Motorola RAZR XT910 review: Through thick and thin
Camera could use some work
The Motorola RAZR is equipped with an 8MP camera that shoots photos with a maximum resolution of 3264x2448 pixels. It's accompanied by a single-LED flash to help out in low-light situations.
The camera UI is very simple. On the right side of the viewfinder there's the virtual shutter key flanked by the front/back and photo/video toggles. On the left, there's the gallery shortcut that displays the thumbnail of the last photo taken (with a counter of remaining photos next to it) and the digital zoom slider.
Finally, there's a retractable row of shortcuts at the bottom - those include effects, scenes, shooting mode, exposure adjustment and flash control (on, off, auto).
From Modes, you can choose single shot, multi-shot (4MP photos), panorama or self timer. Scenes offer things like Sport, Macro or an Auto mode that decides what's best without your explicit input. There's an option to geotag photos - that info can be stripped automatically when sharing photos.
There's a widescreen option that produces 16:9 photos. With it, both the viewfinder and the gallery images fit the screen aspect perfectly in fullscreen mode. However, the 16:9 aspect ratio means the photos turn out at roughly three quarters of the original resolution at about 6MP.
If you choose the full-res regular 4:3 mode not only does the viewfinder have black bars on the sides but it also crops the outer edges of the actual scene even though those will be included in the final image.
The RAZR supports touch focus, but you should keep in mind it's a little slow to react - it doesn’t always react to taps and when it does, there's a slight delay sometimes. This happens most often when you tap somewhere and then tap elsewhere before the autofocus has finished adjusting for the first tap.
The Motorola RAZR produces fairly crisp photos, but quite grainy at times too, which reduces the fine detail. Scenes that require a high dynamic range will have their highlights and shadows clipped. White balance is spot on although colors are slightly oversaturated.
Photo quality comparison
You can check out the Motorola RAZR over at our photo quality compare tool. Just click on one of the images to check out the full page.
The high-contrast of the first chart are rendered fairly crisp, but you can tell it's been sharpened. The second chart shows just how much the noise and noise reduction take away from detail. There, you can also see how much less defined are the black-on-grey lines. The third chart shows that white balance under artificial lighting is less accurate than in sunlight, with a blue tint appearing.
FullHD video capture with issues
The Motorola RAZR shoots 1080p videos at 30fps. The user interface looks identical to that of the still camera although some options have been changed. The Scenes option from the still camera has been replaced by Audio Scenes.
You have Stereo, Wind Reduction, Concert, Balanced and Front Facing audio scenes, which use the two microphones to adapt the audio to the specific situation. You still have the effects and exposure options and you can enable video stabilization.
The camera can focus before it starts recording (if you press and hold the virtual shutter) but even then our unit would refocus at the start of the video, which was quite annoying. There's no continuous autofocus to automatically refocus as you move along, but you can tap on the screen to do it manually (note that this isn't touch focus).
Videos are stored in .MP4 files with bitrate hovering at just over 15Mbps. The sound that goes along with the video is stereo (128Kbps bitrate, 44.1kHz sampling rate). Videos are smooth as far as framerate goes but they are noisy and there's noticeable aliasing.
We ran into trouble with the exposure - the first videos we shot were badly underexposed, especially in the shade, which covered most of the frame. We shot videos with several other phones in the same lighting conditions and none of them turned out this bad, so we had to take the RAZR back for a reshoot.
Don't forget to choose 1080p and view the videos in full screen.
And here's an untouched 1080p@30fps video (0:10s, 18.8MB), straight from the phone.
Video quality compare tool
Check out the Motorola RAZR in our video compare tool. You can pit it against other phones in this class to get an idea of where it stands.
The RAZR turned out to be problematic when shooting videos at close range - in the first setup, the Ferris wheel was out of focus in our first attempt. Anyway, we reshot the scene and the focus was fine. You can see there's a good amount of fine detail visible but you can tell the image has been sharpened. Once the lights go out, the detail (e.g. in the grass) is reduced but the noise stays in check. The third chart shows just how close the RAZR gets to 1080p excellence - not very.