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View Full Version : [phones] Droid Razr M review (coming from Galaxy S3)




aznguyen316
Oct 23, 2012, 09:55 PM
There was some interest in this phone so I was asked to do a little review on it and of course I don't mind doing this as MR is one of my favorite places =)

A quick disclaimer - Since the first hour after receiving this phone, I slapped on the Jelly Bean 4.1.1 Leak from Motorola, thus my out of box experience may be slightly different from most others on Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0.4. This was an official build however and Moto Blur and all that stuff are in the JB build. I also rooted the phone.

Also I traded for the Razr M from a Galaxy S3 so I will be definitely making comparisons to that phone, which I had for two months and unlocked/rooted to have Jelly Bean. I'll just cover a few things that are really important to me.

Hardware

Snapdragon S4 - this CPU is in nearly all of the flagship handsets from Samsung, HTC, Nokia, and Motorola. Well this mid-tier has it too and it's clocked at 1.5Ghz like those other phones. I loaded up a 1.2GB 720P file of the Avengers and it ran SMOOTH AS EGGS. NO hiccups, muxed subtitles, everything was flawless. Scrubbing back and forth was super fast too.

I will say multitasking is NOT as fast as my S3. My S3 RARELY hiccuped - especially when I was on LiquidSmooth RC5. Recent apps swapped super fast and just about any action - loading a new app, sharing a photo, whatever the case, it rarely lagged. With the M, even with this processor, it does have its hiccups when loading or doing an in app action. Not always, but coming from the S3, I did notice it and do notice it still. I believe this could be related to the 2GB ram the S3 has, or the sweet ROM I was using.

Just to put into perspective his phone has the same internals (minus the battery/screen) as the Razr HD and Razr HD Maxx. The HD has a 2500mAh battery but due to the larger 4.7" screen it's a wash, actually from early reviews it looks like the M beats the HD on battery. The Maxx has a 3300mAh battery so that kills most things =)

The 8MP camera is pretty poor. Really poor. I'd rather take an iPhone 4 - 5mp camera over this one. It does not do well in low-light and outside is okay, it will get the job done for any sort of social media sharing. Just don't use it to snap pictures of your daughter's bday party and expect to be happy about sharing it later on the computer. I included a low light shot of my uncle's new kitten.

The phone has 8GB internal flash, 4.5GB usable. This is fine for me for apps and then there is a microSD slot that can take up to 64GB. I have a 32GB microSD in it.

Build Quality

Compared to the S3? MILES ahead. The S3 was basically plastic all around. It wasn't bad really, but I was SO scared to drop it. I had to use a case with it or else I wouldn't feel good. I've heard a lot of horror stories with the screen cracking or digitizer failing upon a SMALL drop. The battery back door cracking trying to pop it off, etc.
The M has an aluminum front frame arond the gorilla glass front and a cool industrial look of the bolts on the side. The back half is part plastic around the edges and kevlar backing on most of the back. I am currently going caseless at the moment and it feels as nice as my 4S was. I went caseless for the most part on my 4S having dropped it on hard til twice and only getting a bit of corner plastic bent. This I'm sure will do no worse than the 4S. I cannot imagine if I dropped my S3 even with a thin case. Motorola has terrific build quality and this is no exception. It feels so good holding it and I feel good if I were to drop it. I think if anything, I'd just get an invisible shield around it to help with grip and minor scratches.

Display This phone has a 4.3" qHD (960x540) pentile AMOLED display. Yup a 4.3" screen with a footprint very close to the iPhone 5. Check out my picture to see the size comparison while I was at the apple store. The pentile display is noticeable at times when reading some text or looking at images with text. At times it is pretty jagged and juts out at you and other times you don't notice it. It's not the best display, but it is still a very good display and I am happy with it. I think this is something one should go check out in a Verizon store to see if the display is good for you. I will say if you liked the S3 display, then this display IMO is no worse, except for the ppi. The S3's outdoor visibility was the worse I ever had in a phone. The M's is MUCH better. This is judging from the auto setting for display. The M's display is brighter than the S3's. Edge 2 Edge display should not be understated. Looking at the phone it just looks so sleek seeing the display and then the edge right there. There are on screen nav buttons that will take up a bit of screen real estate but will go away upon watching a full screen video or app, thus giving you the full 4.3"

I am a fan of Apple's IPS panels and high ppi. Having owned the 4S and using my phone along my fiancee's at times, the 4S still has a better display. Just the fact that you can see it outside EASILY makes the 4S better IMO. Plus the pixels are so sharp, you never see any pixelations with it.

