Motorola Razr I review

Motorola proves it's not all about dual-core and quad-core processors


Product Motorola Razr I
Website Motorola
Specifications Intel Atom 2GHz single-core processor, 4.3in edge-to-edge 540x960 HD Super AMOLED touchscreen display, 8GB storage, 8MP rear-facing camera, VGA front-facing camera, GSM/HSPA+, 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC, microUSB, microSD, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, 123x61x8.3mm, 126g
Price £350 SIM free

THE MOTOROLA RAZR I is the second Intel powered smartphone to tip up in the UK, following in the footsteps of the Orange San Diego that arrived back in June.

Intel has long claimed that there's no need for quad-core technology in smartphones. Building on this, Motorola goes so far as to claim that the Razr I's 2GHz Intel Atom processor with its single core can outperform dual-core chips.

While we wouldn't say the handset is as powerful as quad-core powerhouses like the HTC One X and the Samsung Galaxy S3, having put the Razr I through its paces we have to concede there is some truth to what Motorola and Intel claim.

Design and build


The Razr I case combines design elements of Motorola's Razr and Defy series of smartphones, featuring rounded edges and corners that are set off by a patterned back and industrial looking screws lining its outer edges.

The combination makes the Razr I visually striking and we're happy to see a device that looks noticeably different from the soft, curved designs seen on competing handsets like the Galaxy S3.

Motorola Razr I review


Despite feeling like it's made of plastic, the Razr I features the same lifeproof kevlar coating as its predecessors. This means that as well as being scratch, drop and maybe even bullet resistant, the Razr I is also resistant against the occasional splash of liquid.

We inadvertantly tested the Razr I's lifeproof status when we accidentally dropped the device into a puddle, and were pleased as well as relieved to see that it survived the drop without so much as a scratch, and still worked despite its brief submersion.

The Razr I is a good size to fit in your hand, hitting the same mid-sized sweet spot as Nokia's Lumia 800 and Apple's iPhone 5, measuring 123x61x8.3mm. This means that the Razr I is comfortable to use for both small and large-handed individuals.

Within its mid-sized chassis, the Razr I houses a 4.3in edge-to-edge touchscreen display that boasts 540x960 HD resolution and is based on Super AMOLED technology.

Testing the screen, we were impressed by how well it performed, with excellent brightness levels and good viewing angles. So bright is the Razr I's screen that we actually found ourselves having to turn its brightness down while using it indoors.

Processor

Motorola Razr I review
The Razr I has a 2GHz Intel Atom chip. Tested with the Antutu benchmark, the Razr I scored 5,828, making it 50 percent faster than Google's present flagship smartphone, the Galaxy Nexus, which scored 3,862.

In the Quadrant benchmark, the Razr I also performed well, scoring 4,175 compared to 4,562 scored by the quad-core LG Optimus 4X HD. Although it wasn't faster there, we thought it was close enough to be considered competitive.

To see whether these benchmarks translated into decent real world performance, we ran the Razr I head to head with the Iphone 4S, Galaxy Nexus and HTC One S.

Loading webpages, streaming video and playing games, we found the Razr I matched all three devices. The Razr I loaded webpages nearly instantaneously and was able to run power intensive games like Max Payne and Shadowgun with zero delay or stutter.

However, we did notice the occasional glitch when switching between screens on the Razr, where it would sometimes stall for a split second. We're not sure if this is just a software glitch on our prerelease test unit or a problem with the Razr I's hardware architecture or implementation. Hopefully the issue will be resolved in the device's final software build.

Operating system and software


The Motorola Razr I will ship with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, though an update to the newer Android 4.1 Jelly Bean release has been promised in the near future.

Motorola has also loaded the Razr I with its own custom user interface (UI). We're generally not fans of custom Android skins, as we feel that HTC's Sense and Samsung's Touchwiz make their UIs too busy and difficult to navigate, but we're quite taken with the UI that Motorola has provided on the Razr I.

Motorola Razr I review

Motorola seems to have worked to make Android more user friendly by reducing the number of screens on the Razr I to three, though there is also the option to add more.

It's also added a settings page that can be quickly accessed simply by sweeping to the right on the screen. The shortcut settings menu lets users do things like adjust WiFi and Bluetooth settings on the fly. We found this feature useful and greatly prefer it to the settings widgets seen on the Sense and Touchwiz UIs.

Motorola has also been careful not to overload the UI with custom widgets. The Razr I comes prepacked with only one custom widget, a custom button style widget that displays the time, weather and battery life remaining.

This means that unlike Touchwiz, the UI doesn't feel overloaded and is significantly more user friendly than most competing Android skins.

Camera


Cameras are a hot topic in the smartphone world at the moment, with all eyes on Nokia's upcoming Pureview powered Lumia 920 and Apple's newly released Iphone 5.

Looking to add its own unique selling point to the Razr I, Motorola's added an instant boot feature to its camera app. This means that the Razr I's 8MP rear-facing camera will activate the moment you press its physical shutter button, meaning that you should never miss your shot.

The Razr I's camera boasts both a 6MP widescreen mode and an 8MP regular shooting mode.

Images taken using the Razr I, while not on a par with those produced on Samsung's impressive Galaxy S3, are decent, boasting stronger colours and in general look fairly vibrant. The Razr I's camera also has a burst mode that Motorola claims captures 10 images in less than a second.

Motorola Razr I review

Taken with the Razr I

The only real problem we had with the Razr I's camera features involved the physical shutter button. The control doesn't have a two-click focus feature, meaning that you still have to tap the screen to get the camera to focus. While not a deal breaker, the lack of a two-click focus feature is an annoyance when taking photos on the Razr I.

Battery and storage


Motorola has attempted to repeat the Razr Maxx's battery offering on the Razr I, loading it with a 2,000mAh battery that it claims will last for around 20 hours of average to heavy use.

Testing it we were impressed by how long the Razr I's battery lasted, with it delivering two days of moderate use from one charge. This included the occasional web search, quick game of Peggle and regular bouts of listening to music.

In terms of storage, the Razr I isn't very impressive, coming with just 8GB of internal storage, only 5GB of which is actually usable.

This is a bit of a pain, as it means you can't load very many music or video files onto the Razr I. Luckily, the storage can be upgraded up to 32GB using the Razr I's microSD card slot.

In Short


Motorola has fixed a lot of the issues we had with its previous Razr smartphones, while keeping their strengths. This means that the Razr I offers users great battery life, a crisp and clear display, a fast processor and a sturdy life-proof design.

In fact the only negative points keeping the Razr I from getting top marks are its mediocre camera and a tendency to occasionally stall when switching between applications, though we hope this issue will be fixed with a software update. µ

The Good

Decent performance, great battery life, nice design, vibrant screen.

The Bad

Occasional software glitches, camera not on par with rivals.

The Ugly

Stingy built-in storage.



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