Hands-on with Verizon’s Droid Razr Maxx

Guest blogger Cliff Miller writes:

I recently switched from the Verizon Apple iPhone 4S 32 GB to the Verizon Droid Razr Maxx, and my initial impression was quite good, especially for the price I paid — $199.99 with a two-year contract from Verizon. The iPhone 4S is obviously a 3G phone and the Droid Razr Maxx is a 4G phone, so I won’t compare their 3G/4G speeds head-to-head because it’s not fair. The iPhone 4S was the 32 GB model, and the Droid Razr Maxx has 8 GB internal storage plus up to 32 GB with an SD card (it came with a 16 GB card).

I have had other Android and Apple iPhones in the past, so I am well-versed in both of them. I decided to write a review about my experiences and the reasons I switched from iOS to Android. I hope this will help those of you looking to change or choose which path to follow if you’re as yet undecided. Please remember that, no matter what choice you make, it’s your choice! Don’t let others knock you for what you choose to do. That being said, on with the review!

Hands-on with Verizon's Droid Razr Maxx

Software

The Verizon Droid Razr Maxx came pre-installed with Gingerbread (Android 2.3). I was kind of bummed that it did not come with Ice Cream Sandwich (aka ICS, or Android 4.0) installed, but I was easily able to determine that there was an update available. This update brought the 4.0.3 version of Ice Cream Sandwich to the phone and automatically increased its appeal several times over. The menus scrolled smoothly, apps loaded quite quickly thanks to the dual-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A9 processor, and PowerVR SGX540 GPU in the phone along with the 1 GB of RAM made it quite powerful. I loaded up all of my favorite apps: Skype, Trillian, etc. I was, however, a little annoyed with the bloat that Verizon decided to include, but that comes with any carrier-subsidized phone. The phone took any app I could throw at it flawlessly and worked great. I ran many applications and could not get this phone to slow down or crash; I am sure someone can, but I doubt a normal user would ever hit that point. Motorola’s Blur did not slow the phone down any that I noticed; I have had other Motorola phones that had Blur and they didn’t fare so well, but the Droid Razr Maxx chugged on like a champ. Aside from this difference in fluidity, the experience with the software on the phone was pretty typical of any ICS Motorola phone with Blur.

Hardware

As I mentioned, the Droid Razr Maxx packs a powerful dual-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A9 processor with SGX540 GPU and 1 GB of RAM. The processor and GPU can handle any application out on the Google Play Store as of now, and, more than likely, for quite some time to come. The Droid Razr Maxx’s biggest selling point is its whopping 3300mAh Lithium Ion battery, which boasts a massive 380 hours of standby time and 1290 Minutes (21.5 Hours) of talk time. From my personal experience, it gets very close to these projections even in the worst scenarios. The phone has a SIM card slot on the right side next to the micro SD card slot. The phone comes pre-installed with a 16 GB micro SD card, but it can handle up to a 32 GB card. The back camera on this phone is very good, coming in at 8 MP; in my own comparison, it was almost spot-on with the iPhone 4S camera in the tests I did. The rear-facing camera is capable of recording HD video in full 1080p and looks very good. From what I can tell, it is very close to the iPhone 4S in video quality. The front-facing camera is 1.3 MP and capable of recording HD 720p video. The front-facing camera works quite well for Skype, Google+ Hangouts, and any other situation requiring a webcam. The phone is only slightly thicker than its little brother the Droid Razr — the additional space was necessary, more than likely, due to the bigger battery. Over all, the Droid Razr Maxx feels very comfortable in my hand; the back of the phone has a textured feel to it, which helps with keeping a firm grip to avoid those awkward “oops” moments when lesser phones seem to succumb to gravity’s pull — and break — without warning.

The phone’s overall construction is quite solid; it doesn’t feel like plastic in my hand. The Droid Razr Maxx also has a mini HDMI port on the top of it (mini HDMI to HDMI adapter required). I picked up a cheap adapter on Amazon for under a buck and hooked it up to my 42″ 1080p TV — it looked very good. Everything was quite smooth and looked great; videos that were encoded at DVD quality played quite well with no artifacts or blurriness. Lower quality video looked okay enough, but it was nothing to write home about.

Call Quality and 4G/3G Speeds

What would a phone be if it couldn’t make calls? Well, this phone does that quite well — even in the worst areas of coverage. I recently took a trip from upstate New York to Detroit, Michigan via an Amtrak train and decided to test out the phone en route. The coverage along the way varied from full 4G LTE to one bar of 1x and everywhere in between. I took a number of phone calls at various signal levels and all of them went through surprisingly well. I was really surprised at how clear the call was with barely a bar of signal on a fast-moving train. I also decided to test out the rate of data transfer on the Droid Razr Maxx, because that’s what a smartphone does best, no? I tested the 4G at full signal and got an impressive 22.3 Mbps down and 14.5 Mbps up using the Speedtest.net Android application and the closest server to where I was at the time. Throughout the trip, I very rarely lost data connection altogether. The phone seemed to keep the data connection up even when it was only 1x data with a low signal. The speeds I experienced were quite good for being on a train going through all kinds of terrain. I tested the 3G data with full signal and got 3.2 Mbps down and 1.2 Mbps up — not too shabby, if I say so myself. All in all, this phone seems to stay connected very well; of course, your coverage may vary.

Summary

The Droid Razr Maxx has definitely impressed me with its long battery life and powerful set of features. The phone’s power and battery life coupled with Android’s Ice Cream Sandwich operating system makes this phone quite the contender against the iPhone 4S and many other phones currently on the market. Just like anything else, there are phones that will be better or worse than this one (depending on your needs). But the Droid Razr Maxx has the power and battery life to last all day and do whatever you want it to do without the need to be shackled to a charger or battery pack every few hours just to keep going.

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  • Michael Stokes

    I’m using the DROID Bionic at the moment, which is quite similar to the RAZR MAXX. Obviously the MAXX beats it in battery among other things, but they’re similar enough for me to agree that these phones perform great. Can’t wait for ICS to be released for the Bionic later this year.

  • compdude68

    My Droid Maxx is the best phone I have had so far. The battery life and speed with ICS is phenomenal. Droid Incredible was the second best before this one.

  • David Roche

    The Droid Razr Maxx is my 2nd smartphone, after having a Droid Incredible for 2 years, and I couldn’t be happier! It’s easy to use, feels great in my hand, and my god, the battery life is stunning! I’m one of those people who gets antsy when the battery gets as low as 50%, and I can honestly say that in the few months that I’ve owned my phone, I’ve never had the battery below 50% at the end of a day, and that’s with wifi on, gps on, the screen turned to maximum brightness, etc. It’s a phenomenal phone!