Motorola Droid RAZR Lightning Review: Faster, Thinner, Prettier—Like a Supermodel In a Rocket

Remember when the Droid Bionic was the best Android phone on Verizon? Poor Bionic: A month and a half goes by and here comes Droid RAZR, which is similar to the Bionic, but better in virtually every way.



When I said the RAZR was better than the Bionic in almost every way, I wasn't kidding. I'm gonna count:

1. Form-factor. Is awesome. In fact, this is the first Droid in a while whose build quality is really worth getting excited about. It is insanely thin (7.1mm), which makes the iPhone 4S and Droid Bionic run crying to Jenny Craig. It's the world's thinnest smartphone, and I'd bet that it will actually retain that title for a while. For all that thinness, though, it's not flimsy. Just the opposite, actually. The back is Kevlar (no word yet on bulletproofness, but this thing is just begging to be a viral video superstar), the screen is Gorilla Glass, and the whole thing is splash-proof. So it probably won't die in the rain or after an accidental drop in the toilet. (Every gadget should be waterproof.) There's virtually no bezel around the front anymore, and the camera area looks stronger (which is good, since that glass cracked on my Bionic). It feels great to hold, and is just simply killer hardware.

2. It's appreciably faster. The RAZR consistently booted up between 12 and 20 seconds faster than the Bionic, and it benchmarked better, too, averaging 2693 vs. 2413 Quadrant Standard. No surprise: It has a 1.2GHz processor vs. the Bionic's 1GHz chip. It's not as fast as the 1.2GHz Exynos in the Samsung Galaxy S II, but it's easily the fastest thing on Verizon (and yes, it still has 4G LTE).

3. The screen. We ragged on the Bionic's screen pretty hard. The RAZR's is a lot better. It's not perfect, but it's better. The new Droid's screen is Super AMOLED Advanced. What does the "Advanced" mean? Seriously, nobody has any idea, which means it's probably just marketing speak. "Advanced" aside, its Super AMOLEDness delivers deep blacks and vivid, accurate colors. There's still some pixilation, though. In fact, it's almost as severe as the Bionic's, but with the increased saturation and straight-up deliciousness, it doesn't draw your attention quite as much. It's certainly not as sharp as the 720p display on the HTC Rezound or the iPhone 4S' Retina, but it certainly won't make your eyes bleed.


There are plenty of other things to like, too. The camera is much faster, taking pictures more or less instantly now, though it's certainly doesn't have as many options as HTC's camera app. There's a slick new unlock screen that allows you to easily switch to vibrate mode or fire up the camera directly. Moto has also somehow managed to squeeze a slightly bigger battery in there—1780 mAH vs 1735 mAH on the Bionic, which, coupled with the less energy-hungry Super AMOLED, should give you a small (and it will be small) boost in battery life. Really, though it's the super cool form-factor that's going to make this thing sell. IT'S. SO. THIN.


No Like

This is one of the only Android phones that doesn't have a removable battery. Engineers got everything so thin and rigid by laminating it all together, layer by layer, and that means everything's more or less locked together (though you can still swap out micro SD cards and LTE SIM cards). It's got that big battery, but considering just how power-hungry 4G LTE is, you might miss the ability to swap.


Motorola loads this device up with a whole ton of software, most of which you will never use: MotoCast, which is supposed to let you use your home computer as a server, is slow and laggy and just plain bad. There's a slightly updated version of the MotoBLUR software, too (though they're not calling it that anymore), which isn't as bad as some other manufacturer skins, but it slows the phone down a bit. It's also going to slow down its upgrade to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (though we have been promised that it's coming).


And, like I said, the screen is not *worlds* better than one we've complained about in the past. Colors and contrast are both improved, but there's still some graininess.

Should I Buy This?

Illustration for article titled Motorola Droid RAZR Lightning Review: Faster, Thinner, Prettier—Like a Supermodel In a Rocket

If you are an Androider, then yes, you should. The Droid Bionic used to be the best* phone on Verizon. Less than two months after its release, the Droid RAZR has snatched that title away. Literally, the only reason to buy the Bionic over the RAZR is if you want to save 50 bucks. The original RAZR practically saved Motorola's bacon; the new RAZR is worthy of its inherited name—it's easily the most exciting phone form-factor of 2011. That said, the Galaxy Nexus is coming soon, so the RAZR may well be dethroned before the month is over. Or maybe it won't. The RAZR is available from Verizon starting November 11th for $300.


Motorola Droid RAZR Specs

  • Screen: 4.3-inch qHD Super AMOLED Advanced
  • Processor: 1.2GHz dual-core
  • Storage: 32GB included
  • Radio: CDMA and 4G LTE
  • Cameras: 8MP Rear-facing; 1.3MP Front-Facing camera
  • Price: $300
  • Giz Rank: 4-Stars

Music credit: Kevin MacLeod of Incomptech.

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*If you love the Android like I love the Android. iPhone and Windows Phone fanboys, feel free to duke it out in the comments.


Still not grasping the purpose of the Kevlar Back except to be marketing wow words to uninformed customers. []

I am an engineer, I understand shear and moment. If you place a load in the middle of an object that is supported on both ends, the area under the highest stress is in the middle. One problem, kevlar lacks rigidity. []