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Motorola Razr review:

Motorola Razr

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Typical Price: £400.00
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The Good Super-slim design; Sturdy construction; Clear, bright screen; Powerful components.

The Bad Isn't running new version of Android; dock-based webtop OS hasn't wowed us in the past.

The Bottom Line The Motorola Razr is an Android phone that offers speed, an 8-megapixel camera and a super-slim design, but it isn't running the latest version of Android and, for many, won't offer enough of a draw next to the Samsung Galaxy S2.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

8.3 Overall

Review Sections

Don't let the Razr name fool you; this isn't a rehash of Motorola's popular clamshell device of the same name. It's a proper smart phone packing a high-definition 4.3-inch screen, a dual-core processor and a meaty 1GB of RAM.

It may not be running the latest version of Android, but if you're after a super-slim phone with a greedy slice of power, the Motorola Razr is worth checking out.

It's available now on contracts from £26 per month and on pay as you go for £455.

Should I buy the Motorola Razr?

The Motorola Razr provides a great combination of powerful components wrapped up in a deliciously slim body. If your sole reason for buying a phone is to turn heads at the smart phone parties (which everyone goes to these days), then the Razr is worth checking out.

Motorola Razr images
Bright, bold and well defined, the screen is great for web browsing.

It comes with a 4.3-inch screen that's bright, with bold colours and great definition. It's great for browsing the web, watching videos on YouTube or just checking out photos of Ryan Gosling. The touchscreen is very responsive too, which really helps for clicking on small links on web pages.

Sadly, the Razr doesn't come with the latest version of Android -- Ice Cream Sandwich -- which is designed to run happily on both phones and tablets. We're already seeing the first wave of top-end smart phones coming out with this software so your shiny new Razr will immediately be a step behind the rest.

Although Android updates are sometimes applied to existing handsets, it's unlikely to happen with the Razr any time soon as Motorola has heavily customised the Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread software that currently sits on it. Moto isn't going to want to go through all that hassle again in a hurry, so don't ICS before 2012.

The Android experience you get though is smooth, with the usual multiple home screens on offer for you to fill up with all the apps and live widgets you could want. As Motorola has tweaked the basic software so much, there'll be a few new tricks to learn, even for those already familiar with Android. But it does offer some attractive benefits in the form of extensive social network integration, dictation options for writing texts and a handy grid for displaying your favourite contacts for quick access.

Motorola Razr back
Packed inside is a cool 1GB RAM, which is a cut above the competition.

The Razr packs a 1.2GHz dual-core processor and 1GB RAM. That is certainly above average for a smart phone, but isn't the sort of grunt you'd get from the HTC Sensation XE's 1.5GHz dual-core chip.

Performance was very nippy though and we found no delay when swiping between home screens and opening apps, even when running demanding tasks in the background.

Although it's certainly packing some heat, it's not offering much of an improvement in performance -- or indeed size -- over the Samsung Galaxy S2, which can be yours for free on cheaper contracts than the Razr. We've also heard recently that the S2 is due to get Ice Cream Sandwich updates, which will bring it into line with the top smart phone players again.

With the S2 offering such similar specs for a lower price -- and with an expected software update -- it's difficult to advise opting for the Razr. However, it's still a swish bit of kit so read through our full review to see whether it's right for you.

Design and build quality

The first thing you're likely to notice about the Motorola Razr is how thin it is. It measures a super-slender 7.1mm in thickness. That knocks a couple of millimetres off the similarly slim Samsung Galaxy S2.

Motorola Razr thickness
With a name like that, it comes as no surprise that the Razr is thinner than the competition.

Don't assume it'll slide unquestioningly into those skinny jeans though; there's a hump. Literally. A bulge at the top of the phone houses the camera unit, flash and loudspeaker. We understand why Motorola needed to make a part of the phone thicker, but it looks as though it's grown up with bad posture.

Having said that, the hump does act as a finger rest and helps make a large phone a little easier to keep hold of if you're walking along the street in a hurry.

The Razr may look skinny and liable to snap in the face of stern words, but build quality feels pretty solid. There were no signs of flex or nasty creaking when we poked and bent it. Motorola tells us it's woven with Kevlar fibre. That looks good on paper but it doesn't add much -- it's not going to stop a bullet.

At only 127g, the Razr is very light. So light, in fact, that it's often easy to forget that it's in your pocket, especially as it isn't embarrassingly bulging out of your jeans. Make sure you keep an eye on it -- it's all too easy for a phone like this to fall out of your pocket as you sit down on the bus or in a taxi. It doesn't have the physical presence to indicate to you that there's something missing from your trousers.


