Look and feel
Motorola’s RAZR i not only looks the part, it’s made of durable materials and features splash-proof insulation to protect the fragile innards. The soft-touch rear is addictively strokeable.
Ease of Use
Android Ice Cream Sandwich is presented brilliantly, with easy access to all of the most important features and settings. The RAZR i’s spacious screen is a great tool for playing with apps and browsing the web.
The edge-to-edge screen may not quite reach the edges as suggested, but it’s still crisp and extremely vibrant. The eight-megapixel camera boasts a ten-shots-per-second mode and quick start-up from hibernation, but the shutter lag is rather annoying.
Intel’s Atom processor makes a second appearance after Orange’s San Diego, and proves just as capable here, ably handling the latest power-intensive games. Only quad-core beasties provide better performance.
A real highlight, the RAZR i can survive for two days with light use, over a day with plenty of app play, and a solid eight hours plus when streaming video. Excellent.
Motorola’s RAZR i was launched as its brand new ‘edge-to-edge’ smartphone, rocking an Intel processor (the Orange San Diego is the only other phone in the world to do so) and a flash new camera that can snap 10 photos a second. The ‘edge-to-edge’ claim isn’t entirely true, but that doesn’t detract from a fantastic phone that’s highly usable, well designed and perfect for gaming and enjoying apps on the move.
When you first pick up the RAZR i it looks and feels like it’s made of tough plastic, but the display is actually framed by aircraft-grade aluminium, while the rear is made from Kevlar for a super-tough finish. Motorola has a history of creating life-proof phones with the Defy range, and the RAZR i is certainly solid and packing a considerable heft.
That patterned Kevlar backing is surprisingly soft to the touch and highly strokeable. It doesn’t scuff even if it’s constantly in and out of your pocket or tossed in a bag with other items, while the Gorilla Glass front keeps the display scratch-free.
The SIM card and memory card slots are covered with a flap and a splash-proof coating extends to the RAZR i’s innards, presumably to prevent water from infiltrating the open USB and headphone sockets and wreaking havoc. We used the RAZR i during a rainstorm and had no issues with water damage, although we doubt it’d survive a tumble into a toilet.
A stand-out feature of the RAZR i is that edge-to-edge 4.3-inch screen, although it doesn’t technically extend to the very edges of the phone like Motorola suggests: the aluminium frame gives a clear 2-3mm boundary around the outskirts. Still, the screen does noticeably extend further to the edges than other smartphone displays, which is visually appealing and makes for a spacious web browsing and media experience.
There are no physical touch buttons beneath the screen, with Home, Back and Recent App buttons appearing on the Android desktop instead, but there’s still a black border between the base of the display and the bottom of the RAZR i’s frame. It’s a shame, because if the screen stretched to the base of the phone it would be an almost perfect ratio for widescreen movies. As it is, you’ll get borders above and below your widescreen videos when holding the phone sideways.
Still, we instantly took to the RAZR i’s screen, its bright output and excellent viewing angles making it comfortable to see even if you’re craning over someone’s shoulder in bright daylight. Colours are deeper and richer than on rival phones such as the HTC One series, pleasing to the eye at a slight cost to realism. Reassuringly, pushing hard on that Gorilla Glass covering doesn’t result in any kind of distortion in the image.
Tastier Ice Cream Sandwich
Android Ice Cream Sandwich runs perfectly smoothly (unsurprising considering the 2GHz Intel Atom processor stuck away inside), and boasts a few little Motorola-style tweaks. To start you only have a single homepage. Drag left and you’re presented with an incredibly useful settings screen, which can be used to adjust your profile and toggle the likes of Wi-Fi. Drag right and you get the option to add new pages for more apps and widgets. We definitely prefer this to the usual five pages pre-loaded with crap, which we often have to delete.
Another Motorola tweak is its Circles widget, a simple little readout that tells you the time, weather and any notifications you have pending. The twist is that you can flip the individual circles to bring up different info – for instance, flip the notifications circle and you get a battery life indicator. Flick the digital clock and you get an olde worlde analogue clock face. It’s a simple, neat little idea that – like tennis balls to a puppy – we can’t stop playing with.
Ten shots a second
Push the dedicated shutter button on the right edge of the phone, whether the RAZR i is hibernating or you’re in the middle of something, and the camera app automatically loads (it takes a second from hibernation but is almost instant from the desktop or another app). You then simply have to push the button again to shoot a photo, which again takes around a second – sadly not as instant as the HTC One X or Samsung Galaxy S III.
We love the funky interface, which hides away a good chunk of the features until needed. One of the coolest features is the multi-shot burst mode which takes a whopping ten photos in a second, trumping the likes of the One X and Galaxy S III which can only manage 3-4 a second. The results when shooting a speeding car or spray of water is spectacular: Flick through the resulting shots and it’s like watching a movie. The only issue is a second’s delay while the camera focuses, which could have you missing that big moment.
Our test shots came out well, appearing crisp when viewed back on a larger screen. Colours are accurately represented if not particularly bold. In dingy basements and pubs our snaps also came out surprisingly bright, although often suffered from graininess or blurring. Thankfully you’ve got a bright LED flash to counter this, which does a great job of illuminating the scene without overexposing it.
Motorola RAZR i Performance
Intel’s Atom processor may lack the sheer power of quad-core beasts such as the Tegra 3, found in the Samsung Galaxy S III and the HTC One X. However, it’s still more than powerful enough to run the latest games such as Dead Trigger, so gamers will be able to get their thumb-twitching fix – at least for the foreseeable future. We saw no stuttering or other issues, with Android running like a dream. Of course, if you’re a huge gamer you might prefer something like the HTC One X or Samsung Galaxy S III, which boast quad-core power and even bigger screens.
Battery life also gets a massive thumbs up. Motorola claims you’ll get 40% more life than the iPhone 5 from a single charge, and we certainly managed to get 48 hours of use when we stuck to emails, texts, basic apps and the occasional short call. Start taking photos, streaming movies and playing with apps throughout the day and the RAZR i dies after just over a day, which is still slightly better than average. We streamed over eight hours of video over YouTube on a full charge too, another impressive result.
Motorola has produced one of its best ever smartphones in the RAZR i. Mixing sleek design with a crisp wide screen and Intel performance, the RAZR i is a loveable little phone that’s easy to use and hassle-free. It’ll suit gamers, media fans and web browsers, and keeps going all day with its excellent battery life. The feature-packed camera is another bonus, although we’re rueing the delay before taking each shot.