Review Price £330.00
Largely the Motorola RAZR i is a cracking little multimedia device though Motorola has made one silly slip up. Instead of let Android get on with things on its own, the company has insisted that you must install the Motorola Device Manager software to connect the phone properly to your computer to then transfer files across.
It's fine if you've got a microSD card as you can add files to that separately then simply plug that in but if you connect over the microUSB connector you'll have to do so with the Motorola software installed. What does this software do? Well, not much really. Other Android devices don't need special drivers simply to copy files back and forth so we're not sure why Motorola does.
The Motorola Device Manager will also check for updates to your device, but again this is something other devices don't need – the phone can do it itself over Wi-Fi.
Once installed, though, it's a simple case of dragging and dropping your files onto the device.
The Motorola RAZR i's AMOLED screen really makes video and pictures pop, and the deep, dark black levels it produces add great depth too. There's a tendency for it to look a little too dark and contrasty but certain video player apps will let you adjust this.
As for file compatibility, you don't get the out of the box compatibility of the Samsung Galaxy S3, for instance, but with an appropriate app you can playback just about any file up to 720p in resolution and it will play smoothly.
Motorola doesn't bundle a video service of its own but there's the standard Android Google Play for downloading and streaming movies. The range isn't vast and at £3.49 to rent a film, it's not exactly cheap either but you do at least have the assurance it will work on all Android devices.
The Motorola RAZR i has a tidy enough music player but as ever we do wish Google or its phone manufacturers would add a hardware shortcut to start music playback. Here, unless you manually add a shortcut to the homescreen, you've got to delve into the menus to get to the music app. If you've already got music playing a small player will appear on the lock screen but this doesn't appear when music isn't already playing.
Playback quality through the headphone jack is good though again the speaker is a bit weak.
One area where the RAZR i's fast processor is allowed to shine is in its camera. It can start up in under a second and fire off 10 shots another second later. It can even jump straight from a locked screen to taking a snap by holding down the shutter button.
Sadly the shutter button isn't a graduated one where half a press focusses and a full press takes the shot. This one kicks off the autofocus and takes the shot in one go. Still you can touch the screen to focus your shot instead. Also absent is a mirror on the back for easy self portraits but this is a common enough omission and at least that shutter button makes these shots much easier to start with.
In terms of quality, it's not too bad, with images having a decent level of exposure and accurate colours. However, overall detail isn't spectacular for an 8megapixel model with shots looking decidedly less clear than on the iPhone 4S, for instance.
As ever the single LED is fairly pathetic. It will light up your subjects within a 2m range but the resultant shots aren't the most flattering.
The camera app has a decent range of controls including exposure level, an HDR mode, a few basic scenes and this phone's piece de resistance, it's 10 shots a seconds multi-shot mode.
With regards viewing the pictures, much like with watching video, the high contrast nature of the screen means shots can look a little overblown – especially when you see quite how dull they actually are on your computer (phone cameras aren't known for being the most colourful). But, equally it's quite nice to have your pictures enlivened while showing them to friends and family.
Video recording is offered in up to 1080p resolutions and like with still image capture, it offers reasonable exposure control and colouring but isn't the most detailed we've ever seen. Audio recording is nothing spectacular either.
Battery Life of the Motorola RAZR i is pretty impressive. In our normal day of use, browsing the web for an hour or so, reading emails, playing half an hour of games, writing a few texts and making a few calls we often expect modern smartphones to only last about a day but here it lasted easily through one day and well into the next, for a total of around 30 hours use.
When it comes to charging this phone, it uses the standard microUSB connector as used on all other phones but iPhones. However, this port doesn't also support video output via MHL, and there isn't a microHDMI output either.
Otherwise though, it's well equipped with NFC on hand for quick syncing with preipherals, exchanging information with other phones and paying for goods while out and about. Then there's Wi-Fi, GPS, HSDPA (3G) and Bluetooth.
Where the Motorola RAZR i really starts to make sense is when it comes to price. Readily available SIM-free for around £330, it's markedly cheaper than high-end handsets yet offers similar performance, while most other phones in this price range are soundly beaten for performance and features by the RAZR i.
However, where the RAZR i was offering particularly good value, Google has now set the cat among the pigeons with the Google Nexus 4, which offers an HD screen and even faster processor for £250, though you do lose the camera button and expandable memory.
The Motorola RAZR i is a great mid-range handset that offers good performance and ergonomics for its price. The inclusion of expandable memory, NFC and a hardware camera button are particular highlights.
However, aside from understandable trade offs like the non-HD screen and lack of 4G, there is one sore point which is more of a concern: its app compatibility. Its superfast Intel chip may blow away much of the competition but it also won't work with some apps. We didn't find many that didn't but they do exist.
Then there's the newly arrived Google Nexus 4. We find its maximum 16GB of storage too limiting for it to be our first choice of phone but for the price it offers a seriously compelling set of features, and ultimately we'd probably go for it over this phone.
But, nonetheless, if you're simply after a well built, sensibly priced smartphone, this is still one to keep right at the top of your shopping list.
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