There’s no question that the DROID RAZR MAXX is for all intents and purposes merely a DROID RAZR with a big ‘ol battery crammed into a slightly embiggened frame. So what then is the big deal and why does it warrant its own review?
Everyone knows that the single biggest complaint about every 4G LTE phone that Verizon has released to date has been the battery life. The average 4G LTE phone is lucky to make it more than 14 hours on a charge if you use your phone at all – even left virtually untouched you are unlikely to be greeted by anything but a blank screen in the morning if you commit the cardinal sin of forgetting to plug your phone in at night. Would a phone that could turn all of that on its ear be something you might be interested in? If so, read on for my full review.
1. Battery Life
So as my preamble suggested, the 3300 mAh battery is the big highlight feature for the DROID RAZR MAXX. So if it failed to impress, this review would have kinda blown up on the launch pad. Fortunately it manages to live up to the billing and beyond.
In my time with the DROID RAZR MAXX I never once was able to burn the battery down completely in less than 18 hours and with light usage I managed to eke out over 60 hours on a single charge.
Sure that light usage result is unrealistic for the power users, but then again we can’t imagine not plugging our phone in at night anyway. For more casual users, and thus users that are less likely to remember to plug their phone in, I can see 36-48 hours of battery life as a real possibility.
This kind of battery life in a 4G LTE phone is quite simply astounding and gives the DROID RAZR MAXX a huge advantage over the rest of the current crop of devices out there that can often struggle to make it through a regular work day.
The 1.2 GHz TI OMAP 4430 processor that powers the DROID RAZR MAXX does its job admirably, just as it did in the original RAZR. I never experienced any slowdowns with apps, videos or games. NVIDIA specifically and even Qualcomm may do a better job at pushing their mobile processors branding, but I haven’t really had any complaints with my TI powered handsets.
I wouldn’t peg this as the phone for high powered gamers due to some of its other specs, but it’s not for a lack of processing power.
3. Call Quality
Motorola continues to be my gold standard for call quality amongst the Android manufacturers and the DROID RAZR MAXX was no exception. Callers were consistently loud and free of static and really that’s about all I’m looking for from my phone.
I’m not a big speakerphone user, but in my cursory testing with the DROID RAZR MAXX it worked as advertised with just a slight hit to the audio quality as compared to the earpiece.
The 4.3-inch PenTile qHD Super AMOLED display on the RAZR MAXX is also identical to that of the original RAZR. I basically fall into the same camp as Anthony did in his review of the RAZR and that is that the average user is going to be pleased with the screen. The screen reproduces colors well, is sufficiently bright and text appears sharp when viewed at a normal distance.
With that said this isn’t a top of the line screen anymore so it will depend on how important that might be to you. The HD displays in the HTC Rezound, Samsung Galaxy Nexus and even the LG Spectrum are undeniably superior in my mind so if you are going to be watching a lot of video or are simply a pixel peeper you should probably look to one of those devices.
5. Build Quality
The DROID RAZR MAXX shares the Kevlar backing and splash proof coating of the original RAZR. It’s just a well constructed phone and I really can’t find anything to complain about here.
The thicker 8.99 mm frame actually is an improvement over the original RAZR to me as I just couldn’t find a comfortable way to hold the original. The advertising showing the RAZR slicing through everything in sight failed to mention that your hands would be it’s main target.
Alright, it’s been mostly sunshine and roses so far, but here we run into one of my first problems with the DROID RAZR MAXX. It’s going to seem like a really simple and probably minor thing to many of you, but I simply could not get over it during the entire time I had the phone. The bezel on this thing is enormous! Every single time I looked at the device it bothered me. The phone’s frame could easily have supported a 4.5-4.7-inch screen and I imagine if the development time on this phone had been more than just a few months that they would made that happen. Visions of the Droid RAZR MAXX XL HD are already dancing in my head.
This was my other big problem with the DROID RAZR MAXX, and fortunately this one can be corrected. I have never felt the downgrade in the OS so greatly when reviewing a device as I did in moving from Android 4.0 on my Galaxy Nexus to Android 2.3 on the DROID RAZR MAXX. There’s nothing specific on the update timeline from Motorola yet, but it’s shared software with the RAZR should help.
I’ll also say that Blur is just a non-issue to me at this point. I’m sure it’s slowing the updates a bit which is obnoxious, but I don’t see it as really marring the users Android experience anymore. We’ll see whether that holds true in the move to Android 4.0.
The cameras on the DROID RAZR MAXX are passable. When lighting conditions are optimal the 8 MP rear-facing camera is capable of some nice images and as always I have far fewer complaints about the quality of the video capture. I will say that I think Motorola may have a tendency to push their default settings toward accuracy rather than vibrancy and I think most users would prefer the latter. You can take a look at the samples pictures and videos below to judge for yourself whether the RAZR MAXX will meet your point and shoot needs.
9. 4G LTE
We are rapidly encroaching on the point where this will be table stakes for Verizon, but for the time being I’ll still grant a +1 to the DROID RAZR MAXX for it’s LTE radio. I didn’t have any trouble pulling in a 4G signal in any of my local haunts and speeds were in line with the rest of my LTE devices.
Alright, I’m not quite as dismissive of NFC as I once was. I’ve actually used it a couple times for payments with my Galaxy Nexus and if you have a lot of friends with Android phones the beam feature is at least entertaining even if it isn’t critical to the functioning of your phone. I wouldn’t pass on this phone just for it’s lack of NFC by any means, but I will call it an unfortunate omission.
DROID RAZR MAXX7.5 / 10
While the score may not be terribly impressive that doesn’t tell the whole story of the DROID RAZR MAXX. The large bezel and the lack of NFC are minor issues that probably won’t even register to some buyers and again I have to believe this phone will see an update to Android 4.0 in the first half of the year.
If you want the latest software and (for the most part) hardware then absolutely go with the Galaxy Nexus, but if you are either a first time smartphone user that’s used to the battery life of a feature phone or a business user that’s dependent on your phone to get work done then I would strongly recommend that you consider the DROID RAZR MAXX. A 4G LTE smartphone that gives you the freedom to not worry about your battery life is something we had yet to see on Verizon and I’m not entirely certain when another such device will come along.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed using the DROID RAZR MAXX and I think that for a large section of the smartphone buying population that this is the single best device available today.
This appears to be borne out by the sales as both Amazon Wireless and Verizon have consistently had it backordered since the launch. ↩