The RAZR HD is the latest phone from Motorola. Tagged as the “All Day Phone”, 4G capable, with a Kevlar body, internal and external splash guard protection, Corning Gorilla Glass and a 2500mAh battery, the RAZR HD really is built to be a hard-wearing and efficient phone.

Motorola have also set up the software on this device to be simple to use straight out of the box. So the target audience is much wider than some other offerings on the market, as far as ease of use goes. Once you’ve logged in with your Google Account, everything you need to start using your new smartphone is on the home screen.

The Motorola RAZR HD is available now through Telstra stores and online for $720 outright or $5 per month on Telstra’s $60 Everyday Connect plan over 24 months. You can see the range of plans available at the end of this review.

NB: This review was written on the understanding that the review device would be returned, Motorola’s PR has since offered us the option of keeping the device which we’ve taken up. Motorola’s offer has in no way affected the conclusions reached in this review.

Pros

  • Strong Build
  • Great in-hand feel
  • 4G/LTE
  • 4.7″ screen in a compact body
  • Easy to set up out of the box
  • Close to Stock Android experience (light overlay, rather than heavily entwined skin)
  • Pricepoint – $720 RRP
  • 2530 mAh battery
  • Micro SD card slot (up to 32Gb)
  • Multi-colour LED Notification
  • Hot swappable SIM
  • 1280x720px screen resolution
  • Easy tethering setup

Cons

  • Telstra Exclusivity
  • Location of Micro SD card slot
  • Non-removeable battery

Soft touch Kevlar weave backing

Large 4.7″ Screen

Circles / Hero Widget

Quick Settings Toggle Screen

Drive Smart Action

What we like

Hardware

From the moment I picked up the RAZR HD, I had a strong feeling I was going to like it. The build quality of the phone is just exceptional. It feels strong without being bulky, and it maintains sturdiness without compromising its studliness. The Kevlar backing has a soft touch feel, while being super tough.

The battery life in this phone is AMAZING. Motorola says the battery has usage time of 16 hours, and with my usage, would get at least that most days. Lighter use days saw over 24 hours off the charger! Of course, mileage may vary. The other great thing about this phone is how fast it charges up! With a larger battery, you’d almost expect it to take longer than other phones to get to full charge, but in fact, I would say that it charges to full charge faster than my SGSII.

The 4.7″ display is impressive. Boasting 1280×720 Super AMOLED screen, the clarity of image is supurb. On full brightness I had no issues with seeing the screen in full daylight, and indoors, the lowest setting is more than clear enough. The size of the screen also makes viewing online and downloaded content quite comfortable when a tablet or other option is not available. The other thing to notice about the screen is just now much of the real estate it occupies on the front of the phone. The larger screen in a smaller body really allows people to get that big phone feeling, without having the, well … BIG phone.

The amount of video output options in the RAZR HD is fantastic. With DLNA, Wi-Fi direct and a micro HDMI port, it won’t be too difficult to get the video content from your phone to a big screen. The only thing that would have been better is to have included a micro HDMI cable.

Software

The first thing to notice is that the Motorola “overlay” is not as intrusive as Sense or Touchwiz. It’s pretty good at emulating “close to stock Android”. I say emulating, because it is still obvious that Motorola has had a play with how Android works and appears on this phone. But I like that they’ve made the decent attempt at not being too “in your face” with it.

The Hero/Circles Widget is fantastic! Clock, weather and battery on one very smart display. Tapping the clock circle allows you to set alarms quickly and easily. The Clock widget will also show notifications of SMS, missed calls and voicemail notifications. The weather circle allows you to add multiple cities to view weather for, and with a verticle swipe of the circle, it will toggle between them. Tapping the battery circle will take you to the battery settings, to allow you to see how you’re using your energy. Swiping the battery circle will take you to the widget settings, and unfortunately all it allows you to do is decide what notifications you want to see in your clock circle.

Unlike most other Android experiences, the home screen on the RAZR HD is not the centre screen, but starts at the left. Why I like this is, if you swipe to go left of your homescreen, you’ll find a Quick Settings toggle page. I really like this in preference to having a few buttons (which can sometimes be hit and miss) in the notifications pull down. There is also an option to go from this page to the full settings menu.

