Motorola Droid RAZR: Not quite thin enough to cut metal (review)

Motorola Droid RAZR: Not quite thin enough to cut metal (review)

Summary: Verizon will be selling the Motorola Droid RAZR this Friday, the thinnest LTE-enabled smartphone around.

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You may have seen the television ad campaign for Verizon that shows the Droid RAZR as a thin throwing weapon that cuts metal. While the ad doesn't show anything about the new phone, it does make a statement that it is as thin as can be. Holding the RAZR sideways shows this to be the case, it is as thin as any smartphone out there.

The new Droid phone from Motorola is the thinnest phone with 4G LTE capability, and even though it only has a 4.3-inch display it is the widest phone I have ever held. I have large hands and find the Droid RAZR to be almost uncomfortable to hold and use. I am not sure those with small hands could even use the RAZR due to this strange width.

See the Droid RAZR, the thinnest smartphone on the Verizon 4G LTE network


Image Gallery: The Droid RAZR by Motorola is one of the thinnest smartphones Image Gallery: Charge Image Gallery: Charge
Most likely Motorola had to make the phone this wide to pack everything in the super-thin casing. The phone is very durable despite the thin profile, due to Corning Gorilla Glass on the display and a Kevlar fiber construction. The RAZR could easily stand up to the rigors of the heavy user. The only concession Motorola had to make due to the thinness is with a sealed battery. There is no way for the user to change the battery of the Droid RAZR.

Specifications:

  • Processor: Dual-core 1.2 GHz
  • Memory: 1GB system RAM, 16GB internal RAM,  16GB microsSD installed, HDMI out
  • Display: 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Advanced (540×960)
  • Cameras: 1.3MP front, 8MP rear (LED flash), 1080p HD video capture
  • Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth, 3G/4G LTE
  • Battery: 1780 mAh
  • OS: Android 2.3.5 (Gingerbread)
  • Dimensions: 5.15 x 2.71 x 0.28 inches, 4.48 ounces

Hardware

The Droid RAZR casing is sleek and, dare I say it, sexy. It is so solidly constructed that it feels like a single piece design, black and ready for high-speed use with 4G LTE connectivity from Verizon. The microUSB port, used for charging and PC connection, and the HDMI port are on the top of the handset.

On the left side of the phone is a drop-down access door leading to the SIM slot (for the LTE) and the microSD slot. Verizon ships the RAZR with a 16GB card to augment the internal 16GB of RAM. Looking to the right side of the handset finds the power button and volume rocker. There is nothing on the bottom of the phone.

The front of the phone is a smooth black surface. The front-facing webcam is at the top underneath the Motorola silver nameplate. There is a small green LED on the upper left above the screen that shows when notifications are received. Below the 4.3-inch display are the four standard Android soft buttons: Menu, Home, Return, and Search. There is quite a large bezel around the display due to the width of the phone in relation to the screen.

The 8MP camera and flash are on the back of the phone, located at the top inside the customary Motorola "hump". The small speaker is located in the hump to the right of the camera. Underneath the hump the back tapers down to the thin phone width, and is a smooth unbroken surface. The phone feels good in the hand due to the thinness and the hump at the top, although the width makes it a little hard to hold in one hand.

Software

Motorola has toned down the MotoBlur software for the RAZR, which is a welcome change from previous handsets. There is a collection of simple widgets that provide control over the phone and give information about various social networks if desired.

The specialized Gingerbread interface puts four icons on the bottom of each of the five home screens. A small indicator beneath this dock shows which of the homescreens is active with a blue line. There is a mild 3D effect when swiping among the home screens. The Apps icon on the dock opens the application drawer, which appears with a graphic effect that is cool once but then a little annoying after that as it delays getting to the apps.

The lock screen on the Droid RAZR is very useful with a dual slide for unlocking the phone and activating the camera without having to unlock the phone. There is a vertical slider between the two unlock sliders that mutes/unmutes the phone from the lock screen, which is a nice touch.

Motorola has included the Webtop app for using the phone with optional docks. The webtop dock lets you use the phone with an external display, keyboard and mouse. The laptop dock is a laptop shell that turns the phone into a laptop replacement. This app basically adds a full Firefox browser for use with the docks.

The included MotoCast app enables wirelessly shooting files between the RAZR and a PC on the network. There is also a Mobile Hotspot app for using the Droid RAZR as a hotspot with up to 8 devices over 4G and 5 devices over 3G. The hotspot service requires service with Verizon at additional monthly charge.

Those familiar with the Android utilities Locale and Tasker will be happy to see the Smart Actions app that Motorola has included on the Droid RAZR. This is essentially a scripting utility that lets the user define phone actions based on time of day, location, and even battery level. There are lots of example scripts to show what Smart Actions can do, and these can be modified as needed.

