Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD

Review: Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD -- Power for Days

4 stars
Hate running out of juice before dinner? Look no further -- your dream phone is here.



Screen:
4.7-inches, 720 x 1280 px, 16,700,000 colors
Super AMOLED (Accelerometer / Proximity Sensor / Ambient Light Sensor)
Camera:
8.0 MP / LED Flash / 8X Zoom / Auto-Focus / 1080p Video Recorder / 1.3 MP / Video Chat

Processor:
1.5 GHz (Qualcomm Snapdragon S4)
Data:
LTE / cdma2000 1xEV-DO Rev. A / HSPA-Plus
Memory:
26.0 GB
Slot:
microSD

Form:
Block / Google Android OS v4.0
Dimensions:
132 x 68 x 9 mm
Weight:
157 g
Battery:
3300 mAh Li-Ion
Talk Time:
32 hours
Standby Time:
15.5 days


Moore's law is states that technology doubles every 18 months. In the world of smartphones, that timeframe often seems shorter. While displays get bright, cameras get sharper and data speeds get faster, one thing seems to stay the same: battery life. In fact, as devices get more advanced, the battery life often gets shorter.

So if you loathe the sight of chargers, you'll in love with the Razr Maxx HD -- it packs the most massive battery in town. I lasted around 13 hours of video playback -- with Wi-Fi on -- an outlandish 25 hours of continuous talk time and -- with normal use of e-mail, Facebook and a few videos -- around a day and a half of standby. With heavy use, including a lot of power-hungry apps, I lasted a full 24 hours, which is around 50 percent longer than the iPhone. Those are gaudy real-world numbers, not optimal times.


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Very few devices last more than a day, let along smartphones with large displays and 4G LTE. The Maxx HD is simply an amazing device that high-end rivals can't match in power -- and that alone makes it worth considering.

At 0.4-inches, you can't really call it a Razr -- it's big and unsexy. The shape doesn't mask the size like the One X and Galaxy S3, so if you have smaller hands, I suggest you hold it in person to see if it's too big. At five and a half ounces, it's not light either. You'll definitely feel the weight in your pocket.

Photo 1

The Kevlar weave on the back gives a solid grip and takes the dings and dents from the everyday use, but I didn't find it very attractive. A thin aluminum band surrounds the edge, offering a touch of quality, but the design falls far short from the stylish looks of the iPhone 5 and Lumia 920. I wasn't thrilled with the Verizon logo stamped below the display. It's pretty ugly.

A micro-USB port doubles as the charger, while a mini-HDMI outlet lets you connect it to a high-definition TV, but both are exposed to the elements. A water-repellent layer, though, covers the entire device, so if you spill a glass of water on it or drop it in a puddle, just dry it off. Just don't go dunking it in water -- it's not waterproof.

The larger 4.7-inch screen is sharp and vibrant from a distance, and you can see every 1,280-by-720 pixel at every odd angle. But up close, flaws start to emerge. While colors are true to life, depending on the view, whites can be tinted with a bluish hue. I didn't notice until I held it up to the iPhone, but it's there. I also noticed a bit of fuzziness around text, due to the PenTile matrix, so reading isn't as sharp as on other devices. From a normal range, you won't notice it.

Photo 2

The Maxx HD comes with an unimpressive 8-megapixel lens. It takes sharp photos and 1080p video with vibrant colors from afar, but look closer and you'll see quite a bit of noise. Motorola always had issues with image quality, and the Maxx HD is no different. Photos with some distance are better, but they turned out dark outdoors and grainy and oversaturated indoors. It's just not a good camera. The software has the standard mix of editing tools, like HDR, panorama and filter effects, but it also lacks some basic functions, like pinch-to-zoom. The only salvation is the speedy shutter -- you can snap a photo in less than a second. I've seen great cameras and mediocre ones -- the Maxx HD leans towards the mediocre.

It ships it with ICS with a promise to roll out Jelly Bean. The unaltered software is speedy, but Motorola added its interface. Not much is changed, aside from the homescreen layout -- circular notification widgets are convenient, and you can customize them with a large choice of apps, so it's somewhat useful. And rather the physical buttons, onscreen keys let you go back, home and bring up recent apps.

