Android Central

So we've already thrown down the gauntlet comparing all aspects of the Samsung Galaxy SIII (S3) and the iPhone 5, and again between the HTC One X and iPhone 5. Just last week, Motorola took the wraps off of its latest offerings, with the Droid RAZR Maxx HD being the cream of the crop. Surely its a worthy follow up to the extremely popular RAZR line, but how does it fare when put up against the latest from Cupertino? Read along and find out.

Specs

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The screen

Its hard to argue with the fact that Apple makes some of the best screens in the business. "Retina" gimmicky marketing aside, the iPhone 4 has one of the best screens in the industry. Apple has made a slight tweak from the 4S to the 5 in size, resolution and aspect ratio. Bumping from a downright small 3.5-inch to more acceptable 4-inch, moving to 1136x640 resolution and joining the 16:9 aspect ratio club. Its clear that Apple is feeling the pressure from the phone industry in the screen department.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Motorola hasn't been known for their great displays as of late. The original Droid RAZR was well regarded as having quite the lackluster display. Fortunately, starting with the Atrix HD, Motorola seems to have started stepping up its game. The RAZR Maxx HD follows the Atrix with a 4.7-inch 720P AMOLED display, which by our first-hand account is quite high quality. Size and LCD vs. AMOLED is personal preference, so if the final production model of the Maxx HD turns out as good as our first impression, we say its a tie in the screen category. 

CPU and RAM

Apple is in no rush to give us exact specs on their new A6 processor, and they haven't even spilled the beans on the amount of RAM in the device, but we know that Apple will put enough horsepower in the device to make it run as smooth and fast as it has in the past. For the RAZR Maxx HD, its packing the at this point industry standard Snapdragon S4 dual-core processor, clocking in at 1.5Ghz, supported by a full 1GB of RAM. This late in the year we wouldn't mind seeing it future proofed with 2GB -- like the Galaxy S3 -- but 1GB is plenty right now as far as we're concerned. Its hard to make a definitive call here considering we're light on specs for the iPhone, but its going to be hard to beat the trusted performance of the components in the RAZR Maxx HD.

Storage

As we all know at this point, the iPhone 5 will come in the same three sizes -- 16GB, 32GB and 64GB -- and don't count on them ever adding expandable storage. The RAZR Maxx HD comes out hard with 32GB as the baseline storage option, with MicroSD expansion officially supporting up to 32GB cards (although we wouldn't be surprised if 64GB SDXC cars worked as well). For storage junkies, the Maxx HD wins, but considering that most people don't need more than the included 32GB on the device, it doesn't win by much.

Connectivity

Both devices bring in bluetooth 4.0, aGPS and GLONASS, Wifi b/g/n at both 2.4 and 5GHz. Verizon LTE is also on board both models this time. Things are a little fuzzy at this point when it comes to world roaming with the iPhone 5 and using LTE around the world, but we know for certain that the RAZR Maxx HD has world roaming capabilities.

Coming from the original Droid RAZR, the new RAZR Maxx HD has added NFC support, which opens up some sharing possibilities and mobile payments in the future, although NFC isn't exactly widespread at this point. If it's something that you want, you can only get it in the Maxx HD.

When it comes to connecting the phone to other devices to share and display your content, the RAZR Maxx HD will be your friend if you have a diverse crop of gadgets. With standards like DLNA and HDMI, it's hard to go wrong. If you're stuck in the Apple ecosystem with Mac computers and an Apple TV box hooked up, sharing is pretty seamless with the iPhone 5. Thing is, not everyone has or wants to have an Apple TV just to share content from their device. RAZR Maxx HD has to take this one.

Size and weight

It comes down to personal preference (and biological endowment of hand size) as to what device feels best in your hand. The iPhone added screen real estate without making the device wider, and the RAZR Maxx HD tried to cut down on the bezel coming from the previous model. Which device wins this round comes down to what fits in your hand and your pocket.

Camera

As far as the numbers go, we're looking at 8MP shooters for both devices. The combination of hardware and software on the iPhone is a known quantity as being one of the best in the business. Motorola, not so much. Here's to hoping that the RAZR Maxx HD has stepped up its game from previous models, but if our review of the new RAZR M is any indication, the iPhone 5 is going to run away with this one.