Using Smart Actions it is simple to make a script that triggers when the Location Services shows you get to work. This could then automatically shut off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Another script could perform other actions when you get home. There is an almost endless number of uses for Smart Actions. A particularly good use of the app is to have the phone automatically shut off radios at night to save battery life.

Using the Droid RAZR

Phone calls work as expected on the RAZR with good audio quality. The speaker is nice and loud when the speakerphone is active. I have experienced no issues in the short time I have been using the phone.

The display on the Droid RAZR is decent, but not as good as some phones I have seen. Those with Super AMOLED Plus displays are expecially vivid, more so than the RAZR.

Several reviews have indicated the battery life is not very good on the phone, especially when using 4G. After two hours of moderate use of the RAZR over 4G the battery is indicating 80% remaining. This is not particularly good, but it is not the worst I have seen on phones using LTE. Motorola has included some nice power management capabilities under the Settings to help stretch the battery as long as possible.

I haven't taken a lot of photos with the 8MP camera, but what I have seen it is nothing special. The typical shutter lag is present, and I don't think the camera would replace a dedicated point-and-shoot. The 1080p video shot from the camera looks good on a big screen, but not spectacular.

The super-thin design of the Droid RAZR has an impact on heat, especially when using the LTE connectivity. The phone actually gets hot when streaming video and during other sustained LTE activities. It is not dangerously hot, but very noticeable.

I am not fond of phones that have the charging port on the top of the handset, and that includes the Droid RAZR. I would rather have it on the bottom or even the side of the phone, but that is just my preference. The small power adapter included is nice, with a plug that folds flat for transport. There are two USB ports on the adapter which is unusual but a welcome addition for travel charging other gear.

Conclusion

The Droid RAZR is a well-designed smartphone from Motorola that is the thinnest LTE-enabled phone. It is light in the hand, and features sturdy construction for active lifestyles. Battery life is not the best on a smartphone, but it is not the worst either. Those who regularly carry a second battery (or use an extended battery) for getting through the day should give the RAZR a pass due to the sealed battery. Maybe the folks at Mophie will produce a battery/case for the Droid RAZR, which would be great.

Verizon will make the RAZR available Friday for $299 with a two-year contract. It qualifies for the carrier's double-down data special, which doubles the monthly data allowed for the regular plan price. The positives far outweigh the negatives on the Droid RAZR, and those looking for a good 4G phone should give it a look.

Of interest:

Topics: Mobility, Hardware, Verizon

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25 comments
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  • RE: Motorola Droid RAZR: Not quite thin enough to cut metal (review)

    One thing that bothers me about all the reviews on this site about the LTE phones is the knock on battery life. You don't need to have LTE enabled all the time. Set it to 3G and turn of LTE when you need it for the heavy lifting such as streaming, downloading and tethering. Why is it that nobody seems to mention this? Easy solution.

    I have a Bionic and I have yet to not make it a whole day, sometimes more, on a single charge. Very misleading with these reviews on battery life.
    heathman
    • What's the point of 4G (LTE) if it needs to be turned off most of the day?

      Doh!!
      <br>@heathman
      GoPower
      • RE: Motorola Droid RAZR: Not quite thin enough to cut metal (review)

        @GoPower <br>how different is this than having a 4wd truck, but complaining about lousy gas mileage? If you turn off permanent 4wd, your gas mileage will improve. Turn on only 4wd when needed. Heathman is correct. <br>Doh!!
        RCM_z
      • RE: Motorola Droid RAZR: Not quite thin enough to cut metal (review)

        @GoPower I have a Droid Bionic. I leave the 4G on all the time and I charge it when I go to sleep at night. On a couple occaisions when I used it as a hotspot, the battery drained at an high rate, but I get through a full day on a charge and that meets my definition of good enough for my needs. You may have different priorities.
        sbf95070
      • You Don't Need 4G to Wait for Calls

        @GoPower
        Most of the time your phone is on, it's just waiting for a call. You don't need 4G for that. If you find it a hassle to turn on the 4G when you want to browse, that's understandable, but it's not like you're being deprived of 4G if you turn it off while the phone is in your pocket.
        CFWhitman
    • RE: Motorola Droid RAZR: Not quite thin enough to cut metal (review)

      @heathman You can't have it both ways. you want to use 4g as a selling point but then get mad when they tell you the truth about 4g.
      illwill112
      • RE: Motorola Droid RAZR: Not quite thin enough to cut metal (review)

        @illwill112

        I'm not using it as as selling point. I prefer the option of having it. It is really fast. Almost unbelievably so. I live in a town with a population of less than 2000 in Arkansas and have the best LTE connection I could ask for. That is why I choose to make an informed decision to go with an LTE phone because it was available and fit a need.

