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

By Brent Rose on at

Bearing no other similarity to the original RAZR line-up other than its name, the Droid RAZR is not just the world's thinnest smartphone. It's fast, with an incredibly-crisp screen. It's also made from kevlar, but unless you're planning on shooting it, that's hardly the selling feature. It will also run Ice Cream Sandwich.

 

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The 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 Weight Watchers. 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.

Compared to the Droid Bionic, it benchmarked better too, booting up between 12 and 20 seconds faster than the Bionic, 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 one of the fastest around.

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 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, 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.

 

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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 microSD cards and SIM cards).

Motorola loads this device up with a whole tonne 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. Colours and contrast are both improved, but there's still some graininess.

 

Should I Buy It?

If you are an Androider, then yes, you should. The original RAZR practically saved Motorola's bacon; the new RAZR is worthy of its inherited name 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. While UK pricing hasn't been confirmed by the networks just yet, online retailer Clove has put it at £454, and will have stock in from Tuesday the 8th of November.

Motorola Droid RAZR Specs

  • Screen: 4.3-inch gHD Super AMOLED Advanced
  • Processor: 1.2GHz dual-core
  • Storage: 32GB included
  • Radio: CDMA and 4G LTE (in the US)
  • Cameras: 8MP Rear-facing; 1.3MP Front-Facing camera
  • Price: £454
  • Giz Rank: 4-Stars

Music credit: Kevin MacLeod of Incomptech.