At first glance the Motorola RAZR MAXX appears to be almost identical to its younger brother the Motorola RAZR. However there are a few subtle differences, the most obvious is the larger battery and this has paved the way for a re-design of the back cover.
The slight bump on the older RAZR - which included the microUSB and microHDMI port - has been flattened out. Some people may find this slightly more appealing as it looks more like a normal phone now, however it does make the phone loose its thinner - RAZR's - edge.
From the front the Motorola Logo is also slightly different as it has a black background instead of the RAZR's Silver. Other than this the phone is the same shape and is still a little on the large side to hold for one handed operation due to its 4.3” screen.
We also must point out that the MAXX sports a microSim port (the same standard used on the iPhone 4), so this can cause an extra time delay when having to swap-out your sim if you decide to upgrade. At least the 16GB of internal storage can be boosted by a microSD card.
The OS is generally the same as the standard RAZR's OS and is enhanced once again by a vibrant display. However the MAXX still sports Android 2.3.6 (as of the 19th July 2012) and not the ICS update that was promised, so this does make you feel a little peeved given the price of this phone (sim-free about £420).
However the Motoblur UI does have its appeals and equally several annoyances. We think the 5-layerd home screen is a waste on a device with so much screen real-estate potential and the notification bar is void of basic WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS on/off switches that are common on most phones these days (this function is handled by widgets).
On the plus side the horizontal scrolling app interface is partnered with the ability to create custom folders for your apps.
Speaking of which we also liked the large mix of consumer and business apps such as Quick Office - a full editing suite – allowing you to create Microsoft Office documents. You also have wireless printing support and a nice music app which supports Internet radio, DLNA severs, podcasts and of course your own music.
Speaker quality was boosted by equaliser profiles and donning a pair of headphones proved even more effective when having to listen to music. The only negative with the speakers position (around the back near to the camera lens) is that it can sometimes get muffled when playing games in landscape.
In terms of the video player this was activated through the Gallery app and provided a basic option such as being able to adjust the video size to “Actual Size”.
Video quality looked colourful thanks to the screens 540 x 960 pixel SUPER AMOLED technology. Mind you some of the films we ran were a little on the dark side in places, but with the great viewing angles the MAXX still provided a solid entertaining experience.
As for performance we found the dual-core 1.2 GHz CPU and 1GB RAM combo was good enough for the majority of tasks we ran on the handset, such as playing games, screen swiping and streaming off YouTube, but browsing full websites still felt a little sluggish and downloading an alternative browser from the Google Play store would possibly be a wise move.
Setting up a Motoblur account also allows you to combine email and social accounts under one roof but if you have to many accounts this can degrade performance a touch when it tries to sync all the accounts.
In terms of benchmarking we downloaded two widely used free apps from the Google Play Store (namely “Vellamo” and “AnTuTu”). Vellamo mainly evaluates browser performance and AnTuTu tests Graphics, CPU, Memory and SD card read/write performance.
Score wise we compared the RAZR MAXX to another phone we reviewed this month “The Orange San Diego” - the latter features an Intel 1.6GHz ATOM CPU. In Vellamo it scored 1035 vs. the Oranges 1279. In AnTuTu the RAZR MAXX fared better with an overall score of 6205 vs. 5634.
The 8MP camera was a little under-whelming if truth be told. Image quality in brighter conditions did show traces of overexposure and image detail was also missing on a few shots as well. Feature wise the camera has the usual geo-tagging options, coupled with various scene modes and effects (Sepia for example). The 1080P video option did have a nice manual touch focus and its video stabiliser was useful. Unfortunately in brighter conditions once again videos did not look that crisp and were over-exposed.
In terms of battery tests we normally leave the wireless antenna running while setting the backlight to Max. We then run a video for 2 hours and 15 minutes to gain an idea of how much battery life is left from a full charge.
In general heavy use terms (such as web browsing, YouTube streaming and games) you would easily get a few days life out of this device if you adjust the backlight.
While Battery life is good the phone is essentially the same as the standard RAZR, but are you willing to pay an extra £100+ for better Battery life? A good question, but personally we wouldn’t. You are better off getting a Samsung Galaxy S II now that it has come down in price and thanks to its removable battery get a spare one - to carry around with you - for roughly £9. The Samsung device also runs ICS, comes with a better camera and has a 1.2 GHz dual-core CPU with 1GB RAM as standard.