Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Motorola RAZR MAXX first impressions

I have been using the Motorola RAZR MAXX for a day now and let me open up this post by telling you this: the battery life is phenomenal. A pretty old smartphone by today's standard (it was released in the US early this year as the Droid RAZR MAXX), the RAZR MAXX features a 3300mAh battery (12.54 Whr equivalent) - almost double in capacity of the battery included in the HTC One X and original Droid RAZR.

The qHD AMOLED display uses a pentile sub-matrix configuration meaning that blurs are visible particularly when reading texts. I am no fan of such pixel configuration and will be glad to see the back of this technology. On the other hand the display is bright enough to use even outdoors. The backlit does appear to be uneven, but it isn't very apparent unless the brightness is at its dimmest point. A 1.2GHz dual core ARM Cortex A9 CPU and PowerVR SGX540 courtesy of the OMAP4430 SoC keeps things moving. This is the same SoC family that also powers the Blackberry Playbook and Galaxy Nexus, albeit at a lower clock speed.

As the RAZR MAXX inherited the exact same internal performance as last year's RAZR, the specs are mid-ranging. But despite running on a Frankenstein combination of Android 2.3 Gingerbread and MotoBlur, the performance was actually springy. I was disappointed that it was not equipped with Android 4.0 ICS - after all I waited until the ICS roll out to begin before I requested this review unit but at least the unit performed well. A 8MP camera module sits on the backside and is capable of 1080p video recording. Wrapping stuff up, the RAZR MAXX has a microSDHC card slot for expansion - a rare find these days.

All in all, the RAZR MAXX's specs are so-so. Now let's talk about the RAZR MAXX's battery, because really this is what sets this phone apart from its competitors old and new. The 3300mAh battery is the biggest I've seen on a smartphone, ever. To put into perspective, the first Android RAZR came with a respectable 1750mAh battery. That means the battery here has 88% more capacity - an impressive feat for a phone that only gained an extra 17g in weight and 1.89mm in thickness.

After receiving the device yesterday and removing it from the charger yesterday at 4pm, the RAZR MAXX lasted 30 hours before giving up. Wifi was left on 80% of the time except when I was out in which case data connection switched to HSDPA. In that 28 hours I took a couple of pictures, read an ebook for four hours, played 30 minutes of Angry Birds Space, surfed the web and Flipboard, checked and posted onto my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram account regularly, wrote a couple of e-mails and answered a couple of phone calls.

30 hours is insane for a modern smartphone to last on with moderate usage, but this was based on extremely heavy use. And as it was my first day with the phone, it includes the time setting it up and downloading 13 apps. In fact this was the first time I was able to head out for a day without worrying about carrying an emergency battery charger. When I left home in the morning, there was only 60% of battery remaining, and I still managed to get through the entire day without plugging it into a wall charger. It boggles my mind - never have I seen such an impressive battery performance from a phone since the pre-smartphone era began.

I suspect that with ICS, the RAZR MAXX's battery performance will in fact go better. Look out for my review of this ordinary, yet extraordinary smartphone in the near future here.

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