Attractive and durable Kevlar design; Gorgeous 1280 x 720 display; Loud and clear audio; Snappy performance; Fast 4G LTE speeds
Below-average battery life; Camera not as sharp or fast as iPhone 5; Difficult to access microSD Card slot
The Motorola Droid RAZR HD gives users a fantastic display and fast performance in a slim and strong design.
You don't have to feel like Mr. Fantastic to enjoy a larger screen on a smartphone. Thanks to some clever contortionism by Motorola, the RAZR HD ($199 with a two-year contract) manages to squeeze a 4.7-inch high-definition display into a design that's nearly identical in size to its 4.3-inch predecessor. Will the newest RAZR cut competing ultrathin phones to ribbons?
At 5.3 ounces, the RAZR HD weighs noticeably more than the featherweight iPhone 5 (4 ounces), original Droid RAZR (4.5 ounces) and Galaxy S III (4.7 ounces). Nevertheless, we appreciated the weight of the phone in our hands, which lent the RAZR HD a sturdy feeling.
Like the RAZR and RAZR Maxx, the RAZR HD can withstand a fair amount of abuse, courtesy of its Gorilla Glass display, Kevlar Fiber back and water-repellant coating. The phone retains the same angled corners and soft-touch finish on the back as its predecessors, but ditches the bulge at the top in favor of a uniformly flat backplate. A Motorola logo can be found above the display, along with an LED that pulses green when you have a new notification.
The right side of the phone houses a microUSB and microHDMI port, while the power button and volume rocker can be found on the left. A 3.5mm headphone jack is located on the top. The phone is available in both black and white.
One quibble we have with the design is that there's a small lip surrounding the display, which is a small but slightly annoying barrier. It's almost as if there's a case on this phone.
Another issue is that the microSD Card slot resides behind a slim plastic door that can only be opened via a special tool that Motorola includes in the box.
Display and Audio
Needless to say, streaming YouTube and Netflix videos on the RAZR HD is a feast for the eyes. Watching a high-definition trailer for the video game "Medal of Honor: Warfighter," billowing red and orange explosions popped off the screen as cars careened through crowded market streets, and we could tilt the phone 45 degrees in any direction without losing clarity.
The tiny speaker located on the upper right corner of the RAZR HD delivered impressively loud audio, given its size. Adrian Smith's mournful riffs in Iron Maiden's "Stranger in a Strange Land" filled our room at maximum volume, and though some instruments like cymbals sounded slightly tinny, the audio didn't distort.
Software and Interface
By default, the RAZR HD features a single home screen, with the option of creating up to six additional pages. Motorola's Circles Widget, three coin-shaped icons displaying the time, weather and current battery life, sits prominently at the top of the screen. Swiping down on the coins flips them over to reveal further information, such as the weather in other cities of your choice or text notifications.
Swiping to the right allows you to create a new page, either blank or using a template. Templates include Media, which contains shortcuts to Play Music, Gallery, V Cast Tones and YouTube, as well as a current playlist widget; and Mobile Office, which contains a calendar widget and shortcuts to Mobile Hotspot, Downloads, Quickoffice, and Smart Actions (see below).
As on all Ice Cream Sandwich devices, swiping down from the top brings up a list of notifications. The bottom of the screen contains five "sticky" shortcuts that can be swapped out at your discretion, excluding the shortcut to the Apps menu.
The RAZR HD is also near-field communications-enabled. Using NFC, utilities such as Android Beam allow you to share information such as contacts and maps by tapping the phone against another NFC-enabled device.
Motorola includes a number of sample action/trigger combinations (called rules), including Drive Smart, which puts the RAZR HD in vehicle mode when its paired with Bluetooth device; Nighttime Battery Saver, which turns off syncing when it's nighttime and your phone is motionless; and Sleep Rule, which sets the phone to silent but allows specified callers to reach you. Users can also create their own custom rules using any combination of triggers and actions.
The Droid RAZR HD isn't all sleek contours and Kevlar fiber. Underneath its svelte chassis, the phone packs a 1.5-GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor and 1GB of RAM - more than enough to make the RAZR HD fly on our synthetic benchmarks and in everyday use.
When we ran the An3DBench app, which measures graphics performance, the RAZR HD notched a somewhat less impressive score of 7,220. While this beats the smartphone average and the Galaxy S III by a little more than 200 points, it falls behind the RAZR (7,412) and the RAZR Maxx (7,387).
On Geekbench, a benchmark that measures overall performance, the RAZR HD turned in a score of 1,450. While this exceeds the smartphone average by more than 500 points, it falls just behind the score of 1,590 achieved by the iPhone 5 (Apple A6 processor with 1GB of RAM).
