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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas, 2011 Tech News Update: The New Motorola RAZR XT910


Armed to its newly sharpened teeth and carrying the legacy of a legend, the Motorola RAZR XT910 is out looking for blood. The blood of the best Android phones on the market. And it will cut them where it hurts - their screens, chipsets, cameras and build.
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Motorola RAZR XT910 official photos
The 4.3" SuperAMOLED screen boasts higher resolution than, say, the Samsung Galaxy S II. It bumps up the pixel density to 256ppi (up from 217ppi). And with a dual-core processor running at 1.2GHz and 1GB RAM, it's got enough processing power to challenge the other dual-cores. It has an 8MP camera with 1080p recording too.
But even those specs just aren’t as impressive as the sheer look of the thing. The RAZR droid is only 7.1mm thick throughout (take that Japan-only phones) and about 10.7mm at the bulge that holds the camera and loudspeaker.
And by the way, the rest of the specs are pretty exciting too. Here's the best part of them - and the not so good.

Key features

  • Stunningly thin 7.1mm body, splash resistant
  • Quad-band GSM and quad-band 3G with HSDPA and HSUPA
  • 4.3" 16M-color capacitive SuperAMOLED touchscreen of qHD resolution (960 x 540 pixels, 256ppi), scratch-resistant Gorilla glass
  • Dual-core 1.2GHz ARM Cortex-A9 processor, PowerVR SGX540 GPU, TI OMAP 4430 chipset; 1GB of RAM
  • Android OS v2.3.5 with customized UI
  • 8 MP autofocus camera with LED flash; face detection, geotagging; 1.3MP front-mounted secondary camera
  • 1080p video recording @ 30fps; Slo-mo VGA@120 fps
  • Dual-band Wi-Fi ab/g/n; Wi-Fi hotspot functionality; DLNA
  • GPS with A-GPS; Digital compass
  • 16GB storage; expandable via a microSD slot
  • Accelerometer and proximity sensor
  • Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
  • microUSB port (charging) and stereo Bluetooth v4.0 with LE and A2DP
  • standard microHDMI port; Web Top compatible (docks sold separately)
  • Smart dial, voice dialing
  • Office document editor; MOTOPRINT app to print Office docs
  • Active noise cancellation with a dedicated secondary mic
  • DivX/XviD/X264 video support
  • Web browser with Adobe Flash 11 support

Main disadvantages

  • The phone is thicker at the top
  • Bigger than other phones with the same screen size
  • Screen uses PenTile matrix (offset by high ppi); a little dim too
  • No FM radio
  • No dedicated shutter key
  • MicroSIM card support only
  • Non-user-replaceable battery
The RAZR may be thin but it's hardly fragile - it uses Kevlar to cover its back and Gorilla Glass to secure the front. It's splash-resistant too.
Are the other droids shaking in their boots already? They should be - the Motorola RAZR has an impressive array of accessories by its side, including one that turns it into a full-fledged 14" Android-running netbook (full-size keyboard, Firefox browser, etc.).
Motorola RAZR XT910 Motorola RAZR XT910 Motorola RAZR XT910 Motorola RAZR XT910
Motorola RAZR live photos
The expectations are high - with this many talents on its resume, the Motorola RAZR will try to slash other droid's hopes of being the best. But does it have the (retail) package for it? And is the hardware as good as it sounds?
If you're not afraid of sharp objects, jump to the next page and find out. We've got our first aid kit at hand, just in case.


The Motorola RAZR XT910 retail package

Motorola put the RAZR XT910 in a box that's thinner than usual to emphasize one of the phone's great merits. It still contains all the essentials - a compact charger that uses the microUSB cable, a one-piece headset (in-ear design) and manuals. The earphones are branded ROKR - recycling old glory doesn't stop at RAZR obviously.
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Motorola RAZR accessories
We were kind of hoping for an HDMI cable but microHDMI aren’t that hard to come by. The big-ticket items like the Lapdock 500 Pro or the HD Dock aren’t part of the bundle either, those are sold separately (but we've seen good package deals for the ATRIX, so you might want to wait for one of those if the Lapdock is a must-have).

Motorola RAZR 360-degree spin

The Motorola RAZR measures 130.7 x 68.9 x 7.1 mm - super slim but not small. It weighs 127g, which isn't much for a droid with a 4.3" screen (but we’ve seen lighter too).


