Motorola Razr review
Beautiful and well built, and with a fabulous AMOLED screen, but battery life is poor and the camera lets the side down
Review Date: 13 Feb 2012
Reviewed By: Jonathan Bray
Price when reviewed: Free, on a £21.00 per month, 24 months contract.
Features & Design
Value for Money
Motorola's Razr phones have been around since the mobile industry was in its infancy, but since smartphones started to take over, the appeal of this once ultra-chic brand has waned. Its new Android smartphone, however, aims to revitalise that image and put Motorola back in the race.
It's a stunning return to form. Physically, this is one of the most attractive handsets we've ever come across, with an angled dark-chrome trim around a fingerprint-resistant Gorilla Glass front, and a Kevlar panel adorning the rear.
It's also incredibly light and thin, and although there's a bulge at the top of the phone to house the 8-megapixel, 1080p camera, the rest of the body measures a svelte 7.2mm. It's enough to make the Samsung Galaxy S II look podgy, and despite the waif-like profile, it feels sturdier than the Samsung.
It's coated with the same water-repellent material used on the recent Xoom2 tablets, meaning it's much less likely than your average smartphone to succumb to a soaking.
Motorola has made concessions to design, though. As with the Nokia Lumia 800 and iPhone 4S there's no removable battery, and it takes a micro-SIM instead of a standard one, but otherwise the Razr is well appointed. On the top edge there are micro-HDMI and micro-USB ports and a 3.5mm headphone socket. Under a slim flap on the left edge, next to the SIM slot, is a microSD slot for expanding the phone's 16GB of storage.
Switch on the Razr and you're greeted with the next impressive component: a fabulous 4.3in AMOLED screen, with stunning contrast and colour. Its maximum brightness of 318cd/m2 is superior to the Galaxy S II's, and black levels are perfect. The 540 x 960 qHD resolution looks sharper than that of the Galaxy S II, but the PenTile subpixel grid means that it does have a very slightly grainy appearance.
With a dual-core 1.2GHz processor and 1GB of RAM, general performance is excellent. A SunSpider score of 2,162 puts it among the front-runners, as does a time in our HTML test time of 10.8 seconds. Its Quadrant score of 2,536, meanwhile, is beaten significantly only by the Galaxy S II.
As is normal with Motorola smartphones, the software integration is very good indeed. The Motoblur skin offers a long list of integrated social networks to choose from, and although the widgets make the desktop-to-desktop transitions in Android stutter a little, you'll appreciate the wealth of information they put at your fingertips.
We might have had a new king of smartphones on our hands here, but the Razr falls short in two significant areas.
The first is battery life: the Razr had only 30% remaining on the battery gauge after our 24-hour test. The second is the 8-megapixel camera, which you can tease crisp images out of if you're careful, but which isn't a patch on the Galaxy S II's for features or quality.
So all in all, the Razr is a fine phone that we'd imagine will sell by the bucketload on the strength of its looks, build and stunning screen. For the ultimate all-round smartphone, though, our money is still on the Samsung Galaxy S II.
Author: Jonathan Bray
The Maxx version, with more than double the battery life is supposed to be much better, it is also a bit thicker, so it actually sits better in the hand.
As to the camera, meh, I've probably taken about half a dozen photos on my various handys over the years*, I always use a camera if I want to take photos.
* I did use the iPhone camera, with Evernote, when doing a hardware audit, photographing the serial numbers of devices, so they were all ready on my desktop for checking against the database, by the time I got back, but actual "photos", no, I always use my Ixsus or EOS.
By big_D on 13 Feb 2012
As a pro magazine, I'd like your view on the pro element of the razr - the lapdocks...
By KieronSeth on 13 Feb 2012
Never touching a Moto again!
I had a (1st gen?) Motorola Droid. I was forced into sending it back for 'repairs' after the microphone died in several interesting ways- a workaround was to use it in speakerphone mode, but then that stopped working too.
