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Motorola Razr review

Verdict

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.

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
6 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

Performance
4 stars out of 6

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.

Motorola Razr front and back

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.

Motorola Razr edges

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

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User comments

Razr Maxx

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

Business Use

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

Outdated Design

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

Review?

....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

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