Droid Razr: A Regular Guy Review

About three weeks ago I bought a Droid Razr. I knew the Galaxy Nexus, an equally awesome phone, was just around the corner, but Verizon was dragging their feet on getting it out. I needed a new phone before I left on my trip to the Dominican, and so I picked the Razr for three reasons:

-4G LTE

-It’s popular. I learned the last time that if you buy a phone that doesn’t sell well (like the Droid Eris), than it doesn’t get supported.

-The guts are top of the line, and very close to what’s inside the Galaxy Nexus

Hardware

True to its heritage, the new Razr is shockingly thin. It took me several days to get used to the light weight and slim profile. It felt like I was holding a phone that was missing a back compartment or heavy battery. At 4.3 inches, the screen is much bigger than my old phone, but because the Razr is so thin, it sits comfortably in my pocket.

The gorilla glass front and Kevlar back give the Razr a sturdy, solid feel. I’ve already knocked it off my desk at work several times, and it’s all good. However, the power button on the right side, above the volume rocker, feels a little mushy. I’m not in love with the angular bezel on the front, but it does make the phone look unique, so it’s not just another rectangular brick.

The screen resolution and brightness is fine. I’d prefer a slightly higher pixel density—something I believe the Galaxy Nexus has—but that’s just me being a phone nerd. The colors are crisp, the blacks are black, and the screen size makes navigating through apps a breeze.

The 8 megapixel camera is great, but I’m having trouble getting it to take non-blurry pictures (see some in the gallery of this post). I think I just need to mess around with the settings some more. The shutter speed is instant. No more of that terrible two second shutter lag on my old phone. The video camera shoots 1080p, and it looks great in well-lit situations. While I was in the Dominican, my wife and I used the front facing cameras to use Google Video Talk over wifi and the picture was excellent.

Software

The other big reason I wanted the Galaxy Nexus was for Ice Cream Sandwich, the newest update to Android. Eventually, I decided that I could wait for Motorola to update the Droid to ICS. Hopefully by then there are more ICS supported apps, and some of the early bugs have been worked out. Right now, the Razr is running Gingerbread with Motorola’s custom skin, MotoBlur, on top. I was really worried about the skin on top, but I love it.

My Droid Eris was stuck on an old version of Android and it could barely handle that properly, so the snappy performance and slick animations used in MotoBlur are great. I guess you could argue that ANY phone would be great compared to my last poorly supported phone. I was using LauncherPro on my Eris, and downloaded it on my Razr, but eventually went back to MotoBlur. The folder and app hiding features of MotoBlur make missing out on the customization of LauncherPro worth it. Hiding those terrible crapware Verizon apps is super easy with MotoBlur.

MotoBlur also comes with Smart Actions. I can train my phone to adjust settings based on my behavior. Right now it knows that as soon as I get home it should turn up the volume and switch to my wifi network. At 10pm, the volume automatically goes down, and my alarm is set for the next morning. When I get to work, it switches to vibrate. There are an endless number of Smart Actions and they’re really easy to set up.

My biggest complaint with my Eris was that it sucked as an actual phone. The simple act of dialing and calling a contact took way too long; the whole process was plagued with lag and the touch screen was unresponsive. The Razr is speedy. I can call people with just a tap, and actually hang up calls when I press the end button, not three seconds after. Call quality is excellent, as is the volume.

As far as apps, the Razr can run just about everything I throw at it. Google just got done with their 10 day, 10 apps for 10 cents each sale and I managed to pick up some solid apps and games. I prefer games that are fast to get in and out of, and that don’t try to mimic console controls. I don’t want fake dual joysticks, and I don’t want to try to see through my fingers to play a game. So far some of my favorite games include Captain America, Cut the Rope, Reckless Getaway, Sleepy Jack, Shine Runner, and Stellar Escape.

4G LTE

It’s fast. Really, stupidly, awesomely fast. Charlotte has a great LTE network, and when it’s at its best, it matches my Time Warner Cable internet at home. One of the apps I used the most on my old phone was Google Reader. It was my favorite standing-in-line app. I could pop it open and read a story on a website I follow. Now I can read six stories, watch a YouTube video and download an app all at the same time. Because I’ve been with Verizon since they bought Alltel, I was grandfathered in to unlimited data. If you can get a 4G phone I highly recommend it. Battery drain isn’t much of an issue. I charge it in the morning when I get to work, and it reaches 100 percent in a couple of hours. Then I’m usually good until the following day.

Overall I’m very satisfied with my purchase. Because I read a lot of tech blogs and listen to a few tech podcasts, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the “next big phone” hype and start to worry about the specs. The specs don’t really matter. Actually using this phone has been great—leaps and bounds better than my crappy buy-one-get-one-free Eris. And that’s something I think nerds like me forget when reading reviews by tech blogs. The folks employed there see a new phone every week. The minute details that bother them likely only stick out because just two days before they were handling a phone that did something different or better. For me, a regular guy, someone who was stuck with a bad phone for two years, the Droid Razr is everything I wanted and more.