Motorola Droid RAZR XT910 Review - Performance and Interface Review


The Motorola Droid RAZR runs a Texas Instrument OMAP 4430 processor, which is a dual-core chip ticking along at 1.2GHz. This keeps the phone feeling nice and fast with nary a pause as you flick from app to app. Straight out of the box, some of the widgets can make moving around the homescreens feel a bit sluggish – the social networking one in particular can cause the screen to stutter – but for the most part you’re not left waiting.

Putting the phone through its paces with a few benchmarks backed up these observations with BrowserMark, LinPack and SunSpider all ranking the CPU as up there with the best. Likewise GLBenchMark showed this is a capable phone when it comes to 3D graphics, though the iPhone 4S still holds a comfortable lead here, as it does over all other phones.

Taking advantage of all that power is the Android 2.3.5 operating system. An upgrade to Android Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) will arrive but it could be some time before it does. As such you’re currently missing out on native dual-core support, GPU acceleration. a heavily revamped UI and many other much more minor tweaks as well. Nevertheless, despite the many quality additions to ICS, there’s nothing in the update that we’d consider out and out essential. It’s also worth noting that no other Android phones have this update – it’s the Samsung Galaxy Nexus or nothing on that front.

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The bulk of the phone is familar Android with just a few visual tweaks

What you do get is the familiar Android 2.x style interface with a bit of a Motorola flavour thanks to some stylistic as well as functional changes. Not all of it is welcome, and there are fewer obvious quality additions than on some handsets, but it’s still a very usable handset.

The core is all familiar, with five homescreens to fill with widgets and apps sitting above four fixed but customisable icons running along the bottom and below the notifications area along the top, which as ever you can drag down to view your latest updates. Tap the apps icon and you’ll access the main app menu. Here, rather than one long list, apps are split into pages starting on the left and finishing on the right.

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There are no useful extras in the notifications drop down but you can access the camera from the lock screen.

It’s all fine but there’s nothing special with no quick access to any settings or other useful features in the notifications drop down, no streamlined management of the homescreens and no quick screen shot feature as now featured on HTC devices – just hold down the power button and tap the Home button. You do at least get quick access to the camera from the lock screen, and can easily mute it too.

One particularly odd change Motorola has made is that instead of the standard onscreen keyboard, the phone comes out the box with the Swype keyboard installed. While some people do like this text input method, it is hardly a standard. At least a normal keyboard is still available – you just have to manually switch to it.
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Swype (left) is the default keyboard but you can switch back to the standard one

The key change though is that Facebook, Twitter and many other such accounts are all integrated into the phone, giving you social networking links in your contacts’ information page, a universal messaging app that includes messages from all these services and a single Social Networking app that pulls in all your updates to one feed. You can add separate apps for these services as well, though, if you want to get the full mobile experience. For the most part all this integration doesn’t quite feel slick and complete enough to be a compelling feature but it’s definitely a nice to have.

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Social networking services are all integrated into one stream

There are some useful standalone additions as well. Smart Actions lets you specify a number of tasks to be performed given a certain set of circumstances. For instance, you can specify that between certain hours of the day (i.e. at night), when the screen is off, the phone turns off automatic updates or that is you enter a certain location (based on GPS) the phone switches to silent mode. It’s a really useful feature and there are plenty of predefined examples to get you started.

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Smart Actions is a really useful way to customise your phone to act just the way you want

MotoPrint is another big plus. It easily lets you print straight from your phone with support for easily printing contacts, documents, emails or calendar entries.

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