Resurrecting The RAZR Legacy With A Little MAXX

Overview

Motorola resurrected the RAZR branding late last year with the launch of the Android smartphone, RAZR. Staying true to its roots, the RAZR smartphone sports a sturdy, classy and ultra thin (7.1mm) design with a substantial battery life. It easily could have been one of our top recommendations at that point if not for the sluggish user experience caused by the bloated user interface (UI).

Is it a better buy than the RAZR?….

Motorola Razr Maxx
  Key highlights of the Motorola RAZR MAXX

  • Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich
  • 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Advanced display / 960 x 540 pixels
  • TI OMAP 4430 dual-core 1.2GHz processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 16GB internal memory
  • microSD support up to 32GB
  • 8-megapixel rear autofocus camera / LED flash / 1080p video recording
  • 3,300mAh battery
  • 145g
  • 130.7 x 68.9 x 8.99mm
  • Availability: Shipping since end June.

Comparing the Motorola RAZR MAXX against the Motorola RAZR

Specifications Motorola RAZR MAXX Motorola RAZR
Operating System / User Interface
  • Google Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
  • Google Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
    (OTA available since 9th Jul)
Processor
  • TI OMAP 4430 dual-core 1.2GHz
  • TI OMAP 4430 dual-core 1.2GHz
Built-in Memory
  • 1GB RAM
  • 1GB RAM
Display
  • 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Advanced / 960 x 540 pixels
  • 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Advanced / 960 x 540 pixels
Camera
  • 8-megapixel rear autofocus camera
  • 1.3-megapixel front facing camera
  • 8-megapixel rear autofocus camera
  • 1.3-megapixel front facing camera
Storage
  • 16GB internal memory
  • microSD support up to 32GB
  • 16GB internal storage
  • microSD support up to 32GB
Battery
  • 3,300mAh
  • 1,780mAh
Dimensions
  • 130.7 x 68.9 x 8.99mm
  • 131 x 69 x 7.1mm
Weight
  • 145g
  • 127g

Design

The RAZR MAXX does not deviate much from the RAZR in terms of physical attributes. It sports the same Kevlar fiber coating on its back, giving the phone a smooth, matte feel. Besides its scratch-proof properties, the Kevlar fiber also does not attract fingerprints and smudges. In addition, you will find a similarly-sized (4.3-inch) Super AMOLED Advanced display reinforced with Corning Gorilla Glass on the RAZR MAXX.

As tabulated above, both the RAZR phones share much of the same specs apart from the extra large battery that Motorola had to accommodate in the RAZR MAXX. This results in the phone having a slightly thicker (8.99mm) and heavier (145g) chassis.  The signature bump found on the RAZR is notably absent on the RAZR MAXX, giving the phone a flatter back and more even weight distribution.

While the numbers may seem staggering, the differences are hardly noticeable. For the sake of comparison, here’s a list of the most recent Android smartphones that are in the same class as the Motorola RAZR MAXX:

  • ASUS PadFone: 9.2mm, 129g
  • HTC One S: 7.8mm, 119.5g
  • Huawei Ascend P1: 7.7mm, 110g
  • Motorola RAZR: 7.1mm, 127g
  • Samsung GALAXY S II: 8.5mm, 116g

In terms of looks and handling, the RAZR MAXX stands out from the crowd of iPhone lookalikes in the market. It does not pretend to be another iPhone clone; its Kevlar fiber back coating gives the RAZR MAXX a unique style. Having said that, the build quality is solid and handling of the device is great, thanks to the angular sides.

The standard suite of connectivity options can be found on the RAZR MAXX: microUSB port, mini-HDMI port, microSIM and microSD card slots. There is certainly room for improvement on the design of the Power button and media controls as we sometimes had difficulties pressing the buttons. They could be made bigger and longer to provide more tactile feedback.

Kevlar fiber seems to be the mainstay of the RAZR family of smartphones. Its patterned design allows Motorola to differentiate the RAZR MAXX from the rest of the Android smartphones in the market.

You still have to rely on the four touch-sensitive buttons below the display for navigation on the Motorola RAZR MAXX.

Features

When the U.S variant of the RAZR MAXX was launched in January 2012, it was running on Android 2.3 Gingerbread. The Motorola RAZR MAXX you get today should run on Android 4.0 as the company announced the availability of the over-the-air (OTA) update for the RAZR and RAZR MAXX in early July.

If you are wondering whether the device will get the Jelly Bean update, we are as clueless as you. So far, Motorola has not made an official announcement as to which devices will be upgraded to Android 4.1.

The Motorola RAZR MAXX runs on the latest version of Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0.4). Similar to the Samsung GALAXY S III and HTC One X, you can access four shortcuts from the lock screen.

