Droid RAZR HD Review

The Droid RAZR HD is an incredibly sleek and solid 4G LTE smartphone that packs a year’s worth of improvements over its predecossor, which happened to be one of the most popular Android phones over the past 12 months.

Motorola added some thickness to the Droid RAZR HD compared to the original RAZR smartphone, but used this increased space wisely, upgrading the battery dramatically and increasing the screen to 4.7-inches. The result is a well-built phone that is only slightly larger than the iPhone 5.

The Droid RAZR retails for $199 on a two-year contract with Verizon Wireless, and $599 off contract for users looking to keep their unlimited data plans or whom don’t qualify for a subsidy quite yet. Those looking for even better battery life should consider the Droid RAZR HD MAXX, a slightly thicker model that retails for $299 on contract.

Pros

  • Good Design
  • Large display
  • Great call quality and audio
Cons

  • Camera lacking
  • Lag switching apps, navigating system
  • Doesn’t Have the Latest Version of Android (4.1 Jelly Bean)

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The Motorola Droid RAZR HD is exclusive to Verizon Wireless.

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The Droid RAZR HD is a good option for users in search of a powerful, long-lasting smartphone with style, and are OK waiting for an update to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.

Droid RAZR HD Design

The Droid RAZR HD feels like a premium phone, matching the iPhone 5 in build quality and tactile feel. The smooth Kevlar back looks great, prompting a few people to ask if there was a skin applied to the phone. Like the iPhone 5, the RAZR HD feels like it’s crafted from a single piece of material, rather than a bunch parts snapped together. Unfortunately, we see too many Android phones with great tech features, but with sub-par build quality that doesn’t match their price points. Thant’s clearly not the case with the Droid RAZR HD.

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The back of the Droid RAZR HD is covered in Kevlar.

The Kevlar back adds protection to the phone and wraps all the way up to a metal band that runs along the side of the phone. The metal band meets the front of the device, which is covered in Gorilla Glass to prevent scratches. Rounding out the protection is a nanocoating that protects the phone from splashes, though Motorola notes that it isn’t completely waterproof.

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A large LED notification sits behind the earpeice.

The bottom edge of the device includes two visible screws that add, not detract from the overall appearance of the Droid RAZR HD. All of this comes together to form a cohesive design that is pleasing to look at and use.

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Droid RAZR HD Display

Motorola packs a 4.7-inch display into a phone that measures less than 68 mm wide, delivering a display that’s big enough for watching mobile videos, but not so massive that the phone is difficult to hold or carry in a pocket. Even with the larger display, the DROID RAZR HD is easy to use with one hand.

The Droid RAZR HD’s Super AMOLED display delivers a 720 x 1280 resolution, which is spot on for playing back HD videos from the Google Play store.

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The Droid RAZR HD features a 4.7-inch 720P HD display.

Motorola opted for a Pentile matrix display instead of an LCD like the iPhone’s. The Pentile matrix display spec could turn off some users, especially those who suffered through using older phones with pentile displays, but it’s worth a closer look as the display is much better than those. The Pentile display falls short of the iPhone 5′s in side-by-side tests, but in day-to-day use it’s looks great.

Text looks crisp on the RAZR HD, and the larger display offers more of a book or Website on one page. Transformers Dark of the Moon looked good on the phone display as well with good blacks and bright colors, providing as an immersive experience as you can expect form a phone.

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Note the small ridge around the edge of the display.

Motorola choose to add a small rim that runs around the edge of the display. This keeps the glass off of flat surfaces and acts as a small boundary to keep users’ thumbs on the display when swiping and zooming.

Droid RAZR HD Performance

Droid RAZR HD Review - 15A new Snapdragon S4 processor clocked at 1.5GHz Inside the Droid RAZR HD, as is 1GB of RAM. The phone is snappy while Web browsing and when using most apps, but lags when it comes to switching between apps and navigating through menus. Most of this is likely due to the fact that it runs on Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) rather than the latest version of Android (4.1 Jelly Bean), which is dramatically faster in such tasks.

Despite the large screen, the Droid RAZR HD is not able to show multiple apps on the screen like the Galaxy S III and upcoming Galaxy Note II, so users may find themselves switching between apps more often.

Motorola promises that Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) is on the way, along with Project Butter speed enhancements, but hasn’t announced a firm timetable for the update.

Despite the occasional lag in using the phone, it handles apps like Fruit Ninja, Canabalt HD and other games with ease.

The Droid RAZR HD holds a 4G LTE connection better than the Verizon variant of the Galaxy Nexus, and about on par with the iPhone 5. The RAZR HD delivers blisteringly fast speeds.

Droid RAZR HD Speed Test

The Droid RAZR HD delivers fast 4G LTE speeds.

