Droid RAZR MAXX by Mototrola Review

I recently spent two weeks with the Droid RAZR MAXX by Motorola. This phone runs on Verizon’s 4G LTE and its claim to fame is battery life. It is very similar to the recently released RAZR, just thicker to accommodate the larger battery. I can’t tell you how excited I am that someone finally designed a phone with battery life in mind.

I always approach every phone review with trepidation. Will this be the phone that makes me disappointed with my current everyday phone, the Droid X? Let’s see.

First off, in theory, you sacrifice some thickness for the increased battery life. I managed to talk a RAZR owner into letting me get a shot of the two phones together:

As you can see, not a big sacrifice. They smooth out the bump a little. Frankly, I can’t even bring myself to see this is a disadvantage. The size difference is almost indistinguishable, and the increased battery life is very welcome.

The Specs:

  • 4G LTE
  • Dual-core 1.2 GHz processor
  • 8 MP rear-facing camera 1080p HD video capture
  • 1.3 MP front facing camera with 720 HD video capture
  • 130.7 x 68.9 x 8.99 mm
  • 4.3-in., Super AMOLED Advanced qHD(540 x 960)
  • 145 grams
  • Made with Dupont™ KEVLAR® fiber and scratch-resistant Corning® Gorilla® Glass
  • MicroUSB, HDMI Micro and 3.5mm headphone jack
This is definitely a high-end phone, even as high-end evolves. It comes with a 16 GB microSD card as well. The back is not removable (so no changing the battery), so they provide a door on the side to inset the SD card and the SIM card.
They moved the ports to the top of the phone. Here you see the headphone, MicroUSB and Micro-HDMI ports:

The power and volume buttons are on the right side of the phone. I did not care for the buttons. Part of it was adjusting to having the power button on the side, rather than the top, but the bigger issue was the size and feel of the buttons. It does not feel like a lot of thought was put into the functionality of these buttons.

In addition to the rear-facing camera, this phone comes with a 1.3 MP front-facing camera. You can see it just below the A in Motorola:

The back side has the 8MP camera and an LED light for taking pictures. I am never impressed by the LED-enhanced pictures, but I always like having it for the shots that just won’t work without the light, and for the convenience of turning your phone into a flashlight. The camera quality is OK. I would not mind seeing a phone that did not obsess on MP and focused on image quality instead, but I think the camera is in line with other phones in its class.

Performance

I’m not a big benchmark fan, but I did find the phone noticeably more responsive than my Droid X. In addition, you will definitely tell the difference with 4G speeds if you live in a 4G area. Like I said, I noticed the increased performance, but was not blown away by it while using the phone. However, I think I learned something about myself: I am less sensitive to increased performance than decreased performance. It took me about one day back with my Droid X for the performance boost to hit home. I really miss this phone.

Battery Life

Did I mention battery life? They pack a nice sized battery in this phone, and it shows. After over 14 hours with the phone, using it a lot, I still had 20% battery life. Not mind-blowing, but significant for a 4G phone under heavy use. That will get me through an entire day easy.

In fact, later in my time using the phone, I was well into day 2 before the battery got low.

Keep in mind, this is dual-core processor and 4G network. I feel guilty saying just over a day is great, but, well… just over a day IS great with a high-powered smartphone on a 4G network. In fact, if I had to pick just one pro for this phone, it would be the battery. I truly hope this phone represents a turn of the corner for phone manufacturers.  We don’t want thin phones that last half a day, we want phones that have some battery life.

Conclusion

This is the first phone since I got my Droid X that has been hard to return. I like the looks, the use of Gorilla glass, and, oh yeah, the battery life. This is the first 4G phone I would consider owning. I don’t like that the battery is not user-replaceable, and many won’t consider it because of Motorola’s use of a boot-loader to prevent rooting, but I am OK with these compromises. I love the concept of rooting an Android phone, but I have owned an Android since the G1, and have never actually considered rooting that much. If that is important to you, though, look for a different phone. Me, I’d take this in a heartbeat. Now to check when I qualify for my next phone upgrade.

 

Product Information

Price:$199.99 (with 2-year Contract)
Manufacturer:Motorola
Retailer:Verizon Wireless
Pros:
  • Long battery life
  • Large display
  • Gorilla Glass
  • Kevlar Case
  • Micro SD slot
Cons:
  • Battery not user-replaceable
  • Boot Loader locked (not easily rooted)
Posted in: Android related, Reviews

{ 43 comments… add one }

  • kpdriscoll May 16, 2012, 11:37 am

    This is THE best smartphone on the market. I got one back when Verizon had a BOGO sale and have not looked back. You’ve overlooked one of the biggest advantages of this phone, though – the docking capability. I got the Lapdock 500 along with it and can use it as a laptop. I plug it into LCD projectors to present, print, type with a real interface, etc. The same lapdock and lesser Lapdock 100 (more of a netbook form factor) work with multiple models.

