DROID RAZR HD: Not Revolutionary For Motorola But Still A Good Start for the Newly Google-Owned Company

It may not be Google’s iPhone killer but it certainly outshines the rest of the Motorola line-up

By Derin Richardson, Ex-Machina Report Founder

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Despite Motorola’s ill-decision to release it so late in the market and its soon to be sub-par specs, the newest DROID flagship for Verizon Wireless is certainly no slouch in terms of its vast improvement over it’s predecessors.

So here is the quality control list.

GOOD

Snapdragon S4 Chipset

Some Android enthusiasts and developers may scoff at its 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 SoC and 1GB of RAM compared to Google’s LG Nexus 4 (codenamed LG E960 Mako), which houses a 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro and 2GB of RAM, but the phone still offers top-notch performance and was already rooted prior to its release.

MotoBlur

You’d usually never see a positive comment about Motoblur on any publication but to be brutally honest, it has been completely revamped and improved since the days of the Cliq. Since the original DROID RAZR running Android 4.0.4, Motorola’s customized UI is so close to vanilla Android that you’ll have to really dig deep to find any negatives as a stock Android purist–if any. With the DROID RAZR HD, it’s even less intrusive. There are a few exceptions though, such as the lock screen, “Quick Settings” screen that you can access simply by swiping left from the main screen and the pull down menu, which is slightly customized however it is bone stock otherwise.

High Definition Display

It may have taken Motorola forever but it finally managed to fit a 720p, 4.7-inch Super AMOLED display on its flagship phones–save for the fact that it is still, frustratingly, PenTile. Nevertheless, the naked eye cannot discern the pixels this time without empirically examining the screen with a magnifying glass. The display itself is adorned with nanocoated Corning® Gorilla® Glass 2, which resists moisture and appears to be oleophobic as well.

Battery Life

It’s well known that Motorola likes to be generous when it comes to battery life these days, so a 2530 mAh battery (MAXX variant comes with a 3,300 mAh battery) should easily last you the entire work day with some recreational time to spare. Motorola remains to be matched for these remarkable battery life ratings.

Developer Edition

While it is certainly no real consolation for the stinging decision to lock the phone’s bootloader down completely, the Developer Edition RAZR HD is a step in the right direction for Motorola in terms of mitigating the wrath of the modder community. Verizon, it seems, still remains staunch on locking them down.

Since it is shipped directly from Motorola it costs $599, a rather steep amount but it is well worth it–no “bloatware,” no contract and has world phone capabilities out of the box (the Verizon Wireless variant is operable exclusively on its network). Enthusiasts and developers who like Motorola hardware will surely find solace in this.

Design

Aside from the technical accolades, the DROID RAZR HD has an industrial style chassis and feels even better than the original DROID RAZR. Although some would argue that Kevlar back plating is now an obsolete gimmick that Motorola needs to ditch already, this device points to the contrary.

The now completely covered Kevlar back wraps around the edges, making it feel more secure to the touch.

BAD

Camera

Motorola has an infamous track record of bad cameras and this device is no exception. Despite having zero-shutter lag, the camera still has a hard time properly adjusting to dynamic lighting and ends up taking photos with a distasteful amount of noise. Its auto-focus also seems to take longer than it should at times.

On the other hand, when manually focused and with good lighting, it takes decent to great photos and better, obviously, with natural light. HDR stills are quite good as well.

Google should press the envelope on this, considering it is more likely a software issue from the Motoblur skin.

Bloatware

While not a Motorola decision, it still leaves a bad taste in the mouth. As with all Verizon handsets, bloatware is an inevitability however it is not a terminal case if you root the device and remove them.Still, 15+ bloatware apps is more than enough to classify this as a turn-off.

Verizon’s Inhibition of Google Wallet

Again, Motorola isn’t at fault here but it is still worth mentioning. NFC technology is great for sharing photos, syncing other devices and best of all, electronic payments via e-fund services. Unfortunately for now, Verizon Wireless is blocking Google Wallet in favour of its own ISIS Mobile Wallet.

It’s a shame that such nice hardware is denied access to a truly convenient and proven e-payment method in favor of a proprietary system which is not even out of testing phase yet.

No MOTOCast

Honestly, this was one of the great things about the original DROID RAZR that made taking photos and videos a cinch, as well as convenient. Of course, Google+ does the same with its “Instant Upload” feature, and is a truly capable system in its own right. It was nice to have both a local storage (MOTOCast on the computer) and a cloud-based storage (Google+) in case one or the other became unavailable.

All things considered, the DROID RAZR HD is a solid phone all-around, save for a few things that Motorola could’ve easily remedied. Even better, Android 4.1 Jellybean is coming to the device very soon, as there is already a leak for the software in the wild.

There are other options out there and some around the corner that can outperform this phone however for what it’s worth, it is certainly no pushover by any means.

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