Driven by a dual-core, 1.5 GHz processor, the Motorola Droid RAZR HD provides just about all the pep you could ask for in a smartphone.
Over the course of four run-throughs with Quadrant benchmark, it scored an average of 4948, putting it on equal footing with the competitively specced phones like the Motorola Droid RAZR M and Samsung Galaxy S III. While the RAZR HD doesn’t exceed their performance, that’s sort of like saying that one rocketship doesn’t exceed the performance of another; There is speed to burn here and then some. Games, streaming video, just about anything is going to scream.
The RAZR HD ships with Android 4.0, also known as “Ice Cream Sandwich”. This may disappoint some folks since Android 4.1 and 4.2 “Jelly Bean” devices are currently hitting the market, but Motorola has promised users an upgrade to 4.1 before the end of this year. Don’t feel too bad about waiting, though, since the differences are pretty subtle. Maybe the most important feature recently added to Android is already available on 4.0 — specifically the built-in data counter to let you know how much of your mobile internet capacity you’ve used thus far. I’d caution users however to use the My Verizon data widget most of the time: the amount of data Android says you’ve used, and the amount Verizon says you’ve used, can often differ dramatically.
I was also pleasantly surprised by the fact that while the RAZR HD wasn’t devoid of the non-removable “shovelware” apps that carriers often load their phones with, it was much, much cleaner than the RAZR M or the Galaxy Stellar that I’ve reviewed lately. The only really obvious examples are a couple of game demos, and Verizon’s own upselling services like VZ Navigator. But in contrast to other recent devices, even recent Droids, it’s practically clean as a whistle, with no pure advertising apps. Good move, Verizon.
A while before their release, there was a vague rumor that the RAZR HD and RAZR MAXX HD were being delayed due to unspecified “antenna issues.” If that was the case, then the time was well spent, because the signal strength is amazing.
The RAZR HD connects to and holds even a marginal 4G signal as well as just about any other phone that I’ve seen, and better than most, with fewer drop-outs and the ability to find coverage in more places. Even with a signal strength of -108 dBm — low enough that most LTE phones would be dropping in and out of coverage — the RAZR HD holds a fairly steady connection and clocks 10 to 16 megabit downloads. In fact, the only LTE phone I’ve worked with which has done better is the Droid Bionic, and that’s by a very very thin margin.
The RAZR HD also features full international roaming support, like almost all of Verizon’s new high-end phones of late, so you can take it with you and keep it working even if you’re going on an overseas trip. Just watch those roaming charges — they can be every bit as brutal and sneaky as the overages for going past the limits on your data plan.
Last but not least, the RAZR HD features Near Field Communication — and, like the last crop of NFC devices, it’s not supported by Google Wallet, Google’s “tap to pay” smartphone app. I don’t know whether this is Google’s fault for not certifying more devices, or if Verizon and the other carriers are deliberately blocking Google Wallet in order to push their own payment schemes. But either way, it’s getting kind of ridiculous.
The only really significant productivity app on the RAZR HD, besides the standard email, contacts, and organization parts of Android, is the full version of Quickoffice. That’s a nice piece of software for working with Word, Excel, and Powerpoint files.
The entertainment apps are a little more robust: all of the regular fare like Google Books, Google Movies & TV, Google Music, Kindle, etcetera, plus a couple of game demos, and the Verizon add-on “NFL Mobile.”
If you choose to invest in a compatible HDMI cable, you can hook this device up to your HDTV for movies and even games.
Overall, I would characterize the RAZR HD’s camera as being fairly typical for an 8 MP smartphone. It doesn’t have the sharpest focus I’ve ever seen, but it does well enough even in somewhat mediocre light.
I’d still like to see better optics and a tighter focus, but for the time being, this will do. It’s certainly not bad, not by any stretch of the imagination, but I would like to see high-end smartphones working to move the bar on camera quality too, not just processor speed and screen resolution.
Like all the other RAZRs (and a disappointing number of Motorola’s other phones of late) the RAZR HD’s battery is completely sealed and non-removable. Fortunately though, you’re not very likely to need to swap it out for a fresh one, since the RAZR HD sports a whopping 2530 milliamp-hour capacity. That’s a lot more than the 1720 mAh of the original RAZR, and a bit more than the 2100 mAh of the Galaxy S III to boot.
More importantly though, it makes good use of that battery. Even going in knowing the RAZR’s battery capacity, and having used phones with only slightly smaller (or slightly larger) batteries before, I was surprised by how long lived it was. Particularly when it comes to standby time — the RAZR seems to lose practically none of its battery power when it’s left idling, to the point that it could be sitting around for days and days and still have juice left. In fact, Motorola rates it for 8.5 days of standby time on a charge. Which actually might be a little low in my opinion, after leaving it for 12 hours and seeing it not drop at all.
As far as real-world usage goes, I think I could safely see someone going two days of average use on a single charge, maybe even two days of heavy use. Motorola advertises the RAZR HD as providing 16 hours of talk time, and while that will go down sharply if you’re doing anything that has the screen still on like browsing, it’s still a tremendous amount of power, and serves as a comfortable guarantee that you’re not going to run out of battery life just because you spent an hour or two streaming video or navigating via GPS.