Motorola are hoping to make a big comeback with the RAZR; it’s thin, it’s fast and it’s ready for action on Optus. I had high hopes for the RAZR going into this review, I’d read a few good things about it, and the specs and design really stand out in this mobile war over hardware. After having owned the Atrix for a few months, I hated everything Motorola, so I wanted 3 things from the RAZR: speed, responsiveness and a good camera. I was lucky enough to get all three.

Pros..

  • Very snappy performance
  • Inviting and unique design
  • 720p front facing camera

Cons..

  • Plastic casing around the back of device scratches easily
  • MotoBLUR still partly exists
  • Too wide & tall for a 4.3-inch screen

Hardware..

The Motorola RAZR is one interesting and inviting pieces of technology. The device itself is really wide (~69mm) and has fairly squared-off edges so it does feel even bigger in your hand compared to the natural curves of the Galaxy S II (~66mm) for example. Motorola have made the trade-off of having a really wide device so that it can be extremely thin — 7.1mm at its thinnest point (90% of the device). The thinness of the RAZR is what makes it stand out against the rest of the market, though I’m going to say straight out that if you find it hard to hold onto a larger device, the RAZR will be no good for you, it’s just one of those things you need to go into a Optus Store to try for yourself.

Moving on from the dimensions of the device, the internals of the RAZR are nothing short of impressive. There’s the 1.2GHz Dual-Core OMAP 4430 CPU, 4.3-inch qHD Super AMOLED display as well as the 8MP rear camera and 720p shooting front camera, all of which I’ll go into more detail shortly. Interestingly, Motorola have chosen to use a Micro SIM instead of the conventional full-sized SIM card, most likely in order to save room in the thin chassis. The Micro SIM is inserted on the left-hand side of the device close to the bottom. There is a small door opens the input areas for the SIM and MicroSD card slot.

The RAZR is not a LTE device, just to clear that up with the few people who were determined that it was. Optus doesn’t yet have an LTE network, though we’re hearing that’ll start rolling out next year some time.

I had no problems with the 4 capacitive buttons located below the 4.3-inch display (menu, home, back & search), not even when using the lackluster keyboards that are a part of Motorola’s MotoBLUR Android specific enhancements, although the buttons are hard to view in dark light as it seems the backlight only turns on when it’s extremely dark. Just below the buttons is the microphone for voice input, the second noise cancellation microphone is placed in the exact same location on the rear of the device.

The power button is located on the right-hand side of the device — much like the Galaxy S II, Galaxy Nexus etc.. — just above a somewhat small volume rocker, these are the only physical buttons on the RAZR. The left-hand side is where the Micro SIM and MicroSD cards go as mentioned earlier. On the rear of the device at the top — where the ‘hump’ is — is where you’ll find the 8MP camera, LED flash and loudspeaker. Below that is the Kevlar backing which is scratch proof, though the plastic around it isn’t — it has small scratches on it already. I think that’s hardware in general sorted. On the top of the device is the 3.5mm headphone jack, Micro HDMI-out and Micro USB.

Display..

Motorola have used Super AMOLED as their display technology of choice for the 4.3-inch screen. This makes the colours appear really vibrant and the blacks are super black, just as you’d expect from Super AMOLED. The excellent display technology is coupled with a high resolution of 960×540 (qHD) which makes text look super crisp and it’s always nice to have those few extra items displayed on the screen thanks to those extra pixels. Although the display is qHD, it is spread over a larger area so you can still visibly see the pixels — the PPI is 256 — however it’s not as bad as the terrible display on the Atrix. I’ve consulted with our resident expert, Jedi Geoff, and he says it’s Pentile Matrix RGBG.

Touch response is top-notch with every single one of my finger-touches being registered in the correct place — something that didn’t happen on the Atrix for me. I would have liked a larger screen on the RAZR considering how wide the device is; there’s a lot of wasted space that’s now just bezel.

CPU..

Under the ‘bonnet’ of the RAZR is a 1.2GHz Dual-Core Texas Instruments (Motorola’s chipset manufacturer of choice) OMAP 4430. 1.2GHz seems to be the sweet-spot for current high-end devices, so there’s nothing out of the ordinary here. The CPU is fast enough to pump out information to all those pixels on the display as well as decoding most media you can throw at it. I never had to wait for an application to open and there’s very little lag overall.

The GPU is a PoverVR SGX540 which isn’t Dual-Core like the iPhone 4S, however, it can certainly hold its own when playing any game available on the Android Market. You’ll be able to see this from the benchmarks below.

Camera

As with most high-end Android devices, the RAZR has an 8MP camera with an LED flash that is capable of shooting video in 1080p. You can see a test of this below, along with test camera shots — I’d say they’re pretty washed out, but it takes photos super quick.