Swiping to the right of the page will give you the option of adding more screens, and you have the choice of inserting blank screens, or choosing from a template. The templates seemed pretty useless to me, but for someone who wasn’t familiar with setting up an Android phone, I can see how these would be helpful.

I cannot tell you how much I love the Smart Actions. You’re able to set up many different sets of specifications that will happen automatically when certain triggers or limiters are met. There are some preset ones, which are a good start, but the fun begins when you set up your own. Including things like GPS markers, whether you’re attached to a bluetooth device, or charging your phone, you’re able to emulate having different profiles on the one phone. From changing your ringtone, screen brightness, or wallpaper, to setting your phone to give you reminders, or send automatic text messages (for when you’re driving, or in a meeting). This is a great feature, and would be good if it was an Android feature, rather than just a Motorola feature.

Sometimes when moving between phones, it can be hard to find how to do something if the menu setup is a little different. Motorola has combat this issue with a pretty comprehensive set of instructions in their Guide Me app. It has everything from basic gestures, to more advanced functions. While the more savvy “super user” group may never use this function, someone who is coming from a different OS, or if this is their first smartphone, they could find this rather beneficial.

Even though this phone is shipping with Android 4.0, it will be upgraded to 4.1 (Jelly Bean) by the end of this year. The phone is nice to use as it is, I can only imagine the experience being better with the latest OS and Project Butter.

Indoors with no flash

Indoors with flash

Indoors with HDR setting

What can be improved

While I understand that sometimes working with a carrier can assist in advertising of a new product, it’s a shame that this fantastic device is only available through Telstra. Now that 4G is no longer a Telstra exclusive feature, it would have been nice to see this released across a few carriers. Sure, purchasing it outright and unlocking carrier is an option, it’s not always an option for everyone. Some people rely on paying for their phones with their contracts, and not everyone wants to switch to Telstra as their provider.

I would liked to have seen a higher resolution camera in this phone. A few of the guys here hassle me about camera phones, but the saying “The best camera is the one you have on you” is one I really believe. 8MP cameras are pretty standard in most phones, and with phones like the Sony Xperia S sporting a 12MP, it would have been nice to see at least that in the RAZR HD. The output of the camera isn’t anything super spectacular either, but it does it’s job. The HDR setting does take some rather nice images, however, and is possibly the truest to natural colour. (sidenote: Skylanders figurines do make for good test photo subjects.)

A lot of people feel that it’s a must to have a micro SD card slot, however, the placement of it in the RAZR HD is a bit disappointing. It’s a “one slot opening” for the micro SD card and micro sim card. Yes, that means you have to remove your sim to change your micro SD card. Wait… what? While the micro USB and the mini HMDI ports are open to the air, your micro SD card will be inside safe with your micro sim. Cosy, right? Sure.. but annoying if you want to hot swap your micro SD card.

The lack of a removable battery in this phone at first seems to be an annoying point. However, the reasoning was that you can either have a slimline phone with a large battery that you can’t take out, you can have a slimline phone with a removeable lesser battery, or you can have a chunkier phone with a removeable large battery. Personally, I think it’s a fair trade-off.

Motorola RAZR HD

  • 2530 mAh battery
  • 4.7″ Super AMOLED display
  • LTE / 4G
  • 1.5 Ghz dual core CPU
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 16 GB internal storage
  • MicroSD expandable (32 GB SD cards)
  • $720 outright, $5/month on a $60 plan from Telstra
  • Conclusion

    My first Android phone was a Motorola, and while it got me to using the Android OS, I wasn’t particularly thrilled with the phone itself. I went into the RAZR launch event somewhat skeptical that the new RAZR series would change my mind. Once I saw what it was supposed to be able to do, and had a quick hands on at the launch, I came away with pretty high expectations for this phone.

    Overall, it did not disappoint. I think it’s a great phone. While there’s no real ground breaking technology, it certainly outshines a lot of the current smartphone market in other areas. Great build quality, dazzling battery performance, nice interface, fantastic display, and a lot of ways to really make this phone work well for you.

    Whether you’re a “new to Android” user, someone who’s looking for a phone that won’t run out of power simply by looking at it the wrong way, or you simply just want your phone to just work, this is a very viable option.