    1
  • Lisa May 16, 2012, 12:06 pm

    What is the Lapdock 500? I just bought a Maxx…want to take advantage of my new phone.

    2
  • kpdriscoll May 16, 2012, 1:51 pm

    The lapdocks are essentially brainless laptops with an adapter that connects to your phone’s micro-HDMI and micro-USB ports. They add screen, keyboard, extra power, SD card slot, USB ports, external VGA, and wired ethernet ports using your phone’s brain, storage, and communications.
    Review: http://www.gottabemobile.com/2012/03/12/motorola-lapdock-500-review-turn-your-phone-into-a-laptop/

    3
  • Bryan Sherman May 16, 2012, 2:51 pm

    There is also a review on the 100 from a while back: http://the-gadgeteer.com/2011/12/05/verizon-motorola-droid-razr-and-lapdock-100-combo-review/ (it is also listed under related posts).

    I have not had a chance to check out a Lapdock, but I should have mentioned it. Thanks kpdriscoll.

    4
  • Chad May 16, 2012, 4:10 pm

    Didn’t this phone release almost 4 months ago? Why not write a review of the XBox 360 or the movie “Avatar” while you are at it?

    Price is $199 not $299 through Verizon.

    5
  • Julie May 16, 2012, 4:31 pm

    @Chad instead of posting pointless negative comments, why don’t you just not read the reviews that don’t interest you? Apparently it’s interesting to some folks because it’s been read over 1400 times since it was posted this morning.

    6
  • Bryan Sherman May 16, 2012, 5:51 pm

    @Chad Good catch on the price. I guarantee that two days ago when I finished the review, it was $299. I will update the price on the review.

    7
  • Tiya May 16, 2012, 10:28 pm

    Thank you so much for this post. I’ve been debating for a while since they came out, and have read many reviews, but found yours to be most helpful.

    A co-worker at my previous place of employment was able to root his phone, but as you also mentioned, he said it took a few more steps than with previous Driod phones. If I find some info on how to do so, I’d be happy to post (after first testing out myself of course).

    I would like to Chad, and other that share his sentiment, reviews like these, that come after or even well-after a release are very important to many consumers. These types of reviews, at least for me anyway, give a certain level of validity in that the products being tested are retail products vs. demos or testers. Also, with a product being out for a while, this gives times for the manufacturers to get those pesky bugs out (that somehow always seem to find their way into new HW). Anyway, not to be critical or sound like I am jumping down your back…just wanted to point that out :-)

    8
  • Tom May 16, 2012, 11:30 pm

    Thank you !! About time someone commented on the way over rated mega pixel hype on these phones. 8 MP is a complete waste unless u plan on making giant posters from cell phone pics. Gimmie 5mp and a slightly better camera all day long.

    9
  • Chad May 17, 2012, 9:42 am

    @Julie My dad can beat up your dad!

    10
  • Glen May 17, 2012, 9:53 am

    Two things not mentioned but worth it.
    1. If it locks up you can not remove the battery. What now?
    2. The Razr offers a car dock just like the droidX offers. I can’t live without the car dock. It replaced my GPS for navigation and I can listed to my music and talk hands free at the same time. Plus shoot video HD while driving. Aside from the dock the phone has a special video feature most don’t. If you are at a concert at night it has a concert mode that allows undistorted sound and clear night light.

    @Chad what a tool

    11
  • Julie May 17, 2012, 10:11 am

    @Chad I’m not so sure about that. My dad is pretty tough ;)

    12
  • JCF May 17, 2012, 11:39 am

    I own this phone. It is VERY EASY to root. It is VERY EASY to install custom ROM.

    13
  • Pam May 17, 2012, 12:10 pm

    I appreciate this review as I am very unhappy with the battery of my Razr (which just recently replaced my Droid X). The X got rave reviews when it came out and I loved the phone — when it worked! I went through FOUR copies of it before they agreed to send me the Razr as a replacemnt (only 5 months after my purchase of the X). I love the Razr and it works wonderfully but the battery is absolutely awful. I can’t go more than 4 hours without having to charge it and I am not watching movies or videos and have it set for me to manually check emails. The majority of the battery is used up while texting, which I don’t do constantly either. It’s extremely disappointing.