What’s exciting about the RAZR is that it is the first Android phone to have a 1.3MP front facing camera that is capable of recording video in 720p, so if you’re a camera whore, you’ll now be able to see your gorgeous face in HD.

[nggallery id=99]

Battery..

There is no user-replaceable battery in the RAZR which may be a turn off for some people, though it doesn’t particularly fuss me, the 1780mAh in the installed battery is a fairly sufficient amount of power. The large battery also doesn’t weigh down the RAZR; it’s a nice 127 grams in the hand.

As of writing this review the RAZR has been running for 18hrs 16mins and is at ~40% charge according to the device. I haven’t been using it as much as I usually would (ie. I’ve been watching YouTube on my laptop lately) but that’s still a fairly good charge.

Telephony..

Once again, not sure why this part of the review is still here. I guess I can tell you the noise cancellation microphone works a charm and all that good stuff. Something worth mentioning again is that the RAZR uses a Micro SIM instead of the normal SIM that works in nearly all other devices besides the iPhone 4 & 4S and a few others, so you’ll either have to cut your SIM down to size (not recommended) or get a Micro SIM from your carrier.

The RAZR is quad-band (850/900/1900/2100MHz) so 3G will work on every network in Australia if you plan on leaving Optus at some point or just plan to buy the RAZR outright (if that is available). The RAZR isn’t HSPA+, instead it has 14.4Mbit downstream and 7.56Mbit upstream, which is still more than enough for a network like Optus, but something worth noting if you’re after HSPA+ for some silly reason.

Software..

I had a whole rant ready before I even got my hands on the RAZR about Motorola needing to kill MotoBLUR twice in the face with a gun, but MotoBLUR is hardly present on the RAZR which made me so happy! MotoBLUR sucked. Instead, Motorola have themed Android 2.3.5 to the MotoBLUR-ish colours without most of the bloatware, which makes the RAZR look fairly good software-wise.

The few things I like about Motorola’s Android specific enhancements:

  • Direct access to the camera from the lockscreen
  • Takes photos extremely quickly (though not Galaxy Nexus quick)
  • Really fluid and responsive, makes you enjoy using it
  • App Launcher scrolls in a similar way to ICS, which makes me think they’re making it easy for people to know how to use ICS when they upgrade.

It really does look to me that Motorola are using this current build of Android on the RAZR as a placeholder for Ice Cream Sandwich. They’re using the neon blue accents in places and the scrolling of the app launcher is very similar to Ice Cream Sandwich on the Galaxy Nexus, it also has the link to the Android Market in the app launcher as well.

There are 13 Optus applications on the device, most of which are just redirects to Optus websites which require to login to your Optus account — bloatware at its finest. With Gingerbread and keeping the unlockable bootloader locked, you can’t remove these applications, however, you can long press on them in the app launcher and hide them.

If there’s anything you want to know about the software, feel free to asking the comments. Overall it’s just Android 2.3.5 made to feel a little bit like Ice Cream Sandwich with a sprinkling of MotoBLUR.

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Optus

The RAZR is available exclusively from Optus on the following plans with the accessories listed underneath if you purchase the RAZR on the $79 cap.

  $19
$29
$49
$59
$79
Repayments $17 $14 $7 $0 $0
Cost /mo $36/mo $43/mo $56/mo $59/mo $79/mo
Credit $70 $180 $550 $750 $900
Data 100MB 200MB 1.5GB 2GB 3GB

Accessories that come with the Motorola RAZR for free on Optus’ $79 cap:

  • HD Multimedia Dock
  • 18W Power Supply
  • HDMI Cable
  • Motorola Android BT Keyboard
  • Motorola BT Mouse
  • Active Car Cradle and Mount
  • 3.5mm Cable
  • Car Charger

Benchmarking..

Neocore (Frames/sec) Quadrant (Higher = better)
Motorola Atrix 54.1 2801
Galaxy S II 59.8 3428
Sensation 57.8 1968
Xperia Arc S 58.9 1628
Motorola RAZR 59.4 2773

Conclusion..

The Motorola RAZR is a wonderful device in comparison to some of the crap (there, I said it) that has come out of Motorola in the past few months. If you think the Atrix was a good device, then the RAZR will blow your mind and then some. I got the three thing I wanted out of the RAZR (speed, responsiveness, good camera) and have been thoroughly impressed with the whole device — something I’m not used to saying about Motorola devices.

