Motorola Droid Razr review: Motorola Droid Razr

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MSRP: $599.99

The Good The Motorola Droid Razr has an attractive, slim, and lightweight design that is also water repellent and scratch resistant. It has a fantastic 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Advanced display, a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, Verizon's 4G/LTE speeds, plenty of multimedia features, corporate and government grade security, Webtop functionality, and decent battery life.

The Bad The Motorola Droid Razr's large size might feel awkward in small hands; we expected better picture quality from its 8-megapixel camera; and the battery is not removable.

The Bottom Line With its razor-thin design, jam-packed features, and blazing speed, the Motorola Droid Razr is easily one of the year's top Android smartphones.

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8.7 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 9
  • Performance 8

Editors' note: We've updated this review with the correct name of the processor. It is the TI OMAP 4430 processor. We've also updated the display portion of the review after closer comparison with competing handsets.

We lowered the rating of and removed the Editors' Choice Award designation from the Droid Razr on January 27, 2012, since reviewing the Droid Razr Maxx, its follow-up product, which offers much improved battery life.

When the Motorola Razr first debuted in 2004, it made headlines for its stunningly thin profile. Indeed, the Razr was the impetus behind the slim phone trend that dominated the industry for years. Because of its huge success, Motorola stuck to its superskinny phone formula, churning out identically thin handsets like the Slvr and the Krzr. The trend could only last for so long, however, and Motorola was soon in need of something new.

In 2009, Motorola came back swinging when it embraced the Android OS and launched the Motorola Droid. The Droid became the ultimate anti-iPhone with its "Droid Does" advertising campaign, and catapulted Android to the masses. Motorola was finally back, and in a big way. Motorola made other Android-based handsets like the Flipout and the Atrix 4G, but "Droid" is still arguably the company's most recognizable brand.

Yet, Motorola did have a few mishaps along the way. The Atrix suffered from poor data speeds during its initial launch, and the Droid Bionic was delayed for months after its initial announcement. Motorola would do well to release a showstopper of a phone to get back into the public's good graces.

Enter the Droid Razr. In one of the best marketing moves we've seen all year, Motorola has combined two of its most powerful brands into one phone. The Droid Razr is just as its name suggests: a powerful Droid smartphone packaged in the superskinny Razr design. It boasts all of the latest smartphone technologies like a dual-core processor, Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread, and support for Verizon's 4G LTE network bundled inside an impossibly thin chassis that's also remarkably durable. The price will likely knock you off your feet, but then, so will the phone.

Motorola claims that the Droid Razr is the thinnest phone in the world, and while we can't prove that, we're inclined to believe it's true. Measuring 5.14 inches long by 2.71 inches wide by 0.28 inch thick and weighing only 4.5 ounces, we were immediately struck by how slim and lightweight it felt, despite its large footprint. There's no denying the wow factor of the Razr's ultralight body, and it does indeed fit perfectly into our pants pocket. Yet, we felt it was a bit too large for our small hands (no thanks to the rather wide bezel surrounding the display), and the squared edges resulted in slight discomfort when held. It's also a tiny bit top heavy because of the hump in the back that houses the camera lens.

The Droid Razr has a remarkably skinny profile that's only 0.28 inch thick.

In order to accommodate such a skinny profile, Motorola sought innovative ways to construct the phone, resulting in quite the marvel of industrial design. Motorola claims the chassis is built out of diamond-cut aluminum, and the thin sheet of glass dominating the front is sculpted around the edges to fit just so. Instead of a regular battery cover, Motorola simply coated the back in Kevlar, which has a surprisingly smooth and soft texture. Of course, that means the battery is not removable, which is a trade-off that many might not appreciate. Motorola did develop a Smart Actions app to help conserve battery life, but we'll get to that later.

The Kevlar backing won't make the phone bullet-resistant, but Motorola did seek to make the Droid Razr as durable as it could. It has a "nanotechnology coating" that guards the phone against the occasional splash. We placed the Droid Razr under running water for a few seconds, and the water did seem to bead and roll off it, like on a freshly waxed car. It's not water-resistant however, so we wouldn't go swimming with it. The Corning Gorilla Glass display is also said to be scratch-resistant.

