Hands-on with the new Motorola RAZR

RAZR sharp: We go hands-on with the new Motorola RAZR Android phone
The new Motorola Razr smartphone.

The new Motorola Razr smartphone.

Motorola has resurrected its iconic RAZR brand in a bid to resurrect some of its former glory. The result is the all-new Motorola RAZR: an Android smartphone that claims to be the thinnest in the world at just 7.1mm thick. We've just got our grubby mitts all over the RAZR, so how does it stack up?

Motorola RAZR preview
New Motorola RAZR exclusive to Optus, coming soon

First things first, the name. Motorola is clearly betting on the RAZR brand in a bid to boost sales. The RAZR, originally a flip phone, sold over 130 million units worldwide in a five year period from 2004-2008, but lost its sharpness as the world moved to smartphones. Though we believe Motorola hung onto the RAZR name for way too long when smartphones started to become popular, we think bringing back the RAZR name is a good decision. It's a brand many consumers can identify with and it is likely to be a positive move for Motorola's marketing department, too.

Any phone called the RAZR has to be thin and the new Motorola RAZR is just that. It's just 7.1mm thick at its thinnest point — over 2mm thinner than the iPhone 4S and thin enough to claim the title of the thinnest smartphone in the world. To be fair, the RAZR isn't 7.1mm thin all the way along: at the top of the phone is a bump that sticks out at the back and houses the camera lens, LED flash and speaker. This actually makes the RAZR a little top heavy, so it often feels a awkward to hold.

The Motorola RAZR is a very large phone. It's slightly longer and slightly wider than the Samsung Galaxy S II despite sharing the same sized screen — we think users with small hands may find its size a little too big. There's a fair bit of wasted space surrounding the screen as the bezel is pretty wide. The RAZR has slightly curved edges but the phone has a squarish, industrial looking design: we found the Galaxy S II's rounded edges a little more comfortable to hold than the RAZR.

The RAZR may be a little large but its fit and finish is amongst the best we've seen on any smartphone to date. Motorola says the phone combines a diamond cut aluminium frame and a case that's made from Kevlar fibre. The Kevlar backing is soft to touch and really gives the RAZR a distinct look and feel. As a comparison, we much prefer it to the etched plastic backing of the Galaxy S II, which does feel a little cheap. A downside to the RAZR's thinness is that it has a non-removable battery.

Aiding the Motorola RAZR's design is a Gorilla glass display and a splash-guard coating that makes the phone water-repellent. Motorola says both the phone itself and many of its internal components have been coated with the splash-guard material, so it is expected to hold up well to the elements. Unfortunately, our review unit has not been coated in the splash-guard treatment, so we can't test it. We did however see it in action at Motorola's media launch and can confirm it works and is genuinely impressive. The water beads then slides off the surface of the RAZR very easily. It looks very similar to water beads rolling off a car when its just been polished and waxed. Keep in mind the coating makes the phone water-repellent, not completely water-proof, so don't expect to take the RAZR swimming with you.

The Motorola RAZR has a 4.3in Super AMOLED display with a qHD resolution of 540x960. The screen is excellent: it's just as bright and vibrant as the Galaxy S II, but its higher resolution makes text crisper and details finer. The screen is responsive to touch and has good outdoor visibility.

We haven't had enough time to play with the RAZR to give a definitive view on its software and performance, but a few things stand out as soon as you start using the phone. First of all, Motorola's Motoblur service is no longer mandatory. That means when you first turn on the RAZR, you aren't forced to create a Motorola account (this time called a MotoCast account) to use the phone. Motorola has also scaled down the amount of customisation it has made to the standard Android interface. It still uses many of its own icons and widgets, but most of them look attractive and don't clutter the interface.

The Motorola RAZR is also a fast smartphone: we haven't had any issues with performance, apps load almost instantly, nothing has crashed and everything seems to run silky smooth.

We'll publish a full, detailed review of the Motorola RAZR next week, but in the meantime if you have any burning questions about the RAZR ask us in the comments below!

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

PC World
Topics: Motorola, Google Android phones, mobile phones, smartphones, motorola RAZR
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