|Motorola DROID RAZR MAXX HD Smartphone|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Phones | Handheld|
|Written by Bruce Normann|
|Monday, 14 January 2013|
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DROID RAZR MAXX HD Detailed Features
Let's start with the elephant in the room. As much as I like almost everything about this new RAZR HD, the main reason I selected it was for the oversized battery, and the extended battery life that is a direct result. This is not an all-day battery; this is a 2-3 day battery, depending on your usage pattern. I don't spend all day playing games or watching videos on it - I have a day job that keeps me quite busy, thank you. I'm probably an extreme case, even though I do keep up with several email accounts and social networks, and my phone is on 24/7. Clearly, this is going to be a case of YMMV, but I don't know anyone who uses this phone that doesn't get at least a full day's use out of it. No matter how much screen time they put in during the day, with video and graphics keeping the GPU spooled up, the RAZR MAXX HD always outlasts them.
One other factor to consider is the overall life of the battery. Modern lithium ion polymer batteries have a lifecycle that is defined by how many times the battery can be charged, before its capacity starts dropping. With a larger battery, you don't have to charge it as often, and the service life will be longer. There are a variety of standards and varying levels of performance that can be achieved, but a rough rule of thumb is that when a LIPO battery is charged ~500 times, its loses ~20% of its original capacity. Some battery-charger systems do better than that, but with the rate of progress in technology, and two-year service provider contracts being the norm, isn't it convenient that the built-in battery starts dying off just when it's most advantageous to update your hardware?
Gorilla Glass on the front, Kevlar on the back, and a polymer nano-coating on the electronics to keep water damage at bay? You'd think people were hard on their cell phones...LOL. I ride the subway to work, where EVERYONE has their nose glued to the screen, and I'm always surprised by how many shattered screens I see on a daily basis.
The RAZR MAXX HD was shipped from the fulfillment center with Ice Cream Sandwich, v4.0.4 installed. Not too long after the initial startup was completed, the phone began the update process to load Jelly Bean v4.1.1. The upgrade went smoothly, and there were no issues. I know some of the early adopters spent a few anxious weeks waiting for the upgrade, but at this point, it's pretty much a given that your phone will get updated within the first 24 hours.
The camera on the RAZR HD models is pretty much a carryover from the previous RAZR line, and it's probably the only area of the phone that won't get accolades from the user base. It's not bad, per se, but it's definitely not a class leader. I'm OK with that, because I'm perfectly happy to carry a camera around when I want to take pictures. I realize I'm in the minority there, and of course most people are going to be viewing their cell phone images on a display that has less than one megapixel of resolution. Even the larger 10" tablets with a 1080p display only have two megapixels to work with, so you would hope that there's a software genius somewhere who could find a way to make 8MP images from tiny little sensors look good on a small display. Next to the camera, and its companion the LED flash, is the speaker for the speakerphone function. This really is a bright spot for the RAZR HD class; it's loud and has very good tone quality. It's good enough that I don't see the need for a separate hands-free speakerphone device in the car. Considering the size difference between the speakers in the two devices, that's really saying something.
One of the changes to the interface that stands out at first is the location of the command keys. On the previous generation DROID RAZR, they were separated from the screen area, and below the logo. They were still capacitive touch buttons with haptic feedback, and a huge step forward from the stiff mechanical buttons of prior phones, but they weren't integrated into the multi-touch interface. The new buttons respond to hold, drag, and swipe commands, offering a deeper level of control. My only complaint is that now these oft-used buttons are now quite close to the rest of the icons along the bottom row. I used to be able to get a little sloppy in my tapping, knowing that there wasn't anything else down there to accidentally hit; now I have to be a little more precise and measured with my ministrations. Time will tell whether this change is an improvement or an irritant.
That's pretty much a wrap on the features that you can point to and see. This line of phones sticks pretty close to the core design features of the Android operating system, which suits me fine. I'm not happy with the collection of bloatware that is permanently installed; the usual Verizon apps, Kindle, Color, NFL Mobile, Modern Combat 3, Real Racing 2, and Slacker Radio. It always seems like the apps I don't want require the most frequent updates, too. Annoying! The one added feature I do like is Motorola Smartactions, an app designed to automate tasks based on a range of triggers like time, location, ambient light, battery level, Wi-Fi, etc. For one thing, it keeps my phone from chiming all night long as updates come in from a variety of data feeds. It also prolongs battery life by shutting selected functions down when the phone is not in use. It knows that it's been sitting still for at least half an hour, it's dark in the room, and it's after 11:00 pm, so it knows not to bother me. I can even block out nighttime calls from people who aren't on the "Guest List", so to speak. I can also easily shut off the new, big, bright notification LED, because it lights up my bedroom like a strobe light if I don't. It's color coded, Face book bought the rights for Blue, most others are Green.
The number of apps in the Google store just caught up to the number of Apple offerings, which means there are very few limits on what you can do with an Android phone these days. Google Now is just one example of the rich software pallet that's available now. The growth in this industry is truly amazing. In the next section, I'll give my final conclusion and rate the Motorola DROID RAZR MAXX HD phone.