    PhonePlansPriceHow to Buy
    Motorola RAZR HD
    Motorola RAZR HD
    Dodo8 Plans available
    From
    $75/mth
    Min. Total Cost $1,800
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    • Alan

      A mobile phone review with no mention about signal quality? How about some real world tests in underground carparks and high rise apartments/offices in deep within large shopping complexes.

      • http://twitter.com/AusVintageGrrl Tia

        Given that signal quality is highly dependent on carrier coverage, there is no reliable test.

        • Alan

          Good point and see the challenge. However if the reviewer uses the same carrier throughout their handset reviews, it should provide a relatively stable basis.

        • http://twitter.com/AusVintageGrrl Tia

          Not a bad idea. Unfortunately given that the reviewers for Ausdroid are scattered across the country, it’s still hard to post reliable results based on signal quality.

    • damien

      The launcher seems the culprit, I have the launcher on my HTC one x running jellybean and it lags everytime I swype to the quick settings. And I tried it on my s3 running jellybean cm10 and it lags, though slightly. Download nova or apex launcher.

      • http://twitter.com/AusVintageGrrl Tia

        I have been thinking about putting a HSR on the phone, I really wanted to give it a good run on it’s own first though.

    • ACA7

      Got the Razr HD 2 weeks ago and love it. Funnily enough I had an Xperia S before and you mentioned it in the camera part in the review. Look megapixels are good and well but my experience with the two phones is the Motorola Razr HD hands-down beats Xperia S when it comes to photo quality. It also is a lot less laborious in the Gallery app as well. I know it’s not a fair comparison considering the Razr HD is much newer and has the updated chipset but that’s the comparison.

      I agree with almost all of the review. Absolutely LOVE how the phone feels. I had an iPhone 4 before the Xperia S (I know, it’s a toy compared to the Androids huh?) and the thing that I liked about it was how premium the iPhone it felt in comparison. Well the Razr HD definitely trumps that. I can’t even begin to explain how incredibly suitable that kevlar backing is. It’s just the perfect material and the entire phone feels just rock solid. Shame that they had to place the MicroSD in that impossible-to-reach-without-a-lockpick spot. Lucky I don’t swap cards very often.

      What I don’t agree with the Pro-Cons is the $720 price being a Pro. I’m not entirely sure about that being a pro. Best I could say is it’s a fair price. But considering Kogan is selling SIII (albeit the non-4G version) for $500, it’s not a cheap phone. I preferred the Razr HD and I’m very happy with the choice but I agree that it is a personal one. SIII is also a brilliant phone.

      • http://twitter.com/AusVintageGrrl Tia

        Fair enough. From my POV, however, I thought given the quality of the build, and that this phone is so close to being perfect for me, I thought the $720 a pretty fair price.

    • Zac

      The demo units I’ve played with have had a small but noticeable lag when flicking to quick settings or when opening the app draw which I found to be disappointing. Also the specs of this phone dont justify the outright price IMO.

      • http://twitter.com/AusVintageGrrl Tia

        I think once JB and Project Butter hit the RAZR HD, you’ll see a major change in fluidity.

    • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.johnson.338658 Dan Johnson

      I purchased a razr HD today. Must say i’m loving it, Lost interest in my HTC one x after crap battery life and continuous problems with it. Can’t wait for jelly bean update.

      • http://twitter.com/AusVintageGrrl Tia

        I’m glad you’re enjoying it! I think the JB update will make a HUGE difference to the interface and fluidity.

    • http://ootpapps.com/ Out of the Park Apps

      All day, right….

      • http://twitter.com/AusVintageGrrl Tia

        Right? Yeah! If you follow me on twitter, you’ll see me occasionally throw up screen shots of my battery usage. I get at least 12 hours with normal usage.

    • James Finnigan

      Nice review, Tia. This phone seems almost good enough for me to take back my years of ragging on Motorola. They seem to have addressed most of the complaints about their earlier phones – camera, screen, software and made a solid phone that is actually pretty appealing :)

    • RogueX5

      Just to note, the device supports Hot Swapping SIM’s so even though you’ll be out of service when you pull out the SIM Tray, you don’t actually have to turn the phone off and on during the process if you want to change your MicroSD card.

