Look and feel
The Motorola RAZR HD is a chunkier version of the RAZR i, with a solid and suitably hefty body. We like the distinctive design.
Ease of Use
The 4.7-inch touchscreen is a great size and responsive, and the Motorola-tweaked version of Android gives easy access to useful information and important settings.
That HD screen is bold, bright and beautiful, but there’s a bit of a dearth of features considering the price, especially compared to Samsung and HTC rivals. The 8MP camera isn’t as great as we’d hoped but does the job for simple social snaps.
The Motorola RAZR HD’s dual-core processor happily runs the latest games and multi-tasks with apps, despite being trumped by the quad-core processors we often see at this price point.
A real puzzler. The Motorola RAZR HD struggles to survive a full 24 hours of modest use, even with most of the features turned off, yet can stream video for seven hours before dying.
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,3/11/2013 3:15:39 PM
Ease of use
Beautiful, bright HD screen
Friendly, helpful Android tweaks
Poor battery life with moderate use
Lacking in stand-out features
Motorola had a hit-and-miss 2012, but ended on a massive high with the Motorola RAZR i, one of our favourite under-rated phones of the year. With its light, compact form factor and incredible battery life it’s one of the most portable smartphones around, but it also packs in good performance, a friendly interface and a sharp and colourful screen for a great overall experience.
So when the Motorola RAZR HD hit our desk, packing a similar design to the RAZR i but rocking a full HD screen, we fired it straight up and got stuck into some movies and games. But how does the RAZR HD stack up against its predecessor, as well as other HD smartphones such as the HTC One?
Looks-wise, the Motorola RAZR HD is basically a chubbier version of the Motorola RAZR i. Those angular corners and patterned rear are distinctive and eye-catching, and while we understand why some people might not like the design, we personally think it’s an attractive little beast.
The front panel uses minimalist design, with no buttons and only a small Motorola logo up top. The lack of buttons is thanks to Android 4.1, which uses virtual on-screen shortcuts for returning to your home screen, skipping back through menus and bringing up your recently accessed apps. Power and volume buttons are on the right edge and easily accessible, while SIM card, USB and HDMI ports are all on the left.
Our only real complaint is the groove that runs around the front edge, which is a happy home for dust and other bits. It’s the same problem we found with Sony’s Xperia Z, and while less junk invades the RAZR HD’s trench, it’s still a pain to clean out.
If you like your smartphones solid and weighty, the Motorola RAZR HD will satisfy your needs. That chunky body is one of the heavier around at 146g, although still a lightweight compared to Nokia’s pie-loving Lumia 920, which clocks in at close to 200g. The RAZR HD is comfortable to use, its 4.7-inch screen proving large enough to easily navigate through websites and menus, but not excessively large so your thumbs can’t reach the far corners. The phone sticks in your palm too, thanks to the soft textured back. Of course, if you prefer thinner, lighter phones, we’d recommend the RAZR i over the HD.
As for the interface, Android 4.1 has been spruced up with Motorola’s tweaks, all previously present on the RAZR i. The excellent quick-access settings menu, found by swiping right from the home screen, helps you to instantly turn the likes of Wi-Fi and GPS on or off, while the home screen bubbles display useful info such as time, date, weather news and your latest text messages. You can flip them to bring up different info, which is both useful and super cool.
The Motorola RAZR HD’s screen is one of the phone’s most prominent features, as the name implies. That Super AMOLED display immediately struck us as bright and vibrant, from the second we hit the desktop. We had no trouble using the phone in broad daylight, with the power of the panel easily combating any pesky glare, and our photos and videos looked fantastic thanks to the rich colours and sharp 720 x 1280 resolution. Viewing angles are good too. You can tilt the screen and still clearly read text, while images only darken slightly.
While quad-core smartphones are fast becoming the norm, the RAZR HD is content to settle for a dual-core chip running at 1.5GHz. Still, this hasn’t impacted performance as the RAZR HD will happily run fast-paced games. We noticed some graphical glitches with some hardcore 3D action games such as Shadowgun: Deadzone, but other titles worked fine.
What really confused us was the RAZR HD’s battery life. While the RAZR i happily runs for a couple of days on a single charge, the RAZR HD conked out in our first day of use after just 18 hours of very modest play (the odd bit of web browsing and texting). That’s with screen brightness turned up and Wi-Fi and GPS enabled. We tried again with auto-brightness and power-saver mode enabled, and GPS disabled. This time it survived for almost 24 hours but still fell short of our expectations.
With that in mind, we expected a poor result in our video tests, where we stream a movie over YouTube and see how long the smartphone can last. We were stunned therefore when the RAZR HD was still going strong seven hours later, while most phone are done after just six. We repeated the test just to be extra-sure, with the same result. The moral of the tale seems to be, use the Motorola RAZR HD as much as possible throughout the day as it has no apparent bearing on the battery life.
Our first trials with the 8MP rear camera produced soft shots that weren’t too appealing, but this seemed to be caused by grime on the camera lens, which picks up grease and fingerprints rather easily. After a quick wipe, and switching to HDR mode, our shots looked much cleaner. Colours are well represented, although we found that daytime shots occasionally came out dark as the lens battled against natural daylight, while some of our indoor photos appeared grainy when viewed back on a larger screen. For evening snaps you’ll need to use the built-in flash.
Budding directors can shoot Full HD 1080p video, which is a fine way of capturing family memories. However, the camera features pretty much dry up there, and after using HTC’s innovative One smartphone, which crams in all kinds of cool tools such as Zoe mode, we were left feeling a little cold. You only get 11GB of storage space for your photos (as well as your apps, music and everything else), but at least it’s expandable via the memory card slot.
At £400, the Motorola RAZR HD is premium-priced but sadly can’t match the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S III in terms of features. We were also disappointed by the poor battery life during everyday use, so anyone looking for a truly portable Motorola should look to the brilliant RAZR i instead.