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The Motorola DROID RAZR MAXX may have been conceived by an engineer toying with the idea of larger batteries, but as far as I'm concerned, this is exactly what Android needed.  Announced shortly after the original DROID RAZR (if you can even call it "the original"), the RAZR MAXX offers the same 1.2 GHz dual-core processor, 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Advanced display, and 8-megapixel camera.  Where it changes the game is the giant 3,300 mAh battery that's hidden underneath the KEVLAR-coated back.

It's gained a little bit of muscle mass along the way, but still comes in at a thin 8.99mm, which is thinner than many of Verizon's other 4G LTE smartphones.  Big battery, nice specs, and thinner than other 4G LTE handsets?  This could be a game-changer.

I've spent the weekend using the DROID RAZR MAXX as my personal handset, and have come away with some thoughts:

  • Besides the battery and some minor design changes, little has changed between the RAZR and the RAZR MAXX.  The MAXX sports darker chrome around the edges, loses the camera hump due to the larger battery, and trades out black for white "MOTOROLA" text at the earpiece.  Beyond that, all ports are still in the same spots, and functionally, you'll find that everything's nearly identical.  The KEVLAR back and Gorilla Glass are still present on the MAXX, so this phone should take the occasional fall without a hiccup.

  • The phone has the same 1.2 GHz dual-core TI OMAP processor, and it performs well.  I've seen little to no lag on this phone throughout my initial testing (save for some OS quirks, which I'll talk about below).
  • RAZR MAXX hits retail shelves with Android 2.3.5 buried underneath Motorola's custom user interface.  It's a giant improvement from the MOTOBLUR days, but Motorola's UI seems to have some strange quirks, like fluctuating vibration intensity and issues with the Gallery application.  The customizable widgets and transition effects are a nice touch, but I still prefer some of the functionality that comes from competing interfaces.

  • With an 8-megapixel camera that shoots video at 1080p, MAXX is on par with other high-end smartphones.  The camera takes a decent still picture, though I'm a bit concerned with the slightly inconsistent shutter speed (and more importantly, how it performs when several hundred pictures have been taken).
  • Verizon's 4G LTE performs admirably as you'd expect it to.  I've seen download speeds between 5 and 22 Mbps, and upload speeds between 4 and 12 Mbps.  Downloads are incredibly fast, and the phone works well as a mobile hotspot.

  • Battery performance has been off-the-charts exceptional on this smartphone.  With what I would consider moderate to heavy use - approximately 450 text messages, two hours worth of calls, significant web browsing, repeatedly turning the screen on and off, and downloading a few apps - the DROID RAZR MAXX made it 17 hours before I received a low battery warning.  The real kicker?  When I began my testing of the battery, I decided to charge it each evening before I went to bed, regardless of where the battery indicator stood; that way, I'd have a more accurate idea of day-to-day testing in the most literal sense of the phrase.  I still haven't been able to drain the battery in a normal day's worth of tests.
  • So far as I can tell, the phone charges just as quickly as a typical Android device, making it perfectly usable for those that live off of the quick charge between meetings or events and squashing the rumor that a big battery must equal a long charging time.

Each year, I ask most OEMs why they don't pack larger batteries into their Android smartphones, and I hear things like "we don't want to tarnish the user experience with a massive battery," or "a giant battery equals a giant device."  As far as I'm concerned, if Motorola can bundle a 3,300 mAh pack into a device while still retaining an 8.99mm form factor, there's no reason why Samsung, LG, HTC, and others can't do the same.  And that should be the crowd chant going forward.  As of now, there's no reason why Android devices have to be plagued with poor battery life.

The UI may not be the crowd favorite, but overall, this is the Android experience that both first and long-time users need to come away with.  RAZR MAXX is a well-built smartphone that exudes both beauty and durability.  It's curvier and has some new humps, but retains the same thin form factor that defines the iconic RAZR brand.  The battle between Android, iOS, and Windows Phone isn't likely to end anytime soon, but the DROID RAZR MAXX takes a bold step forward in re-defining a department that has been historically known as a problem with Android devices.


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