However, there has been some downsides. The RAZR is far too wide and tall for a 4.3-inch screen, this is (as I said before) a trade-off for being so thin, but it’s just too wide for me even though I’m used to holding onto the somewhat-large Galaxy S II. The large size leaves a large bezel around the display, yuck! The other downsides are the light behind the capacitive buttons — it needs to turn on in lighter situations than it does because the buttons are so dull anyway; the last downside is keyboard, it sucks (unless you want to use Swype instead) and you’ll definitely want to replace with another one of the Android Market. I highly recommend Smart Keyboard PRO

That’s it folks. Possibly the best device to have come out of Motorola yet. It’s over to you.

  • http://usb3gvn.com USB 3G

    I am really glad I read this article! With this it has really helped me with my decision.

  • Apollofury

    I had a fair few gripes after being given a live model to use for the next few months.
    1. Camera is extremely grainy. Theres alot of noise present, its video appears jaded and heavily pixelated – almost as if there is no software renderer running to clear it up.
    2. On low battery, the handset behaves abnormally. I placed my sim and sd card in at 10% battery (only just charging it now) and tried to play music. It sat there and scrolled randomly through my playlist then died, as if it sucked the last bits of power out.
    3. I encountered an error, where despite all attempts to reboot the phone or change the brightness settings, the software just kept switching the display off, even if set to leave it on. This happened while using Android Market.
    4. Seperate issue with android market, where when accessing certain areas the handset would freeze or refuse to load a webpage. almost as if the 3g / wifi would just stop sending and recieving data.

    I’ll be speaking to my Motorola rep about it and see what they think it is… maybe just ELF it and assume its a dud…

  • cryonicjason

    Bah, optus razr here, bootloader is locked :(

    Grr motorola

    • Matt Booth

      Yeh turns out the review model buzz used was a development model and slightly different to the retail model. Here’s hoping they allow it to be unlocked online soon

  • Daman

    Anyone rooted their Motorola RAZR ??? It’s seem the current method NOT working at all. Please share if you can root it. Cheers

  • Insenze

    Thanks for the early review! Can you please comment on the responsiveness of scrolling and zooming as compared to Galaxy S II? Curious if it turns in similar “buttery” performance.

    • http://buzz.id.au Buzz Moody

      They’re basically the same, but if you want to get really picky, the RAZR can have a very small amount of stutter at times, but nothing really noticeable.

      • Insenze

        Thank you! Thinking of buying for my wife so want to make doubly sure it’s the right one for her.

  • http://twitter.com/GaurangDivecha Gaurang Divecha

    Just a question as to what comes in the box, minus the Optus goodies. I will be straighforward with this one, are there any headphones? It seems that slowly, big brand names have started to rule this little ‘extra’ goodie…hmmm…will make me think twice when buying this.

    • http://buzz.id.au Buzz Moody

      It comes with in-ear headphones, a USB charger, a battery, a screen cleaner (seen in top image)

  • Yitshiou

    Can you do a comparison of the picture quality between a galaxy s2 and razr?

    • http://buzz.id.au Buzz Moody

      Absolutely. Each photo was resized with PS CS5 to 2000px in width just so they would be <2MB for upload. No other alterations made.

      RAZR: http://ausdroid.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/2011-11-04_17-13-22_610.jpg

      Galaxy S II: http://ausdroid.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/20111104_170605.jpg

      • http://twitter.com/Mike_d_roberts Michael Roberts

        Such a big difference in color reproduction O_O….. care to comment on which one was more true to life? The samsung looks a little over saturated if anything, but the moto looks like too washed out.  Wonder if it’s something you can tweak with the camera settings to get better results without having to tweak every time for different conditions.

      • http://buzz.id.au Buzz Moody

        Galaxy S II is extremely close to true life. The RAZR looks as though it has a blue tinge to it.

      • Apollofury

        The camera on my device didnt present with a blue tinge, it just looked like there was alot of noise and grain. However on adding photos from my SGS2 to the device, it does seem like there is a oversaturation of blue …

  • http://www.facebook.com/rohanblade Rohan Rao

    can u post a unboxing video of da same???

    • http://buzz.id.au Buzz Moody

      I can’t do that as we were only given the device itself.

  • Brianc

    Telechoice have the RAZR listed for649 outright. Not sure if that’s an undbranded phone though 

    • http://buzz.id.au Buzz Moody

      This is news worthy!

      • http://twitter.com/FrAsErTaG James Fraser

        Allphones have the phone online for $635

    • Dann7871

      it’s will have optus software but unlock so u can’t remove those optus apps

  • Ryan

    The galaxy nexus having no proper buttons = more screen size yeah?

    so with ICS, possible end to end displays soon! i.e. the phone is one just piece of pure awesome screen goodness in your hands and bezel… except for a little bit for the microphones etc 

  • Anonymous

    Is Swype available for this phone?  Does it come loaded on it?
    Thanks

    • http://buzz.id.au Buzz Moody

      Yep, Swype is loaded onto the phone, but isn’t the default keyboard.

