05
Sep
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I just got back from New York, the city of absolutely no internet, and now I can finally tell you about my experiences with the new RAZRs - the DROID RAZR HD 4G LTE, DROID RAZR HD MAXX 4G LTE, and DROID RAZR M 4G LTE. (My shift key is going to get a workout today!)

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The design and construction of all 3 phones is basically the same. A stitched Kevlar back with a rubber coating, a plastic body, and an industrial-style design with exposed, prominent screws. Just imagine an original DROID RAZR MAXX with screws embedded in it and you are most of the way there.

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All 3 phones feel extremely solid and well crafted. Motorola's design taste is questionable, but they can certainly build some nice hardware. The Kevlar back and plastic rim all have a lovely grip to them. They feel densely packed with components, and, even though the outside is plastic, it has a nice enough finish that it doesn't feel cheap. These are some of the best feeling smartphones out there.

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The back of the HDs have a full Kevlar wrap, while the M opts for a Kevlar panel and a glossy plastic camera section.

The real differences in the RAZR family come from the body size, screen, battery, and, probably, price.

RAZR HD / RAZR HD MAXX

The RAZR HD and HD MAXX bodies are nearly identical. HD MAXX has a 3300mAh battery, 32GB of storage, and is 0.36 inches thick; and the HD has a 2530mAh battery, 16GB of storage, and is 0.33 inches thick. Yes, only 0.03 inches, or 0.762mm.

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HD (left) vs HD Maxx (right)

Why did they even bother? I feel like they should have just axed the non-MAXX version and saved everyone the trouble. Hitting different price points is fine, but having different sized shells just makes life harder for accessory makers. No one is going to notice seven tenths of a millimeter. It's hard to tell the difference between the two, even in a side by side comparison. For instance, in the family portrait up there, I only know the MAXX is the one on the left because it only comes in black.

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The 720p AMOLED screen looks pretty standard, and that's because it IS standard. Motorola is almost a year behind everyone else when it comes to screen resolution. It's really nothing special, they're just finally competitive with Samsung, and a little behind HTC. The colors look pretty oversaturated, it's very similar to Samsung's 720p screens.

RAZR M

The RAZR M is the tiny, $100 sibling of the HD and HD MAXX, and let me tell you, this is officially Android's premier budget phone. It feels better built than some $200 flagship phones (guess whose), and it's really fast, too.

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The M has a 4.3 inch qHD Pentile screen in a teeny tiny chassis. People who are interested in smaller phones finally have a decent option. The overall size is about that of an iPhone, so if you're of the "smaller phone = easier one-handed operation" persuasion, you're going to love this. (Note: That's not my iPhone)

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Motorola claims this has an "edge to edge" screen, and let me tell you: it's pure marketing hype. There is nothing special about it. This certainly isn't a phone with "no bezel," there's several inches of bezel when you take into account the top and bottom, and the sides are only a minimal improvement over something like a Galaxy Nexus. When looking at the phone, nothing makes you say "wow that's a small bezel," it just looks... normal. If I were in charge at Motorola, I wouldn't even bother mentioning it.

The M screen is your standard, grainy Pentile AMOLED mess from a year ago. The edges of everything have a jagged, frayed look and, in general, the whole thing looks like a checkerboard. If you've seen the original Droid Razr screen, you know what to expect. I lived with a screen like this for a few months on my Motorola Atrix. It's terrible looking, but you get used to it after a few weeks.

"The new Motorola starts today" was Dennis Woodside's takeaway quote during the presentation. Yes, Motorola is on the way to recovery, but that's after these go out the door. Saying "The new Motorola starts today" also means that these phones were developed by the old Motorola. These phones are the leftover orphans from the old regime, and Google is putting on a smile, holding their nose, and cleaning out the pipeline. Motoblur still exists. You've got a pretty hideous set of icons, skinned core apps, unnecessary tweaks all over the place, and it doesn't have Jelly Bean. Oh, and I hope you like crapware, the app drawer comes with fifty-three applications.

These phone all seem a little late, which of course, is understandable given the management change. The are decent looking, fast, and well made, but they all seem like phones that other manufacturers were releasing a year ago.

I got to take home a Razr M, so I'll have a review up at some point. Brace yourself, Moto.

Ron Amadeo
Ron loves everything related to technology, design, and Google. He always wants to talk about "the big picture" and what's next for Android, and he's not afraid to get knee-deep in an APK for some details. Expect a good eye for detail, lots of research, and some lamenting about how something isn't designed well enough.
  • Tyler Chappell

    Sadly I can not say I am in the least bit surprised by Motorola. Oh well, I am hoping that HTC will actually have something interesting to announce on the 19th unlike the disappointment that was today.
    And I also agree that with such a minimal difference in thickness between the new HD and HD MAXX, they really should not have bothered with the smaller battery at all.

    • Jeremy626

      htc is announcing WP8 phones.

      • Knlegend1

        What's wrong with that?

  • spongeblog

    Android is slow and crappy. Apple's iOS makes me happy

    • blurryd

      If you have nothing to say please just keep your comments to yourself

    • Pig

      you're a freaking sponge what do you know

    • http://twitter.com/mfg68 MFG

      You've obviously never used Jelly Bean. I suggest you try it!

    • UniBroW

      I'd tend to disagree with you

      signed, your friend -Market Share

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000174715927 Harvey O. Villena

        there's an Ifan there.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000174715927 Harvey O. Villena

      Oh the IOS apple copy the features of the android. too bad for apple.

  • VicissitudePony
  • Freak4Dell

    I want that RAZR M. Badly.

    I agree about the MAXX. They should not have released the regular HD. I don't think they should have released the first regular RAZR, either, but at least the MAXX version of that came later. With these coming side by side, there's just no reason to have 2 devices.