Turns out it was a fatal (fatally stupid) design flaw for many many people. Just google 'motorola droid microphone problems'.
Its not like they hadn't produced tens of different phone designs prior to the Droid, and their crack design team pulls a doozy like that for their flagship Android 1.6 device!
Took months to get back to me!
Never again Moto (Google!?)
By Heliosphan on 15 Feb 2012
An outdated design that may score points with some of the 40-somethings, who probably won't have an issue with the poor OS or the lack of quality. A phone for the have beens and the dinosaurs. Not a phone for the future movers and creators.
By mbassoc on 15 Feb 2012
Non-replaceable battery + poor battery life =
A dud phone you'll be scared to use because it'll die just when you need it most. I carry a charged spare battery (£4 off Amazon) for my SG2 all the time. I know the battery life is crap, but that's true of all big-screen smartphones, and with the SG2 at least I can do something about it.
By Noghar on 15 Feb 2012
....or skimpy 'preview'? There's not a lot of info on the guts of the phone or OS, but plenty on the look and feel....
By Wilbert3 on 17 Feb 2012
Razr icons hard to see
I love the Razr. But there is a design flaw. Notice the Razr photo on this web site. The icons along the bottom for MENU, HOME, BACK, SEARCH are hard to see. And that is true in normal room lighting. There is an ambient light sensor at the top just below/left of "Motorola". Cover it with your thumb or a piece of a Postit and the icons will light up and be visible.
Motorola should provide a control among settings rather than force the user to a hokey solution.
By Razrsensitivty on 1 Mar 2012
Best smart phone I have bought
This phone is brilliant. Better than the Nexus. I cannot see any graining on the screen. Must have to use a magnifying glass to see it if it is there.
Am quite impressed with the photos I have taken they are so good I use them in my desktop slide show and they are as good as he windows built in pictures.
I would sooner have this phone than a boring same old same old Samsung phone. All their phones look identical to me just square slabs.
By curiousclive on 18 May 2012
- Google to follow Apple with device encryption
- U2 and Apple working on "new music format"
- Ellison steps down: but who's really running Oracle now?
- Audioboo to become Audioboom in app revamp
- Apple slaps down Google and police, as it takes high ground on user privacy
- Amazon releases high-end Kindle Voyage Touch
- What's on this week's PC Pro podcast?
- Virgin carpeted again for broadband speed claims
- Microsoft set to make more job cuts
- Sony warns of massive loss on smartphones
- How to check your identity hasn’t been sold to the hackers
- Tim Cook: this is how much TV has changed since the 70s
- Westminster wins the .London battle
- 20 years of PC Pro: from deep pan pizza to virtualisation
- Five reasons why the Apple Watch leaves me cold
- Apple Watch, iPhone 6 and 6 Plus: Tim Cook's Apple back with a bang?
- BT Home Hub 5: how to get maximum speed
- 20 years of PC Pro: one-star reviews (including "the worst tablet we've ever seen")
- 20 years of PC Pro: our best covers
- Why we've closed the PC Pro forums
- How to install iOS 8 without deleting apps and data
- The best smartwatches of 2014: what's the best smartwatch?
- Nexus 6 (X or Shamu) release date, price and specs rumour roundup
- Best of IDF: top tech and memorable moments from Intel's tech show
- How Apple Pay works and how to use it on your iPhone 6 or Apple Watch
- Tech of the future... and the British boffins building it
- Abuse magnets: the people behind corporate Twitter accounts
- Putting people at the centre of software design
- How to use remote-access software
- Tech support horror stories
- How to sell more ebooks on Amazon
- 10 ways to make your business more secure
- Top five VoIP mistakes
- How to add in-app purchasing to an iPhone, Android or Windows app
- Remote-control ransomware: TeamViewer and software hardball
- Why laptops with serial ports matter to the Internet of Things
- Make your mobile battery last longer
- Small steps into handling Big Data
- Nexus 5: does it really run stock Android?
- How to get broadband to a garden office