Motorola Razr HD Jelly Bean update: road test

Motorola Razr HD owners have something to cheer about this Christmas, with the update to Jelly Bean now rolling out to Telstra handset owners. We tell you what to expect from the download.

Joseph Hanlon Special to CNET News
Joe capitalises on a life-long love of blinking lights and upbeat MIDI soundtracks covering the latest developments in smartphones and tablet computers. When not ruining his eyesight staring at small screens, Joe ruins his eyesight playing video games and watching movies.
Joseph Hanlon
3 min read
(Credit: CBSi)

Huzzah! Motorola Razr HD owners have something to cheer about this Christmas, with the update to Jelly Bean now rolling out to Telstra handset owners. We were lucky enough to get access to the update a bit earlier than most, and have revisited the Razr HD this week to see how it fares with the improvements that Jelly Bean brings.

Smooth as a baby's Butter

The first noticeable improvement is in the general speed of the system. This is a difficult thing to judge, given that the Razr HD was a quick handset to begin with, but we do feel that the subtle stutters and pauses we noted in our review have been mostly ironed out. The animations across the majority of the UI are now smoother, thanks to Google's Project Butter, giving the handset a nicer feel all-round.

These improvements are not visible in benchmark tests though, with the results we've collected all being lower after the update than before it. Geekbench 2 now displays a score of 1387, when previously, the Razr HD scored a 1450. This is obviously just a curious by-product of the update, as the feel of the system tells a different story.

New bits

If you remember our Razr HD review, you'll know that, going forward, Motorola is planning on keeping the UI as close to Android as possible. As such, there are no obvious Motorola bits in the update, with all of the additional features being part of the Android system update.

(Screenshot by CBSi)

The expanded notifications pane is the part you will probably see the most. Now when you get a notification, the panel shows you more detail that before, and gives you options to interact without having to launch a second app. When you miss a call, there is a button to return the call right on the curtain. Email messages show the first few lines of the missive, so long as there isn't too many other notifications to clutter up the pane.

You'll also start seeing new Google Now notifications too. Google Now is Android's new mind-reading search tool that attempts to show you information it predicts you will be looking for, before you actually search for it. By default it shows the local weather and traffic reports for travel routes you often take — to and from work, for example. But you can add more, like movie show times, (limited) sports results, flight details, currency conversions and much more.

Swipe up from the Home button to launch Google Now. (Screenshots by CBSi)


If there is one element of the update that disappoints us, it's that battery life doesn't seem to have improved at all. Not that Motorola promised that it would, but we had our fingers crossed for some improved efficiencies all the same. As you can see in the image below, the phone is still munching through battery life at a steady click; defying its huge 2500mAh battery capacity.

The battery life on 4G still drops off faster than we'd like to see. ( Screenshot by CBSi)

If you don't have the update yet, standby. You should get it over the next few days. You might be able to force it to your phone by going into the system settings, clicking on About Phone, and selecting System Updates. If you spot anything else cool in the update, let us know.