    I hate that I spent $250 on the X only 6 months ago and still don’t have a phone that I consider acceptable. I do have a few lines up for renewal and guess I will have to eat one up getting a replacement (and spending another $200). I just hope I can sell the Razr on eBay!

    14
  • Chad May 17, 2012, 1:36 pm

    @julie My dad is a dragon. Nothing can beat up a dragon.

    @glen the word “tool” is so 2000’s

    15
  • Ian Lim May 17, 2012, 6:31 pm

    @Glen -With Android devices (phones and tablets ), a long press on the power button should give you a hard reset. Of course if that doesn’t work……. :)

    16
  • Amy Cesario May 17, 2012, 11:43 pm

    Thanks for the review, I have the original DroidX, same one, love, love, love it except that I either change batteries or plug back in after 4 hours. It makes me nervous that you can’t change a battery in this Razr. But I really want 4G and front facing camera. I agree, I don’t care if the phone is a little fatter, if the battery life is longer I’ll take it. Glad you are happy with it!

    17
  • R Emmorey May 18, 2012, 11:22 pm

    @jcf how do you root this phone. I owne it and love it. Im a heavy texter and use email often. I can go a whole day without charge. Im stoked about it. I have had it for over 3 months and very happy with it.

    18
  • Jimbali Oblane May 20, 2012, 1:56 pm

    WHY does the Razr Maxx have a Micro SIM card slot? I have researched high and low and can find nothing definitive that states this handset can be used on a GSM network – that it will be GSM enabled as a global handset in future. Does anyone know the real answer? If so, what is your source? Thanks! Jimbalio

    19
  • Bryan Sherman May 20, 2012, 2:17 pm

    @Jimbali Verizon’s 4G network uses a SIM card. There is more information on Verizon’s site: http://support.verizonwireless.com/faqs/VZAccess/4g_sim_card.html

    The RAZR MAXX is still a CDMA phone, so you cannot use it on a GSM network. If you go to Verizon’s website you can filter by “Global Ready”. The only Android phone that is Global Ready is the Droid Pro. Verizon’s iPhone 4s, the HTC Trophy and a number of blackberries are also global ready. In all these cases they have both CDMA and GSM for this support.

    Hope that helps.

    20
  • Bryan Sherman May 20, 2012, 2:20 pm

    @Glen I have a love/hate relationship with the docks. I am a little annoyed that as my time with my Droid X comes to an end, I will need to buy a NEW cat dock for my next phone. This is one of things I am envious of the iPhone eco-system for.

    Next phone I may look for a universal dock. Not quite as nice as dropping it in and going, but a little more long-term.

    21
  • Bryan Sherman May 20, 2012, 2:24 pm

    @Pam I have had a great experience with my Droid X. I had one issue with my original in the warranty period, and they quickly replaced it. The first one had a GPS issue, so I am on my 3rd, but I kind of don’t count the second one (had it for < a week).

    @Amy Yeah, mixed emotions on the battery situation. I don’t feel like I need to swap batteries, but I miss that flexibility, and now going into the 18th month with my X battery, I am definitely seeing a degradation in battery life.

    22
  • Bryan Sherman May 20, 2012, 2:28 pm

    @r, perhaps @jcf can share his method, but if you google it you can find some resources pretty quickly. Here is an article from Phone Arena: http://www.phonearena.com/news/Easily-Root-your-DROID-4—3-RAZR-RAZR-MAXX-and-BIONIC_id26860

    As I have argued with my hacking friends who love to root them A. I’ve never felt the need* and B. I know all the locked boot loader does as delay the release of a way for a few weeks/months.

    * The only thing that has tempted me to root is the ability to capture the screen on the phone, either static images (like ICS now allows) or video capture.

    23
  • Ted May 23, 2012, 4:49 pm

    How is the camera on this phone? I hear the iPhone has the best, but really how different can they be?

    24
  • R Emmorey May 23, 2012, 4:56 pm

    Thanks @ bryan i am interested in rooting because i heard i could then use my phone as hot spot free

    25
  • trajan long June 2, 2012, 4:14 pm

    Outstanding phone. fast, great screen, media, apps, call quality, battery life. It just works! A huge step up for Motorola and Verizon.

    26
  • holly June 5, 2012, 10:58 pm

    I just want to cry..havent had my razar maxx 24hrs an screen is cracked..verizon said 140$ ..so done with Verizon

    27
  • DMD June 6, 2012, 12:26 am

    Any time frame on the RAZR MAXX upgrading to Ice Cream Sandwich?