According to Motorola representatives, the user interface on the RAZR MAXX is essentially the same as the one found on the RAZR except for a few new features. For example, the lock screen has been modified to include four shortcuts to camera, phone, unlock and text messages.

This isn’t the first time we’re seeing such an implementation on Android devices, as HTC was the first to feature it on Sense 3.0 (and Sense 4), followed by Samsung on its GALAXY S III smartphone. It’s a shame that you are unable to customize the four shortcuts according to what you use more frequently, while HTC and Samsung devices offer that flexibility.

The ability to view all home screen panels with a single pinch gesture is also absent on the RAZR MAXX. Having said that, you have five home screen panels to span your apps, folders and widgets. Depending on how you customize your home screens, five panels may not be enough for power users.

It’s a blessing that Motorola strictly stuck to the stock user interface of Ice Cream Sandwich and did minimal changes. This helps to keep the user interface snappy, something which Android purists have always advocated.

Dotted across the user interface of the RAZR MAXX are Motorola’s minor additions such as QuickOffice, GoToMeeting, MotoPrint, SMART ACTIONS and MotoCast. One of the more interesting add-ons that we think users would like is the package of free 10 EA game titles such as Need for Speed, which is first featured in the ATRIX 2.

At the point of publication, the package is not yet available for download. Motorola states that the package will be ready soon without giving a specific time frame. For the full list of game titles, do check out our review of the Motorola ATRIX 2.

We’ve discussed in depth of Motorola’s exclusive services and apps such as SMART ACTIONS and MotoCast. Basically, MotoCast acts like your personal cloud service where you can backup your media content and contacts. SMART ACTIONS app enables you to set different rules for your phone to act upon under different scenarios you preset.

Performance

The Motorola RAZR MAXX sports the same TI OMAP 4430 dual-core 1.2GHz processor and 1GB RAM as the RAZR. As per usual, we will subject the RAZR MAXX to the Quadrant benchmark which evaluates the CPU, memory, I/O, and 3D graphics of Android devices. To gauge its performance against the current competition, we matched the scores of the RAZR MAXX with the RAZR, Samsung GALAXY S II, HTC One S and ASUS PadFone.

How the Phones Stack Up
Device Motorola RAZR MAXX Motorola RAZR Samsung GALAXY S II HTC One S ASUS PadFone
CPU TI OMAP 4430 dual-core 1.2GHz TI OMAP 4430 dual-core 1.2GHz  Exynos dual-core 1.2GHz  Qualcomm Snapdragon S3 dual-core 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4
dual-core 1.5GHz
GPU PowerVR SGX540 PowerVR SGX540 Mali-400MP  Adreno 220 Adreno 225
RAM 1GB 1GB 1GB 1GB 1GB
OS Google Android 4.0 Google Android 2.3 Google Android 2.3 Google Android 4.0 Google Android 4.0

It’s not surprising to see the RAZR MAXX and the RAZR trailing behind the competition. The HTC One S has a higher processor clock speed to its advantage, while the ASUS PadFone sports the mighty Snapdragon S4 dual-core processor that utilizes a newer, more advanced CPU architecture.

Number crunching aside, the RAZR MAXX delivered a smooth experience during our daily usage. Although it runs on an almost stock user interface, the fluidity of the experience is slightly behind that of the Samsung GALAXY Nexus or the ASUS PadFone. Other than that, you could hardly find any fault with the overall performance of the RAZR MAXX. So from a day-to-day usage perspective, the RAZR MAXX has what it takes to satisfy its target user group.

Imaging Performance

The Motorola RAZR MAXX is equipped with an 8-megapixel rear autofocus camera that is capable of 1080p video recording. It also has a front-facing 1.2-megapixel camera for peer-to-peer video calling. We check out its camera functionality and imaging quality as depicted below with captions to follow through with the outcome.

A strip of settings appear when you tap at the bottom of the camera app (to close it, simply tap on the three lines). Settings include scenes, modes (Single Shot, Panorama, Multi-shot, Timer) and Effects.

The image quality is quite decent; besides the sketchy details along the edges, colors are well saturated. Check the below close-up for a slightly more detailed scrutinization.

