Motorola Razr HD review:

Motorola Razr HD

Typical Price: $720.00
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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Large, colourful AMOLED screen. Nice UI design and additions. Great connectivity including HDMI.

The Bad 4G slugs battery life. Average camera. Some annoying lag.

The Bottom Line All elements of the Razr HD are good, if not great, but none provide a compelling reason to choose the Razr HD over one of the other, better, options in market.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

7.8 Overall


Despite the outcome of certain widely publicised court cases, every smartphone manufacturer definitely has a distinct design fingerprint. Sure, they are typically black rectangular boxes with a touchscreen on the front and a camera on the back, but each brand has a unique personality. The Razr HD definitely shares something with last's year's reborn Razr, though where the Razr had sharp, cut corners, the HD now has gently tapering sides. It's still, for us, instantly recognisable as a Motorola phone.

It still has a Kevlar battery cover, too, though this year, Motorola isn't gunning for the absolute thinnest phone on the market. Where the last Razr had a skinny bottom and a thicker camera bump, the back of the Razr HD is uniformed in its depth, with a subtle herringbone pattern across the back that has a soft-touch, rubber-like finish. Still, at 8.4mm deep, the Razr HD is on par with phones like Samsung's Galaxy S3 in the slim stakes.

This design makes way for a larger battery, with a comparably huge 2530mAh capacity unit below the Kevlar cover. Also, the screen is now bigger and in HD, measuring 4.7-inches diagonally and packing in 1280x720 pixels. It's an AMOLED screen like last year, and delivers similarly rich colours, but with sharper detail, thanks to the bonus pixels.

Unlike many of its competitors, Motorola still includes a micro-HDMI port on the side of the Razr HD, and although you don't get a micro-HDMI cable in the box, this is a handy addition for anyone who is interested in using Google's Play Movies service and watching the streams on a flat-panel TV.

The handset has only two external buttons, a power/standby toggle and a volume rocker. There is also a single removable tray for a micro SIM and a microSD memory card.

Compared with

Motorola Razr HD Samsung Galaxy S3 4G Apple iPhone 5 HTC One XL
Super LCD
Dual-core 1.5GHz
Quad-core 1.4GHz
Dual-core 1GHz
Dual-core 1.5GHz
16GB storage
16GB storage
16/32/64GB storage 32GB storage
Android ICS Android Jelly Bean iOS 6 Android ICS
Telstra Telstra, Optus All carriers Telstra

User experience

You may have read recently on CNET Australia about the direction that Motorola's new Google leadership intends to take the company. The first order of business, it seems, is to ditch the Motorola designed UI's from the past, and to turn the focus in future releases more towards a stock Google Android experience. Perhaps not entirely stock, but certainly closer than its competitors at Samsung, LG, Sony and HTC.

The UI on the Razr HD is a great mix of this philosophy. It runs on the Ice Cream Sandwich build of Android (Jelly Bean is on the way), and there is a lot of ICS on show. Motorola uses its own icon designs, but the layout and flow is mostly stock, with a few neat exceptions. Our favourite is a persistent Quick Settings menu. This settings screen lets you quickly silence the phone, toggle Wi-Fi and Mobile Data, enter Flight Mode and enter the complete system settings easily.

Some of the nice Motorola UI tweaks: the Quick Settings page and the triple-clock widget.
(Screenshots by CBSi)

There are a few nice widgets to choose from as well, including an excellent triple-clock face widget offering the time, weather and remaining battery life, in a trio of interactive bubbles. Also interesting, is seems that Motorola (or Google) has taken heed of Apple's patent on Swipe to Unlock, and the Razr HD is now unlockable using two distinct touches on the screen. However, you can just swipe your finger from the first place to the second. Very clever, Mr Moto.

The problem is that there are processing roadblocks that pop up all over the UI, creating frequent momentary lag-spikes that damage the experience. The Quick Settings page is a good example. The first time you swipe left, it takes two-seconds to load the page, and the same lag is there whenever that action is cleared from the phone's memory. To test this further, we installed a third-party launcher to see if it showed signs of similar lag, but it was buttery smooth. Hopefully, Motorola will iron out these bugs in its next software release, or that the Jelly Bean update makes a significant difference when it is rolled out in a few months.

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