    28
  • Jeff June 10, 2012, 9:38 pm

    I actually was able to root my razr without any difficulty and I am far from a tech guru

    29
  • R Emmorey June 12, 2012, 12:11 am

    How did u do it jeff

    30
  • James June 15, 2012, 8:17 am

    I-Phone 4s or Droid Razr Maxx?

    31
  • Joy June 17, 2012, 8:54 pm

    I got my Droid Razr Maxx yesterday. and I’m having battery issues.

    1. It charges *really* slowly, and won’t fully charge. I’m talking 4+ hours to go from 20% to 80%.

    2. Battery is draining fast. I went from 80% to 20% this afternoon in 4 hours, with not especially heavy usage. Facebook, a bunch of YT videos. I wonder if I’ve got a lemon.

    32
  • Bryan Sherman June 17, 2012, 9:14 pm

    @james are you trying to trick me. I am a huge Android fan, and I can unequivocally say that I cannot answer that question without knowing a WHOLE lot more of what you are looking for. I think both iOS and Android has plusses and minuses, but for ME I choose Android because of A. Openness of OS, B. variety of innovative designs, and, well C. Screen size. I find the iPhone screen to be puny (rumors have a larger screen coming out sometime).

    Right now, I would answer that question as Samsung Galaxy SIII, because that is the newest on the horizon. I’m just curious what the battery life will be.

    33
  • Bryan Sherman June 17, 2012, 9:17 pm

    @Joy Sorry about your experience. I had no issues like that during my 2 week review. I would lean towards lemon. If you are the DIY troubleshooting type, I would highly recommend checking out Motorola’s Forums. I have used it in the past with my Droid X. Go here and sign up: https://forums.motorola.com/pages/home

    Good luck!

    34
  • Rachel July 21, 2012, 9:22 pm

    I have had a Motorola Razor Maxx since April, and I can’t wait to get rid of it! It takes double and more “keystrokes” more than my old HTC to do anything. And this new update that occurred today is for the birds. When the phone rings, I have to touch the radiating “key”, then touch unlock, then touch phone then touch answer! It does have a good battery, but the functions are onerous to operate. Unfortunately Verizon has me locked into this awful device for a long time!

    35
  • James Burton August 2, 2012, 2:19 pm

    To whom it may concern:

    On June 28, 2012, I purchased a new Razr at the Verizon store in Annapolis, Maryland. No one at the store mentioned that the RazR was due for an operating system upgrade. A few weeks after the purchase (about 14 days later), I woke up and the device required an update. The update installed and my phone was essentially useless for the rest of the day – no texting and no e-mail. The next day I contacted Verizon and they said that the update was Google’s fault and they would not refund my money (for a phone that was basically dead). They did offer to fix the phone, so I spent several hours on the phone until eventually they got it to work. A few days later, I was out of town on a job and coordinating numerous contractors. This new phone, which I paid $ 299.00 for plus the package for the holster, etc., plus used my 2-year upgrade (about $ 400 total) died completely. I took it to three Verizon stores in the Philadelphia/Wilmington area and they all worked on the phone and could not restore it to working order – they couldn’t even get it to turn on. I called my home store in Annapolis and they said “oh we can fix it.” None of them offered to provide an emergency phone since I was out of town for a week. The two Philadephia stores both offered to have one overnighted to me, but the Annapolis store even refused that option. With no communication on a week-long job, the only reasonable option was to purchase a new phone, which I did (not the same one mind you). When I returned to my Annapolis store, predictably they offered no reasonable options. They said “well, they know how to fix it now,” which is useless because I have a different phone. It’s like saying they can fix the defective product they knowingly sold after you had to buy a new different one. Now that I have a new phone, of course, it’s pointless to have the RazR. It’s worthless. They offered to refund a small portion of the money. I left the phone at the store because the whole situation was beyond ridiculous.

    The whole situation is a total mess. They sold me a defective phone, refused to replace it when it broke within two weeks, they knew that the upgrade was coming when they sold me the phone (which means they sold me a defective phone), and then when I was out of town without a phone trying to work, they gave me no options. All of those stores were sitting on investories of RazRs and could have resolved the problem on the spot, but because of their so-called “policy” of 14 days (this was about 20 days after purchase) I ended up having to spend nearly $ 500 on a new phone after spending $ 400 two weeks before that. It was impossible to change services while out of town of course.

