REVIEW: Motorola RAZR

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The RAZR name is back, and this time running Android and upgraded hardware to combat rivals Samsung, HTC and Apple. However, with such an iconic name, Motorola has a lot of expectations to fulfilled. Can it deliver, especially in a highly-crowded market? As well, how does its thin form factor affect the phone?

Terence Huynh reviews the Motorola RAZR, which can be found after the jump.

  • Score:

    8.0 / 10

  • The Good:

    Design of the phone is pretty good; Screen is vibrant; Motorola’s UI performs better than previous version;

  • The Bad:

    Size may be a bit too big to hold; Camera quality not that great; No removable battery; some performance problems

  • Bottom Line:

    A good smartphone phone that stands out from the crowd because of the unique design.

Design & Hardware

Like its predecessor, this Motorola RAZR continues the tradition of a thin yet beautiful design. However, it isn’t a flip phone like the older namesake device – which, incidentally, became a curse as Motorola phones were then compared to the old RAZR. This phone is a standard candybar phone; and the phone has had an upgrade in terms of hardware.

The phone is proudly declaring itself the “World’s thinnest” smartphone out there – only at 7.1mm thick (a slight bulge is present due to the camera). And its undeniably a beautiful design in a somewhat geeky fashion. It also features a KEVLAR fibre back, which is something a phone has never claimed before. However, the size may be a bit too big for people to hold in their hand and could prove to be a bit uncomfortable.

The screen is a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED display that is also protected by Gorilla Glass, and does reproduce colours vibrantly.  It also features a 1.2GHz dual core processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of internal memory (that can be expandable via a microSD card). It also features two cameras: an 8-megapixel camera that can also support 1080p HD video recording, in addition with a second 1.3-megapxiel front-facing camera. The phone also runs the latest version of Android, version 2.3.5 – also known as Gingerbread.

This Motorola RAZR continues the tradition of a thin yet beautiful design

The new form thinnest, however, means that there is no removable battery, and the SIM card slot is now on the side of the device. The latter is common now on phones these days, so it’s not a big hassle. However, it supports microSIM only, so you’ll have to ask your carrier for one if you want to use this device unlocked (it’s an exclusive to Optus).

Interesting thing to note is that Motorola has also made this phone waterproof. It is apparently coated with a “water repellant”, but I wouldn’t trust it. The ports are not insulated – in fact, they are exposed – so a tiny bit of water could damage it.

Camera

The colours are a bit bland and are not as vibrant as what we wanted

The phone’s camera is alright. It’s not the best compared to its Android rivals, but it is not the worst camera I have ever seen on the phone. The colours are a bit bland and are not as vibrant as what we wanted, and there is a tendency to place your finger over parts of the lens because of its placement on the top of the phone, rather than somewhere in the middle. The camera does not do well in low-light situations and you can see there is a bit of noise in the photos.

Video recording is a bit better, but don’t expect it to replace your camcorder. However, it seems to work better in some lighting conditions than still photography.

The interface for the camera, however, is pretty good. It is clear and pretty clean. As with all Android phones, you have a wide variety of options to play with, including changing the flash and have several modes. However, the phone appears to not have a dedicated camera button on the sides, so you’ll have to use the touchscreen button.

Performance

I have said this before – I hate the Motorola skin for Android. The RAZR, however, does make a huge improvement to make the UI more faster and responsive. While it doesn’t jitter as much any more and is much more responsive to my touch, I do find that it does start to have problems when there are a lot of applications running – including the crapware that comes with the phone.

As well, for some unknown reason, the phone restarted on me three times consecutively. I think it could be the constant inability to connect to the mobile network and the phone trying to update the status messages, but I can’t back that up. However, it was a one-time occurrence and could be from my review unit and maybe not on your unit.

The RAZR, however, does make a huge improvement to make the UI more faster and responsive.

Despite that, the phone does really well most of the time. It has a lot of animations, and the entire UI has been revamped with a brand new design. It also provides some new widgets which makes it easier to perform tasks without going through menu after menu after menu in order to find the actual option you require. One of the best features I love is that you can now access the camera from the lock screen, rather than going through it and then finding the camera app. It makes it easier to take photos at any time. And for many, that delay can ruin photos.

Battery life is pretty good, we’ve had around a day and a bit. We’ve tested with a standard Twitter account and using the browser, and set the notifications on. Again, it really does depend on how you use your phone. If you’re going to be playing games a lot such as Angry Birds and watching movies on YouTube, then you’ll drain the battery faster.

However, if you need to extend your battery life, it has also included a “Smart Actions” application, which allows you to set automated tasks for your phone. This means that, for example, you can turn off your Wi-Fi or Bluetooth when you hit 30% of battery life. While not new, especially when you can download it in the marketplace, the fact it is so easy to use and is pre-installed and ready to be used make this a bit more desirable than the ones in the marketplace.

Conclusion

The Motorola RAZR is a fine-looking phone with the hardware specs that would make you drool over. While it is in a crowded market, it does stand out as one of the highlight phones because of its unique design that rivals the iPhone’s attempts to be slim. The phone’s camera is disappointing at best and the size may be a bit too big, but for those wanting a design-conscious phone like everyone did for the predecessor, then this one should be considered.

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