    • New_Guy

      They likely did it to offer a cheeper version of the phone. Smaller battery, less storage, thinner (though barely). That's the only logic that I can deduce behind that move.

  • Jeff Lincoln

    Motorola lost me when they forced the ICS 4.0.4 "upgrade" to my Razr and turned it into a very fine digital clock. Never wanted to consider iPhone but have to consider it now, after more than 10 years with Motorola. And so far no one has described any difference or improvements in these "new" phones. Even if Google lights a fire under the legacy Motorola gang it is probably too late. I think what we are seeing is Motolola in it death throws.

    • TheKaz1969

      psst - there are other Android manufacturers.. you don't have to go to an iPhone...

    • Mapekz

      Android is going through what Windows has for decades. The software is fine but the hardware manufacturers are messing it up. Motorola and HTC are the equivalent of HP and Dell in this regard with Asus ans Samsung being more similar to...Asus and Samsung in the PC market. This is why most Galaxy S and Nexus devices by Samsung as well as the Asus Transformer and Nexus 7 are so good.

      Going forward I would recommend you only look at Nexus and Galaxy S devices until HTC, Motorola, LG, and Sony fix what they keep doing wrong. The new Motorola may start this week but their true efforts won't be realized until they release the next series of RAZRs one year from now (unless they make a Nexus this year of course, which is highly doubtful).

  • http://profiles.google.com/talhamid Talha Hamid

    RAZR M looks exceptionally good for a midrange device. RAZR HD MAXX is also good; too bad Moto is pulling out of markets even as its getting is mojo back.

    Please check out my iPhone 5 review:http://lessapple.blogspot.com/2012/09/worlds-first-iphone-5-review.html

    • Franky

      lmfao!!
      Honestly: read the review. It's brilliant!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000174715927 Harvey O. Villena

      is that the new Iphone 5. lolz..

  • Serge Popov

    IDK they're not pretty. Sharp edges, too many design lines, the verizon logo getting into your eyes, and all the stuff coming out on the sides ugh :/ I guess it's better than my almost three yo phone, but Galaxy S3 is nicer.

  • aatifsumar

    You've got your metric system a little confused bro. Its either 7.7mm or 0.77 cm.

    • jammer

      I'm pretty sure that .03"=.77mm

      • aatifsumar

        0.77 milimeters is less than one tenth of a centimeter. That's impossible. Maybe the inches figure is wrong too then.

        • http://komorkomania.pl/author/michal-brzezinski Michal Brzezinski

          It is less than 1 mm, there is no mistake in the article. Ron emphasizes this is very small difference...

        • Tim

          You're wrong bro. The difference between the two devices is only .03" which = .762mm. You must be thinking of the thickness of the entire device. He was comparing the difference between the two.

          • aatifsumar

            OH. I was. Major Facepalm.
            So what were the guys at Motorola smoking by even launching the non MAXX version?

          • New_Guy

            Will likely be sold for a lower price with it's 16gb of storage and smaller (though still quite large) battery. It better be at least $100 cheeper though.

  • John

    Dear baby Jesus,
    Please tell Moto that their default background image is awful looking. Thanks

  • http://komorkomania.pl/author/michal-brzezinski Michal Brzezinski

    Funny that two last pictures show different software buttons. I hope the more current form is lower one with pure Google design.

    • RaviShah

      that last one is running jelly bean. interesting...

      • Mapekz

        Indeed. Perhaps Moto's JB may be even less customized than its ICS. I do like the clock +weather widget - way more interesting than the tired HTC Sense clock that everyone tries to mimic - but otherwise I don't care for the other Motorola software.

  • Mike Yost

    I would trade my Nexus for the Razr Maxx HD.... Just saying.

  • Sxeptomaniac

    I know all the "design" people will get their panties in a twist at the mere suggestion, but I've always considered overly-rounded electronics to be, in general, terrible design. I find it idiotic when designers go out of their way to try to make rectangular components look rounded inside the shell. I don't particularly like the design of the original iPhone, nor my current Galaxy Nexus.

    Good design follows function, not the other way around, and Motorola understands that, at least. My experience is that most "design" people these days live with their heads in the clouds. They need to spend a little time working maintenance, so they can start to understand how fundamentally stupid a lot of the currently-popular "good design" principles are.

    I think the original Droid was fantastically well-designed, for the most part. It was practical, and took a beating.

    I love the design of those phones above, and would absolutely purchase those over most other phones being developed today, given the option.

  • itznfb

    Why does everyone keep saying they are catching up with phones that came out a year ago? Is it just because I'm on Verizon? HTC doesn't have a product to compete in this market on VZW and the GSIII just came out a few months ago. These are VZW's best phones along with the GSIII.

    • Tyler

      HTC released the Rezound with a 720p display on Verizon, and have a event soon that will most likely unveil a new phone on Verizon. I'm not saying its a bad phone, but 720p displays have been around on Verizon since the end of last year.

  • Michael Storer

    Imagine a shop ...The Maxx is going to hit the same price point as HTC one and SG3. Customer says ... I like these high end phones but they are just a bit too pricey.

    Retailer .. well ... I have one with equal performance ... and it still has a much better battery life than the more expensive models from the other two manufacturers.

    Some customers will say ... but that is still too expensive and then they have the killer M "no larger than an iPhone but much bigger screen.

    I think it fits together perfectly. It's not about technical differences ... it is about what you can say to the customer on the shop floor.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000174715927 Harvey O. Villena

      Boycott the launching of Iphone5

  • br_hermon

    I still don't understand why they don't embrace the MHL standard and get rid of the extra port.....