Photo 3

There are also a few shortcuts: the most useful is a quick settings menu that's brought up by swiping left. From there, you can switch on Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and data and silence the phone. You also get SmartActions. Think of it as "rules" to automate the phone and improve performance. For example, you can set it to go to silent when you walk into the office, or turn on Wi-Fi when you return home -- it works to automate the phone based on location and time. To save power, you can also set it to turn down brightness or turn off GPS when the battery is low. I found it very helpful, and one of the better features. LG has a similar feature, but uses "smart tags" you need to place nearby. Motorola takes it to the next level.

Web browsing is improved over past models. Chrome loads pages up to 20 percent faster than stock software, and a tabbed layout lets you switch back and forth. YouTube HD comes pre-installed, so you can caches clips to watch over again and again without reloading. Most of the features sound commonplace, but that just shows how behind Motorola had been. Of course, Verizon powers it all with 4G LTE, so everything will load quickly. And I experienced speedy download rates of about 15-megabits per second.

It comes with Google's apps, like Gmail, YouTube and Maps, but Motorola and Verizon couldn't resist adding bloatware, which you can't remove. You don't need ringtones from Verizon or NFL Mobile. Unfortunately, it takes up a whopping 6- of the 32-gigabytes of storage. That's still plenty to transfer your music collection or download entire seasons of TV shows, but if you need more, pick up a microSD card. Meanwhile, a 1.5-gigahertz dual-core chip with 1-gigabyte of RAM, for the most part, runs smoothly. But I did experience the occasional stutter -- it can lag during intensive use. But it doesn't happen often.

The Maxx HD is for the road warrior who can't often charge your phone. It isn't the sexiest device and the camera and display are mediocre at best, but no other smartphone, let alone one that runs on 4G LTE, has a more impressive battery life. It's a very specialized device, designed for those that need power over everything else. If that sounds like you, the Maxx HD is a robust Android device that's in a league of its own.

The only device to come close to those exceptional battery numbers is its smaller sibling, the Razr HD. You'll get less juice, but still an outstanding 12 hours of talk time and a day of standby. But the camera and display are still a step down from the best on the market.

Power comes at a trade-off and if a strong battery isn't a must, you can find better all-around devices in the iPhone, S3 and X. They have superior cameras and screens, more robust multimedia and a decent battery, you'll just have to refill in the late afternoon.

In a market of high-performance, low-power rivals, the Maxx HD is a great choice -- if not the only one -- to stay charged all day, or several days.

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User Reviews



Amazing Phone

Rating: 5 of 5 | George Holt on October 24, 2012

The Droid Maxx HD is just incredible.

I'm not new to smartphones. I've owned a few Droids from HTC and Motorola, and being from Silicon Valley, most of my friends have the latest and greatest devices once they're launched. Every phone I've owned has been top-notch, but there are comparable devices from other makers and carriers. Not the Maxx HD.

Not only is it one of the best phones out on the market, it blows everything else away. The design is incredibly thin and attractive, the display and camera are stunning and the battery life -- the main feature -- as good as advertised. I easily get two days with moderate to heavy use -- lots of Web browsing, music streaming, video watching, the works.

The large 4.7-inch screen is simply amazing. You might think watching TV on a phone is ridiculous, but you'll think twice after seeing the Maxx HD. When I need to fly, I'll download a few movies onto the phone and watch it on the plane. It's every bit as enjoyable as watching on a television. The Maxx HD is protected with Gorilla Glass and Kevlar. I've dropped it once, and couldn't find a scratch. It's tough.

The camera is great. The included filters and software are decent, but the lack of a dedicated camera button is a drawback. Still, the photo quality will please the photographer in you.

One feature that doesn't get enough attention is Motorola's "Smart Actions." Basically, it lets you trigger phone functions based on your location. Want to mute the phone at work? No problem. Just set it at your workplace. Every time you walk into the office, it sets it to silent. You can set features not just on location, but also by time too. You can set VIP phone numbers for important calls or disable Wi-Fi to save power -- the possibilities are limitless.