Battery Mileage

Using the same 480 x 800 pixels resolution video that we use across all our mobile device battery tests, we set the same test parameters which includes having the video looped under the following conditions:

  • Brightness and volume at 100%
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity turned on
  • Constant data streaming through email and Twitter
Test Phones Compared
Specifications/Device Motorola RAZR MAXX Motorola RAZR Samsung GALAXY S II HTC One S ASUS PadFone
Processor
  • Dual-core 1.2GHz
  • Dual-core 1.2GHz
  • Dual-core 1.2GHz
  • Dual-core 1.7GHz
  • Dual-core 1.5GHz
Display Size
  • 4.3-inch
  • 4.3-inch
  • 4.27-inch
  • 4.3-inch
  • 4.3-inch
Display Type
  • Super AMOLED Advanced
  • Super AMOLED Advanced
  • Super AMOLED Plus
  • Super AMOLED
  • Super AMOLED
Display Resolution
  • 960 x 540 pixels
  • 960x 540 pixels
  • 800 x 480 pixels
  • 960 x 540 pixels
  • 960 x 540 pixels
Dimensions
  • 130.7 x 68.9 x 8.99mm
  • 131 x 69 x 7.1mm
  • 125.3 x 66.1 x 8.5mm
  • 130.9 x 6.5 x 7.8mm
  • 128 x 65.4 x 9.2mm
Weight
  • 145g
  • 127g
  • 116g
  • 119.5g
  • 129g
Battery
  • 3300mAh
  • 1780mAh
  •  1650mAh
  • 1650mAh
  • 1520mAh

The Motorola RAZR MAXX performed outstandingly in our battery test! It has the longest battery life among all the smartphones we’ve reviewed so far by lasting a whopping 14 hours and 24 minutes in our grueling battery test. Needless to say, the amazing battery mileage is attributed to its 3,300mAh battery capacity – nearly twice that of phones in its comparison category. Though average power consumption was slightly higher than average, its extremely lengthy uptime easily outweighs this point.

In the Portability Index where each device is assessed on its ability to balance battery mileage with its size and portability, the RAZR MAXX reigns supreme despite being the heaviest among the five smartphones. Its superb battery life gave it the extra boost to take the lead. With phones getting every thinner and lighter, it seems that Motorola’s choice to boost battery capacity in a manner that hardly affects the phone’s physical characteristics seemed to have paid off handsomely. For an extra 20 grams weight, it gives you a whole lot more mobility.

Under normal usage conditions such as web surfing, uploading several images and messaging (though on an intensive side of things), the RAZR MAXX could easily last a day and a half on a single charge. This is a very impressive feat when most most smartphones these days are barely able to pull through the end of the day. With the RAZR MAXX, you no longer need to worry about keeping your phone charged in office, or connecting to an external power source on-the-go.

The RAZR MAXX is well poised to give the next iPhone a run of its money since it can generally outperform most Android phones in the battery longevity aspect. On a side note, we also found the RAZR MAXX to run quite warm under extensive usage such as browsing the Internet for a long period of time, although it is nowhere as hot as the HTC One X.

Conclusion

The Motorola RAZR MAXX comes across a solid Android smartphone despite the lack of a strong set of specs to fend off competition from the likes of ASUS, HTC and Samsung.

We liked the unique design of the RAZR MAXX, especially its Kevlar fiber back cover which should be able to better withstand the wear and tear of daily usage better than most of its competitors which are clad in plastic shells. Its Super AMOLED Advanced display is one of the best in the market, delivering rich and vibrant colors for great multimedia consumption on-the-go.

On the software side of things, it is to Motorola’s benefit that it didn’t tweak the user interface as much as HTC and Samsung. This results in an almost “pure Google experience” that will give Android purists a compelling alternative to the Samsung GALAXY Nexus. So while the UI isn’t tinkered much, Motorola augments the software suite with SMART ACTIONS app and MotoCast service which are great add-ons that enhance the user experience on the RAZR MAXX. To further entice users, it also comes with 10 free EA game titles that can be downloaded when made available.

More importantly, the RAZR MAXX offers the best battery life among smartphones right now and it is likely to remain so in the near future. What’s even more remarkable is that the phone is still considered thin by today’s standards despite packing a 3,300mAh battery – double the capacity of some of its competitors. Although the RAZR MAXX puts on some weight and thickness, its form has only altered minimally from the original RAZR and is a very acceptable trade-off for the extra long-lasting battery life that you are going to get out of the RAZR MAXX.

It could have been better if the RAZR MAXX is equipped with a newer and more powerful processor. However, Motorola might have considered the implications on battery life and decided to place its bet on an older generation processor, which still has the chops to deliver what typical smartphone users expect out of their phone. Other areas that could have been better is its imaging performance, which while decent, we’ve certainly seen much better in some of the latest top tier phones.

Retailing at RM1,688, the Motorola RAZR MAXX finds itself comfortably positioned in a market dominated by Apple iPhones, Samsung GALAXY phones and HTC Ones. By offering the best battery life of any smartphone today and good overall performance at an attractive price, the Motorola RAZR MAXX already won more than half the battle against its rivals, the HTC One S (RM1,838 without the headset), the Samsung GALAXY Nexus (RM2,099)and the ASUS PadFone with PadFone Station (RM2,399). If you are tired of always having to keep your phone charged or close to a power source, the Motorola RAZR MAXX is definitely THE phone to get.

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