The Motorola Maxx is a very stylish handset that's great for connecting to the Web on the move, thanks to the large, brightly lit screen and its support for speedy downloads. Its menu system takes a bit of getting used to, though
Motorola has become the Stock, Aitken and Waterman of the mobile phone world -- like the pop-producing team, it's found a formula that works and is sticking to it religiously. As a result, the Maxx looks remarkably like the previous incarnations of the Razr design. Thankfully, though, it's not just a reheat of yesterday's leftovers because under the bonnet it's tuned for speed, thanks to its support for the super-fast 3G standard HSDPA.
If, however, you haven't experienced Motorola's menu system before, you'll find it unintuitive, and you'll also have to spend some time adjusting to its iTap predictive text system, which is significantly different to the more common T9 system found on rival handsets.
Still, this remains a very stylish handset that's great for connecting to the Web on the move, thanks to the large, brightly lit screen and its support for speedy downloads. The phone is currently available free on contract with Orange, but you'll also soon be able to buy it SIM-free online for around £220.
Motorola really hasn't strayed far from the original Razr design with the Maxx. At 15mm thick, it's still super-slim, especially by the standards of 3G phones, and it retains the stylish keypad, which is made from etched metal -- although this time the keys are slightly wider.
The only major design update is the hardened glass finish on the front. This covers the small external colour screen and also hides three dedicated music buttons for fast forward, rewind and play/pause. Like the touch buttons on LG's Chocolate phone, these only light up when you run your finger over them. We found they can be a bit slow to respond, though.
If you want to use the phone for music, you'll need to boost the 50MB of internal memory using the microSD card slot. Unfortunately this isn't very easy to get at because it's hidden under the battery cover. We would have much preferred to have it tucked away on the side of the handset like Samsung managed with its equally slim Z560.
The keypad itself hasn't changed all that much from the original Razr, but that's no bad thing as the keys are well spaced out and easy to use for texting. And, unlike keypads on some rival models, the back light is very bright so you can see the keys in the dark.
Flip open the handset and the first thing that hits you is the large and brightly lit screen. It looks very sharp, thanks to its 240x320-pixel resolution, and really comes into its own when your fire up the Web browser using the dedicated button on the keypad.
The Maxx is a quad-band handset, so you'll be able to use it in most countries around the world, but it's primarily designed for use on 3G networks and so features dual cameras for video calling. The secondary camera captures low-grade VGA-quality video, but the main snapper mounted on the outside of the case can take 2-megapixel pictures.
One neat trick is that this camera can be started up when the phone is shut by pressing a button on the right-hand side. This calls the external screen into play as a viewfinder, making it easy to frame group shots.
Motorola has had a go at cleaning up its menu system, but you'll notice when using it that there are still times when all logic appears to have been abandoned. For example, after snapping a picture using the camera, you're given the option to send it, however you can only use this option to send via MMS or email. If you want to send a picture via Bluetooth you have to first save it to memory, exit the camera application and then open it up in the media folder. Only from here can you choose to send it via Bluetooth. It's very frustrating.
The Maxx V6 supports the A2DP (stereo Bluetooth) profile, so you can link it to a pair of wireless Bluetooth headphones for listening to music. The music player can pump out tunes in MP3, WMA and AAC formats and it's very easy to create your own playlists of the tracks stored on the phone. We connected it to Orange's Stereo Bluetooth Speakers and found that the sound quality was very good, especially the deep bass on tracks like Damian Marley's Welcome to Jamrock.
Where the Maxx really stands out is when it's connected to the Web via the super-fast 3G HSDPA service. We tried it with an HSDPA SIM from T-Mobile and the results were really impressive.
Google News loaded much more quickly on the handset's browser than we've experienced on non-super 3G handsets. On a speed test using the phone's built-in browser we got a real life download speed of 324.5Kbps, which isn't bad. When we used the phone as a modem for our laptop, however, we got a far higher speed rating of 1.1Mbps, which is faster than some people's ADSL broadband connections.
The audio quality during calls was also good, with the handset sounding crisp and sharp. Despite the phone's slimline design, the built-in speaker is quite loud and worked very well in speakerphone mode.
Camera phones rarely produce stunning snaps, and in this regard the Maxx is pretty much par for the course. The pictures from the 2-megapixel camera are reasonably sharp, but the colours tend to look slightly washed out. It's lacking autofocus, too, so you have to be careful to avoid blur. That said, it does have an LED flash, so you can get viewable results in low light.
Motorola says the battery is good for around 380 hours on standby and five hours of talk time. We had to charge it after three days of use, but we were using it for a lot of battery intensive tasks, such as 3G downloads and music playback over Bluetooth.
The Maxx's closest competitor is the super-3G Z560 from Samsung. Both phones are remarkably similar, right down to the three touch-sensitive music buttons on the front. We found the Samsung's menu system easier to use, although the Maxx feels like a sturdier handset, but in truth there's very little to choose between them.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Kate Macefield