Motorola Droid Razr Maxx Review: A Bit Thicker and Longer-Lasting
We've all done it: "I can't talk, I'm running out of battery. Bye!" But before you can get out the last word, it hits -- you're stranded, with a dead phone.
If you want to avoid that problem, Motorola designed the Razr Maxx for you. It offers an extra-buff 3,300 mAh battery that lasts whopping 20-hour talk time. That's right, talk time. It lasts over twice as long as the eight-hour iPhone. And it's removable, too.
In one test, the battery outperformed the 20 hours, with moderate use of calling, Web browsing and apps. So these aren't "ideal" numbers, under conditions where you never touch it. No, no, no -- they're real-world talk times. So if you want a super-powered battery, the Maxx is the phone you've been waiting for.
Aside from the battery, the Maxx doesn't stray far from earlier Razr phones. Design-wise, it's coated in the same Kevlar-weave material as its siblings, and it gets a boost from a hardy stainless steel frame. But the Maxx breaks from rank with a smooth back. You get a lot of phone, since it stands 5.2-by-2.7-by-0.4-inches, but you can still comfortably fit the phone in your hand.
The 4.3-inch display doesn't hold a candle to some of the better phones, and the PenTile pixel layout tends to make text and images look fuzzy when you stare at them up close. If you look about a foot away though, you won't notice a thing. If you want a top-of-the-line screen, this is not it, but it benefits from good color saturation and wide viewing angles.
The 8-megapixel camera takes nice photos under ideal conditions, like when the sun is shining and you're holding it perfectly still. But if you live in the real world, you'll see less-than-desirable results -- even if you use the HDR function to get a bigger range between the lightest and darkest colors, the color production looks off in dim light. And if you take an action shot, the lens doesn't focus enough to avoid blurriness. The 1.3-megapixel front-facing lens works well with Google Video Talk, but other than that it's your average blurry secondary shooter.
When it comes to software, the Maxx falls behind its competitors. If you want ICS, you'll be disappointed. The Maxx comes with Gingerbread. I could have forgiven Motorola if it shipped with a vanilla form of Android, but alas, Motorola slapped on an unnecessary skin. If you like excruciatingly slow zoom effects every time you open an app, you'll like it. But if you just want functional, no-frills software, it'll drive you insane.
Software features are more or less useless. Webtop, for example, turns the Maxx into a laptop. That sounds great, until you realize the expensive dock is sold separately. I'm not sure why you'd buy one instead of just using a laptop. But not everything Motorola added is bad. The phone comes with "Smart Actions" -- customizable settings that you can program to turn features on and off. That means if you regularly fall asleep at, say, 10 p.m., you can schedule the phone to dim the screen at that time. Or if you take a quiet train to work every morning, you can set the phone to automatically switch to silent mode at that time.
Smart Actions use GPS, among other factors, to gauge what mode it should be in. So when you enter your house, you can set it to recognize the location and shut off Bluetooth. You can set it up to extend the already robust battery life by turning off different apps when you don't need them. It's a great feature that almost makes up for the outdated version of Android and the obnoxious Motorola skin. Almost.
The Maxx doesn't have the most cutting-edge software, but it runs on Verizon's speedy LTE network, so you can download apps and stream music and videos in record time. You'll still have to watch videos using mediocre software. Streaming apps usually drain batteries like crazy, but not on the Maxx. So if you're a Spotify addict, and you're tired of charging your phone, you'll be in heaven. But its performance won't win converts from the iPhone or Galaxy S3. Bottom line: it's fast and easy to use, but aside from a better battery, the Maxx does little else to stand apart. ♦
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