The Motorola RAZR V has been available in Canada for a few weeks now on Bell and WIND Mobile. For the most part, it comes off as a pared down version of the American Droid RAZR with the LTE stripped out, which isn't particularly attractive with the RAZR HD LTE coming out on Rogers shortly, but's it's easy to justify anything so long as it has a reasonable pricetag. The Motorola RAZR V sports a familiar form factor and software elements from the original Android-powered RAZR, including the Kevlar backing and Smart Actions.
Smart Actions are still extremely useful, provided you take the time to set them up. An LED indicator light is always a bonus, and for a lot of people, its absence would be a deal-breaker. Even though it's a bit chubbier than the Droid RAZR, I still find the RAZR V has a slim, stylish design.
I experienced some significant responsiveness issues, though there was little rhyme or reason to when they would happen. The Motorola RAZR V isn't competitive with alternatives currently available in the Canadian market, especially without LTE connectivity. None of my in-line microphones worked with the RAZR V, making it a non-starter as a music player.
Motorola RAZR V hands-on
So, you’ll notice in this video that there’s a cut before I talk about Smart Actions and a bit of unresponsiveness when I start to go through to it. It took me about four or five takes until I tried tilting the phone before tapping the screen, and for whatever reason that worked. There were similar inexplicable delays elsewhere during my time on the device, which definitely dampened the experience.
Motorola RAZR V hardware review
Though the overall form factor borrows heavily from the previous Motorola RAZR, there are quite a few tweaks. For example, there aren’t any capacitive keys on the front, the power/lock key has been switched over to the top, and the mini HDMI port has been removed. The flap on the left side to access the microSD memory card and SIM card slots is a bit of a hassle to get open, but that’s not something most users will have to deal with too often anyway.
The external speaker is terrible and tinny - yes, even more than I’ve come to expect from most smartphone speakers. I also wasn’t thrilled with the fact that the in-line pause/play controls on two of my sets of headphones didn’t work with the RAZR V. I’m glad to see that there’s an LED indicator at least. Too many Android handsets don’t have them.
The 4.3-inch 960 x 540 display shows colors significantly lighter than on the Galaxy Nexus, though not quite as light as the HTC One X. Motorola boasts the display’s “ColorBoost” technology, which apparently offers a wider range of color that’s more vibrant than the iPhone 4S. I don’t necessarily know about that, but the color saturation is good enough and comparable to other displays out there. I was satisfied with the level of sharpness; high-def videos recorded from the phone’s 8 megapixel camera looked really great when played back. Motorola also has some scratch and splash resistance built into the front face, giving the RAZR V’s display a reasonable amount of resilience.
In terms of design, I’m digging the RAZR V’s overall look. I never got a lot of quality time with the last RAZR, so it was nice to get a second shot with the RAZR V. The front face is nice and simple, featuring strong angles that find a nice balance between rakishly sharp and practically ergonomic. The matte black and glossy titanium colors go well together, and the kevlar backing is classy and eye-catching as ever.
Just like the first Droid RAZR, the battery is not user-replaceable, so be prepared to deal with that by either charging throughout the day or keeping a back-up charging accessory handy. The Motorola RAZR V has a 1750 mAh battery, which might not cut it for power users, but I got about a day and a half of intermittent use out of a single charge. Motorola lists 9.5 hours of continuous usage time and 7.5 days of standby.
Call quality was acceptable. Though incoming calls sounded a bit tinny, there proved to be good noise cancelation for wind from my end.
Motorola RAZR V software review
Smart Actions is the big software feature the RAZR V has to offer, which you may have seen on some other recent Motorola devices. It’s basically a behaviour management app with a wide array of triggers and actions. For example, with Smart Actions you can set your phone to automatically go on silent as soon as you’re in a meeting (based on your calendar). When you plug in your phone at night, you can set it to do the same. When you plug in headphones, you can set the RAZR V to automatically launch your favorite music streaming app. There are a bunch of common presets available, but you can custom-build your own Smart Actions from scratch too. There’s a long list of triggers and actions, and though they can get complex when layered on top of each other, the app’s layout for setting up these rules is actually very simple.
The other preload worth mentioning is Social Locations. It provides a rich catalog of location-based networks to subscribe to and plugs into a map to view relevant content. The first view shows a list of locations based on proximity, and includes pertinent images, ratings, and directions. Tapping into individual locations provides full address phone, and web links. There's even a bit of sociability built in through a Facebook check-n link and a comment section
Content channels range from the popular, such as Yelp and Wikipedia, to the obscure, like camping grounds and ATMs. You can find new channels through a search or the categorized library, subscribe to them, and mark the best ones as favorites for future easy access. A plug-in with Facebook allows you to see recent check-ins from friends, though you'll have to tap through and open the Facebook app to do any meaningful interaction. Social Locations was definitely an interesting addition, and one I could see myself idly turning to when wondering what’s going on in my immediate area.