Design and build quality

The original Motorola RAZR became a design icon and one of the most coveted phones in its time. This new droid reincarnation has a lot to live up to then - and Moto have done a good job at it.
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Old and new RAZRs side by side
Instead of the all too common rounded rectangle design, the RAZR is beveled at the corners and the piece of Gorilla Glass is somewhat of a hexagon. The Kevlar back is even more recognizable and brings carbon-fiber-like aesthetics to the phone (we've seen luxury phones with similar kind of finishing).
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The Motorola RAZR XT910 sized up against the HTC Sensation XL and Galaxy S II
The Motorola RAZR uses a SuperAMOLED screen that measures 4.3" in diagonal and dominates the front. It has higher resolution than the equally-sized screen on the Samsung Galaxy S II, but unlike it, it uses the old PenTile matrix.
Still, the qHD resolution of the RAZR's screen gives it higher pixel density - 256ppi for the Motorola vs. 217ppi for the Samsung. You can see the PenTile matrix if you look at it from real close, but at any reasonable distance it's all but invisible. If you put the RAZR and the Galaxy S II side by side and look at text (or something else with a lot of detail), the Galaxy S II actually looks a little sharper even though it has a lower ppi. Again, it's hardly noticeable if you don't have both screens in front of you. We observed the same thing back in the day when we reviewed the Motorola Atrix.
The screen offers deep blacks and great contrast the way only an AMOLED can and excellent viewing angles - there's no color or contrast loss at all. It matches the readings for the SuperAMOLED Plus screen on the Samsung Galaxy S II, but it's not the AMOLED brightest display we've seen.
You can find more information on your display test here.
Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Nokia X7 0 365 0 630
HTC Sensation XL 0.22 231 1045 0.52559 1085
HTC Titan 0.26 233 891 0.56567 1007
Motorola Atrix 4G 0.48 314 652 0.60 598 991
LG Optimus 2X 0.23 228 982 0.35 347 1001
Sony Ericsson XPERIA Arc 0.03 34 1078 0.33 394 1207
Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II 0 231 0 362
Motorola RAZR XT910 0 215 0 361
HTC Incredible S 0.18 162 908 0.31 275 880
Apple iPhone 4 0.14 189 1341 0.39 483 1242

Moving on, above the display we find proximity and ambient light sensors along with the 1.3MP secondary camera. A notification light will blink green in case of missed events. The earpiece is also here, below the Motorola logo, finely etched in a metal plate that proudly contrasts with its black surroundings.
Underneath the display are the traditional four capacitive keys in charge of Android navigation - Menu, Home, Back and Search - and the mic pinhole.
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Capacitive keys below the display • Earpiece, sensors and front-facing VGA camera
The top of the Motorola RAZR is where the three wired connectivity ports are lined up within a nice strip of rubberized plastic. They are the 3.5mm audio jack, the microUSB port and the microHDMI port. All three are uncovered and risk getting filled with dust over time.
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3.5mm audio jack, microUSB and microHDMI ports on top
The left side of the handset is very tidy, only featuring the microSIM and microSD card slots hidden under a shared plastic lid. It is hard to open and we're afraid we might at some point pull too hard and damage it. The memory card is very easy to put in and pull out while the SIM card is near impossible to retrieve after it's been inserted. It either doesn't have a push-to-eject compartment, or our unit was faulty.
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The microSIM and microSD slots are under a protective flap
The right side of the Motorola RAZR features the big Power/Lock key and the volume rocker. The Power/Lock key has a different texture than the volume rocker, so they're easy to tell apart by touch. The volume control is small and not terribly comfortable to use.
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The Power/Lock key is easy to reach • The volume rocker
The bottom of the Motorola RAZR is completely bare.
Motorola RAZR XT910
Nothing interesting at the bottom
The back on the other hand is rather interesting. The phone is a single solid piece - there's no actual battery cover. The Kevlar rear has a distinctive pattern and a nice, rubbery feel to it, which improves grip.
The top part of the back protrudes to accommodate the 8MP camera, the LED flash and the loudspeaker.
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The back of the RAZR looks like it means business
Now, most thin phones have such a bulge but it's usually at the bottom making them easier to hold. Putting all those things at the top makes the Motorola RAZR a little head-heavy.
Anyway, also on the back is the noise-cancellation microphone placed in the same position as the mouthpiece.
While we can't pop the back cover to take a peek inside, we know there's a massive 1780mAh Li-Ion battery that's officially quoted at 304 hours of standby and 9 hours 20 minutes of talk time.
Motorola went for modern durable materials in the construction of the RAZR XT910 and the results are very good. The phone is very solid (it helps that there are no detachable parts) and will slip into any pocket wide enough. The tightly packed internals of the phone enjoy some limited resistance to splashing water, but you have to be careful with it since the wired ports are completely unprotected.
The RAZR is very thin - thinner than all smartphones we've tested so far - and it feels different. A super slim handset, but rather tall and wide, it's not too comfortable and secure to hold at least at the beginning. The thicker part at the top didn’t prove to be a problem really.
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The Motorola RAZR XT910 held in hand




This post is sponsored by:Dr Mobiles Limited
1 Huron Street, Takapuna, North Shore 0622
Tel: (09) 551-5344 and Mob: (021) 264-0000
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