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My son recently purchased a Galaxy SII phone (Sprint) and after seeing it in action, I was almost pursuaded away from my love affair with Motorola...ALMOST. My Droid X was the first Moto phone I had ever owned, and to be perfectly honest, while I was sold on Android, I wasn't as much sold on Motorola. In fact, leading up to my initial purchase, I had done enough research as to find a pile of unflattering data regarding Motorola Android phones. I first went with the HTC Incredible (first generation) and within a couple weeks, I was just about ready to say so long to my goal of getting the X. Long story short, on a whim, I traded in my DInc for the X and haven't looked back.
I have been a HUGE fan of Motorola ever since. So much so, that whatever I decided to get to replace my X I had iron-clad plans that it'd for sure be manufactured by Motorola. Not sure why or how, but slowly I began to get the 'itch' for something new seeing as my model is coming up on 2 years old now (a virtual dinosaur in the mobile phone industry). I began to read about the Galaxy Nexus and slowly, especially after seeing a video about its new capabilities with ICS installed, I began to wonder if I was THAT tied to Moto after all.
What really brought me back was how awesome the Razr was...pure and simple. I'm not here to say that its better or worse than the Galaxy Nexus, or the HTC Rezound or whatever choice you happen to be leaning towards. But if you're looking for a thin phone, ain't nobody can compete with the Razr--NOBODY. That was a gigantic selling point for me...in fact, I'd have to go so far as to say it was the MAIN selling point. Don't get me wrong, the Samsung GN is mighty thin--and the screen is actually slightly larger and let's be honest: the Galaxy Nexus has (at least as I write this anyway) the best screen available, and I don't think that anyone can even argue otherwise. More pixels, better technology and color! Wow, the color is absolutely unbelievable. But with that being said, the Razr is no light weight. It has a Super Amoled screen, too and is visibly better than the Bionic (although I have a friend who insists otherwise...I honestly think he's going blind). Great, vibrant screen which is well above average, if not the absolute equal to the iPhone 4S (I would argue better). One other main selling point to me was the camera on the back...while I am hearing reports that while at just 5MP the GN takes some pretty sweet photos, many say that are better than the 8MP Razr...however, the video camera is genuinely better on the Razr, and for me that was the tipping point. Having become rather used to the X's camera, I figured if the Razr's was even just as good, I'd be fairly happy (who knows, maybe I'm just easy to please in this department).
Size--while the screen is the same size as the original Droid X, the thin factor also makes the phone feel a little like it was initially fatter, but was placed inside a press and flattened out. As a result, its wider--and as it turns out, by quite a bit. Initially I was upset that the power button was no longer on top as my DX had been. Reaching for the top has become a very big habit of mine and a tough one to break...but I realized quickly that for those who generally hold their phone using their right hand, the power button is actually VERY conveniently placed almost perfectly where your thumb rests. It didn't take long for me to re-think my position on button placement--that is until I realized that the volume rocker was directly beneath the power button separated by about 3/4ths of an inch. Sorry but that distance is not quite enough in my opinion. I have managed to accidentally turn the ringer ON by mistake instead of shutting off the phone on multiple occasions--once resulting in quite an embarassing moment. I have no doubt that I'll eventually become as familiar with its awkward placement as I was with my original Droid, but I just thought I'd pass along that one particular gripe. I imagine the engineers who designed the phone had their reasons for placing both buttons where they did--but if any of them are reading this: for the next models, try to place one either on a different side or at least separate them by more than an inch, k? I'd appreciate it.
Also, I feel it important to warn you that because the phone is wider due to its extreme thinness, if you have small hands, you may seriously want to consider a different model. Where the Droid X actually fit in my hand quite comfortably, the semi-rubberized texture gave it a very & natural feel for holding and navigating with just one hand. On the flip side, that same comfortable feeling is almost non-existent with the Razr. While the phone is in every way more solid and better manufactured due to the superior second generation Gorilla Glass and the Kevlar back, it doesn't have that rubber-like coating which makes the grip easier to hold and use one-handed. There IS a learning curve to be sure, and while I am slowly coming around, I can't even imagine how difficult it'd be if I had very small hands. Yet another reason why investigating IN PERSON before making a cell phone purchase is important in order to avoid buyers remorse.
