Motorola has released a bigger, better version of its Droid RAZR, the MAXX HD, which offers a larger screen and faster processor than its predecessor.
Roe Borunda / The Collegian
No, you’re not having a stress-induced flashback. Motorola has released the second versions of the Droid RAZR devices, the Droid RAZR HD and Droid RAZR MAXX HD.
Though the Droid RAZR didn’t necessarily set the world on fire when it was released last November, many in the smartphone community believed that the new device was a positive step forward for Motorola.
Some even speculated that the MAXX edition of the phone, released earlier this year, with its enormous 3300mAh lithium-ion battery would spark the “battery wars” among smartphone manufacturers.
This didn’t happen, as proved by the release of Samsung’s Galaxy S III smartphone in May 2012, with its meager 2100mAh battery.
Motorola announced the HD series in September, and it quickly became apparent that the new phones would mimic their non-hi-def counterparts, save for a few small changes.
To be clear, both the RAZR HD and RAZR MAXX HD are practically the same, save for the larger battery in the MAXX version. This review will focus on the latter version of the phone.
The RAZR MAXX HD takes what Motorola did right with the previous iteration and improves on it. The screen is a little bigger, the performance a little better, but strangely, the design is a little smaller.
At 131.9 x 67.9 x 9.3 mm, the phone is close to the original size of the RAZR MAXX. The major design difference is on the back, which no longer has the short rise near the top where the camera lens sits.
The phone has a superb look and feel. The MAXX version only comes in black, while the standard comes in both black and white.
The phone has a solid weight to it, but isn’t too heavy at 157 grams (0.35 pounds), which is only slightly heavier than the RAZR HD at 146 grams (0.32 pounds).
The comfortable rear cover is encased in tough DuPont KEVLAR, and gives the back a carbon fiber look with black and gray rectangles.
The screen is coated in scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla glass, and the body reinforced with splash guard protection.
The HD part of the name comes from the fact that this release has a 4.7-inch 1280 x 720p screen, over the 4.3-inch 960 x 540p screen of the RAZR MAXX.
But does the screen look good?
In one word: Yes, it looks absolutely stunning—as long as you have more faith in my eyesight than you do in my grasp of mathematics.
The phone is equipped with a Super AMOLED HD display, featuring bright, vibrant colors and dark blacks. The screen has around 312-ppi pixel density, which means that you would be hard-pressed to find single icon on the screen with even one pixel out of line.
To compare, the MAXX HD boasts a tighter pixel density than the recently released iPhone 5, which has a ppi count of around 326.
Smaller features include soft keys, or non-physical buttons, on the screen and a large notification light at the top of the phone just below the Motorola logo.
I’m deeply impressed with the sound quality of the speaker. I have never experienced a smartphone with such clear and robust audio quality.
The calling card for the MAXX HD is undoubtedly its 3300mAh battery that, in simple terms, provides around 32 hours of moderate use before needing to be recharged. Motorola’s official specifications say the phone can achieve up to 21.5 hours of talk time or 13 hours of streaming video.
On the first day I had the phone, I decided to really put it through its paces by, well, simply using it like I had my HTC Incredible, the phone I had upgraded from.
I ran around Fresno State taking a few pictures, shooting a couple videos, made calls, sent texts and downloaded around 200 megabytes worth of applications off the Google Play store in a laughable attempt to fill some of the 32 gigabytes of onboard memory, all the while testing the limits of the battery by keeping it away from a charger.
When I finally gave in, the phone hit 4 percent of its battery life and was surely tired of giving me warnings to plug it in. At this point the battery use screen was telling me that the phone had lasted nearly 37 hours off the charger.
There are those who have struggled with their phone’s limited battery life and have, like myself, needed to charge their phones more than once a day. The news that a smartphone, in this day and age, can reach 37 hours of moderate use, sounds like some form of wizardry, or perhaps strange gypsy magic.
The very next day, after spending more than 5 hours to charge it back up to full, I felt that unmistakable, trained instinct to think, “I should grab my charger,” only to end up laughing to myself and starting the day leaving my charger at home—no doubt I had broken some cardinal sin of the smartphone community.
In comparison, the Droid RAZR HD has a 2530mAh battery, and can achieve around 24 hours of mixed use.
The phone comes equipped with an 8-megapixel camera on the back, as well as a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera and a video that shoots film at 1080p at 30 frames-per-second.
Performance-wise, Motorola has upped the strength for the MAXX HD from its original iteration.
The standard RAZR and RAZR MAXX had a dual-core 1.2GHz processor with a gigabyte of RAM. The HD re-editions come with a dual-core 1.5GHz processor and a gigabyte of RAM.
The Galaxy S III runs with the same specs, and the iPhone 5 has a dual-core 1.2GHz processor.
The extra power won’t be completely noticeable between the two devices, but the dual-core power of the device means the phone can open and run apps at a blazing speed.
Like most modern smartphones, the MAXX HD is capable of 4G LTE data speeds, which gave me a download average of 25 megabytes per second.
Not everything with the MAXX HD is perfect, however.
For starters, the phone comes with Android OS version 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), and not the latest version, 4.1 (Jelly Bean).
The official word on the digital street is that the phone will receive the upgrade to version 4.1 before the end of the year. But fellow Android users like myself know to take upgrade announcements with a grain of salt.
The phone also comes with a lot of bloatware (pre-installed applications) from Verizon. You can go in and disable many of the unwanted apps, however.
Recently, an upgrade for the phone installed advertisement software, causing the phone to buzz once a day and inform me of some product that I could not really care less about. I have yet to figure out how to get rid of it.
The phone can support an SD card, but opening the slot is a task. In the box that the phone is sold in you are given a “key,” which is basically a short, thin piece of metal attached to a piece of black plastic.
To open the slot, you must spear the side of the phone with the key and yank out the card slot, which is something I feel is better suited for a mass murderer or an ancient spear-chucking Greek Olympian.
The phone is also rather pricey for being a re-release. The MAXX HD comes with 32GB of memory and a 3300mAh battery over the RAZR HD’s 16GB and 2530mAh battery respectfully.
But for $299.99, compared to $199.99 for the RAZR HD, with a new two-year plan, not everyone may be convinced to rush off to stores right away.
The phone is fast, but it has launched on the dusk of dual-core smartphones. In a few months we will start seeing smartphones with quad-core processors, which will be faster than we can currently imagine.
Beyond that, I completely love the Droid RAZR MAXX HD. The phone feels great and performs incredibly (far more than my Incredible, ironically enough).
To me, the positive points overshadow the few low marks on the phone. Motorola hasn’t necessarily reinvented the wheel with the Droid RAZR MAXX HD, but for fans of powerful smartphones and leaving home without a charger in confidence, this may be the phone for you.