Turn the Motorola RAZR i on and one of the first things you'll notice is that it's incredibly fast. And we're not just talking about 'fast for a mid-range phone' here – this is actually one of the fastest phones on the market.
You see there's a major component to this phone that we haven't yet dwelt on, which is that it uses a processor made by Intel. Its Intel Atom Z2460 chip may only be a dual-core model but because it uses a different architecture to the ARM-based chips used in most phones it can squeeze out more performance.
It's only in gaming where the Intel chip doesn't trounce all before it, but even here it's perfectly adequate.
So we've established the Motorola RAZR I is fast but the key point is whether it's easy to use. And thankfully the answer is a resounding yes.
Motorola has thankfully ditched its MotoBlur interface and instead the Motorola RAZR i runs a mostly standard version of Google’s Android 4.0 operating system. The result is a powerful and easy to use phone.
As with most Android phones the general interface layout has the navigation buttons along the bottom edge with an app dock above. Here you can add four shortcuts to your favourite apps, which flank the icon for the main app menu. Meanwhile you can drag down from the top edge to get to your notifications, and there’s a quick link to the phone’s settings up here too.
As Google is encouraging manufacturers to do, the navigation buttons – Home, Back and Multitasking – aren’t physical but are simply part of the touchscreen interface, which is one easy way to tell this phone’s running Android 4.0. Opinion appears to still be divided on whether physical or touchscreen buttons are best but so long as the main screen lock button is easy to reach – as it is here – we find the touchscreen button approach a good one. More of the phone can be filled with screen rather than buttons, making the phone more compact and tidier looking, and for those apps that require the full screen, the buttons disappear anyway.
The first obvious difference between this phone and a phone running a completely stock version of Android 4.0, then, is the Motorola circles widget. This sits dead centre on the homescreen and like many such widgets shows things like time, weather and battery level. But the trick here is that with a up or down swipe of your finger you can flip each circle over to access other info. So, flip the digital clock and it turns into an analogue clock, flip the weather and you can add another city, and flip the battery and there’s a shortcut to the settings. Hardly revolutionary stuff but it’s slickly done and genuinely useful. You can of course delete it and use any other widgets you so please instead.
Another Motorola tweak is that rather than having a number of homescreen pages already available, you have to add them one by one. So if you swipe left from the main homescreen it brings up a page management system that enables you to add another blank page or add a templated page pre-filled with themed selections of apps and widgets such as Media and Mobile Office. It largely seems to us like a clever yet intuitive system, though it is something of a chore that when you have many pages (seven pages is the maximum) you have to swipe all the way to the end one to get to the page management screen again.
Back to the homescreen, swipe to the right and there’s a quick settings page, giving access to on/off switches for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and such like, as well as a link to the full settings menu. Again, we like it initially, when only using one page of apps, but if you’ve got seven pages it’s less convenient swiping all the way to this page to get to a few quick settings than simply dragging down the notifications area, which is where many other phones have some of these quick action features.
As is standard for Android 4.0 and newer devices, the Google search bar is always there at the top of each homescreen, which we find a convenience rather than a hindrance, especially as when added as it widget it takes up much more space.
Jump into the main apps menu and it’s all standard Android stuff with page upon page of apps with widgets to the right and favourite apps to the left. We actually find this new Android app interface a little messy and confusing as you can all too easily swipe too far and end up in the widgets section when all you wanted was the last page of your apps, or conversely you end up in favourites when you want the first page of apps. We much preferred the old single vertical scrolling list of apps but it seems Google is set on keeping this paginated style. Boo.
The phone’s lock screen has a reasonable selection of features, showing time, date and notifications as well as having the option to mute the handset. You can also unlock the phone straight to one of three apps, or just unlock to the homescreen.
Setup of the device is quick and simple with an intuitive step by step process guiding you through getting you email, Wi-Fi and such like sorted. There’s also a Guide Me app from Motorola which explains the phones hardware and software features in an intuitive manner.
Ultimately, this is largely a standard implementation of Android and it feels slick and easy to use because of it. The extra complexity of Android may still put off some users tempted by the simplicity of iPhone but really the learning curve is pretty short and shallow and we feel most people could quickly get to grips with this handset.