Motorola RAZR HD and RAZR M hands-on
On Tuesday morning, Motorola held their On Display event at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney to show off their latest phones, the RAZR HD and the RAZR M (pictured above), both exclusive to Telstra. We had a chance to take a hands-on look at these two phones, so read on for our first impressions!
As outlined in the launch post, the RAZR HD is the new flagship in the Motorola range, with a 4.7″ 720p Super AMOLED HD screen (the same panel used in the Samsung Galaxy S III), a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 SoC with LTE support (MSM8960), an 8MP camera with 1080p video recording, 16GB of internal storage with microSD expansion, a microUSB and microHDMI port, and a 2500 mAh battery, encased in a Kevlar and Gorilla Glass construction similar to that of the old new Motorola RAZR (I’m not talking about the flip phone).
First impressions are positive; the Kevlar back has a slightly soft-touch feel to it, but feels like it will handle long-term wear and tear better than other phones. Home screen scrolling and task switching performance was definitely up there, on par with other Snapdragon S4 phones out there like the HTC One XL and the One S. The RAZR HD is designed to compete with the Galaxy S III and the HTC One X, and it defintely sizes up well. Motorola has a reputation for building tough phones, and the RAZR HD continues that trend; it feels much more solid than the Galaxy S III, and it’s a tough call to say whether the One X is built better. Since the Galaxy S III and RAZR HD use the same panel, their screen characteristics are identical, funnily enough. The AMOLED display has bright, punchy, oversaturated colours, and the out-of-the-box phone configuration definitely shows this (for better or worse). The panel’s PenTile subpixel arrangement is still noticeable if you look closely, but overall one has to struggle to notice it in everyday usage, much more so than the HTC One S we reviewed before.
The other phone we got to check out at the event was the RAZR HD’s little brother, the RAZR M. For once, smaller doesn’t mean a compromise in specs, with a similar 720p screen in the RAZR M, accompanied with the same Snapdragon S4 SoC, the same camera, a slightly smaller battery (2000 mAh), slightly less storage at 8GB (though microSD expansion makes up for it), and a very similar outside build with the same materials (minus the micro HDMI port). Personally, I’m a big fan of the RAZR M – it fits more easily in hand than the RAZR HD does, while not compromising on features. Potential buyers can happily purchase the RAZR M unsullied by thoughts that they’re buying an inferior product just because they happen to prefer a smaller phone.
Software-wise, a Motorola spokesperson mentioned that the RAZR HD and the RAZR M are practically identical feature-wise, so I’ll treat them as such. Motorola has chosen to keep a lot of the stock Android user interface, and the customisations that Motorola has made are far better than the much-maligned MOTOBLUR interface of older Motorola Android phones. The home screen features a single widget that covers showing the time, setting alarms, weather, battery life and shows notifications such as missed calls or incoming texts. A swipe to the left of the main home screen shows a quick settings page, akin to what other manufactuers have put into the notification dropdown menu.
One other feature Motorola representatives were particularly keen to point out was Smart Actions, a feature similar to Tasker that allows users to configure their phone to perform predetermined actions when trigger conditions are met, such as location-based reminders or automated battery life management. While both the RAZR HD and the RAZR M are launching with Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich, Motorola and Telstra promised a quick update to the RAZR HD to Jelly Bean before Christmas, and to the RAZR M by January.
Demo units of the RAZR HD with Jelly Bean loaded were present at the launch event. The update is pretty much as expected, with Google Now and the Project Butter graphics improvements present. As provided by Telstra, the bootloader is definitely locked, and it remains to be seen if both Motorola and Telstra are willing to provide a practical unlocking solution for developers.
The RAZR HD and M will have separate cradle docks sold separately; a car dock that will set the phone to “car mode” for navigation, and a desk dock with a cable that, when plugged into the microUSB port, can run a configurable preset application, such as an alarm clock.
The RAZR HD is available now from Telstra for $5 on the $60 Freedom Connect plan, and the RAZR M will be available some time in November for $0 on the same plan.
We have a shiny new review unit of the RAZR HD in our hands right now, so check out the gallery of photos from the event (including side-by-side comparison shots of the RAZR HD against its main competitors) and if you have any questions about the phone, or anything else from the event, fire away in the comments below!