Having the ability to add memory is a pretty big plus for me as well--but not a deal breaker by any stretch. However, that COULD be for some, so keep it in mind when weighing your options. One thing that DID bother me, but after thinking about it became moot was the fact that the Razr did not have a removeable battery. I have to admit, this bugged me silly--at first. But with all the smartphones I have used over the years, I have relied MORE on having a spare wall charger at work, and a car charger while on the go than pulling the battery out and replacing it. Even with my 2 year old X I still just constantly kept it plugged in, and even though after so long the battery just didn't maintain a charge as long as it used to, as long as I'm not far from my charger, it wasn't a big issue, so I figured who cares? Besides, NONE of the iPhones have come with removeable batteries and look at the fan base they have...mighty impressive I must say. But it CAN be a big issue depending on how you use your phone. I know some who would rather go with the Razr Maxx simply because the battery is absolutely monstrous and allows them the freedom to go all-out without charging hardly at all over the course of several days (this is obviously for the power-users). Think carefully before deciding because after the 30 days are up, the last think you'll want is buyers remorse.
Speed...lets be clear: going from the X to this phone was similar to making the jump from a Geo Metro to a Ferrari...okay, maybe not quite that dramatic, but I think you get the idea. This part of the Razr has been dealt with in almost ridiculous detail, so I won't bother with it, other than to say that I do not live in a 4G LTE area, so for those also in my situation, think about it. If you don't really NEED a 4G LTE phone and your area does not support it just yet, you may consider putting off buying one until that becomes available. I HAVE used the phone in 4G areas when visiting other cities, and holy freakin' cow, man its a whole different experience. Even while using 3G I notice much faster performance, probably due to the dual-core processor and additional RAM. On WiFi its utterly amazing.
Performance...is, well, about what I expected to be honest...which was a lot to be sure. The occasional lag doesn't seem to be anywhere in sight, although I would imagine with further use and the more apps I load, I suspect it'll show up eventually, but so far, I gotta say its run as smooth as glass, much better than my X ever did. Kudos to Motorola for such a cleaner experience all around.
I really like how the 4 dedicated buttons on the bottom of the Razr are NOT actully physical buttons. That was one thing I really liked about my old DInc that I now enjoy with this model. NOT a fan of the physical buttons. Even though on my X they always worked properly and never let me down, I just really like how they're laid out on the Razr instead. I know many people do not like them, so this may or may not be a problem for you.
Let me include this point while I'm thinking about it: I find it ALWAYS smart to whenever possible, go into a store and physically handle the phone you plan to buy. My sister, who was sold on her iPhone 4 thought that my X was simply enormous and too big for her hands. However, after playing with it for a while, and seeing that the X seemed like it weighed almost half that of her iPhone, well it didn't take long for her to make the switch. But even so, for those with small hands & fingers, a bigger phone isn't necessarily better. And while the Razr IS much thinner than almost everything else out there, due to that in particular, the phone is also slightly wider, as well. Either way, its VERY important to weigh one in person before making the purchase only to realize your hand is simply too small for the phone. With that said, the phone doesn't seem to big--at least to me. I found that it fit comfortably in my hand and my pocket, which is a major factor to consider, too.
Calls...the phone worked as well as could be expected. I could hear fine, and the speaker was pretty decent, although not superior. It depends a lot on what you plan to use the phone for. Again, something you ought to try out IN person before buying. I am used to Verizon never losing a signal (at least not to my knowledge with any phone I've ever used since making the switch from AT&T), and with this new phone, I am as happy as ever. Verizon never disappoints in this area.
There are some apps I have yet to use, but I know of several co-workers who have employed them with great fanfare, like Go To Meeting (my boss can't say enough about this one, absolutely loves it). QuickOffice is another well-used app which allows you to create and edit everything from a Word Doc to an Excel Spreadsheet. They are compatible with all of the more famous counterparts and work flawlessly. I don't recommend using them as a habit, but they are mighty convenient when you find yourself away from your computer and need to make and save changes to something from work or from wherever. VERY cool and useful under the right circumstances.
Multi-tasking...lets face it, in today's world, if you have a phone that cannot multi-task, it is only slightly more than useless. Having a phone with such power behind it like this one allows for multi-tasking on a much larger scale than I could even with my old X--which pulled it off fairly well. Again, the 1Gig of RAM and the 1.2G Dual-Core Processor makes this a breeze, and you'll almost forget you have more than one item running it does it so well. Another plus for Android in my opinion.