Thanks to the RAZR HD's speedy components, using the phone for everyday tasks such as streaming shows on Netflix, browsing the Web and playing games proved a joy. Switching between apps usually took just over a second, and the display transitioned fluidly as we swiped from one screen to the next. We did notice a bit of lag when switching between menus in the more graphically intensive "Real Racing 2," but gameplay itself proved smooth and enjoyable.
Media mavens may be disappointed to discover that the RAZR HD only comes with 16GB of storage, but this can be supplemented up to 32GB via microSD.
4G LTE Speeds
When surfing the Web, the RAZR HD loaded the full New York Times desktop site in 9 seconds, ESPN.com in 6 seconds and Laptopmag.com in 8 seconds.
While Motorola includes virtually none of its own applications on the RAZR HD other than Smart Actions, Verizon more than makes up the difference with a bundle of its own apps. Among the least useful is Verizon's app store, which mimics Google Play and includes classic Android apps such as Fruit Ninja and Advanced Task Killer. Unfortunately, given that many popular apps such as "Angry Birds" and Netflix are missing from the app store, we can't imagine why anyone would choose to use this application rather than Google Play.
More useful is My Verizon Mobile, which lets you track your minutes, SMS and data usage; pay and view your bill; change the features of your plan; and change your voicemail password.
If you're a football fan, the NFL Mobile app serves as a news feed for the latest NFL news, scores and tracking the status of your favorite team. More impressively, the app lets you stream the NFL Network live on your phone - although we would have appreciated HD-quality visuals.
Demos for the first-person shooter "Modern Combat 3: Fallen Nation" and "Real Racing 2" are also included, although to access the full content, you'll have to purchase the apps through Google Play ($6.99 and $4.99, respectively).
Ice Cream Sandwich-specific apps include Chrome for Android, YouTube, Google Talk and Google Maps.
Camera and Camcorder
We also took an indoor shot using the RAZR HD and compared the results against the iPhone 5 and S III. The iPhone 5's image was brightest but showed more artifacts than the RAZR. The Motorola image was signficantly sharper than the S III, which had a lot more noise.
Like the photos, 1080p video of Fifth Avenue boasted bright and vivid colors. Crispness of detail also impressed, as we found that we could easily read signs across the street even when viewing the footage on the phone's 4.7-inch screen. Aside from brief moments of lag when video playback transitioned into full-screen mode, video was smooth.
Call Quality and Battery Life
The RAZR HD offers remarkably lackluster battery life. When we ran the LAPTOP Battery Test (continuous surfing on the Web over Verizon's 4G LTE network), the phone's 2,530-mAh battery expired in a mere 5 hours and 22 minutes. Not only does this fall almost 40 minutes short of the smartphone average, it's far behind the battery life provided by the smaller 2,100-mAh and 1,440-mAh batteries on the Galaxy S III (6:55) and iPhone 5 (7:13). The RAZR Maxx's 3.300-mAh battery, by contrast, lasted an epic 8 hours and 25 minutes.
|Form Factor||Candybar Touchscreen|
|Operating System||Android 4.0|
|Networks||CDMA 800/1900 EVDO REV A, LTE B13 700, GSM/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900, UMTS/HSPA+ 850/900/1900/2100, HSDPA 21.1 Mbps (Cat 14), HSUPA 5.76 Mbps|
|CPU||1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4|
|Memory Expansion Type||microSD Card|
|Display (main)||4.7-inch 1280 x 720 Super AMOLED HD|
|Bluetooth Type||Bluetooth 4.0 LE|
|Front Camera Resolution||1.3MP|
|Camera Resolution||8 MP|
|Audio formats supported||WAV|
|Audio formats supported||AAC+V2|
|Audio formats supported||MPEG4|
|Audio formats supported||AAC+|
|Audio formats supported||MP3|
|Audio formats supported||AAC|
|Audio formats supported||MIDI|
|Audio formats supported||AMR-NB|
|Audio formats supported||AMR WB|
|Audio formats supported||WMA|
|Audio formats supported||AAC-LC|
|Video formats supported||VP8|
|Video formats supported||VC-1|
|Video formats supported||MPEG-4|
|Video formats supported||H.264|
|Video formats supported||H.263|
|Video formats supported||WMV|
|Video formats supported||WMV|
|Photo formats supported||PNG|
|Photo formats supported||JPEG|
|Photo formats supported||GIF|
|Photo formats supported||BMP|
|Photo formats supported||WEBP|
|Talk / Standby Time||Up to 24 hours of mixed usage/Up to 11 days standby time|
|Ports||USB 2.0 HS|
|Size||5.2 x 2.7 x 0.3 inches|
|SAR Rating (Head)||1.56 W/kg|
|SAR Rating (Body)||0.46 W/kg|