Motorola Razr Maxx review

The Motorola Razr Maxx carries a 3,300mAh battery — the largest ever used in a smartphone. But is it enough? We find out

Rating: 
4
Pros: 
Decent build quality, Android 4.0 is confirmed as coming, MotoCast is excellant
Cons: 
It's a little chunky, it doesn't launch with Android 4.0 and it has exactly the same spec as last year's Motorola Razr
Verdict: 
If battery life is important to you this is the phone for you, nothing else out there even comes close

We attended the launch of the Motorola Razr in Berlin in late-2011 and had a lovely time scoffing Bratwurst, taking in the sights and playing with Moto’s brand new ultra-thin, uber-stylish handset.

Fast-forward seven months, the blink of an eye in technology circles, and there’s a new Razr in town. It’s called the Motorola Razr Maxx and it features one of the biggest battery cells (3,300mAh) ever used inside a smartphone, which the company claims gives you 600 hours standby, 18 hours talk-time and 17 hours video playback.

Aesthetics

You could be forgiven for thinking that you’re looking at the same device when viewing the Razr and the Razr Maxx from the front. The handsets look identical having exactly the same screen size, styling and proportions. The only real way of telling them apart from this angle is the Razr’s brushed metallic ‘Motorola’ logo.

Flip the handsets over though and it’s a different story. The Razr Maxx, on account of its hulking great 3,300mAh battery, is significantly thicker at 9mm than the extremely svelte 7mm Razr.

Having used the original Razr quite extensively we can safely say that you do notice the extra heft. The additional weight is also very noticeable too – the Maxx is 18g heavier. Nonetheless Motorola is confident that users won’t mind the extra bulk, citing a Strategy Analytics report that claims 75 per cent of consumers want more battery life from their smartphones. 

We liked the look of the original Razr with its unique corners and ultra-thin profile but things move fast in the world of smartphones, and half a year down the line it is starting to show its age, particularly when viewed next to handsets like the HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy S3.

Now in 2013, such an analysis rings even more true. If the Razr Maxx looked 'archaic' when it launched it looks like some kind of ancient Lovecraftian horror in the modern context with its chunky profile, bulky, plasticky surround, excess of bezel around the display and a predominantly grey colour scheme.

Certainly the Razr Maxx is a durable beast, it has survived numerous drops and dings, and ultimately it gets the job done with nice features such as a highly usable SIM and microSD card port hidden under a flap. The brushed aluminium power button is also a nice touch.

But none of this changes the fact it's an ancient-looking brick of a phone with very little appeal on the exterior.

Hardware

The Razr Maxx uses a dual-core 1.2 GHz TI OMAP 4430 chipset, features 1GB of RAM and comes in two storage varieties: 16GB and 32GB.

That’s the exact same set-up as the Razr and while it is perfectly adequate for most things we have to admit that some new additions, such as an updated processor or camera, would have been nice.

Still though, with a score of 2649 in Quadrant's benchmarking tests the Maxx is no slouch compared to its contemporaries – 2649 is higher than the Galaxy Nexus' score, shockingly.

While that score is pretty low in 2013, the Motorola Razr Maxx actually performs admirably these days, despite being an aged smartphone.

However, much of that is due to subsequent software updates. Android is more efficient and better optimised so as to be less taxing on the processor hardware.

The real occasions where you get a sense that this is no longer a spritely young phone is when you overdo the multitasking with too many minimised apps in the background taking up memory and CPU crunch. Apart from this, it copes very well and is a viable option still in the current market for those without sky-high gaming and multimedia demands in mind.

Display

The Maxx’s 4.3-inch Super AMOLED display is decent enough although, once again, some updated technology wouldn’t have gone amiss. Pixel density is respectable at 256ppi and colour representation is good with excellent saturation.

All of the above was fine in 2011,but a lot – especially in display technology – has changed. Samsung, Apple and HTC have all upped the display quality on their devices. Motorola hasn’t and the Razr Maxx suffers because of this.

Switching from an HTC One X to the Motorola Razr Maxx was tough. The difference in display quality is disturbingly apparent. Following the launch of the HTC’s One series at MWC 2012 it should have been obvious to Motorola that using the same setup as 2011’s Razr wasn’t going to cut the mustard.

In 2013, the Razr Maxx's display quality remains reasonable, if somewhat dissapointing. Colour is rich and punchy while contrast is strong with plenty of depth to blacks and darker tones. The display is on the smudgy side and while brightness for normal conditions is okay the handset is atrocious in bright light or direct sunshine.

The screen is acceptable for the most part but being a Pentile Super AMOLED and one with not a particularly high pixel density there is some visible pixellation - it's not  very sharp or clear and is generally quite fuzzy.

Specifications

Typical Price £479.99 SIM-free
UK Launch May 2012
Network Networks
Frequency Quad
Phone Style Candybar
Thickness 9
Length 130.7
Width 68.9
Weight 145g
Built-in Memory 16GB
Additional Memory 32GB via microSD
High-speed Data 2G, 3G,
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot
Screen Size 4,3-inches
Screen Colours 16M
Designer Lens Yes
Designer Lens No
Camera Resolution 8-megapixel 3264x2448 pixels, autofocus, LED flash
Zoom Yes
Flash Yes
Video Resolution 1080p
Ringtones Yes
Music Player Yes
Music Formats MP3/AAC+/WAV/WMA player
Radio Yes
Speaker Yes
Video Calling Yes
Internet Yes
Browser HTML5
Games Yes

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