Motorola RAZR MAXX review: Power ranger

GSMArena team, 24 August 2012.
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The Motorola RAZR MAXX retail package

The Motorola RAZR MAXX comes in a standard box that contains all the essentials: a compact charger that uses the microUSB cable, a single-piece headset with no extra earbuds and the usual user guides. The earphones are different than the ones that came with the RAZR XT910.

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Motorola RAZR MAXX accessories

While the microSD card slot is empty (Verizon throws in a 16GB card), the phone features 16GB of built-in storage (double the Verizon model).

Motorola RAZR MAXX 360-degree spin

The Motorola RAZR measures 130.7 x 68.9 x 9 mm - only 1.9mm thicker than a regular RAZR, but with almost double the battery capacity. It weighs 145g, 17g heavier than the XT910 model.

Design and build quality

The Motorola RAZR MAXX is built using the same blueprints as the RAZR XT910, except for a slight adjustment in the thickness. The design is distinctive and stands apart from the Samsungs and HTCs, which earns scores for personality.

Instead of the all too common rounded rectangle design, the RAZR MAXX is beveled at the corners and the piece of Gorilla Glass is somewhat of a hexagon. The Kevlar back is even more recognizable and brings carbon-fiber-like aesthetics to the phone (many luxury items, including high-end cars, have a carbon fiber option).

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The Motorola RAZR MAXX is distinguishable from the RAZR XT910 only by its 1.9mm thicker waistline

On the other hand, it's not easy to tell apart from the non-MAXX model, which is an advantage of sorts - people who got the XT910 will be a little disappointed they didn't spring some extra cash when you tell them how often you recharge your RAZR MAXX.

Above the display we find proximity and ambient light sensors along with the 1.3MP secondary camera. A notification light will blink blue in case of missed events. The earpiece is also here, below the Motorola logo, finely etched in a metal plate that proudly stands out against its black surroundings.

Underneath the display are the traditional four capacitive keys in charge of Android navigation - Menu, Home, Back and Search - and the mic pinhole.

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Capacitive keys below the display Earpiece, sensors and front-facing VGA camera

The top of the Motorola RAZR is where the three wired connectivity ports are lined up within a nice strip of rubberized plastic. The 3.5mm audio jack, a microUSB port and the microHDMI are all uncovered and risk getting filled with dust over time.

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3.5mm audio jack, microUSB and microHDMI ports on top

The left side of the handset is very tidy, only featuring the microSIM and microSD card slots hidden under a shared plastic lid. The memory card is very easy to put in and pull out while the SIM card is near impossible to eject after it's been inserted. We had the same issue with the regular RAZR when we reviewed it, but we weren't certain if it's a design flaw or an issue with our unit. Having the same issue now leads us to believe it's just poor design.

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The microSIM and microSD slots are under a protective flap

The right side of the Motorola RAZR features the big Power/Lock key and the volume rocker. The Power/Lock key has a different finish than the volume rocker, so they're easy to tell apart by touch. The volume keys are small and not very comfortable to use.

The bottom of the Motorola RAZR is completely bare.

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The Power/Lock key is easy to reach The volume rocker Nothing interesting at the bottom

The back on the other hand is rather interesting. The phone is a single solid piece - there's no battery cover. The Kevlar rear has a distinctive pattern (it looks kind of like carbon fiber) and a nice, rubbery feel to it, which improves grip.

The top part of the back protrudes slightly to accommodate the 8MP camera, the LED flash and the loudspeaker, but it's not as prominent as on the anorexic RAZR XT910, which actually improves the phone's feel in hand.

Also on the back is the noise-cancellation microphone placed right opposite the mouthpiece.

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The back of the RAZR looks like it means business

The battery isn't user replaceable but we don't think you'd ever need to carry a spare with the RAZR MAXX, so it's not an issue. The capacity of 3,300mAh is an unmatched feat in mobile phones, let alone at a sub-centimeter thickness.

Officially, the phone is rated at 607 hours of standby and 17 hours 40 minutes of talk time. We're running our own battery tests, but those will take a while to do properly (draining that huge battery is not an easy task). We'll make the numbers available here as soon as we have them.

