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Motorola DROID RAZR HD Review: Android Done Right!

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Having been acquired by Google, Motorola Mobility is on the brink of a whole new era. Google’s influence is just starting to show, and the new range of Droid Razr phones is looking pretty good for the future.

Motorola DROID RAZR HD review

The flagship – the Motorola Droid Razr HD is available from Verizon Wireless for $200 with a two-year tie-in. This phone is accompanied by the Droid Razr Maxx HD, which is very similar but has a bigger battery. This phones goes for $300. There’s also the Droid Razr M, a smaller and lower-end phone that’s $99 on contract.

I’ve spent a few days using the Razr HD instead of my usual phone – it’s not perfect, but it does get a lot of things right. It is also a very high quality phone, with excellent battery life – something much needed in the Android world.

Styling: The first thing you’ll notice about the Motorola Droid Razr HD is its brilliant construction – it feels rugged but high quality and expensive. A winning combo.

The Razr HD is 2.7×5.2×0.33” and weighs 5.2oz – this is a bit heavier than some rivals, but still pocketable. The back is made of textured Kevlar, with a metal band around the edges, Gorilla Glass on the front and a water-repellent nano-coating to protect it from spillages. This isn’t the shiny-happy-plasticky Samsung Galaxy S3 – this is a phone for the Zombie Apocalyse.

It has a 4.7” 1,280x720p Super AMOLED display, and it uses Pentile tech which will disappoint the screen tech geeks, but the 720p display does look really good – bright, easy on the eyes and with no visible pixels.

Atop the display there’s a big 0.75” LED indicator that flashes in different colours to alert you to missing calls and so on. You can install a third-party app to customize the LED and its operations to your heart’s content.

External features: The Motorola Droid Razr HD has separate micro-USB and micro-HDMI ports on the left side, so unusually it doesn’t need special adapters in order to be connected to a TV. On the left there’s also a micro-SD slot, which is another object of desire for smartphones. The slot on this phone has a special pin to open it, though, so don’t lose it….

The Razr HD uses onscreen buttons instead of physical, which gives it a definite advantage over the other Android phones that are still using outmoded physical buttons despite Google complaining about them.

Under the hood: The Motorola DROID Razr HD has a 1.5GHz dual-core chip and 1GB of RAM, so it’s a snappy little number, which I found pleasant to use. Web browsing was seamless and multitasking was a cinch. There was some occasional choppiness with home screen swiping and animations, but this could be teething problems, really. I’m thinking Jelly Bean may ail this.

I saw this same choppiness on the Razr M, which has the same RAM and chip and the Razr HD. The effect on both phones is slight, but still there. It may be a software issue, as other phones with less GHz don’t have it.

The Razr HD really excels in battery life, with a 2,530mAh non-removable battery that keeps it going all day. Even with heavy use, like 4G LTE, I found it hard to drain this battery by nightfall. The Razr Maxx HD has a battery that’s 30% bigger than the Razr HD’s and can give twice as much “mixed usage”. I’m fixing to do a review of this one soon.

The Razr HD has 16GB of internal storage, with 11GB free for use. You can add up to 32GB of microSD memory, but you have to buy your own card.

The Razr HD’s camera is 8MP (1.3MP front camera). The rear camera is good, but nowhere near as good as the ones on the Samsung Galaxy S3, iPhone 5 and Nokia Lumia 920.

The Razr HD has NFC for sharing and services, but there’s no Google Wallet and Verizon doesn’t want to supply this service.

BLUR: The Droid Razr HD has a modified version of Ice Cream Sandwich combined with Moto’s own UI. It’s a letdown to see ICS, but we should have a Jelly Bean update by the end of the year.

Motorola hasn’t been heavy-handed. The UI changes are a bit of a downgrade from Google’s stock Android 4.x OS, though. Moto randomly changed system icons out, which makes for an inconsistent and less pleasing look. However, some other manufacturers make a real mess of Android (I’m looking at you Samsung Galaxy S3 & TouchWiz). So not to worry.

The Razr HD also includes Moto’s Smart Actions tool, which is a simplified version of the location-aware Android settings Tasker. There’s the usual Verizon bloatware and nothign too striking like with the S-features we found in the S3 (ShareShot, S-Beam, Palm Swipe,etc).

Conclusion

The Motorola DROID Razr HD is one of the best phones on Verizon. It’s rugged, with an amazing battery and fits closely to Android 4.0+ design. It’s a great package that stands head and shoulders above the rest. Of course there’s the disappointing outdated OS, the so-so camera and the sometimes-shaky performance, but this phone has enough good things going for it to make up for these faults. Enjoy!

Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Nintendo Wii, PC, iPhone and Android games keep Berke busy at work all day. Honestly though we’re not sure why we’re paying him as it should be the other way around.