Software

I'll keep this part short, since Android is so customizable, everyone's experience may slightly be different.
I will say a couple things. My S3 I unlocked and flashed AOSP modded roms. Meaning they were the stock/vanilla Android 4.1 Jelly Beans with some customizations added to them. I used TouchWiz for a bit, but didn't like all the added stuff. Well Motorola has done a damn fine job on keeping much of the OS AOSP. A lot of the software is AOSP. The lock screen is different, and the stock launcher is different, but that's not really a big deal. Underneath "blur" is pretty much vanilla. The stock text messaging IMO is better than AOSP b/c it supports group messaging with other iPhone users and it's much better than using Gosms' option. I LOVE the stock circles widget but I prefer a third party Nova home launcher and thus cannot use it. I will mention I do like the Smart Actions. This is an easy mode/starter app of Tasker for those that are familiar with that app. You can triggers (such as locations, low battery, screen off, time, etc) for actions to happen (turn on/off wifi, sync, sound) etc and this is really useful. For example, every Tuesday I have a lab meeting from 2-3:30pm so I set a trigger for: if at work (via location settings) then at 1:55pm-3:30pm set sounds to off, vibrate on. Really nifty.

I'll say Jelly bean is terrific. It is extremely smooth, I like to twiddle with my phone so I will swipe between home screens a lot just to mess around and it is so "buttery". 60FPS is not to be understated. I won't say too much more on this as you can get most of this information in the many Razr M reviews or JB reviews available online.

Battery

Battery was extremely important to me. The S3 could make it through the work day without much of a problem, listening to music for a couple hours and by the end of the day with 14 -16 hours and 2.53 hours screen time I would be drained. 0% Not bad but it made me think about how I wanted to use the phone. When I traveled on a weekend, normal use of course I was drained by the evening, however I had a delayed flight in the Atlanta airport and I had to basically pounce on an open outlet to get my battery a few % of charge before getting on my flight to only use my phone for a good 20 min before it died again. This was outside my normal use, but it still made me think about what I wanted out of my phone.

Well the Razr M packs a 2000mAh battery in the small package that it is (compared to the 2100mAh of the S3). Since the screen is .4" smaller with less pixels to drive, this seems to help the overall package. I am getting crazy good battery. Yesterday, along with syncing over Wifi 300 mp3's to the SD card, I got 16 hours use and 4 hours screen on time out of the battery while being in low signal for 9 hours of the day at work.

Today I took care of a deep sleep issue I had yesterday (and I still got that battery life above) and right now, even though I haven't used the phone a whole lot, I'm at 15h on battery and 1hr 42m of screen on time (I was pretty damn busy at work today) and I have 53% battery left. Check the pics. Seriously, this is SUPERB battery life IMO. I'll take this along with the hardware package any day. The day before, I did a full day 17+hours on battery, no charging and 3 hours screen time and I still had 33% battery left! Check the pics.

I believe my S3 had similar battery life, if maybe a little worse than my 4S.

Reception:

Compared to the S3 the M's radio is not as good. I still stay in LTE/4G almost all day but definitely in places where I would get 4 bars on the S3, I would get 2 bars with the M. At my apartment I'm in a really good area so it's always full. My reception usually sits at -70 -80dbm (currently at home I'm at -73dbm) with the M while I would get at times -60 -70dbm in the same area with the S3. 4G speeds are exactly the same though, but my ping is better with the M. I was a speed test whore with the S3 and my M gets all the same speeds the S3 did but with always better ping. Wifi is also good, no issues or complaints at all there.

I just kind of wrote this review up on the fly so very sorry if thoughts are kind of flying all over the place. I am VERY happy switcher from the S3 to the M. Mostly due to size. The M, you really have to see and hold it and get how awesome the phone feels in your hand. I missed being able to text one handed (it also has Swype pre-installed but I am on the Swype beta) so that makes texting even easier. The .4" of screen I do not miss AT ALL. 4.3" is still very good and with the edge 2 edge it does not make the phone so big. I loved the S3 and never thought it a burden for it's size, but the M in my pocket feels better, in my hand, and just regular operation I'm not using two hands nearly as much at all. That was the big factor. That and the CPU/battery are huge plusses for me. Camera is a bummer though. I decided to make the trade when I learned the Jelly Bean leak worked great and that the phone got Rooted.

If anyone has questions, post away, I was a huge rom flasher with the S3 and followed it a ton. I also had an iPhone 4S for about 11 months - (my fiancee still has hers). So if you guys want comparisons to iP4S or S3 let me know and I'll try to answer any questions.



cynics
Oct 24, 2012, 07:01 AM
Thanks for the review. Seems like its somewhat lack luster aside from its physical design.