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Motorola Droid Razr HD review: How phones should be built

JR Raphael | Oct. 23, 2012
Motorola's Droid Razr HD makes a lasting impression with its first-class build quality and outstanding battery life -- but the Android smartphone also has its fair share of flaws.

Buttons, ports and slots -- oh my!

Motorola's Droid Razr HD has separate micro-USB and micro-HDMI ports on its left side -- so that, unlike most smartphones these days, it doesn't require any special adapters to be hooked up to a TV. The left side of the phone also hosts a microSD slot -- another much-appreciated rarity for smartphones. (One oddity: The microSD slot has a door that opens only with a special pin tool included with the phone. Better not lose it.)

The Droid Razr has a headphone jack on its top. On the phone's right side sits a metal power button that's textured by a series of tiny notched indentations; this gives it a rough sort of feel, which is a bit jarring at first but makes it easy to identify the button by touch. Below the power button is a volume rocker, which is textured in a different way -- with single protruding notches on its top and bottom.

Speaking of buttons, the Droid Razr HD uses virtual on-screen navigation buttons instead of physical buttons on its face. This gives the phone a significant advantage over other current devices when it comes to overall user experience, as physical buttons are a dated element of Android that simply don't jibe with the 4.x-level platform. It baffles me that other phone manufacturers continue to include physical buttons despite Google's recommendations and the subpar experience they provide.

Under the hood

Motorola's Droid Razr HD runs on a 1.5GHz dual-core processor along with 1GB RAM. For the most part, I found the phone fast and pleasant to use: Apps loaded quickly, Web browsing was smooth and speedy, and multitasking was snappy as could be. I did, however, notice some occasional choppiness with home screen swiping and system animations during my time with the device.

I noticed the same occasional choppiness when reviewing the Droid Razr M -- which shares the same processor and RAM as the Razr HD -- last month. On both phones, the effect was subtle but apparent. Given the fact that other devices with less horsepower don't suffer from this problem, I suspect the software is to blame.

One area where the Razr HD really excels is battery life. The phone packs a 2530mAh nonremovable battery that's more than capable of keeping it running all day. Even with moderate to heavy use -- and while relying exclusively on 4G LTE, a notorious power drainer, for connectivity -- I never came close to hitting empty at the end of the day.

(If you want even more power protection, the Razr Maxx HD model boasts a battery that's about 30% bigger than the Razr HD's and is listed for twice the amount of "mixed usage." I've been testing that phone as well and will share my thoughts on it soon.)

 

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