, which is nice is normal usage, but can make darker movies a bit difficult to see.
The 1.2Ghz Dual-Core TI OMAP 4430 makes using the RAZR a very enjoyable experience. While it’s not quite as fast as a Galaxy S II in real-world usage, there were very little issues with lag in the UI or applications. The RAZR supports Flash in the web browser, which worked flawlessly.
Unfortunately Motorola continues to laden their devices with their custom MotoBlur interface, which frankly gets in the way of an otherwise excellent experience. Android makes it easy to use custom launchers and widgets, so you can blur out Motorola’s handy-work if you please.
The dual-core chip takes care of video playback with ease, playing back 720p clips without a stutter. More importantly, Angry Birds get tossed across the screen smoothly as well.
The hump at the top of the RAZR houses an 8-megapixel autofocus camera with 1080p video capability. The camera can be launched from the lock screen with a sideways flick, always handy for grabbing a quick snap.
Photos and videos were sharp; though they lack the dynamic range of the 8MP shooter on the iPhone 4S. Thankfully the noise reduction isn’t as aggressive as the Galaxy S II, so your photos will retain finer details.
Battery life is the biggest hurdle for the RAZR to clear, and disappointingly it won’t be making the team. With only moderate use during the day (Google syncing on, a few minutes web browsing here and there, a few calls and text messages) you’ll be clamouring for a charger late in the day. The meter runs down in 10% increments too, so you’re a little in the dark about how fast the battery is draining. It’s not a fast charger either.
Battery life aside, the Motorola Droid RAZR is one of the coolest phones on the market right now. With sensational build quality, a distinctive design mixed with glass and Kevlar, and some fast innards, it feels like Motorola have got their mojo back.
Arguably the biggest competitor for the RAZR is the 7 month old Galaxy S II, and choosing between them is tough. While the Samsung has the leg up on battery life and slightly better performance, the Motorola’s quality build and even sleeker design raises similar a question to the one back in 2004: form or function? The RAZR has all the form and enough function to make it a good choice.
The RAZR is available from Optus (Australia) on the $59 cap over 24mths.
What I Like: Design, build quality, performance, qHD display resolution.
What Needs Improvement: PenTile isn’t a deal breaker but would be better without it, battery life.
Thanks to Motorola and Optus Australia for the Motorola Droid RAZR used for this review.