Recently Motorola introduced the new 4G Razr HD into the Australian market. This is the first smartphone introduced by the US Company since the acquisition of Motorola Mobility by Google
As part of our review process we tested how this new 4G offering stacked up against the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the 4G HTC One XL; the results were unusual to say the least.
On the surface this device looks like a really great smartphone offering. The design is simple and professional, it has a crystal clear screen and felt good in the hand due to the use of unique manufacturing materials. The phone is powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core processor and has 1GB of RAM which is plenty of power for the apps available on this device.
After a few days using the device I was left with a lot of begging questions like why Android 4.0 and not Jelly Bean was the OS used? And why does the device not charge when plugged into a non-Motorola charger, a notebook or a PC.
Today’s smartphone market is a brutal environment. Consumers are fussy and Apple, HTC and Samsung have done a good job of primarily carving up the market for themselves.
So for Motorola to grow share they really had to deliver a superior product, one that is perceived as being better than their competitors.
Last year’s RAZR smartphone was brilliant and should have done better in the market than what it did. So when I got the new Motorola offering I was intrigued to see how the first smartphone creation under Google management performed.
In the hand the new Motorola RAZR HD 4G smartphone is thicker and significantly heavier than the Samsung Galaxy S3. Weighing in at 146 grams Vs 133 for the Galaxy S3 and the superlight 112 gram Apple iPhone 5, the new RAZR takes a little getting used to.
After a few days the weight issue went away and I actually got to like the feel of the new RAZR HD. The DuPont Kevlar fibre and splash-guard coating back looks smart when compared to the Galaxy S3 and other smartphones that tend to use plastic, aluminum or metal casings.
What I did notice after a few days of use was that the device got hot in the pocket due in part to the design being built around a 2500mAh battery, which is one of the reasons why the RAZR HD is heavier than a lot of other smartphones.
When I checked on usage I found that emails and Chrome were primarily responsible for the bulk of my data traffic, and due to the device constantly polling for new emails my battery was being drained quickly, causing the phone to heat up.
Also contributing to the battery drain and heat build up was the bright display screen which when wound back below what Motorola had set as automatic helped to fix the battery usage problem.
On average battery life was good; however, it started to fall quickly when running YouTube videos and accessing web pages.
A few tweaks of the OS and several of my early battery problems were fixed. Surprisingly however, it was not better than the more powerful Galaxy S3, even though it has a smaller 2100mAh battery.
The use of a Gorilla Glass, a HD display, Voice support, 4G LTE technology and Android Beam–which lets you wirelessly send bookmarks, contacts and webpages between smartphones–are all part of the Motorola HD package.
The new smartphone comes with 4.7-inch screen which is bright and sharp. This is due to its 1280×720 resolution and its strong Super AMOLED backlighting, ultimately producing a superior screen to that of last year’s RAZR.
A big advantage with this smartphone is the micro-HDMI port on the side of the device; there is also a micro SIM slot and a microSD memory card.
In a 4G shootout with the new Samsung Galaxy S3 and the HTC One XL the Motorola RAZR HD delivered erratic results, at one stage the results were slower than results we got on a 3G network.
We conducted four 4G tests, both inside our building in North Sydney and outside the building away from any other tall buildings and close to the freeway where there is a lot of open space. Yet despite 4 individual speed tests the results were not good and half the 4G speed of what the HTC and Samsung 4G models delivered.
After getting an extremely poor result we reconfigured all of the settings turning off Wi Fi, Bluetooth and Sync on all of the 4G devices. We also took out and replaced the batteries in all of the devices and within seconds of retesting the speed almost doubled on the RAZR HD resulting in it being the fastest when downloading of the three 4G devices we tested.
We cannot explain the reason for the poor results early in our testing but we suspect it had something to do with the settings on the Motorola RAZR HD.
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One of the really neat new pieces of software on this device is the Quick Settings menu which allows a user to quickly silence the phone, toggle Wi-Fi and Mobile Data, or quickly enter Flight Mode. Another really nice upgrade to the software is the introduction of what looks like circles that can easily be flicked from one view to another.
The Smart Actions app on the RAZR HD allows you to preconfigure tasks so you don’t have to repeat funtions time and time again.
Another big improvement is the swipe which allows one to flick on access to the interface very quickly.
The new 8 megapixel camera with integrated Full HD video lets you take a photo while shooting a video, though you do have to be good at holding the device steady.
You can add or remove a range of image colour filters, change the exposure and set the LED flash to either on or off.
What I was disappointed with was the image quality of the video, especially when transferred to a PC. One video we shot was dark despite being shot in bright sunlight.
In a review of the same smartphone conducted by CNet, they said if you put the phone into Flight Mode, you will see this enormous battery in action. We ran a continuous 720p video playback test and the RAZR HD came out well ahead, adding between 90-minutes and two-hours to the best results by other major phone companies. That’s an extra feature-length movie’s worth of playback, which is a boon if you have a micro-HDMI cable and you plug the RAZR HD into your TV.
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This is a very handsome phone that deserves to be labelled a premium smartphone.
It has an excellent display screen and the Android OS is fluid with nice touches, such as their quick settings software and the easy-on-the-eyes information buttons which sit on the opening screen.
I am disappointed that Motorola did not deliver the Jelly Bean software but this I am told was down to Telstra and device testing and not Motorola.
Under the bonnet are several nice touches such as Motorola’s Smart Actions software.
Managing applications and the setting up of application windows is easy. The device is fast but not faster than other 4G phones. On the question of 4G speeds it appears that the RAZR HD is on par if not better than the HTC and Samsung 4G offerings.
When you first pick it up, you will notice immediately that it is heavier that other 4G smartphones, but don’t let this put you off buying it as you do get use to it and it does add a sense of quality to the device without impacting functionality.
As for the camera it is not flash and the Galaxy S3 camera and the management system that goes with it are superior to the Motorola RAZR when it comes to shooting video.
Another big weakness is that the Motorola RAZR would not charge when plugged into a PC or another micro USB charger.
Overall this device is worth buying as it looks good, delivers clear sound and appears to be fast, It also has a good look and feel that puts it in a class of its own with the Kevlar back and Gorilla Glass screen.