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Droid RAZR review

November 20, 2011

in All Articles,Cellphone reviews

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The original RAZR cellphone was a clamshell flip-phone released by Motorola in 2004. for a time, they were very popular, being well-made, reliable, and a nice design (they were fairly small and thin, yet very ergonomic and functional).

Motorola has released a new smartphone iteration of the RAZR line, which (to differentiate from the original) is called the Droid RAZR.

Astute technophiles will ask about the name: What’s the point? Given the differences between the RAZR and the Droid RAZR, why keep the same name? Is it a marketing ploy so that the new RAZR can ride the legacy of the original? Can the new Droid RAZR really justify its name?

The answer to the last two questions is “yes”. There’s no denying that techniques from marketing 101 are involved here, but there are indicators that the Droid RAZR was designed with the same intentions as the original. The new RAZR succeeds.

The Droid RAZR’s physical design

The Droid RAZR is an extremely thin phone. So much that, when I first saw some of the glamour shots of the RAZR from different angles, I misinterpreted what I saw: Look at the picture below, and tell me what you think it would look like to me, someone who grew up in the era of early cellphones and “electronic organizers”:

A side view of the Droid RAZR. Not a stylus.

I actually happen to have a stylus laying around (along with an ancient precursor of the smartphone, a Palm Pilot 5000). The Palm Pilot 5000 stylus is in the bottom of the picture below. The RAZR is on top. You can see how I was initially confused.

Here’s another shot to give you an idea of just how thin the RAZR is. Here we see it vertically-compared to a pen, a AAA battery and a USA 10-cent coin:

It’s not a literal interpretation, but the RAZR is still quite worthy of its name. It’s not blade-thin, but for a smartphone it’s impressively close .

So if we have an usually thin phone (and which is certainly setting a trend), what other sacrifices were made in order to have this design? The two most important to me would be physical case strength and performance.

The design is of a flat, large-screen smartphone that surprisingly shows little or no flex in the case. It’s very strong, certainly more than my Droid Epic (not having a physical keyboard gives the RAZR an inherent advantage). It’s solid and is a good weight. Light enough to not be a burden, and heavy enough to still feel elegant and expensive.

As for the materials, the ads say that the RAZR uses:

“…KEVLAR fiber, while Corning Gorilla Glass defends the screen against scrapes and scratches.

A force field of water-repellent nanoparticles shields the phone against water attacks — even the electrical boards inside.”

The first half of that description is pretty cool, and the Kevlar carbon-fibery-look on the back of the case looks great. Having Gorilla Glass is an industry standard now for any good smartphone, but it’s still good enough to be a marketing point.

As for the claims about “water-repellent nanoparticles“, I really don’t know what that means, as was able to find no detail from sites by Verizon or Motorola. Water-shedding is one thing. Water resistance and water-proofing is another, and means a specialty phone like the Casio G’zOne Brigade. Unless someone tells me different, I’ll assume this last point is meaningless in terms of a testable function.


My worry about the ultra-thin case design was unfounded. This is a fast-performing phone. My current phone, a Droid Epic, is pretty darn fast on its own, but I can make it stumble now and then. I have thousands of company contacts, and searching through these often causes a brief but noticeable delay. Not so with the RAZR. Everything I did on this phone was processed at very high-speeds. It’s also 4G-compliant, so you’ll get super-fast data access in supported locations.

See the specs at the end of this article for full performance details.


We live in an era of paranoia and high security, required for when so many users have so much critical data stored on mobile devices. Laptops and PCs can be made secure. This has been very difficult / limited / impossible with smartphones. To protect their data, users have traditionally relied on obscurity, ignorance and goodwill (which in the long run is a terrible method). Lately, though, providers and designers have realized that phone security is just as important as computer security. More and more phones are coming with enhanced capabilities for remotely wiping information and locking data with government-grade encryption for email, calendar and contacts. The RAZR is one of these smartphones with significantly increased security.

RAZR Smart Actions

This functionality has been around for a while with third-party apps, and I’m surprised and happy it found its way into the core system functions of the RAZR.

Say you want your phone ringer to vibrate while you’re at work, and set to ring when you’re at home. Using the RAZR’s “Smart Actions” function, this is one example of the things you can have happen automaticall. Your phone (using the GPS location services) will know when you are at work or home, and can change the ringer state with no effort from you! Here are just a few samples of the kind of changes you can make:

  • Change ringer type/volume/vibrate based on your physical location
  • Start playing music when you plug in headphones
  • If the battery drops too low, put the display on extra-dim and perform other power-saving features
  • If you forget to plug the phone in at night, notify the user with a reminder
  • Disable the ringer during your sleeping hours
  • Every morning, launch a website with the latest news (or whatever you’d prefer to read)
  • When you get in your Bluetooth-connected car, change the settings for Wi-Fi, GPS, and start a mapping application

I love this stuff. The self-automation potential of smartphones has been underutilized until now. I’m glad to see this new functionality.


The Droid RAZR is a great smartphone that stands proudly in the RAZR legacy. It’s an excellent performer, has plenty of functionality and is a solid yet skinny design, much like the original. If I had to pick my next phone at the time of this writing (November 2011), it would be the Droid RAZR.

The Droid RAZR is available from Verizon Wireless for $300 with a service plan, or $650 without.


Droid RAZR stats and functionality

Talk time: Up to 750 minutes. Standby time: 205 hrs
Bands/Modes: CDMA800, CDMA1900, LTE B13 700
Dimensions: 130.7 x 68.9 x 7.1 mm
Display: 4.3-in.; Super AMOLED Advanced qHD (540 x 960)
Weight: 127 g
Battery: 1780 mAh battery
OS: Android 2.3.5 (Gingerbread)
Connectivity: 3.5mm, USB 2.0, Micro USB, HDMI, DLNA 1.5, GPS and location services, WLAN
Network: Verizon Wireless, 4G
Camera and Video: 8MP rear-facing camera, HD P2P Video, 1.3MP front-facing camera with 720p HD video capture, 8X Digital Zoom, LED flash, HD 1080p quality, 1920X1080 resolution, up to 30fps capture and playback
Bluetooth: Bluetooth Smart Ready; Stereo Bluetooth Class 2, Version 4.0 LE+EDR OPP, DUN, SPP, GAVDP, AVDTP, AVCTP, A2DP, AVRCP 1.4, HFP 1.5, DID, HID, HSP, MAP, PAN-NAP, PBAP, SM,GATT/ATT,GAP,HR
Memory: 16 GB internal; 16 GB microSD card pre-installed

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