      • Anonymous

        That is awesome.  Thanks for the reply.

    • Apollofury

      Yeah it does come preloaded.

  • Meth

    What about the audio quality?

    • Anonymous

      I too would be interested in hearing more about the call audio quality and the music play back.  And how about the Bluetooth functionality while you are at it.  ;)

  • Anonymous

    I don’t see a mention of a notification LED.

    Bring back the notification LED!

    • Someone

      It has one

    • http://buzz.id.au Buzz Moody

      It has a notification LED

  • Nathan Wu

    Neat review. What do you think of the loudspeaker compared to the Atrix’s?

    I had a play around with the Atrix’s loudspeakers at JB-HiFi the other day and I was thoroughly impressed with the quality and volume (compared to my Desire’s awful loudspeakers).

    • http://buzz.id.au Buzz Moody

      I don’t think we compared the RAZR to the Atrix with their loudspeakers when both devices were on hand.  The loudspeaker is quite nice on the RAZR, not a lot of bass, but none of the loudspeakers I’ve used have.

  • Canoe_polo4

    Overall the review pretty much confirms my view that this is a brilliant device that should get atleast 4 stars out of 5. Suprised to read it doesn’t have a dual core processor as Optus State it has dual core in their advertising. Not worried about Scratching on back as I put all mine in cases. Atleast it has an expansion card and Gorilla glass as opposed to the Samsung nexus prime. Disappointed re the keyboard and back lighting but that should be compensated for with the accessories pack keyboard on $79 cap plan. Very keen to get my hands on one to see for myself what the Razr is like in the Flesh.

    • http://buzz.id.au Buzz Moody

      It is dual-core, where does it say it’s single core? Or did you read that elsewhere?

    • Morkai

       the processor is dual core, the graphics chip is single core, which is what it says in the review.

  • Milty C

    I think Motorola should take the initiative and become the first OEM to release only stock Androids phones for all ICS releases. All bloatware should be optional and they should only develop apps that are not going to become obsolete by android updates in the near future.

    Once Google officially buys Motorola they should make this a rule for them. 

    The beauty of this is that the other OEM’s wont be able to complain, since no one is getting special treatment from google. Once people start flocking to Motorola because of their quick updates the other OEMs will then have to follow to compete.

    Then its android heaven for all !

  • Anonymous

    great review, definitely have to go play with one in store

  • Martyn

    I have to say I was a bit worried about the size the bezel, definitely going to wait until I can try it in store before buying now

    • http://buzz.id.au Buzz Moody

      It’s big.

      • Matt Booth

        And the Galaxy Nexus is even wider than the Razr!

      • http://buzz.id.au Buzz Moody

        Indeed, but it has the screen to fit it apparently. The RAZR is uber wide (as you saw) but only has a 4.3-inch display.

      • Aalin13

        Actually I think the nexus is 1. something narrower due to the thin bezel

      • Matt Booth

        @b50ccbcac303d08d61c94fafb356c559:disqus Right you are, Razr is 130.7 x 68.9 x 7.1 mm while Galaxy Nexus is 135.5 x 67.9 x 8.9 mm.

        So Nexus will be 1mm narrower, and just under 5mm taller. Nexus also has rounded sides and corners so I think it will sit in the hand a lot more comfortably

      • http://buzz.id.au Buzz Moody

        @mcbooth:disqus @b50ccbcac303d08d61c94fafb356c559:disqus Nice. It’ll sit really nicely in your hand then.

  • vijay alapati

    will this get ICS update???

    • http://buzz.id.au Buzz Moody

      Motorola have confirmed this will get ICS, as for when, we don’t know.

    • Martyn

      Yes, Moto said early 2012

  • http://profiles.google.com/avonperera Avon Perera

    Still trying to decide between the Galaxy Nexus and this. I’m still not entirely convinced of timely updates from Motorola (Xoom) and basically I think I’m just impatient and can’t wait for ICS.

    • http://buzz.id.au Buzz Moody

      If you’re desperate for ICS waiting for the Galaxy Nexus is your best choice.

      • http://profiles.google.com/avonperera Avon Perera

        That seems to be my best option… as long as I can find a 32gb version. 16gb is nowhere near enough space for me. Cursed Google and leaving out an SD Card slot!

      • Level380

        cruse samsung not google for leaving out the sd card slot!!

        That said, you will be waiting for a while, no one has a 32gb listed for preorder/sale yet, all saying at least dec!

    • Anonymous

      or wait for a flexible tegra 3 phone and just put a cm version of ics on your current phone!!