      • http://twitter.com/AusVintageGrrl Tia

        Thanks! :D I did note that in my “Pro” list. It is good that they do that, but it’s still annoying that the SIM has to be removed to gain access to the MicroSD slot in the first place.

    • http://about.me/bkbooth Benjamin Booth

      I’ve got a few months left on my Optus contract and I can’t wait to get out and head to Telstra. I’m interested in this phone or a Sony Xperia T or V if Telstra brings either of those to the Aussie market. This review definitely paints a pretty picture of the RAZR HD though.

      I’ll be happy to take the review model off your hands if you find yourself in the unfortunate position of not knowing what to do with such a quality handset post-review :-P

      • http://twitter.com/AusVintageGrrl Tia

        I’ve not seen the Sony Xperia T or V phone, so I can’t compare it. But I really do like the RAZR HD. And thanks for the offer, but I think I’ll be holding on to this one.

        • http://twitter.com/smithd582 David Smith

          I want one of those Moto android figurines with the 4G flag :)

    • Emkay

      I am looking to get a new phone very soon. Would you recommend this over the Galaxy S3?

      • http://twitter.com/AusVintageGrrl Tia

        It really depends on what you want. Phones are a very personal choice. I like the solid feel of the RAZR HD, but with that solid feel, comes a little extra weight. Having said that, I’m not scared that it will shatter or fall apart if it falls out of my hand. My best advice is to go and play with both phones and see what appeals to you more.

      • dazweeja

        Nexus 4 will probably be announced next week too.

        • stephen taylor

          It won’t have this phones build quality. I’ve had an HTC Desire, Sensation, Velocity, SGS2, Sony Arc S and a close look at the Atrix, SGS3 and the latest Nexus. Build quality this phone is streets ahead on all the above, (although the Atrix showed Moto was working hard on build quality), expecting an LG Nexus I doub’t very much its going to have this phones measure as a quality piece of engineering excellence and battery efficiency. In OZ it may even struggle to get OS updates, a mates got a Voda nexus still running ice cream…..ouch!

    • http://twitter.com/xavierdylan Dylan Xavier

      You forgot the biggest Con….. It will never be updated to the next version of Android…..in true Motorola Style!

      • http://twitter.com/AusVintageGrrl Tia

        Being it’s latest phone, and as I stated in the article, it is being upgraded to JellyBean by the end of the year.

      • RogueX5

        So you mean the JellyBean update that is already with Telstra is fake?
        http://crowdsupport.telstra.com.au/t5/Device-Updates/Handset-updates-22-October/m-p/91976

        The one thats going to match the Galaxy S3 which has been out longer?

      • http://twitter.com/JM77 Jason Murray

        That’s a bit unfair, since Motorola has already promised a Jellybean update by Christmas.

        I understand the annoyance given lack of updates to other flagship devices, but this is the first new device to come out since Google took the reins, and it should be judged on the merits of what it does now.

        • thernus

          I dont think its an unfair statement at all, Moto have the worst track record on updates other than LG, especially outside of the US.
          I will be extremely surprised if 4.1 comes out before 2013. (this coming from a Atrix, RAZR MAXX and XOOM-3g user)

          I got a Atrix last year before the GS2 came out with bloody 2.2 on it! (sound familiar? again their laggy development team!) Its still an awesome phone and they wont update it to 4.0 which is ridiculous. It took practically a year for them to update the RAZR, which I will remind you they said the exact same thing in that is would be updated very quickly and wasn’t.

          They must be pushing hard for 4.1 as they are really behind the 8 ball with this, Note2 and GS3-4g and the HTC refresh are launching with 4.1 and in a week or so the RAZR HD will be two full versions behind, lying about updates and having really crappy support is going to bite them in the arse this time I hope.

          Either way i have been happy with both the phones, really good build quality and radios. I got them mainly for their battery power (Atrix-1920mah and MAXX-3300mah) and haven’t been really disappointed other than the lack of updates, which we will see if they are really serious about in two months I guess.

      • Daniel

        Considering the fact that Motorola is now owned by Google, I think that the ‘Motorola Style’ you are referring to might have changed.