Motorola Droid Razr Maxx (Verizon Wireless) review: Motorola Droid Razr Maxx (Verizon Wireless)

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The Good Despite a beefed-up battery, the Motorola Droid Razr Maxx has a slim, attractive, and durable design with the same gorgeous display, 1.2GHz dual-core processor, and fast Verizon 4G/LTE data speeds as its predecessor. It retains powerful multimedia chops and tight security features.

The Bad For such an advanced smartphone, the vague promise of a future Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is disappointing. Also, while a stronger battery is great, it's still not user-removable. People with small hands will find it hard to wrap them around the phone's wide frame, and the 8-megapixel camera is unimpressive.

The Bottom Line The Motorola Droid Razr Maxx proves that a powerful Android superphone can remain thin yet still promise marathon-worthy battery life.

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9.0 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 9
  • Performance 9

Editors' note: The Motorola Droid Razr Maxx was recently updated to run Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Be sure to check out our hands-on with the phone and its refreshed software.

Motorola ups the Android ante with its new creation, the Droid Razr Maxx. Not only does this superslim handset come equipped with all the outstanding features that graced the first Droid Razr, Motorola has thrown in an energy-dense 3,300mAh battery, too. Promised to run for days on end, the Maxx could be the longest-lasting, most powerful smartphone we've ever seen. Read on to find out if it's worth its $300 entry price.

Motorola made a splash with the first Droid Razr with the bold testament that it was the thinnest Android smartphone the world has ever seen. For the company that started the thin phone craze with the original Razr V3, it was a fitting move, even if which Razr has the trimmest chassis is always changing.

Interestingly, the company can't make the same boast about the Droid Razr Maxx. Measuring 5.14 inches long by 2.75 inches wide by 0.35 inch thick and weighing 5.1 ounces, the Maxx is slightly thicker and heavier than its predecessor (0.28 inch, 4.5 ounces). Even so, it still feels very svelte and lightweight, despite its larger size. I also found that it fit well into my pants pocket, though with an embarrassing bulge. Of course, people with small hands will have trouble grasping the big-screened, wide-bezelled device. Gone, though, is the hump in the back of the phone that held the camera lens and made the first Droid Razr top-heavy.

In fact, the way Motorola managed to squeeze in the Razr Maxx's more powerful battery was to fill in that hump. It was a smart design call since without the hump the Maxx feels more balanced even as it sports a thicker profile.

Virtually the same in overall thickness, the Droid Razr Maxx (left) is just as pocket-friendly as the first Droid Razr.

Not to worry, though: other Motorola innovations have remained, such as the chassis built from diamond-cut aluminum, and the thin sheet of glass in front sculpted to fit flush with the phone's edges. Just like the original Razr, Motorola coated the Maxx's back in Kevlar, which, while smooth and soft, means the battery is not removable. Thankfully the Razr Maxx features a souped-up 3,300mAh battery, compared with the Droid Razr's smaller 1,780mAh battery pack.

I do like the Kevlar backing. It won't stop bullets, but it does resist scratches and scuffs admirably. Another durability feature is the Maxx's "nanotechnology coating," also found on the Droid Razr, which shields the handset's innards from light moisture and klutzy spills. Don't get me wrong, it's not water-resistant, so don't take it to the beach. Making the Maxx even tougher is a Corning Gorilla Glass display with a chemically treated scratch-resistant surface.

User interface
Like the Droid Razr before it, the Motorola Droid Razr Maxx runs Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread with a subtler version of Motoblur placed over it. For instance, you don't have the annoyance of having to create a Motorola account before using the phone like older handsets forced you to do. It's the same implementation already seen on other Motorola handsets like the Atrix 2 and the Droid Bionic. There are five customizable home screens to choose from, with more shortcuts to the phone dialer, messaging, camera, and the main menu running along the bottom. Hitting the Home button in standby mode pulls up a view of all the home screens at once, similar to HTC's Sense UI.