Update, August 28: We're finally done testing the battery and you're about to find out why it took us so long. The Motorola RAZR MAXX with Android ICS shot past the results of the CDMA-packing DROID RAZR MAXX, scoring an endurance rating of 87 hours - the phone can last for days, even with heavy usage. The RAZR MAXX can last almost an entire day in 3G calling, 9 full hours of web browsing or over 16 hours of playing videos. Other don't even come close to these numbers. You can learn more about our testing procedure over here and the full battery test write-up over here.

Display

The Motorola RAZR uses a Super AMOLED screen that measures 4.3" in diagonal and dominates the front. We've seen the display in many other phones and it's perfectly fine although perfectionists will scoff at it - the 256ppi pixel density is about average and the PenTile matrix suffers a visible cross-hatch pattern.

The screen offers deep blacks and great contrast the way only an AMOLED can and excellent viewing angles - there's no color or contrast loss at all. It's not very bright but the sunlight legibility is still quite good. In the end, it's a very solid display even if it cannot match the sharpness of current 720p screens.

You can find more information on our display test here.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Samsung Galaxy Nexus 0 112 0 247
Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III 0 174 0 330
HTC One X 0.15 200 1375 0.39 550 1410
Huawei Ascend P1 0 177 0 386
Sony Xperia S - - - 0.48 495 1038
HTC One S 0 177 0 386
Motorola RAZR XT910 0 215 0 361
Motorola RAZR MAXX 0 127 0 347
Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II 0 231 0 362
Samsung Galaxy Note 0 287 0 429
Nokia 808 PureView - - - 0 455

Contrast ratio

  • Nokia 808 PureView
    4.698
  • Motorola RAZR MAXX
    3.420
  • Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III
    3.419
  • Samsung Omnia W
    3.301
  • Samsung Galaxy S
    3.155
  • Nokia N9
    3.069
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.970
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • Samsung Galaxy S II
    2.832
  • Huawei Ascend P1
    2.655
  • Nokia Lumia 900
    2.562
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    2.269
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • Nokia N8
    2.144
  • Apple iPhone 4
    2.016
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia ray
    1.955
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    1.691
  • HTC One V
    1.685
  • LG Optimus Vu
    1.680
  • Sony Xperia go
    1.577
  • LG Optimus 3D
    1.542
  • Nokia Asha 302
    1.537
  • Nokia Lumia 610
    1.432
  • Gigabyte GSmart G1355
    1.361
  • HTC Desire C
    1.300
  • LG Optimus L7
    1.269
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Samsung Galaxy Pocket
    1.180
  • Nokia Asha 305
    1.178
  • Sony Xperia neo L
    1.169
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace Duos
    1.148
  • Samsung Galaxy mini 2
    1.114

We zoomed into the display using our digital microscope so you can get a better idea of how the pixels are arranged, and how big they are. What we saw was what we expected - a PenTile matrix with big red and blue diodes and small green diodes.


The Motorola RAZR MAXX under a microscope

Handling

The Motorla RAZR MAXX is reasonably pocketable and, we dare say, more comfortable to hold than the thin and top heavy RAZR XT910, which did feel a little awkward in the hand. We still maintain that the phone is a bit too tall and wide for its 4.3" screen, but unless your pockets are extra small it shouldn't be an issue (actually, given the choice we would have the RAZR MAXX stay the same size but with a slightly bigger display, say 4.5").

We do appreciate how durable the phone feels - the body is very solid (it helps that there are no detachable parts) and even cosmetic damage seems unlikely with that Kevlar coating on the back. The phone is splash resistant, which reduces the chances of water damage, but you still need to take care of the exposed ports at the top.

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Motorola RAZR XT910 held in hand

So far, the Motorola RAZR MAXX feels familiar, but has enough personality to keep our interest. It's likely to stay like that in the software section of the review, as the Moto-skinned Ice Cream Sandwich OS looks quite similar to the skinned Gingerbread that we experienced on the XT910.

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