The Droid Razr Maxx brings you all the power you’d expect from the Droid Razr but it ditches the “impossibly thin” form factor for an extra-large battery. In this review, we’ll see if the Droid Razr Maxx really has as good of a battery as Motorola and Verizon are claiming and how this 4G LTE handset stacks up against the current crop of high-end smartphones out there.
- Motorola delivers on its promise of all-day battery life.
- Even with the bigger battery, the handset is still sleek and good looking.
- Motorola has dropped in a few software improvements from the Droid Razr.
- I still don't like the aesthetic of Motorola's Android layer.
- The camera is better but still not as good as other high-end smartphones.
I felt like the Droid Razr was a marvel in hardware design because Motorola was able to fit an incredible amount of power into an incredibly-thin form factor. The Droid Razr Maxx isn't quite as jaw-dropping but it is still packed full of power, is stylish and it fits really well in your hand.
The Droid Razr Maxx looks like the Droid Razr but a bit more bloated. Because the Droid Razr was so thin, that's not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I felt like the Droid Razr was almost more style over substance, as it was kind of a pain to hold with one hand but that's not the case for the Droid Maxx, as it feels great in your hand, is easy to use with one hand and the weight gives it just the right heft when you're using it.
The 4.3-inch qHD display takes up the bulk of the face and while it's not as beautiful as the 720p HD screens we've seen on devices like the Galaxy Nexus, it's still bright and responsive. Some of the most pickiest of you out there may notice some issues with the screen but for the most part, I found that pictures, videos and text looked great on the Droid Razr Maxx. The face of the device also has the four standard Android buttons (capacitive buttons), a front-facing camera, notification light and branding from Motorola and Verizon.
The right spine of the Droid Razr Maxx has the power/unlock button and a one-piece volume rocker, and both work well. The top of the device has a standard headphone jack, microUSB and mini HDMI ports in an exposed manner. The left spine is relatively clean except for a pop-down door for the microSD slot and the 4G LTE SIM card. I'm not a big fan of this, as it can sometimes be difficult to get down. All of the edges are mostly squared but Motorola put in a few little curves to make it more comfortable to hold.
With a 3,300 mAh battery inside it, you have to be concerned about the heft and weight of the Droid Razr Maxx and I'm happy to report that it still looks pretty darn sleek. Sure, it is still a relatively big phone - especially compared to an iPhone - but it's not too big or too heavy. The back cover is made of a soft-finished Kelvar and this feels incredibly nice on your fingers and on the palms of your hands. You can also look for an 8-megapixel camera with a flash on the back, as well as the speaker.
Motorola took the same design ethos with the Droid Razr Maxx that it did with the Razr but it filled it out a bit more. While it's not quite the eye-candy that the Droid Razr is, the Droid Razr Maxx is still a good-looking device that packs in the power.
The Motorola Droid Maxx packs a lot of power inside a chic and functional form factor. While I really thought the Droid Razr was gorgeous to look at, it wasn't as functional as it could have been. For example, it was so thin that when you typed on the virtual keyboard, you could feel it from the back on the palm of your hand. It just felt weird. That's not the case with the Droid Razr Maxx.
Inside the Droid Razr Maxx you'll find a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor, 4G LTE with fallback to CDMA 3G, GPS, Bluetooth, 32 GB of combined memory and 1 GB of RAM. Basically, the Droid Razr Maxx gives you top-of-the-line specs in a nice package. There's also the aforementioned 3,300 mAh battery and we'll cover that in a section below.
The Motorola Droid Razr Maxx runs Android 2.3.5 with Motorola's custom user interface and it's a good way to get your e-mails, texts, download new apps and search the web. Motorola has done some excellent additions to the core platform with Smart Actions but I still can't get into the visual aesthetic of its custom user interface.
For those of you who are new to Android, you should know that it's a powerful and complex platform that performs really well when you're connecting Google accounts to it. Even without Google services, it's a thoroughly modern smartphone OS that utilizes touch well and gives you nearly everything you'd want from a smartphone. While the app selection is still a bit behind the iOS App Store, the quality of Android apps has improved dramatically over the last few years but there are still a few programs that you can only get on the iPhone (things like Instagram come to mind).
Motorola said it will invest heavily in its Smart Actions software on top of Android and I believe this is a great idea. This lets your phone set up automatic actions or parameters depending on what you're doing. For example, you could have your Droid Razr Maxx automatically turn to silent mode when you arrive at certain locations. It's still a little rudimentary right now but the potential for this is off the charts.
The device comes with some other preloaded apps and these run the gamut from useful to bloatware. Look for Amazon Kindle, Blockbuster, GoToMeeting, NFL Mobile, QuickOffice, Verizon Video, VideoSurf and more when you boot up your Droid Razr Maxx for the first time. Many of these can be uninstalled with a few clicks, so if you don't like it, just go ahead and delete it. The virtual keyboard is pretty good but
Unfortunately, I still don't like what Motorola does to the look of Android. There's too much of a robotic feel to it and there are a ton of little things which drive me crazy. For example, when the screen rotates between landscape and portrait mode, the screen flashes blank for a fraction of a second. Why does it do this? I have no idea but it's infuriating because it takes you away from the experience and draws you out of the action you're trying to do. Another thing that drives me mad is when you hold the home button to bring up the multitasking window, it goes to a separate screen instead of overlaying the apps on the screen you're already on.