As for the basics, the call quality is crystal clear. Incoming voices are crisp and I can't tell I'm on a cell phone.

I had a hard time finding accessories for it. As far as the phone itself though, I couldn't be happier with the Maxx HD. Look no further.

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First Look: So Far, So Good

Rating: 4 of 5 | Jamie S. on October 18, 2012

I just picked up this bad boy. I've been waiting for the release for weeks now and ran to my Verizon store once it opened this morning.

When you open the box, you'll find a travel charger, a micro-USB sync cable, a SIM removal tool -- yes, you can use it on GSM networks -- and some start guides and a user manual.

It has an average build and isn't too heavy with a Kevlar back that's kind of neat. It won't work as a bullet-proof vest, but if you spill juice on it or bump into table edges, it'll keep it protected.

It ships with Android 4.0, but Motorola says it'll release Jelly Bean for it soon. You can boot it up right out of the box and after you get past the creepy Verizon "Droid" eye, you'll get your first look at the 4.7-inch screen, which is absolutely gorgeous.

Below the screen "home," "back" and "multitasking" buttons match Motorola's skin. For the most part, Motorola lets Android be Android, and leaves it alone, which is always nice. And there are cool "circle" widgets you can add to the home screen to set information like different clocks, weather, and battery. It takes up a lot of real estate, but it's worth it for me. You can set all kinds of different applications.

The 8-megapixel camera is decently sharp. I don't know how it compares with the S3 or iPhone 5, but it works well enough for me. You won't have any problems. And if you do, it's nothing a quick PhotoShop job can't fix.

It's got a 1.5-gigahertz processor and 1-gigabyte of RAM so everything runs smoothly. The best part, of course, is the battery. Motorola says you can get around a day and a half of mixed use. I haven't had this for more than a day yet, but I haven't run out of power, so I suppose that's a good sign.

If you're debating whether to get the Maxx HD, it's a worthy contender. I haven't found anything glaringly bad with it so far, and I'm pretty satisfied with my choice.

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Scratching the Surface

Rating: 3 of 5 | Ralph Drucker on October 18, 2012

This is a solid, well-build device. The Kevlar backing and Gorilla Glass front can take a pounding. And the high-quality materials make it feel nice, as opposed to other plastic-y devices.

The main draw is the battery and you'll get around the times Motorola advertised -- around 15 hours of talk time -- who talks that long? -- seven hours of streaming video -- good for a few movies on a plane flight -- or six hours of non-stop LTE browsing -- good for a workday, if you don't really work.

You'll either love or hate the design. Motorola's phones have a bit of an "edge" to them -- and I love it, the angular shape gives it a more rugged feel that its rivals. I think that's what draws a lot of people to it -- that's what drew me.

The phone is plenty fast, but I've noticed a slight lag when swiping between menus and while viewing animations. I'm not sure if it's a software bug or a bad phone. I hope it's not an underpowered processor. Still, it sort of sucks how it runs on ICS, instead of Jelly Bean. Doesn't Google own Motorola now?

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Not Bad Aside from Freezing

Rating: 4 of 5 | Mark Walters on October 19, 2012

The Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD packs a punch -- saying its name is a mouthful too! I bought the phone on October 18, the day it hit stores, so this will be a preliminary review, I'll report back after I've used it for a few weeks.

When you take the phone out, the first thing you'll notice is the excellent build quality. The design is top-notch. It's a solid device made from premium materials -- as good as it gets. The next thing you'll notice is the enormous touch display. The edge around the screen is thinner than other Razrs, and the imaging is "razr" sharp -- forgive my puns.

Smart Actions, where you can set tasks based on GPS location, is actually really useful. And my initial expectations are all met.

I haven't had it for more than a day yet, and it's already froze on me -- not good. I wasn't doing anything intensive either, just adding a few apps. Then everything stopped working. I had to restart the phone by pressing the side keys, but it's concerning. Hopefully it's not a big software glitch.

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