- Review Date: 02/01/2012
- Bottom line:
The Droid Razr Maxx fuses excellent Android performance with lightning-fast Verizon LTE and amazing battery life.
Excellent all-around performance. Awesome battery life for an LTE phone.
Big. Missing Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" at launch.
The top Android smartphone you can buy today, the Motorola Droid Razr Maxx combines the best materials, a fast processor, a super-speedy 4G LTE network, and a truly gigantic battery. What you get is a smartphone that's ready to be used to the max. At $299.99 with contract (and $649.99 without), the Razr Maxx is also one of the most expensive smartphones on the market. But you're getting what you pay for here: Top-notch Android performance and no worries about running out of juice by the middle of the day.
Physical Design and Battery Life
The Droid Razr Maxx is thicker than the original Motorola Droid Razr ($199, 4.5 stars), but considering how slim the Razr was, that isn't a hardship. The phone is 5.2 by 2.7 by .35 inches (HWD), as compared to .28 inches depth on the older phone; basically, the whole handset is now as thick as the camera "bump" up top, smoothing the body out. This is a BIG phone. There's no getting around that. But it's still by and large operable one-handed, it isn't overly heavy, and it's as handsome as a large phone can be.
More importantly, like the Razr this is an extremely well-built phone—rock solid, with a water-resistant back, a steel core, and a Gorilla Glass display. The back panel has a black and gray pattern and feels slightly grippy; the front resists even greasy fingerprints. A door on the side panel hides the SIM and MicroSD card slots, and the phone comes with a 16GB card as well as an additional 16GB of internal storage.
And the 3300 mAh battery? It's awe-inspiring. You can get extended batteries for other phones, but they often aren't this capacious, and they tend to make the phones chunky. The standard Droid Bionic ($149, 4.5 stars) extended battery, for instance, holds only 2760mAh and adds noticeable width. I've found even larger batteries, but they add even more bulk. The Droid Razr Maxx's battery is a great combination of relatively unobtrusive and juicier than a cart full of melons.
In tests run over the past few days, the Razr Maxx checked in with 16 hours, 45 minutes of continuous 3G talk time. Playing a locally stored video with the screen at maximum brightness and one email account attached we eked out 14 hours, 15 minutes. And, get this, 6 hours, 57 minutes of continual audio streaming over a 4G LTE connection.
Let's compare that to the original Droid Razr, which tested at 8 hours, 42 minutes of talk time and 3 hours, 40 minutes of 4G LTE streaming, which is par for the course with many of today's LTE phones.
While I'm writing this review, I've had the phone unplugged, using it for gaming and Web surfing, with two Gmail accounts, the Facebook and Plume Twitter clients, and the Pulse news reader running in the background for the past 18 hours and I'm at about 50 percent battery.
The phone's battery life can be further enhanced with Motorola's Smart Actions, which does things like stop syncing email accounts at night if the phone's screen is off and the device is sitting still. That both saves power and helps with another typical Droid problem, the terrifying "DROID!" sound erupting in the middle of the night when you receive email messages.
A little bit of trivia: While the Razr Maxx has the longest talk time of any Verizon Wireless phone, it doesn't have the longest talk time of any phone on the market. That honor belongs to the super-rugged Sonim XP3300 Force ($525, 3.5 stars) which combines a large battery with the very power-efficient EDGE protocol to get 22 hours, 29 minutes of talk time. But the XP3300 isn't a smartphone.
Other Performance and Conclusions
Other than the battery and physical design, the Droid Maxx is a Droid Razr. It benchmarked almost identically to the Razr in our tests. That's a very good thing. Up until now, the Droid Razr was one of our favorite Android phones overall. It has a good-looking 960-by-540 screen, gets excellent reception with fine call quality, is speedy, and is a "complete multimedia powerhouse." It also has Motorola's kooky but appealing Webtop software, which turns the phone into a desktop or laptop PC with the right accessories. Our only hardware qualm is a mediocre 8-megapixel camera that isn't up to the standards set by the Apple iPhone 4S ($199, 4 stars). Furthermore, this is the only LTE phone with a battery you won't have to babysit. That matters a lot.
There's only one thing holding this phone back from a five-star review: the lack of Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich." While Motorola promises an upgrade to ICS at some point in the future, the nation's best Android phone should be running the most current version of the OS. ICS brings a faster browser, better address book and more consistency between tablets and phones, which should improve the Android experience overall.
Right now there is only one ICS phone on the market, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus ($299, 4 stars). The Droid Razr is superior for many reasons including better battery life, better physical materials, and better call quality and radio reception, for instance. That all outweighs the OS downgrade, although we wish we didn't have to choose between the best hardware and the most current OS. Still, we enthusiastically crown the Droid Maxx as our Editors' Choice Verizon Wireless smartphone.
Continuous talk time: 16 hours 45 minutes
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