I know these are relatively minor complaints and many of you may not even care about this but if the Droid Razr Maxx is truly trying to outclass devices like the iPhone 4S and Galaxy S II, these little things should be noted.
I wonder what will happen when this device gets Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, as this could fix many of the little bugaboos I have with the Motorola UI. Maybe Motorola's vision of what Android should look like could change as it becomes part of Google. As it is now, the Droid Razr Maxx software is still above average but a few minor things really stick in my craw.
Web Browser, Multimedia And Camera
The Motorola Droid Razr Maxx has the standard above-average browser you'd expect from an Android device and the 4G LTE makes browsing the web and downloading files an absolute blast. While many might think that streaming HD video very quickly and easily to your phone is the real highlight of 4G LTE, I'd argue that the best thing about it is the speeding up of every day processes. Even if you save just a half second waiting for pages to load, that time quickly adds up and you don't really notice it until you have to go back to a 3G device.
The Webkit browser on the Razr Maxx works well with most sites, the intelligent zooming works fine and I'm still annoyed that rotating the orientation makes the screen black out for a fraction of a second. The Droid Razr Maxx is a good way to use the web on the go.
The Motorola Droid Razr Maxx benefits from the improvements in the multimedia capabilities of Android over the last few years and it is a good way to get your music, movies and gaming on the go. While I still have to give the iPhone 4S the advantage because of iTunes and the quality of the games in the App Store, the Droid Razr Maxx is an entertainment powerhouse.
Videos looks pretty good on the 4.3-inch screen and you can watch new ones by renting directly from Google or through a variety of third-party apps like Hulu Plus, Netflix or Bitbop. If you're looking for music, you have Google Music, Rdio, Spotify and many, many more. I found the speaker to be pretty good but it lacked bass and tended to get distorted at higher levels. Plugging in headphones led to a much more pleasing experience. The app and game story on Android is getting better by the minute but we're still seeing high-profile games like Infinity Blade land on iOS first.
The Motorola Droid Razr Maxx has an 8-megapixel camera that can record 1080p HD videos and it's a nice way to ditch your digital camera, even if it's not at the top tier of smartphone cameras. That doesn't mean that the latest Verizon smartphone has a bad camera though, as I found this was perfectly good for taking shots that you want to share online. Blowing up most of the pictures also looked pretty nice.
Ultimately, I think I'm just not a huge fan of the Motorola camera software, as it doesn't feel as intuitive as other devices. It does have excellent shot-to-shot time and a variety of modes but it's just missing the intuitiveness and beauty that some other phones have. Luckily, color and light capture were really good and I found that it was pretty smart automatically choosing the depth of focus. The front-facing camera was also adequate for self portraits and video calling but it's not going to blow you away.
Click on any of the pictures below for the full version.
The Motorola Droid Razr Maxx can record some nice-looking 1080p HD video and you'll see from the video below that colors are reproduced well. I would have liked some image stabilization software built in (sorry for that) but I did appreciate the multiple options for recording sounds. There are still other options I would have liked to see but I'm pretty happy with what the Droid Razr Maxx can do on the video front.
Call Quality And Battery Life
Verizon is known for providing a high-quality cellular network and the Droid Razr Maxx proved that to me. Calls were crystal clear from both sides of the conversation although speaker phone calls sometimes sounded a tad garbled. The 4G LTE performed like a champ on this thing, as I broke 30 Mbps download speeds multiple times while I average above 8 Mbps during my whole time with it. As I said before, once you go 4G LTE, you don't want to go back.
It should be noted that those speeds also make it easier to blow past your data limit, so I'd advice switching to WiFi if you're at home or in the office.
The Droid Razr Maxx is being pushed as having great battery life and I'm happy to report that it does. This is the first 4G LTE smartphone I've used that provides an all-day experience off a single charge. I'm not talking about a 9-to-5 "day," I'm talking about a full 24 hours. If you're constantly hammering the device with streaming videos and music, it's not going to last 20+ hours but the Droid Maxx stood up to my above-average usage and lived for about 28 hours on a single charge. Not bad.
The Final Take
The Droid Razr Maxx is a Droid Razr but with a much better battery, improved software and a more comfortable in-hand feel. The battery life really does stand out and it makes 4G LTE a better experience because you don't have to worry about your phone dying in the middle of the day.
Unfortunately, I'm still very put off by some of Motorola's Android customization even if some of its software is innovative. I just don't dig the look. That's definitely a personal opinion and I still don't think that it detracts from all the good things the Droid Razr Maxx does. Verizon has a winner on its hands with the latest Motorola smartphone.