Droid RAZR HD Battery Life

The Droid RAZR HD includes a bigger batter than the original Droid RAZR, with a capacity of 2,530 mAh. While it’s still not as large as the 3,300 mAh found in the Droid RAZR HD MAXX, it does pack enough power to last a full day on a single charge.

Droid RAZR HD Battery Life

Sample day of Droid HD battery life with average use.

During a day of normal use, with email, video and some gaming, the battery lasted from 7 AM and had 15% remaining before being plugged in to charge overnight at 10:45PM.

Call Quality and Audio

The Droid RAZR HD delivers great call quality for both parties. Like past Motorola devices, call audio was loud and clear, attributes that carry over to using the speakerphone.

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A prominent, loud speaker delivers good sound.

Using the phone to watch movies or listen to music is a treat thanks to a loud, speaker with good sound. Dialogue and explosions sounded good while watching Transformers Dark of the Moon, better than on the Galaxy Nexus or the Galaxy S III. Music sounds good as well and the speaker is loud enough to hear while outdoors or while in the shower. Of course an external speaker or a headset is the way to go if you want the best audio experience.

Droid RAZR HD Cameras

Motorola isn’t known for top-quality cameras, but the RAZR HD’s camera is better than previous Motorola cameras thanks to new software and an improved sensor.

It’s difficult to take photos fast with the Droid RAZR HD because the camera refocuses each time the shutter is pressed, even if the object is stationary. While the shutter speed is actually decent, taking multiple shots of puppies, kids or movie objects is tough because the camera will delay taking a shot to refocus.

The camera software includes quick access to changing the modes, and prompts to toggle to HDR if it will result in a better photo. While shooting movies, the RAZR HD can also take still photos, albeit at a lower resolution than a normal photo.

The camera delivers good performance outdoors for taking group photos or still shots of nature. Below are a few samples of photos and videos from the Droid RAZR HD.

Droid RAZR HD Software and Apps

The Droid RAZR HD runs Android 4.0.4, Ice Cream Sandwich, with a promise to upgrade to Jelly Bean in the near future. The upgrade is an important one as it may address some of the performance issues we’ve encountered.

Motorola includes the MotoBlur skin on top of Android, which isn’t as overwhelming compared to HTC Sense. Users will notice the circles widget, showing the time, date, weather and battery life on the main home screen. Missed calls and new texts show up in place of the clock.

MotoBlur Circles Widget

Motorola’s Circles widget offers fast access to info.

A swipe left to right reveals a quick settings menu that allows users to toggle common phone settings. Many phones place this in the notification drawer. By placing these on a separate screen, but still easily accessible, Motorola offers a cleaner look in the notification drawer and a better looking quick settings menu.

RAZR HD Quick Settings

Swipe for fast access to commonly used settings.

The phone also includes Motorola Smart Actions to turn settings on and off based on time and location, as shown in the video below.

Verizon and Motorola include a few pre-installed apps like the Kindle app, Color, several game demos and Verizon’s apps, but the phone doesn’t feel burdened by these apps.

Is the Droid RAZR HD Worth It?

The Droid RAZR HD is a high quality phone, one that can stand against the iPhone 5 and Galaxy S III on Verizon’s network. The build quality and materials are better than the Galaxy S III, delivering an Android experience that is on par with the iPhone 5 in terms of look and feel.

Definitely check out the Droid RAZR HD before settling on the Galaxy S III or the iPhone 5.

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Comments

  1. Selena Gomz says

    The benefit of large phone to mé is the size of the display. Therefore it seems a pity that the razr permanently uses the bottom part of the display for the three navigation buttons – unlike ex the s3. To mé this is somewhat of a letdown – unfortunately, as the razr is the most compact of the “Big screen” android phones.
    Used Motorola DROID RAZR current value

  2. Geri O says

    I’m badly torn between the Razr HD Maxx and the iPhone 5. Jelly Bean might send me running away from my iPhone 5 and to the new Razr. The S3 is a great phone, but feels cheap and flimsy (battery life, anyone? Fuggetaboutit….).

  3. Happy Maxx HD Owner says

    If I want to take high quality pictures I’ll use my digital SLR. I got the HD Max a couple of days ago and just love it! The battery life is phenomenal and display is gorgeous.

  4. Al Garcia says

    Awesome review Josh. I actually loved my time with this phone while playing with it and putting it through its paces for 20 minutes at a Verizon store the other day. All I can say is “Wow!” I am very impressed with the build quality and the choice materials. I admit that I was disappointed to see ICS on this phone instead of JB, but I was very surprised to find myself impressed with the actual skin of the phone. The “Blur” is sooo light and sooo fast that it may as well be ICS with a different icon pack and added valuable features. I will be purchasing this phone (the Maxx variant) once my contract ends in late November. =)

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