Monday, November 12, 2012

Motorola RAZR V Review

Last year, Motorola revamped the legendary RAZR brand in the form of the Droid RAZR Android smartphone, to a fairly welcome reception. This year’s model brings the new re-design back for a second year, with some much appreciated improvements to this smart phone device. Read on below for full details on the specifications of Motorola’s newest RAZR device and how it performed in over our two week test.

Overall Construction
The RAZR V, right out of the box, definitely feels like a high end device in spite of its specs. While some may be turned off by the plastic bezel, it has a nice metallic gleam to it which is well complimented by the layer of Kevlar on the back panel, both of which do a good job of not showing off all any greasy fingerprints. 

The design, like its predecessor, brings something to the Android lineup that has been lacking for the most part since its inception, sex appeal. The phone is much more eye-catching then the majority of it’s boxy counter-parts and sports an appealing and unique design, both front and back. This is probably the main reason I’ve always had an affinity for Sony devices; Motorola’s made the effort to be different here. That said, it’s very similar to the construction of last year’s model, but why fix what isn’t broken?

Motorola RAZR V

As far as fingerprints go, the screen is another story. While delivering sharp and vibrant colors, the TFT LCD display was extremely prone to glare (so much so that I used it as a mirror on a few occasions) and fingerprints, forcing me to keep the brightness up whenever I was outside or in any well lit room. But with the brightness turned up, the qHD display offers exceptional colors and a sharp viewing experience suitable for any gaming or movie watching experience on a mid-range device. Those expecting retina resolutions or 720p display will probably want to have a look at a flagship device.

In the past I was never a huge fan of virtual buttons, the idea of using up what could be valuable real-estate on the screen doesn’t sit well with me, especially on the RAZR V where it seems as though there would have been the space to include either physical or capacitive buttons, like on the 2011 model. But after playing around with them I have to admit, they are quite nice. 

The on-screen buttons are extremely responsive and the quick vibration feedback makes it easy to tell when they are being pressed. Specific menus for apps will also prompt an additional ‘settings’ button to show up, and the buttons will disappear altogether if watching movie, retaking that portion of the screen, then can be brought up easily by simply tapping the screen. They will hang around whenever playing games in landscape or portrait mode which can get annoying, but apart from that, if makers think they can squeeze a bit more screen out of a device and a little less bezel, than I think can get on board with the neat little on-screen virtual buttons.

The volume rocker is a little stiff but suitable for the design and can be comfortably used. The lock button on the other hand was my least favorite, being almost flush with the top bezel, you end up feeling like your finger is inside the phone before you feel any sort of definitive click.

Battery Life
I was fairly surprised with the battery life, especially when careful about its usage, and using Motorola’s included ‘Smart Actions’ software, a user could go 2 days easily without charging. With intensive use, like most smart phones, expect to have to plug it in at the end of the day, especially with a lot of data or gaming use. 

One thing that I could not get over was the battery life indicator only showed the battery in increments of 10 when charging. Even when using other battery meters such as Power Toggles, the battery life would drop from 90 to 80 and not show anything in between. Perhaps reporting the battery life less often was one of the adjustments made to help improve it, but it did make it difficult to really see how much it was affected by specific uses. (check battery usage stats)

Internal Hardware

- 4.3” 960x540 TFT display with ColorBoost
- 1.2 GHz Dual-Core TI OMAP 4430 SoC
- 1GB of RAM
- 4 GB of Internal storage, with microSD card slot upgradable to up to 32GB
PowerVR SGX540
- Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, FM Radio
- 8MP Rear Camera with LED flash and 1080p HD video capabilities, 0.3 MP Front-Facing Camera
- Android 4.0.4 with Motorola customizations.

The internal hardware is well suited for a device of this size and gives you only the features you would really expect from an mid-range device, so no LTE and no NFC. The GPU gives enough power run just about any game, casuals and some of the more graphically demanding 3D apps. 1GB of RAM is really all you need on a device like this; multitasking was no issue, switching between apps was seamless and very much latency-free.

Speaker and microphone
Call clarity was not an issue, the ear piece is well placed and can be used comfortably. Voices came through clearly and the microphone transmitted clearly without any unexpected problems. The speakers work well when in your hands playing games or watching a movie and even though they can get really loud, headphones would be the obvious choice when available. 

The only thing I would have changed would have been the rear speaker. When the phone is on it`s back, the rear speaker is playing music directly into whatever furniture it`s placed on. I would like to see it positioned under the lip to see if it would help amplify the sound off the furniture instead of blaring directly into it.

The camera is certainly nothing to write home about. I found photographs were rather dull and lacking in bright colors but suitable for quick point and shoot situations. The video camera was much more impressive, filming in full 1080p and delivering fairly decent quality picture and good brightness correction.

Sample Pictures


Motorola RAZR V with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
I couldn’t be more impressed with how well the Razr V performed when it came to software. The version you get with the phone is about as stock android as you could get with a few minor Motorola enhancements. Everything is very responsive, snappy and I had virtually no issues that weren’t carrier related, this phone feels like it was built from the ground up specifically for Android and responds exactly the way you would expect any high end device to. 

The ‘Smart Actions’ that Motorola has added are really useful, unlike a lot of the bloatware that manufacturers will bundle with their devices. With Smart Actions you can literally set up your phone to do just about anything automatically. Miss a call? Make smart actions text the person to let them know you’re in an appointment or something. Battery below 50%? Set up Smart Actions to turn off syncing, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. You can even set it up so that it will detect your location, and turn your ringer off the minute you get to, say, your workplace. Being someone who typically turns off or uninstalls features like this when getting a new phone, I can honestly say this is one of the few truly useful applications that a manufacturer has implemented into a smart phone as far as I’ve experienced.

For more info on Motorola UI changes check out our review of the Atrix HD LTE.


Overall, this is a pretty great phone and the unique design gives them the added bonus of being able to pull out the old RAZR brand name. It would have been nice to see this device come LTE-enabled and be one of the first mid-range LTE devices to hit the market, but we're not surprised to still see companies catering these phones to the previous generation. In the end, I would totally buy this phone. 

The size is comfortable and easy to hold, the design is unique and will set your device apart from others and the performance is flawless. I can forgive the tough to push buttons, the low quality camera and lack of LTE for its impressive performance, comfort and ease of use. Anyone looking for a mid-range 3G device with unparalleled performance should have a look at this phone.

Final Verdict

Overall Appearance: 8/10
- Unique, appealing design

Screen: 7/10
- qHD display suitable for any gaming or movie watching experience. Screen is very prone to glare and fingerprints.

Buttons: 7/10
- Virtual buttons are extremely responsive and easy to use. Hard buttons are tough to click.

Internal Hardware: 8/10
Solid, powerful mid-range device with all the essentials.

Battery Life: 9/10
- Impressive battery life when used conservatively.

Speaker and Microphone: 8/10
- No issues with call clarity. Speaker placement would be better.

Camera: 6/10
- Not the camera you`ll wish you had on you when the opportunity arises.

Software: 9/10
- Great nearly stock version of Android comes with the phone, runs like a dream.

UI Changes: 8/10
- Again the phone comes almost stock with very few unnecessary changes, and I see that as a good thing.

Included Apps/Bloatware: 9/10
- Some well-thought out and useful applications bundled with device.

Final Score: 8/10

1 comment:

  1. I love my razr v. my power button is not flush though and is very easy to press. like you I am surprised to find the software buttons are decent. nice article