With Verizon now sporting two almost indistinguishable smartphones, the Motorola Droid RAZR and Motorola Droid RAZR MAXX, some would-be buyers may be confused about what each one offers. We take a comparative look, and answer the question: With the RAZR MAXX out, is there any point in buying the original Droid RAZR?
Nearly Identical Twins
In many ways, the RAZR and RAZR MAXX are nearly the same phone, which is what helps make the situation so confusing. They sport the same specs: same 1.2 GHz processor, same 16 GB of internal memory with an additional 16 GB microSD card preloaded, same 4G LTE, same screen, and basically the same design. They're even both promised an upgrade to Android OS 4.0 ("Ice Cream Sandwich") some time this year.
The only difference is the battery, and what has to be done to accomodate that battery. The original RAZR has a 1780 mAh battery, which is comparable to the capacity of similar 4G LTE devices like the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Motorola Droid Bionic, etcetera. By making it's battery very broad and very flat -- as well as eliminating the extra thickness of a removable battery cover -- it manages to pack that battery into a very thin package.
The RAZR sports a "bump" at the top, where the camera and connectors are located, which is 9 millimeters (0.35 inches) thick, then the device thins out to 7.1 mm (0.275 inches) over most of the device (shown here).
The RAZR MAXX, on the other hand, sports a flattened design, with the same 9 millimeter (0.35 inch) thickness down the entire length of the back (shown here).
That extra thickness over part of the device gives it the ability to house a bigger battery... much bigger, in fact, a whopping 3300 mAh. That's 185% of the capacity of the original RAZR, and similarly outclasses every other high-end smartphone battery you can name. Even Samsung's much larger Galaxy Note only has a 2500 mAh battery.
But that extra capacity gives the RAZR amazing staying power: 21 hours of talk time, 15 hours of (non-streaming) video, 8 hours of LTE web browsing... all of those are realistic goals with the RAZR MAXX, and are completely unrealistic with any other LTE phone. In fact, you'd need to equip any other phone with a plenty fat extended battery to get similar performance. Obviously on a phone with a non-removable battery like the RAZR, that's not an option.
Now I'm sure some people will disagree with me here, but I'm going to go out on a limb: the added thickness and weight of the RAZR MAXX isn't significant. Noticeable, sure, if you have both of them side by side. But even with the extra heft, the RAZR MAXX is still thinner than the iPhone 4S, and just two tenths of an ounce heavier, which is next to nothing. For that matter, it's only 1.9 mm thicker than the original RAZR: that's less than a tenth of an inch. That it's not as ridiculously thin as the original RAZR doesn't mean it's not thin.
Different Price Points
Aside from the battery, there's only one other significant difference between the two devices: cost. The current suggested retail of the Droid RAZR MAXX is $300 with a two-year contract, while the original Droid RAZR is $200 with contract. If you look for the lowest available prices through online retailers, that gap is still maintained pretty closely, and I imagine that will be the case until the RAZR MAXX is available for less than $100. Which won't be for many months, meaning that as long as the RAZR is still on the market, there's still going to be that choice to make. And when you come down to it, price is really the only reason I can see why someone would want to buy the original Droid RAZR over the RAZR MAXX, given the similarity in profile and the sameness in their hardware.
So all other things aside, what the RAZR represents is a savings of $100 over the RAZR MAXX. Is that enough of a reason to buy? Frankly... I would say no. If you don't want to spend full price on the MAXX, you're much better off waiting a couple months for its price to drop than you are buying an inferior unit that you'll then be stuck with for two years. My answer would probably be different if you could choose later on to remove the RAZR's battery and replace it, but you can't. Once you've made that decision, it's for the life of the phone or the contract, whichever comes up first.
The Droid RAZR is an example of an evolutionary update that improves a little bit on what came before it. The RAZR MAXX is an example of a major upgrade which has the potential to spark a new wave in smartphones, providing big power to go with the big screens.
Given those options, I think the RAZR MAXX is an easy choice to make for anyone who wants a robust smartphone that will work as hard as they do -- and for as long.
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