Quality...face it, while Motorola may not make their phones as 'Pretty' as say the HTC models or the iPhones, but man is this phone built like a tank. Kevlar back and Gorilla Glass front...? While I wouldn't consider this an excuse to start throwing your phone on the floor to prove a point, this phone could conceivably take more abuse than probably any other phone available today. I am a BIG believer in purchasing a screen protector and case to protect your investment, but the one thing I hate about phone covers is that they make your otherwise thin device almost gargantuan...whats the point of having the world's thinnest phone if you have to hide it behind such a thick shell? Some will feel better purchasing a case, and some will be just fine without one. Everybody's different, so decide for yourself. Personally, this is my first smartphone without a case of any kind, and I'm loving it.
Web surfing...typically great. Everything I expected. NOT as smooth as how Samsung does it, though (hint, hint Motorola...I don't care if you copy it outright, but come on, check out the Galaxy SII for ease of use, especially when bookmarking and opening a new tab--MUCH more superior...almost ridiculously so IMO).
Battery life...while way better than my X was the day I opened it, I would still invest in a car charger/wall charger, especially if you're as anal as I am about having your phone dip below 60% batter life (I don't know why, but it bugs the crap outta me). If that is a major concern for you, look into the Razr Maxx--which considering how much larger that battery is, really isn't that much thicker overall. Again, everyone is different, but this IS a factor to consider heavily depending how how often you use your phone. If you live in a 4G area, keep in mind that your battery goes down by leaps & bounds more than using 3G service...and even worse if you also have a habit of leaving your GPS on. Food for thought.
One of the things I bought this phone for was for video chatting using the front-facing camera...unfortunatley I vastly over-estimated how much I thought I would be using this function. As I write this, I haven't been able to use it even once. Nobody I know of has a front facing camera which I actually WANT to chat with--yet. I look forward to putting this to great use as soon as my wife gets a phone with a similar feature. For those who want to know more, I suggest you look at some of the other reviews here by those who use it often.
Conclusion...when the Razr upgrades to Ice Cream Sandwich, I would dare say that in all areas save the screen resolution only, this will be the equal of the Galaxy Nexus. An absolutely phenomenal mobile device which can be used for so much more than most people even dream of. Congrats to Motorola for yet another Grand Slam. Stay tuned soon for further updates as I continue to break in my Razr.
Screen is just freakin' awesome. Now that isn't saying its better than a few others out there, but just that coming from the DX to this was a significant improvement. The color saturation with the Super Amoled display is absolutely beautiful, no ifs ands or buts about it.
The seemingly total absence of Motoblur is not only a blessing, but a very welcome one at that. I never really had an older model where it was particularly invasive (although it was almost universally panned) but the difference between this and the Droid X is quite noticeable--and not just in the obvious ways, either. One thing I've wondered about is why did Motorola go from the previous standard of 7 home screens to just 5? I imagine its because they did some kind of study or something, but I kinda miss it to be honest. Although, all I have to do is download Go Launcher for free in the Market and I can go back to 7 if I so desire.
One of the biggest selling points of the Android platform is its almost endless ability to customize however you want. I'm a bit of a nerd in this department, so I alter my homescreen, backgrounds and widgets almost daily (yeah, I know--too much) and the ability to make the phone look almost 100% different on a regular basis is an enormous PLUS in my book. It gives the illusion that without paying for it, I have gone out and purchased another phone. For me, personally--this is one of the MOST important advantages that Android currently holds over iOS--although it would seem that apple is slowly being pushed towards this--albeit kicking and screaming, but heading there nevertheless.
The Power Saving Mode on the Razr is truly remarkable. Without going into too much unnecessary detail, it allows you to shut off critical, power-hungry functions at specific times of the day, or when the battery dips below a pre-determined level. Turn down the screen brightness at specific times? Yup, it can do that. While Motorola claims working it right can save you as much as 30% in battery power, that may be only if you use it aggressively and shut off virtually ALL apps running in the background, and while that CAN be done, it kinda removes the word 'Smart' from its moniker when you shut off its ability to actually act Smartly. But either way, that is the tradeoff you have to deal with if you want more battery at the end of your day. Those already familiar with Android are probably already well aware of the battery life issues, so don't expect too much difference here. Prepare by getting a car charger and an extra wall charger at work and you'll be fine, even with heavy usage. One more important trick is to shut off 4G IF you live in an area where it isn't up & running just yet. We are supposed to get it within the next 6 months, but I'm not holding my breath...however, keep in mind that having 4G ON is notoriously battery-draining on these devices...and needlessly so if you only have 3G capabilities currently. Shutting that off alone should save you I'm guessing 5-15% battery by the end of the day. Just be smart in how you use your phone and enjoy the fantastic speeds and abilities of this truly amazing device.