Despite datedness on a few other fronts, the Motorola RAZR V runs Android Ice Cream Sandwich, though considering the limited geographic launch of this device, I wouldn’t hold my breath for a timely Jelly Bean update. I’m happy with the virtual keyboard, namely due to its elongated keys which offer large striking areas. There’s nothing particularly fancy included, such as gesture or voice input, but there are plenty of third-party keyboards out there if you’re looking for something more robust.
There are a few other slight software additions from Motorola, such as direct contact, call, and message home screen widgets for individual contacts. The lockscreen has a handful of quick shortcut areas for the phone, camera, and text messaging, which is always handy. Here’s a full list of the non-stock preloads on Bell’s version of the Motorola RAZR V.
- Bell Remote Device Manager
- FM Radio
- TeleNav GPS Navigator
- Bell Mobile TV
- News and Weather
- Citrix Receiver
- Bell Self-Serve (usage and billing)
- Smart Actions
- Social Location
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve had pretty random performance lags with the Motorola RAZR V throughout my time with it. Hopefully it’s simply a matter of an OS patch to smooth things out. With a 1.2 GHz processor and 1 GB of RAM, there’s plenty of horsepower available to handle anything you need to do; Dead Trigger played perfectly fine on the RAZR V, so I can only assume that there’s some background process that’s out of whack and causing hiccups.
Motorola RAZR V specifications
The Motorola RAZR V is a little bit thicker than its predecessor (8.4 mm versus 7.1 mm) and actually has a slightly smaller battery, so it’s hard to say what’s going on there. It’s still a very slim piece of hardware, and I have no complaints in the portability department. Here’s the full specs run-down.
- Dual-core 1.2 GHz processor
- 1 GB of RAM
- 4.3-inch qHD (960 x 540) ColorBoost LCD display
- Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich
- Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
- 14.4 Mbps HSDPA support on 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 GSM bands,, 5.76 Mbps HSUPA
- Bluetooth Class 2
- 128.5 mm x 65.8 mm x 8.4 mm
- 125 g
- Proximity, light, and accelerometer sensors
As for the important stuff, like screen resolution, processing power, and battery life, the Motorola RAZR V is dab smack in the mid-range. The lack of LTE really hurts here, and it doesn’t help that Bell purposefully obfuscates its marketing by calling the thing 4G in their online store. In any case, it’s hard to fathom spending any money on a new Android handset at this point that doesn’t have LTE, even if it costs you an extra fifty bucks.
Motorola RAZR V camera review
The Motorola RAZR V still has the 1080p video recording 8 megapixel shooter with LED flash as the original, and produces comparable (if not identical) quality. The Camera app includes a handful of effects, such as sepia, solarize, black and white, and negative. There are a handful of the usual scene modes, such as macro, low light, sunset, sport, and landscape. Panorama, multi-shot, and timer modes are supported, as well as custom exposure settings. You can force the LED flash to stay off if you want to remain unobtrusive, or keep it on for those times you know you want to get the perfect shot. Shutter lag is acceptable and under a second for just about every kind of shot. It shoots much more quickly when it doesn’t need to autofocus again, obviously.
Video recording hosts software image stabilization (not used in the above sample), which is definitely important if you’re ever going to be putting those 1080p videos onto a big screen. Settings are similar to still photography, only with the exception of audio scenes for windy or concert hall scenarios.
The one thing that bugged me about the camera UI is that it didn’t adjust into portrait orientation, even though images were captured and rotated appropriately.
Unless you’re married to WIND or Bell for whatever reason, it’s hard to find a good reason to pick up the RAZR V with so many other compelling handsets available. If you’re on Bell, the Samsung Galaxy S 2 HD LTE is a more palatable option and also available for free on contract. On WIND, there’s the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and the HTC One S available at the same price points, both of which I’d pick up just as soon as a RAZR V. It’s getting harder and harder for Android handsets to remain differentiated, especially at the mid-range tier, and the RAZR V has a hard time doing that when it’s leaning on old aesthetics and technology. The only thing really modern about it right now is the ICS software, and even that won’t last long as the Jelly Bean upgrade train rolls on. Looking to the future, there’s a new RAZR right around the corner, and without LTE, the RAZR V isn’t going to age gracefully.