Motorola RAZR XT910 review: Through thick and thin

GSMArena team, 29 November 2011.
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Cool gallery with unacceptable lag when zooming

The Gallery app is custom-made and looks pretty cool. When you start it up, it uses a virtual pile of your photos for a background. Unfortunately, tapping them does nothing - you have to go into the Camera roll, My library, Online, Friends or MotoCast sub-galleries to access your photos.

Anyway, once you go into a sub-gallery, things start to look up. Browsing local galleries is much like the standard experience with pictures are stacked into albums. You can change that view with a different one - Timeline (view photos a day, a week or a month old), by tags or by folder and a really cool option - grouped by the location they were shot in.

Flipping the phone in landscape orientation launches a Cover Flow-like 3D landscape mode, with cool looking shadow effects.

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The Gallery on the RAZR

Online and Friends sub-galleries handle online photo albums for you and your friends - Picasa, Facebook, Flickr and Photobucket are supported.

One thing that disappointed us in previous Moto models was zooming - and they haven’t fixed it for the RAZR either. Pinch-zooming is very choppy, unbecoming for a phone with a powerful chipset, and double tap zooms in and out without any animation. At least panning is smooth.

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The preview in the gallery

Sharing photos through the RAZR gallery is fairly easy and can be done over Bluetooth, Email, Text messaging and any of the photo-sharing services you have accounts for. You can also set up one of those accounts for Quick upload. The Quick upload option uploads the selected photo to the selected service with a single tap but unfortunately doesn’t work with multiple selected images.

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Share and edit options in the gallery

There’s also an edit functionality built right into the RAZR gallery - the basic stuff allows you to rotate, crop or tag a photo. Going into the advanced mode gives you one-tap enhancing, effects, brightness and color options.

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Editing gives you many built-in features

Video player handles 1080p videos, audio is a problem

The video player on the Motorola RAZR is pretty basic - you access the videos through the standard Gallery or Files apps. In the Gallery, it offers the same UI as the gallery and the same 3D landscape view.

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The video gallery

On the upside, there's pretty good support for the various video codecs out there - out of the various DivX, XviD, MP4, X264 files we tried only one refused to play. Videos played smoothly and looked great on the qHD SuperAMOLED screen, even 1080p videos. This is where the microHDMI port becomes very useful as the Motorola RAZR can take over as a video player for your HDTV - with some limitations though.

The options in the video player are limited to scrubbing the clip forward and backward and toggling between the original ratio or a cropped fullscreen version. No brightness settings, subtitles or anything more advanced than simply playing the video is available.

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Watching a video

Anyway, the biggest issue we found with the player wasn't video codec support - it was the audio codecs that were causing problems. Videos that used AC3 and DTS (the most common audio codecs for HD videos in MKV format) wouldn’t play.

Still, a third party player from the market can solve the issue of missing features.

Music player with tons of settings and info

Oddly, our Motorola RAZR came with two apps called Music. The first one had a big Motorola Music logo on it and looked a lot like the image gallery. The available sub-categories here are My library, Podcasts, Internet radio and DLNA servers.

Once you get into the My library, you are presented with an interface that works a lot like the phonebook - complete with a quick contacts-like feature. You can view your tracks grouped by artist, album, genre, view all songs or use playlists.

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The music player

One cool feature that can be accessed from the quick shortcuts is the info screen, which shows you artist bio, related events, photos, music videos, discography and an option to browse similar artists.

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A cool screen with a lot of info on any artist in your library

Anyway, when you get into the Now playing interface you can see the album art (with a shortcut for the artist info screen) and you have shortcuts to share the song you're listening to on a social network.

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The Now playing mode • Lyrics • Track info on the lockscreen

There's a wide array of audio settings available - both for headphones and loudspeaker playback.

For headphones you get 3D stereo, Home theater, Live Stage or Custom, which includes yet more things like Extreme Bass, Bass punch, Balanced, Brilliant Treble and Vocalizer but no actual custom equalizer settings. You can switch the equalizer off too if you like.

For playing music on the loudspeaker, you get only the Custom equalizer settings.

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A heap of equalizer settings

The music player would also automatically fetch lyrics for the currently playing song and display them karaoke style. You can also tap on the two-line lyrics auto queue to view the lyrics for the whole song.

The second music player is less fancy and uses a tabbed interface - for music, online radio (no FM radio on board the RAZR), music videos, info from TuneWiki and finally, a SoundHound track recognition option.

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The other Music player on the Motorola RAZR

This player also does karaoke lyrics along with a few eye catching tricks like displaying on the world map locations of people listening to the same song. It lacks the powerful equalizer features of the first player though.

Audio output ruined by the stereo crosstalk

We were left really puzzled by the Motorola RAZR XT910 performance in our audio quality test. Until the very last reading it was a strong contender for turning out the best musicphone ever. And then came the headphones-on stereo crosstalk.

The RAZR XT910 did extremely well in the active external amplifier part of the test. One of the loudest smartphones we have seen, the RAZR also got class-leading scores all over the place and perfect frequency response. Update 06 Dec: We were able to obtain another RAZR unit and it turned out that the strange results in the second part of our test we saw were indeed due to some unit specific issues. We've updated the text below, the results table and the frequency response graph, accordingly.

So, with headphones attached to it, the RAZR isn't quite as impressive as in the first part of the test, but it still remains a competent performer. Stereo crosstalk and intermodulation distortion took the biggest hit, while volume levels went from great to good. Frequency response also worsened a bit, but still remained pleasing.

TestFrequency responseNoise levelDynamic rangeTHDIMD + NoiseStereo crosstalk
Motorola RAZR XT910+0.01, -0.08-90.990.00.0020 0.013-90.2
Motorola RAZR XT910 (headphones attached)+0.67, -0.18-89.288.50.027 0.534-56.0
HTC Sensation XL+3.35, -0.42-85.287.20.025 0.084-75.1
HTC Sensation XL (headphones attached)+3.77, -0.54-80.281.20.072 0.569-64.2
HTC Sensation XE+3.46, -0.38-91.791.70.012 0.026-90.7
HTC Sensation XE (headphones attached)+3.87, -0.56-91.591.60.031 0.632-63.7
HTC Sensation+0.05, -0.34-90.290.20.012 0.021-91.1
HTC Sensation (headphones attached)+0.71, -0.15-89.190.10.019 0.522-70.6
Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II+0.04, -0.09-91.491.90.0042 0.066-89.7
Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II (headphones attached)+1.05, -0.22-90.090.20.013 0.647-49.4
Motorola XOOM+0.03, -0.22-95.895.80.0022 0.017-88.1
Motorola XOOM (headphones attached)+1.04, -0.21-95.695.60.014 0.495-60.6
Apple iPhone 4S+0.02, -0.11-91.291.20.00200.012-93.0
Apple iPhone 4S (headphones attached)+0.05, -0.10-91.391.30.00680.071-66.7

Motorola RAZR XT910 frequency response
Motorola RAZR XT910 frequency response

You can learn more about the whole testing process here.

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