If this phone came out in 2010, we'd have gawped open-mouthed at the 4.3-inch screen. Nowadays, that size isn't extraordinary, especially in the face of goliaths like the HTC Titan, which packs a 4.7-inch screen. In fact, it's really only Apple that is still chugging along with a 3.5-inch screen on its iPhone 4S.

Motorola Razr screen
If you want a phone-off with your mates in the pub, the Razr out-inches the iPhone for screen size.

The Razr's Super AMOLED screen has a resolution of 540x960 pixels, which is supremely sharp. At 256 pixels per inch, it's not quite matching the iPhone 4S's 640x960 pixels -- which is more impressive as it's on a much smaller screen, equating to 330ppi -- but it's pretty close. Most people won't notice -- or care about -- the difference.

The screen is extremely bright; it's easy to use the phone in direct sunlight. It does a great job with colours, offering deep black levels. So if you often watch high-definition YouTube videos on the go, the Razr will hold up well. The clarity of the screen means that web pages and small text appear crisp and sharp so you can read comfortably for fairly long periods of time.

Motorola software

When Google bought Motorola's mobile division earlier this year, we assumed we'd see new Motorola blowers pre-packed with the latest, shiniest version of Android from the word go. Instead, the Razr runs the older Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread operating system.

Gingerbread is the version of Android designed for mobile phones, rather than the latest tablet-specific Honeycomb software. It's sadly a little behind the times though as Ice Cream Sandwich is beginning to roll out on new high-end devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

Motorola Razr homescreens
The Razr offers you five separate home screens. Here are two of them.

Gingerbread has always worked well on phones so we aren't expecting to see anything wrong as such -- we just can't help but feel that this top-end phone is already a little behind the times.

The Gingerbread experience on the Razr isn't one that will be familiar to those of you who've used Gingerbread phones before. Motorola has clearly spent a lot of time tweaking everything it can to make it stand a good distance apart from the vanilla line-up of cheaper phones.

The interface Motorola has concocted is a pleasant one, so don't be worrying that you'll be doing battle with clunky, awkward software. However, it does mean that if you're well versed with Android Gingerbread that there will be a few new things for you to learn.

It's possible that Motorola and Google will push out an update for the Razr, bringing it up to speed with the latest versions of Android. Updates can be slow to get emerge -- even on high-end devices -- as they're sometimes hampered by Google, the phone manufacturer itself or even your network carrier. It would be quite a task for Motorola to totally re-skin Ice Cream Sandwich for the Razr, making all the same changes we've seen on its Gingerbread skin, but we live in hope.

Motorola Razr home screen
The Razr runs on the Android Gingerbread OS -- don't expect an update to the latest Android Ice Cream Sandwich OS before 2012.

As is common with Android, the Razr offers you multiple home screens -- in this case, five of them -- to fill with app icons. Rather than the screens being simply pages of apps, like you'd find on iOS, you can also have various widgets that show live information.

For example, the Razr comes pre-loaded with a social networking widget that, once you've signed in to your various accounts, shows friends' status updates from sites such as Twitter and Facebook. These live widgets are particularly handy for quickly seeing what's going on with your mates without having to load up various apps.

There's a whole bunch of widgets you can get from the Android app store that will show live information pulled from weather services, news outlets or more personal ones; for example, a widget can be set to cycle through your favourite photos from your camera roll. Widgets can be re-sized too to take up either a small corner of the screen or dominate half a page.

Pressing and holding your finger on a widget 'unlocks' it from the home screen it's on, allowing you to move it around or re-size it. You can group widgets and apps on one page or wherever you find them most convenient. It may seem a little overwhelming -- especially if you're new to Android -- but spend some time with your phone when you first get it and you'll learn the tricks easily enough. From then on you can personalise to your heart's content.

Motorola Razr carousel
You can zoom out and view all your homes creens for speedier navigation. Motorola also provides a grid for quick access to your favourite contacts.

Motorola has crafted a handy drop-down grid that allows you to put in your favourite contacts. Now you don't need to navigate through your whole contacts book in order to send a quick text to your best mate about why you found the latest episode of X Factor so hateful. They probably know anyway.

If you're one of those socialite types, you'll be happy to hear that Motorola has sewn social networks into most areas of the Razr. When viewing a picture in your gallery, for example, tap an icon that looks like two arrows -- we guess that indicates sharing -- and you'll be given the option of uploading that image to a variety of social networks. The same icon is found in various other locations; the one next to the URL bar on websites allows you to tell the whole world what you're reading online. Just be careful what exactly you're telling people.

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