The software

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For an in-depth analysis of iOS 6, check out iMore's amazing coverage. If you want to know more about the improved Motorola UI experience, check out Anndrew's review of the Droid RAZR M. We've really seen Android grow up and put some big boy pants on the last couple of versions, and luckily Motorola has decided to leave it pretty much unchanged as of late -- save for a few application and UI improvements. Apple iOS continues to follow the "slow and steady" approach to OS updates, and with iOS 6 has added some things that may have been in Android for a long time, but are good additions nonetheless.

Whe comparing the homescreen and UI experience of iOS 6 to older versions, it's hard to find any real changes. Small, subtle refinements are the name of the game for Apple, and it generally works in their favor. Unfortunately, Apple continues to leverage the same UI paradigm with page upon page of icons -- the iPhone 5 simply bringing one more row to the table. Apple made a big step by copying Android's pulldown notifications adding a pulldown notifications bar, but it's time for Apple to start adding in some customization options -- widgets, launchers and keyboards would be a nice start. It's all just a bit tired at this point when there are so many great options out there in the Android world.

We all know and love Android. With every update it just keeps getting better in terms of usability and aesthetics, and hasn't given up any of its core functionality or customizability. Choosing a mobile platform seems to be more in the realm of religion than devices at this point, but you know that we'll always prefer Android.

The "ecosystem"

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Google has been working very hard in the recent months to improve its content offerings. From making deals with music labels for Google Play Music to signing content deals with major publishers and studios, Google is really trying to build an ecosystem with Google Play to challenge Apple head-on. Unfortunately, Apple has been in this game longer and simply has the better deals. Heck, even Amazon has a better offering overall than Google when it comes to multimedia.

As is the case with most Apple products, there is a "double edged sword" so to speak. When you start buying content from Apple, you aren't taking it anywhere else. This is nice if you're all-in with the devices, but not so much if you try to keep a diverse portfolio of gadgetry. For the foreseeable future, you're going to be tethered to the iTunes model of hosting and syncing -- and we think its time to step beyond the old paradigm.

Although Google lacks in multimedia content in Google Play, it has started to greatly expand its app offerings for Android devices. We heard just this week that 500 million Android devices have been activated to date, with another 1.3 million coming every day. Developers are taking note of these staggering numbers, and it shows in the apps available for download. Major game titles and productivity apps now launch simultaneously with iOS, and they often have more functionality because of their hooks into the Android OS. The app approval process on Android is leaps and bounds less restrictive than on iOS as well, another great point for developers.

Conclusion

There is no definitive phone that is better than another when it comes down to putting your hard earned money on a device. All the specifications in the world can only assist in the decision here, and it really comes down to which is best for you. These are deeply personal devices that we spend (way too many) hours on every day.

What we can say is that the iPhone 5 will probably be the best selling iPhone to date. The Droid RAZR Maxx HD will also likely be one of the best sellers on Verizon for months to come. Through the course of reading this comparison you've likely figured out which one we'd prefer, now it's up to you to make that decision as well.

 

Reader comments

Motorola Droid RAZR Maxx HD vs. the iPhone 5

38 Comments

With Apple's new chip and stellar battery performance on past versions of the 4 and 4s (plus Apple's attention to detail far outreaches just putting a bigger battery in it and calling it good) I wouldn't doubt if the iPhone 5 matches the life of the Droid Razr MAXX HD. I know my 4s lasts days without charging and along with my Galaxy Nexus it is my daily work horse (even more than my Nexus as of late because of how well it works as a phone and how well Siri has honestly worked). I had the Razr MAXX for a few weeks and it would last me two days and on the second day I often found myself charging the device. It was very simple getting through a day though even on heavy use which is pretty great considering it wipes the floor with all other Andriod LTE devices to date and the iPhone 4s mathching it or sometimes beating it really means nothing so far to me as it is running 3G, but from all the marketing (can we trust marketing?) the 5 will actually match and in some regards beat the 4s even with LTE. I wouldn't be so quick to call the battery in the MAXX HD the winner here as Apple has taken great attention to the battery in their devices and it will surely be more "fine-tuned" pon software and hardware to get better battery life than Motorola has taken with the MAXX HD.

You are exactly right. If you check the MAXX vs iPhone5 vs GS3 benchmarks here you'll see that the GS and iP5 are essentially equals.
The MAXX gets roughly 1.5hours more out of itself than the other two. Yes, that's a lot, but it's not what a 3300mAh battery should be getting compared to a 1440mAh or 2100mAh. One with the same AndroidOS.

