Feb 17 AT 4:05 PM Sean Riley 32 Comments

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.

DROID RAZR MAXX battery life testing - over 60 hours

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.

2. Performance

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.

4. Display

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.

Droid RAZR MAXX top

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.

6. Aesthetics

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.

7. Software

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.

8. Camera

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.

Sample photo of tree and ice fisherman from Droid RAZR MAXX Sample macro photo under interior lighting with Droid RAZR MAXX Sample macro photo outside with Droid RAZR MAXX

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.

10. NFC

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.

Final Thoughts

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.[1]

Droid RAZR MAXX back tilted Droid RAZR MAXX back flat Droid RAZR MAXX front Droid RAZR MAXX right side Droid RAZR MAXX left side Droid RAZR MAXX top

References

  1. This appears to be borne out by the sales as both Amazon Wireless and Verizon have consistently had it backordered since the launch.
Sean has been with Android and Me for over 5 years and covering mobile for the last 6. He occasionally muses about gadgets and tech outside of the Android universe at Techgasms.

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  • honourbound68

    holy moly on the battery life! crikey.. that’d be awesome as a standard for all phones. i always carry a spare GN battery in my wallet and tiny monoprice charger in my backpack.

    • spazby

      yea, i am drooling over the battery…

    • http://theinternet-allofit.blogspot.com Jorge Branco

      I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t trade a few mm’s of thickness for double batterry life

  • http://htcsource.com Nick Gray

    Yeah, but can the RAZR MAXX outlast my T-Mobile G2 with its 3200 mAh extended battery?

    If the MAXX proves to be a success, maybe we’ll see more manufacturers feature handsets with extra large batteries rather than pushing for maximum slimness.

    • http://www.technogasms.com Sean Riley

      Your G2 with its 3200 mAh battery is about as thick as Zach Morris’ phone and is therefore disqualified.

      • Paul

        It also does not have LTE. T-Mobile 4G is basically just 3G on steroids. If we disabled LTE on the maxx I’d be curious to see how much longer it would last..

  • http://droidsamurai.blogspot.com DroidSamurai

    I found it difficult to go back to a smaller display than my Galaxy Nexus. I played with my friend’s RAZR for a while, and man, even though the screen of RAZR is just a tiny bit smaller than my GNex in spec, when I stared at it, it just looked small.

  • greeny42

    Don’t forget that this phone is locked down tight.

    • http://www.technogasms.com Sean Riley

      A good point although that isn’t going to be a concern for the demographic that I see buying this phone.

      • greeny42

        Touche Sir. Touche.

      • Paul

        Ouch :p It actually does have root and you are able to flash ROMs. Bootloader is locked but still with hopes it will get unlocked.

  • Jorge Vieira

    that battery life is amazing.and a RAZR jazz HD would be even more amazing I really hope your right! I would buy that!

  • sylar

    I can usually get two or more days out of my GSII with my version of normal usage, which is about two thirty minute calls a little bit of internet and wifi usage and at least three hundred to four hundred texts total. Maybe I’m just lucky?

    • http://www.technogasms.com Sean Riley

      Wow, I’ve never seen anything like that out of my Galaxy Nexus and that’s with the extended battery. Which version of the SGSII do you have?

      • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

        Can we really call the Gnex extended battery an extended battery? no difference that I’ve noticed as a power user

        • Adnoxaei

          It’s 15% larger, so it is extended, but not by much. That extra bit gets me through the day, but when I’m really powering through downloads, video, and web I barely notice that I have an extended battery.

          Personally I love that extra 15% because it doesn’t make weird lumps or corners on the phone and cases still fit on it, but I got that little boost. For $25 it was a good compromise on design and function.

    • jonathan3579

      The GSII has outstanding battery life. I moved from it to the Galaxy Nexus and battery life is the ONLY thing I miss from it. Other than that, I cannot imagine moving back to any manufacturer overlays at this time even if better battery life was promised.

  • Alexander drzfr3shboialex

    If a high-end Motorola comes out on T-mobile with a 3300mah battery it will be beast, especially since HSPA+ is not a battery hog

  • pitacrisps

    I feel jipped. I got the original Razr in Dec. Under normal use and 4G I get 4-6 hours. Light use I get 7-8. Switching to 3G only gets me maybe 2 hours more, so I never use 4G unless I want to charge three times a day.
    And OF COURSE they made this phone without a removable battery AND THEN they made a phone RIGHT AFTER with a longer battery life. PISSES ME OFF.
    I love this phone, why couldn’t they have just made the original with the bigger battery? :(

    • http://www.technogasms.com Sean Riley

      I sympathize, my dad bought the original RAZR right when it came out and would have been a perfect candidate for the RAZR MAXX. He frequently forgets to charge his phone and with his usage pattern he would easily get 2-3 days out of the MAXX and likely more with the proper smart actions set up.

  • Nathan D.

    I want battery life like that!

  • Richard Yarrell

    My hats off to MOTO maybe they have raised the bar for stock batteries. I am extremely happy with my Gnex nothing beats this stock experience.

  • kimminer1

    sounds like a good phone for my sister

  • revs

    feel bad for original razr users
    t mob needs a phone with a 3300 mha battery
    hspa is much easier on the batt and my htc sensation stilll blowsssssssssssss
    half a day maybe
    i bought a 1900 mah bat on amazon for 15$
    now i get a day whoopy …

  • http://www.jimtravis.com jimtravis

    Battery life is certainly impressive, yet I am spoiled with the larger displays of the Nexus, and Note. Purchased a Seidio extended battery for Nexus. I can get a full day of use from the Galaxy Nexus with its standard battery, but I also have the hotspot option to share that LTE goodness. With the extended battery, I can use the tethering for hours while still using the device for normal routines. Of course, the huge battery added quite a bit of girth to the device. It seems MOTO was able to add the extra juice while maintaining relative slimness. Hope the trend continues.

  • androidlessfan

    This would be my perfect first Android phone. The phone is only as good as when it’s on.

  • Anderson

    This is THEE best phone available through out the entire mobile market,
    With the ICS update..Its going to be Un Freaking beatable!
    follow the link to know the reality http://www.motoask.com

  • Henry K

    THE MOST important thing about a wireless phone is that you can use it without looking for outlets and plugging in a wire everywhere you go! Razr Maxx i love you

  • Bruce Currie

    i am a phone idiot . i am on facebook and dont see how to get to a point where i can manage my facebook account like you could on a lap top. is it doable on my razr ?

  • Paul

    The MAXX was a response to the poor RAZR sales. That’s why they released more colors for the RAZR also. It wasn’t a planned way to screw over thousands of customers, I’m sure