I'd like to take a moment to talk about the forward-facing camera...It is one of the single most important reasons why I wanted this particular model. Well, after several days of tinkering around--and I really don't consider myself a beginner when it comes to Android or smartphones in general--but I simply could NOT find ANY app to open which allowed me to use it to make video calls. None. And trust me, I LOOKED. I finally had to google it, which is probably what I should've done from the get-go, but being the stubborn person that I am, I kept thinking that it just HAD to be hiding in the app drawer SOMEWHERE, I just wasn't looking good enough. Okay, first off, go and head over to the app Market--now re-named "Google Play" (c'mon guys, seriously? what a stupid name) and search for 'Google Talk' and download that...which is probably why I couldn't find it in the first place--because it wasn't there to begin with. Then go to your camera app...when you hold the camera in landscape mode turn on the forward camera (its the button on the far right at the top of the screen). Back OUT of the app without closing it, and go open up 'V-Tok' and THEN you'll be able to make and receive video calls. Honestly, that sure seems like quite a few steps more than necessary, doesn't it? But then again, I don't write programs and can't come up with a good reason for WHY it ought to be simpler, but I am certainly hoping that the update to ICS 4.0 will make this a lot easier than it is now...because in all honesty, it really shouldn't be THIS difficult.
I've been REALLY enjoying my phone, but yesterday out of nowhere, I had a hiccup--which was problematic enough that I actually packed up the whole thing and took it back to the store pretty certain that I'd be walking out with a new phone or a different model altogether. Essentially I noticed early on in the day that where it says 3g/4g in the status bar at the top of the screen, that icon was just missing in a place where I have never had reception issues before with Verizon. Now, I HAD been told by Verizon that reception issues MAY be a problem in general as they were tweaking their 4g towers which are being installed here locally, but that would ONLY affect the phone for a few moments at a time. Well this was considerably longer than a 'few moments'. Turns out I could text and make calls, but I couldn't receive or send Data of ANY kind--unless I was hooked up to WiFi. After re-starting the phone several times I figured this issue was obviously one that was beyond me, so after briefly considering re-setting my phone to factory specs, I decided to bring it in. The Verizon Rep said mine was the second Razr which had come in that day. But it was an easy fix. Heres what he did: he put the phone in Airplane Mode, which turns off the cellular connection, but leaves the phone ON, then he turned Airplane Mode off and THEN he re-started the phone. As soon as it booted up, voila! Service was back. I was profoundly grateful that I didn't have to go through re-loading everything back onto my phone which I had spent a great deal of time customizing to my particular tastes (which I can admit changes--almost daily). So for anyone else who may experience this same issue, give it a try first and if it still doesn't work, you may have a lemon...hope this helps.
Received the OTA Android 4.0 update a couple days ago and I now feel like I have a brand new phone. Ice Cream Sandwich isn't just some small move up from Gingerbread, it almost entirely re-vamps the phone from top to bottom. Almost everything in the User Interface is either different, or overhauled and LOOKS slightly different, or acts different. Some are going to LOVE the changes, others, not so much. I fall somewhere in between, where I LOVE how it all works, but a few things are changed--but not necessarily for the better (IMO). Before, I could text and press the mic button using the Swype keyboard or the stock Android and both would conjure up the same Google Voice to Text function. The new and improved Voice to Text (and it IS a generational move in the RIGHT direction) can ONLY be activated after you have the Swype keyboard up, and then you bring down the top bar with a swipe of your hand and only THERE will you have the option to activate Google Voice Typing. I'm a bit disappointed that it doesn't activate just by pressing the default mic button on the Swype keyboard. I've checked within Swype to see if there is a setting change which will allow it, but so far, even though I THOUGHT I had, it still won't. Sorry, but that was NOT the right move in my opinion. The new Voice to Text feature is such a huge improvement that I'm a bit stumped why they made it more difficult to get to.
