We haven't seen a flagship device from Motorola since the RAZR was announced nearly a year ago. A case could be made for the RAZR MAXX, which hasn't officially been brought to Australia, but Motorola needed something new and splashy to compete with the HTC One X and the Samsung Galaxy S III. Updated with hands-on impressions and videos.
Does this one have what it takes?
The Droid RAZR HD boasts a revamped 4.7-inch HD screen, which should be a nice improvement over the original RAZR's pentile display. The biggest upgrade to the screen is that it now covers the entire front of the phone — bezel be gone! It gives the impression that you're holding a window in your hand, rather than a device with a screen. This is very cool, as long as the screen doesn't crack at the slightest bump — the Gorilla Glass should help with that.
The Droid RAZR HD comes with Chrome for Android pre-installed and 4G LTE compatibility, so downloading music, games, browsing the web should be nice and snappy. If there's one problem that plagues just about every big-screened, 4G phone, its battery life. This phone is promising to take care of that with a 2500mAh battery.
For heavy users, Motorola is also releasing the RAZR MAXX HD. It's basically the RAZR HD with the 3300mAh battery in the RAZR MAXX. That's more than double the capacity of some other smartphones, which may be the biggest selling point for some of us.
The Droid RAZR HD will be running Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) out of the box, with Motorola's custom skin on top of it. This is a disappointment. Months have gone by since Jelly Bean was unveiled, and users are clamouring for those enhancements. Motorola has promised an update to Jelly Bean by the end of the year, but manufacturers simply must get with the program more quickly. Motorola has even less of an excuse as it's now part of Google.
The Droid RAZR HD comes with NFC support, which means the digital wallet has finally come to Motorola. All in all, this looks like a very promising piece of hardware. We'll add more details as we get them, including any news about an Australian release date. We're heading over to the demo tables right now, so check back shortly for our hands-on impressions.
UPDATE: Here are our hands-on impressions.
Droid RAZR HD
The original Droid RAZR felt sharp and blocky. Both the Droid RAZR HD and the RAZR MAXX HD are nicely rounded. The soft and grippy Kevlar backs warp around fluidly. It's almost impossible to detect any difference between the RAZR HD and the RAZR MAXX HD. The difference is roughly two millimetres and 11 grams, but unless you're holding one in each hand, you'd never know. As a heavy user, I'd have to lean heavily towards the MAXX.
Flipping through the OS was snappy. Not quite as fluid as a phone running Jelly Bean, but about as quick as any Ice Cream Sandwich phone we've used. Motorola wanted to show that it's serious about bringing Jelly Bean to the new line and had a few devices running a not-quite-finished build. I'm happy to report that flipping through those devices was an extremely smooth experience. Google Now popped up faster than it does on my Galaxy Nexus, thanks (no doubt) to the additional horsepower in its guts. The camera's shutter was quick and it changed modes quickly and smoothly.
The screen looks really good — very bright and very sharp. It's not quite as beautiful as the screen on the One X, but it's close. It's equal (almost identical, in fact) to the screen on the Galaxy S III. Good to see Motorola is finally getting screens right.
One Motorola executive mentioned that Google Wallet is not currently available for these devices, and it may not ever be. Motorola could neither confirm nor deny this, but it's possible that these phones would use ISIS (a mobile payment system being developed by US carriers) exclusively. This is more of a problem in the US since that's the only place Google Wallet has any relevancy.
The RAZR MAXX HD.
Our initial impressions were very favourable. Unless it costs a million times more, the Droid RAZR MAXX HD is the one we've really got our eye on. No word on pricing or release date yet, other than "before the holidays". Hopefully, it'll have Jelly Bean by then. We'll follow up with Motorola's people in Australia to see if and when either of these will get an official launch down under.