The Droid Razr has a gorgeous 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Advanced display. It does have a rather wide bezel, however, and the phone might be better suited for larger hands.

While its slim profile is certainly stunning, the Droid Razr's 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Advanced display is nothing to sneeze at, either. It's simply gorgeous, with vibrant and rich colors plus tack-sharp details; it reminds us a lot of the AMOLED screens we've seen on Samsung handsets. The Droid Razr does use a Pentile matrix display, so images are not as smooth as on those same Samsung phones. Text in particular has a very slight graininess to it. The qHD 960-by-540-pixel resolution reduces that effect considerably, but it's not quite as vibrant as the display on the iPhone 4S or the Samsung Galaxy S II By itself, however, we maintain that the display is excellent.

We were very impressed by the responsiveness of the display. Overall navigation felt seamless and snappy thanks to the phone's 1.2GHz dual-core TI OMAP 4430 processor. There was virtually no lag when multitasking between different apps.

The left spine is home to a microSD card port plus a slot for a Micro-SIM card. The Droid Razr uses the latter purely for LTE; international GSM versions will likely use it for voice as well as data.

Beneath the display are four touch sensor keys for the Menu, Home, Back, and Search functions. On the right spine are two skinny volume controls plus a silver power/screen lock key. The volume keys click satisfyingly into place, but the power key is disappointingly squishy. On the left spine are the microSD card port and a slot for a Micro-SIM card. As the Droid Razr is for Verizon, the Micro-SIM card is purely for LTE; international GSM versions will likely use it for voice as well as data.

On the top of the phone are the 3.5mm headset port and the Micro-USB and Micro-HDMI ports. A camera lens sits on the back along with an LED flash and an external speaker. Sitting above the display is a front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera with 720p HD video capability.

User interface
The Motorola Droid Razr ships with Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread and a refined and lightweight version of MotoBlur that we've already seen in other Motorola handsets like the Atrix 2 and the Droid Bionic. It has up to five customizable home screens, and at the bottom row of the home screen are shortcuts to the phone dialer, the messaging inbox, the camera app, and the main menu. When you tap the Home button in standby mode, you will see a zoomed-out view of all the home screens, similar to HTC's Sense UI.

You navigate the main menu by swiping side to side, and the apps can be organized into groups. There is a very slight flicker animation that occurs when you swipe screens. The default lock screen has the usual swipe-to-unlock control, a vibrate/sound toggle, plus a camera app shortcut in case you need to get to the camera quickly from the lock screen. As for the virtual keyboard, you have the choice of either the default multitouch Android keyboard or Swype.

The Droid Razr has a plethora of features to meet most of your smartphone needs. It has all the basics, like 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. The mobile hot-spot option costs around $20 extra per month, however.

As you might expect, the Droid Razr supports all of Google's apps and services, and most of them come preinstalled: Gmail, Google Talk, Google Search with Voice, Google Maps with Navigation, Google Books, Places, Latitude, and YouTube. You also get the usual phone and PIM tools like a calendar, an alarm clock, a calculator, a file manager, a task list, voice command support, a speakerphone, and more.

Motorola really packed the Droid Razr to the gills with plenty of additional apps to enrich your smartphone experience. They include Amazon's Kindle app, Blockbuster, Let's Golf 2, Madden NFL 12, Netflix, Slacker Radio, MotoPrint, and VideoSurf. Verizon also threw in a few of its own, such as 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.

Corporate and government friendly
Motorola is aiming right at the BlackBerry when it claims that the Droid Razr is ready for both corporate and government usage. It has full Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync support, and it even features government-grade FIPS 140-2 encryption for e-mail, calendar, and contacts. Other security features include remote wipe, PIN lock, SD card and device encryption, remote enable/disable of camera and Wi-Fi, and more.