It shows the Moto is not optimized, and just tossing a bigger battery at the problem. That's fine, but it's typical Moto and I have more faith overall in both the iPhone5 and GS3 over any Motorola phone.

http://www.phonesreview.co.uk/2012/09/26/iphone-5-vs-samsung-galaxy-s3-b...

Lol idk what your smoking but the maxx will double the amount of hours you could ever get withe the s3 or iphone 5.. In the real world not some test

Was the iPhone 5 announced to have 1 GB of RAM or all the other sites just assuming it is because of the "twice as fast" comments?

And to think very soon the BIG DADDY of all devices will be launched the Samsung Galaxy Note 2. We all know that will '' WIPE'' the floor with the iphone 5 just like the Galaxy S3 does. Props to Motorola Maxx Jd.

When I watched the Apple conference Richard I wasn't impressed..Bad thing is these ignorant iSheep are gonna line up in the rain and humidity at Apple Stores just to get it but who cares .Google and Android has nothing to worry about.I'm walking away from Sprint to Verizon to get my GS 3 but I do like the Motorola Razr HD Maxx but can't wai that long.

Iphone is gonna end up like Blackberry(Sigh,because i love RIM)but neitherone hasn't been innovative esp. Apple .Who does Tim Cook thinks he's fooling.4" really?!!SERIOUSLY! 4G LTE Samsung lawyers filing now!! I can't stand them for nothing .I will NEVER get a Apple product ever because of the practices they do

SAMSUNG AND ANDROID FTW

I've read comments like yours (ignorant?) every iPhone release and every iPhone release Apple sells more and more. iOS is going no where and we all better just get used to it. Plus, why would we want it to go away as if it wasn't for the competition from Apple and their behemoth iPhone Android would not look or feel anything like it does today. Hell, Samsung would be nothing like it is today as we have seen they have walked step in step behind Apple the entire way. Don't you think that if Samsung and all Android OEMs had a better product they would stop copying everything Apple does and putting everything on hold waiting to see what Apple does? Not only that, but every release we see companies like Motorola and Samsung rushing products to market before they are done just to get them out before the next iOS release. Look at these past couple weeks Samsung and Motorola rushed to announce phones that wont be out for months just to get them announced before the iPhone. Face it as much as us Android fans hate it Apple owns this market and everything that happens has to do with Apple setting the ground. There was no talk about Siri like products until Siri was released, HD displays would still be no where to be found (still almost 3 years later the only phone that has a comparable display to the iPhone 4, 4s, and now 5 is the HTC One X), all of the exciting development happens on iOS first (when have you ever seen a huge release happen on Android and not iOS, but I can count hundreds the opposite), the camera on the iPhone 4 still is better than most Android phones to date and the 4s there is no contest. Even with the GS3 and One X the industry still knows that the 4s is better and we are talking about making that even better on the 5. Like I said Apple sets the trends and others rush to catch up and now that Android can no longer claim LTE as its selling point the 5 will sell even more. Apple will not only be here tomorrow, but will continue to push innovation as no other company has attempted to even do anything different and even though a lot of what Apple brings to market is already around they bring it to the mainstream and better than anyone else.

I have wished and made comments like yours (ignorant?) every iPhone release and it never happens. Its amazing what Android has been able to do over the past couple years, but Apple is doing that with one phone a year and in two colors where Android is doing it with literally hundreds a year all over the world. There is really nothing to brag about especially considering most of the phones will never see updates and most are running two versions back Android. OEMs are running Android into the ground and as much as I hate to say it Android is much more at risk than Apple's iOS ever will be especially with the hype of Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 right around the corner.

Look, Steve Jobs is dead... Stop sucking his dick on forums. There are already too many Apple fanboys out there. (mostly hipsters like yourself)

When I watched the Apple conference Richard I wasn't impressed..Bad thing is these ignorant iSheep are gonna line up in the rain and humidity at Apple Stores just to get it but who cares .Google and Android has nothing to worry about.I'm walking away from Sprint to Verizon to get my GS 3 but I do like the Motorola Razr HD Maxx but can't wai that long.

Iphone is gonna end up like Blackberry(Sigh,because i love RIM)but neitherone hasn't been innovative esp. Apple .Who does Tim Cook thinks he's fooling.4" really?!!SERIOUSLY! 4G LTE Samsung lawyers filing now!! I can't stand them for nothing .I will NEVER get a Apple product ever because of the practices they do

SAMSUNG AND ANDROID FTW

If you include the GPU in the CPU and RAM category above, I'm afraid you'd have to give that category to the iPhone. The Adreno 225 is no match for the PowerVR SGX543MP4 (assuming that's what it is in the iPhone 5). Not that I'd ever personally buy an iPhone (Nexus for me all the way).