I have also noticed that when closing apps, my usual fluid scrolling from screen to screen has quite a few hiccups now whereas before it was smooth as butter (supposedly a feature which will improve significantly with the upgrade to Android 4.1 Jellybean). I was expecting a MUCH different experience in this area I must say. I have since downloaded the Apex Ice Cream Sandwich Home Launcher and it has helped smooth that out quite a bit--but it hasn't eliminated the problem entirely, FYI. I also discovered several new apps which were not there before the upgrade. One is called, 'Text By Voice' and it is pretty freakin' sweet. Activate the app, turn OFF your screen and to turn it ON again, simply say, 'Text By Voice' and the screen will automatically turn on and it will say, 'Text Who?'. It is a true hands free gift for those who insist on texting while driving. At least this way you CAN without putting the world at risk. Another cool app is the Motorola Car Finder, which I imagine works similar to the paid app on Google Play which allows you to use your GPS to mark where you park your car at the Mall and will help guide you back TO it when you've finished shopping. You can also adapt this to find anything you desire, from where you left something to marking a waypoint (crudely, but even so...). I haven't attempted to use the feature yet, so I can't comment on how accurate it is in implementation, however.
From scrollable widgets to the new ability to re-size many of them (yes, I realize that Motorola DID allow this already before, but its a nice function from within ICS anyway) the entire UI has received a much-needed facelift. Holding the Home Screen button now brings up all of your recent apps you can dismiss by swiping them either to the left or right (not sure that entirely closes the apps, though, but it LOOKS cool). Plus I also really enjoyed the ability to uninstall a few apps that Gingerbread wouldn't allow before the update. You still can't get rid of all the bloatware (unless you root your device) but you CAN disable MANY of those bloatware apps so they won't spontaneously start in the background even if you don't want them to...again, you can't disable ALL of them, but I certainly did plenty by the time I was through. By the way, if you intend on doing this, remember you may have to uninstall the most recent app update before being able to disable, but trust me, its worth it.
Adding new widgets are MUCH easier from within the app drawer, you can choose a tab from the top of the screen and actually SEE the widget and how it will look (for the most part) once you place it on one of your home screens. Nice preview, btw. Another welcome touch of ICS that I really enjoy. Caution: there are STILL some apps which SAY they have been optimized to run on Android 4.0 but still aren't really running properly. For instance, facebook, every time I try to update my status from within the app itself on my phone, it force closes on me. Its done it SO much lately that I have stopped trying and instead I load the internet version instead--quicker and allows me to do stuff that the app won't. Just a little FYI for those who are making the big jump up from Gingerbread.
From the initial unlock screen, which gives several different options--including music playback, finding certain things may take a bit more time because hitting the menu button no longer gives you the options it used to. Long pressing on any screen will only bring up wallpaper options, you must go INTO the app drawer in order to add apps & widgets to any of the 5 home screens. A bit annoying--at first--but overall I like how it works. Face unlock...? Its a nice novelty, but not one I'd recommend for real use. It works--most of the time, but honestly, I just preferred the stock unlock swipe when you turn on the device.
Snapping photos WHILE taking video is a nice feature as well, along with the new camera options and tools. Very well done.
The new browser functions very sleek. But I prefer the Chrome version I found in the Google Play store. All in all, there is MUCH to love about this update, but I feel the need to mention that it appears that Flash support is NOT one of the goodies which sets Android apart from iOS. The Razr CAME with Flash, but I cannot find it since the update. Nor do I seem to be able to view flash enabled video online. While Flash may not be the future of smartphone browsers, it certainly IS one of the major reasons why Android has overtaken iPhone as the dominant smartphone being sold. Until such time as a suitable replacement for Flash becomes readily available, NOT allowing the Adobe Flash player to work with ICS is a GIGANTIC failure in my opinion. Almost every major website online uses Flash--STILL, so why suddenly drop it? Sorry I just don't get it. Android is all about alternative options that apple refuses to give you...but this one feature being absent is my ONLY real major gripe. Otherwise, ICS further proves that the iPhone is simply a status symbol (although I have no idea why). I've read multiple websites dedicated to what the fanboys HOPE will be on the iPhone 5, and strange as it may seem, the vast majority of options can ALREADY be found on almost all Androids (something most fanboys almost universally refuses to acknowledge).
Okay, that's it (I promise). ICS, making an already great phone even better.