        I researched how, why and when I would make use of this and it was the right choice for me. But the complete lack of mentioning the most basic thing such as simply having a toggle to turn it off and on is beyond belief and it the same time talking like its a flaw.

        People need to do their on research instead of listening to the biases of tech people with an agenda.
        heathman
  • RE: Motorola Droid RAZR: Not quite thin enough to cut metal (review)

    Hey, Verizon/Motorola, when will there be a WP7 Razr?
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • RE: Motorola Droid RAZR: Not quite thin enough to cut metal (review)

      @Cylon Centurion Seriously, I agree with your sentiment, but the likely answer is NEVER. Why would the Android Golden-boys who are firmly in Google's pocket build a handset for a rival OS? Again, as someone looking to stick with WP7.5 or WP8 depending on when I renew my contract, I wish someone would build a handset this striking for the OS. Nokia's first efforts are frankly disappointing, HTC seem the best bet so far with the Titan, but limited storage, no forward facing camera, single core... Arrgghhh! Come on, Microsoft, force the OEMs to up their games!
      mountjl
    • Re: when will there be a WP7 Razr?

      1) Hardware support is much harder for a Windows-based platform like WP7 than for a Linux-based system like Android. Nokia has discovered this the hard way--compare the superior hardware of the Linux-based N9 with the inferior Windows-based Lumia 800.

      2) Who would buy it?
      ldo17
  • RE: Motorola Droid RAZR: Not quite thin enough to cut metal (review)

    I decided to purchase a Bionic last week despite all the hype around this phone, due to the fact that I like to run with an extended battery. <br><br>They market this as the slimmest LTE smartphone but I didn't see much of a difference when holding one up next to my Bionic at the store (maybe 1-2mm slimmer just from looking at it).<br><br>James, you mention the screen 'as only decent' compared to AMOLED screens...but I thought the Razr was AMOLED as well (maybe Moto's is not as good as Samsung's?) That's pretty much my only complaint about the Bionic, I noticed a slight rainbow backwash when you look at a white screen up close.<br><br>Oh and if you are still within the 1st two weeks of a new contract, you can still go into your Verizon store and get the double data plan for no extra cost. Just did this yesterday <img border="0" src="http://www.cnet.com/i/mb/emoticons/happy.gif" alt="happy">
    dtdono0
  • RE: Motorola Droid RAZR: Not quite thin enough to cut metal (review)

    http://go.uc7758.com/gT
    http://go.uc7758.com/gT
    tyuthfd
  • RE: Motorola Droid RAZR: Not quite thin enough to cut metal (review)

    If Apple had developed this phone, reviewers would drool over it and say that the form factor and new features are cutting edge and one-of-a-kind innovation.
    lhimmels
  • The dimensions listed are misleading

    The RAZR is not a uniform thickness. The thin part is unquestionably thin, but the thick part is way thicker than the iPhone 4S.
    RationalGuy
    • RE: Motorola Droid RAZR: Not quite thin enough to cut metal (review)

      @RationalGuy

      Way thicker? No it's not. It's barely thicker than the iPhone 4s at it's thickest bulge. Seriously, does .1mm really matter that much to you? See this review for detail:

      http://www.ubergizmo.com/2011/11/droid-razr-review/
      dadinfishers
    • RE: Motorola Droid RAZR: Not quite thin enough to cut metal (review)

      @RationalGuy

      The thick part is necessary to mount the camera + a couple of other electronics - the camera would really be a bit problematic if the sensor and lens had far too little separation.
      spacespeed@...
  • RE: Motorola Droid RAZR: Not quite thin enough to cut metal (review)

    Not being able to swap the battery == fail
    pacsguy
  • RE: Motorola Droid RAZR: Not quite thin enough to cut metal (review)

    The tech stuff aside, what we all loved about the RAZR was... that it was a flip phone. I daresay, sir, "you are NO RAZR!" If this were a flip phone, (yes, I understand the challenges), you'd have my interest. Otherwise, looks like all of the others. Yawn.
    ChanticoSkky77
  • RE: Motorola Droid RAZR: Not quite thin enough to cut metal (review)

    This is going to be totally eclipsed by quad core, Ice Cream Sandwich superphones in a matter of months.
    bradavon
  • RE: Motorola Droid RAZR: Not quite thin enough to cut metal (review)

    From the ads on TV it cuts through lamp posts if nothing else.
    NoAxToGrind