This is the Motorola Droid RAZR MAXX on Verizon. Looks a lot like the Motorola Droid RAZR on Verizon, doesn't it? Because it is. You can sum up the MAXX in a single sentence: It's a Motorola DROID RAZR, with a bigger battery. Period, end of story. The software's the same. The hardware's nearly identical. It just has a larger-capacity battery, making the phone slightly thicker.
That can't be the whole review, can it? Well, it most certainly can. Or it could be. But it's not.
It's still big, it's still fast, and it's still got a lot of great software enhancements from Motorola. And now it has a bigger-capacity battery, that makes the phone feel better, too.
It's still got Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread. We've decided we don't like the display after all. And although the the battery's bigger, you still can't swap it out for a fresh one.
This is the Droid RAZR with a bigger batter. And it's what Motorola and Verizon should have released in November, plain and simple.
Inside this review
By now you've probably read our full Motorola Droid RAZR review. If not, go do it now. We'll wait.
The takeaway is that it was a fast, thin phone (perhaps a tad too thin), with one major concern -- the 1780 mAh battery that couldn't be removed. As we've seen time and time again, 4G LTE data chews through a battery. It might not be an issue for everybody, and obviously devices like the iPhone have shown you can get away without removable batteries. But in the abstract, we want to be able to swap in a fresh battery.
So the Droid RAZR MAXX takes care of this by not adding a removable battery, but by nearly doubling the capacity to 3300 mAh. That's definitely a respectable number. But what's really worth shouting from the rooftops is that Motorola did it without grossly distorting the design of the phone. Whereas smartphones usually end up looking like Quasimodo when they strap on a high-capacity extended battery, the MAXX is still manages to come in at 8.99 mm at its thinnest. (The phone's just a bit thicker up by the camera, just like the original Droid RAZR.)
In other words, nearly the same phone, with nearly twice the battery life. Bazinga.
Youtube link for mobile viewing
So, yeah. It's the same phone, with a bigger battery. No, really. Same Motorola model number (XT912) and FCC ID (IHDP56ME1) and everything.
Here it is next to the original Droid RAZR. It's almost tough to tell which is which.
Two real questions, then, two answer about the Droid RAZR MAXX: How does it feel, and how did the battery do.
It's still a big, slightly awkward phone. It's still wide (about 2.71 inches) and tall (more than 5 inches). That hasn't changed from the original Droid RAZR. At all. They're exactly the same dimensions. But the extra 1.9 mm of thickness actually makes it feel better in the hand -- the MAXX loses a bit of its lanky feel. Hands-down, it's an improvement across the board. Looks better, feels better, and you get a big-ass battery in the process.
So, how does it perform? Exactly like the original Droid RAZR. With a higher-capacity battery. That's it. No more, no less. Oh, you'll get some great usage out of this phone, no doubt. But remember it's because there's more gas in the tank, not because you've suddenly got some magical runs-all-day engine.
That picture you see above? That's more than two days of relative un-use -- the phone just sitting around. Now something was pinging it a little more than it should have been, because other standby tests we've done have fared much better. As in, it can sit around even longer, get picked up and still be ready to go. Craziness.
In our use, we got through a tough day with relative ease -- leaving Wifi turned off and with an occasionally spotty LTE signal. Having a 3300 mAh battery will do that. At least it damed well better do it. But what we were really wanting to test was standby time. The Droid RAZR did OK when left unplugged overnight. That has as much to do with good coding as anything else. But combine that with the monster battery on the MAXX, and we're not going to freak out if we wake up and realize we forgot to charge overnight. The phone will need to have some charge, in it, of course, but the point is it's not leaking itself to death while you sleep.
Plus, the MAXX has Motorola's sweet Smart Actions feature -- a preloaded app that lets you tweak all sorts of settings and set triggers -- so you can eke out that much more usage time.
Again, none of this is surprising. Larger-capacity battery equals longer usage time. Period.
Wait -- something is different! (Only, not really)
So here's the thing: We're not digging the display on the MAXX. We're definitely noticing the PenTile makeup again, which gives things a bit of a checkered look. And that we're bothered by it on the MAXX is a little odd, since we (erm, me, in particular) were perfectly OK with the qHD display (540x960) on the original Droid RAZR. And because save for the battery battery nothing else has changed, that leaves us thinking a couple things.
- Recent phones with 720p displays have ruined us for lower resolutions. That's possible, we suppose.
- We gave the original Droid RAZR a pass when we reviewed it in November. Entirely possibly as well.
- A combination of the two. This is probably the likely culprit.
Anyhoo -- the technology behind the MAXX's display hasn't changed. You've got 4.3 inches of Super AMOLED with a PenTile matrix. If you hated it before, you'll hate it now. If you thought it was OK before -- well, you might hate it now. Be sure to give it a go in stores before you buy.
Hasn't. Changed. One. Bit. Still running Android 2.3.5. Still full of preloaded applications. And it's still awaiting an update to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
Also unchanged. You've got an 1.3-megapixel shooter out front, and an 8MP shooter 'round back.
Front-facing camera test
Youtube link for mobile viewing
Rear-facing camera test
Youtube link for mobile viewing
If we'd bought a Motorola Droid RAZR, we'd be pretty unhappy right about now. Sure, the price dropped $100 to $199. And that's all well and good. But the Droid RAZR MAXX is a better phone, released just a couple months after the original DROID RAZR, with a better battery and better feel because of it. And that's pretty damn inexcusable.
At no point in the design process did anyone stop and say "Are we only making the RAZR thing for the sake of it being thin?" We're pretty sure someone did. And they were probably shot down. The Droid RAZR was "thinnest" for the sake of being "thinnest." (Never mind that only part of the phone was "thinnest.") The Droid RAZR MAXX is what it should have been.
The MAXX is an above-average smartphone by just about anyone's definition. We'd probably prefer a removable battery, but the larger capacity on the MAXX lessens that pain. It wouldn't surprise us in the least to see it phase out the original Droid RAZR altogether. That's good news for new buyers, but it's gotta leave a bad taste in the mouths of the early adopters.