The lock screen displays the typical digital clock, date, and battery info. To unlock, just swipe the lock icon from left to right. You can toggle the vibrate/ringer function here, too, and jump straight to the camera app. Those who liked the Droid Razr's virtual keyboard will find the same well-spaced keys, light haptic feedback, and responsiveness here. You also have the choice of using the default keyboard or Swype for fast one-handed writing.

The Droid Razr Maxx uses a lock screen that lets you toggle the ringer or jump straight to the camera.

Dedicated Droid Razr owners will appreciate the same great virtual keyboard on the Maxx. It has large buttons with lots of spacing, plus the buzz of light haptic feedback.

Offering a mother lode of Android capabilities, the Droid Razr Maxx has all the staples, including a few surprises, such as GPS, Bluetooth 4.0 (which supports a new generation of low-power accessories), Wi-Fi, and a mobile hot-spot capability that lets the phone act as a modem for up to eight Wi-Fi-enabled devices. Keep in mind that the mobile hot-spot feature costs about $20 extra per month on top of your voice and data plans.

The Razr Maxx also offers the usual selection of Google's apps and services, most already loaded: Gmail, Google Talk, Google Search with Voice, Google Maps with Navigation, Google Books, Places, Latitude, and YouTube. Phone and organizer functions include a calendar, alarm clock, calculator, a file manager, task list, voice command support, and speakerphone.

Other apps preinstalled include a healthy helping of free and paid software and services such as Amazon's Kindle app, Blockbuster, Let's Golf 2, Madden NFL 12, Netflix, Slacker Radio, MotoPrint, and VideoSurf. Of course Verizon added some bloatware of its own, like Device Setup, Verizon Instant Messenger, My Verizon Mobile, NFL Mobile, V Cast Tones, Verizon Video, VZ Navigator, and Visual Voicemail, which costs around $2.99 a month. Honestly the most helpful of the lot in my opinion is the My Verizon Data widget, which lives by default on the home screen and estimates your data usage to help you avoid being throttled or slammed with extra fees.

Corporate- and government-friendly
Who says you need a BlackBerry for private or public sector mobile security? Motorola doesn't think so. Also folded into the Droid Razr Maxx is support for Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync, not to mention government-grade FIPS 140-2 encryption for e-mail, calendar, and contacts. For even more peace of mind, more-severe methods such as remote wipe, PIN lock, SD card and device encryption, and remote enabling and disabling of camera and Wi-Fi are possible, too.

If you must tweak that doc on the road, the Razr Maxx features the Quickoffice app, which lets you create and edit MS Office documents; Citrix's GoToMeeting video conference application; and the portable PC experience that Webtop provides (more on that below).

MotoCast, Webtop, and Smart Actions
Pushing the smartphone productivity envelope further is the MotoCast app. It lets you share your documents and media files with your home or work computer. MotoCast also links with the Gallery app to serve up photos, and the Music app to access music files.

Many Motorola Android phones feature the company's Webtop app, and the Droid Razr Maxx continues the tradition. It morphs the handset into a mobile quasi-PC with Netbook-level functionality. Just attach it to compatible accessories like the Lapdock 100 (10-inch screen), the Lapdock 500 Pro (14-inch screen), or an HD Station, and the Webtop platform fires up automatically. These Lapdocks sport a keyboard and touch pad, but you'll have to contribute your own input devices if using something like the HD Station.

The Webtop platform at its core is a Linux-based operating system offering a Netbook-like experience for creating documents and surfing the Web via a full Firefox Web browser. The UI is pretty sparse, consisting of a dock or software launch pad with a few applications. The phone's screen is mirrored on the larger display as well, so you can still access your phone's contents and functions in this configuration. To read more about Webtop, check out our review of the Atrix's laptop dock.

Another interesting software spin on Android is Motorola's Smart Actions app, designed to make the company's handsets easier for novices to operate. It's basically an automation tool for phone behavior that follows rules you define. For example, you can have the phone automatically turn off Bluetooth and GPS when it detects your home Wi-Fi network, or dial its screen brightness way down when battery levels are critical.