    The bottom line for the reader is that Verizon engaged in blatant fraud by selling a phone with an old operating system they knew was faulty, failed to comply with the terms of the contract, kept the $ 400 and unjustly enriched themselves at my expense, and totally failed in every way possible to do their job – communication. I pay nearly $ 3000 a year for their services.

    I wouldn’t touch a RazR phone – Verizon blamed Google, but that’s Verizon’s problem. If you are a consumer, and any portion of the foregoing is questioned by Verizon, you can contact me at (410) 279-1276 or westford111@comcast.net. The name of the store manager in Annapolis was Rob, and the names of two people that worked on the phone (and refused to provide an alternative means of communication other than buying a new phone) in Wilmington were Kimberly Linaweaver at (302) 737-5028 and Rebecca Caldwell at (302) 737-6600. All of these facts are dead accuracte. If Verizon denies any of it, they will be compounding one fraud with another. If they do that, please let me know. I’m going to forward this issue to several class action law firms to see if they are interested.

    I will also be contacting a variety of consumer protection agencies to assist with this, including the Federal Trade Commission, state agencies, and all of the elected representatives in Maryland, as well as the attorney general. If Verizon is doing this to me, you can bet they’re doing it to thousands of consumers. They can’t sell phones they know are faulty and then when they break soon after the purchase refuse to provide any reasonable alternative or refund a consumer’s money based on their one-sided contracts.

    Regards,

    Jim Burton

    36
  • Jessica August 8, 2012, 6:17 pm

    Has anyone had issues with the phone getting EXTREMELY hot, during charging and gps usage? The “hot screen message” pops up and, It drains a full battery in roughly 2 hours by using the “already installed” gps…. maybe I too got a dud? Any ideas?

    37
  • Miss V August 25, 2012, 7:45 pm

    The ICS update has turned my phone into the most frustrating device i have ever had the displeasure to PAY to use. I am paying to get out of the 2yr sentence and going to walmart for a prepay…soft boot, hard boot, factory reset, are worthless and Nothing has worked to get it under control. I will not pay verizon or these “geeks” to be their guinea pig so they can work the bugs out, they should pay me! Thanks for letting me get this off my mind.

    38
  • Bill Cobb August 27, 2012, 10:33 am

    I feel your pain James. While I’m not sure I would avoid buying a razr, I would certainly avoid doing business with the Annapolis verizon. They are rude, arrogant and just have terrible customer service. I know from experience.

    Go to a franchise shop, there are many in the Annapolis area. The one in Edgewater is great.

    39
  • Ben Decho August 31, 2012, 12:25 pm

    James,

    I don’t work for Verizon, but I have to agree, it isn’t their fault.

    The OS is Google’s Android. Your problems are with Google.

    If you buy a computer and it turns on and will work except the OS, it’s not the computer manufacturer, it’s Microsoft’s problem if it runs Windows.

    Your message is quite lengthy, which reminds me of the line “perhaps you protest too much….” Any dealings I have at any Verizon store has been that they have gone out of their way to find a solution. My father was just here visiting from Florida, and before he left, he thought their was a mixup on his phone on the belief he had a Maxx, when he actually had a Razr. The salesman spent 45 mins calling back and forth to Florida and when he showed us the facts, my dad actually got the phone he paid for. They offered a few alternatives and upgrade methods for a second account. Verizon sent an upgrade phone and we put the other on another account. He got in on the lower price and it worked out great for us. We got follow up calls on our experience and we visited the same salesman a few days later and even though we got the phone through corporate, he helped even more.

    Perhaps you’re dealing with a “Premium Authorized Retailer” not a company owned store? Stores in a mall or in kiosks, and even brick and morter stand-alone stores are not all genuine Verizon company stores. They are dealers.

    I *only* go to the Verizon owned stores in my area.

    40
  • Alvin RR August 31, 2012, 1:02 pm

    @R Emmorey if you want a hotspot, try the app FOXFi. Works great on my HTC One S

    41
  • sarah October 20, 2012, 3:35 pm

    Can u use the dock and print coupons off coupons.com?!! I really need to know that i’m a big couponer and i do know it will only let u email them with just the coupons. Com app…

    42
  • Horban November 1, 2012, 9:13 pm

    Great phone if you lock it in a safe and don’t use it! Actually you still might have a broken glass when you open the safe!. Mine along with a growing number of others are experiencing the cheap gorilla glass breaking for no apparent reason. Then Motorola charges you $100 each time. DO NOT BUY THIS PHONE! I’m going back to my DroidX untill I can upgrade (which I just did 1 month ago) then I will never buy Motorola again!

    43

Leave a Comment