I'm really annoyed that Motorola didn't go with 2gb of RAM in the Razr HD and Razr Maxx HD like the Galaxy S3. That's one of the few areas where the Galaxy S3 beats the Razr HD and Razr Maxx HD. I'm not a huge fan of built in batteries either but the 3300 mAh in the Razr Maxx HD makes up for it. I wish someone could definitively tell me if there's a big difference in performance between 1gb and 2gb of RAM.

It's not so much about speed as it is about the improved multitasking 2GB brings, I really think it was a missed chance for the RAZR Maxx HD, with 2GB it would have been much better. The LG is looking better and better, if only they were better with support and updates

yes but ice cream sandwich minimal requirements were 1gb of ram to run at its best. and motorola are horrible with updates so i have a feeling thats why they did that.

Truth is it has to do with the fact that Adreno GPU's don't come with RAM and siphon off the Phone's multitalking RAM. For Example, a phone with 1 GB of RAM may only use 500 mb because Adreno uses about 500. This doesn't apply for Tegra. They have separate RAM for the GPU. So having 2 GB of RAM means more for the GPU which means better performance.(Don't forget that manufactures have UI's(Sense and Touchwiz) which take up more RAM)

i can care less of what phone i have, as long as it works for me, but i got to say my S3 isn't all that, yes the OS has improved by leaps and bounds. but and there is that BUT, i still feel that slight fragmentation once in a while even if i root my phone there is still always some glitch with what ever ROM i install. yet my wife's iphone 4S mind you not prefect either, still has its positives. battery life on her 4S is incredible. pictures are awesome. quality of apps and number of apps also. don't get me wrong I love Google's OS, but what i hate is when manufactures install their own bloat ware or lair of touchcrap, or sense crap. yes there is the nexus, but really weak ass battery, call quality sub-par, camera ok, not great. I hope the next pure google phone well address all these issues.

i love how all you android users just bash anything that's not android. why the hate. you should be all thankful that we have all these choices of phones and carriers.

It's the fanboys, no matter the platform they all behave like that. Right now I think Android is best but that could change, those Nokia WP8 are looking extremely good, and if they deserve it I will support the best competitor with my money.
Very happy owner of a GSM Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 7 and Motorola Xoom, I think you will all see a pattern :)

Did you just say..."you android users"?
Anyway the other guy was right. It's the fanboys. Every platform has its fanboys and not only Android does.

oh and one more thing, memory card really, with 4.0 and above the only thing you can store on a card is photos and videos. and NFC really I've used it once.

lmao the conclusion of each phone comparison are all inconclusive! "buy whichever phone suits your needs"

You stole my thunder, well said. The author is writing on an android blog and still can't recommended android over iPhone. No love. Fact is apple is a big supporter of the media (free meals, hotel rooms, travel expenses) and media eat it hook line and sinker, just look at techmeme during an apple event.

I know, that kills me about Android Central. Both phones would suit my needs. So would the Nokia Lumia 920, and probably a new BB 10 device. I can make calls, text, surf and listen to music/watch videos on all of them. I want to know which one is better at each major feature and why I should buy a specific one.

Maybe the reviews should end with: "If you do this, then buy xx phone", or something like that.

"Its hard to argue with the fact that Apple makes some of the best screens in the business."

Actually, it's very easy to argue. Apple doesn't make the screens. Samsung and, now, Sharp make the screens. Why Samsung doesn't use the same screen tech for their own devices is beyond me, however.

Thanks for actually going in depth with this one instead of just staging a specs showdown. User experience is paramount, and this post takes that into account. I'll look forward to seeing more of these!

Once the Droid Razr Max HD comes out, it'd be useful to see how well it handles a drop test. The iphone 5 seems to do well where the Galaxy S3 didn't.

Truthfully, I really want to like the iphone 5 but just don't see the 4" screen as worth the effort. Just a tad too small.

On the other hand, haven't really considered the Droid Razr Max HD until I saw the droid Razr Max in the Verizon store the other day.

Looking forward to the HD coming out.

Please correct your specs of the iPhone 5. Under "Sensors" you need to add "Proximity" to the iPhone's list as well, because it DOES have a proximity sensor.