Software - Android 2.3.5

As of this writing, the RAZR is running Android 2.3.5, and in almost any other context it’d be easy to applaud Motorola for shipping close to the absolute bleeding edge branch of Android 2.3, but there’s no way to ignore the fact that this isn’t Android 4.0. It’s a bit unfortunate for everyone that we’re seeing a repeat of last year with devices on the market running an older version of Android than what’s currently available on AOSP, but porting and certification takes time. We’ve outlined it already, but Motorola has stated that the RAZR will get its own Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich update before 2Q 2012, but that’s a long potential 6 months to wait for the latest version of Android - a quarter of your 2 year contract.

The flipside of the argument is that it’s at least guaranteed to happen sometime before then, and thus the more important comparison for the RAZR becomes how its hardware compares to the Galaxy Nexus, which we’ll talk about in the context of that device review. The short thing to note is that the two are both based on an OMAP4 SoC, so performance will likely be close between the two.

 

Anyhow, Android 2.3.5 on the RAZR is almost identical to the software and Blur skin we saw running on the Droid Bionic. That is to say, both come with Motorola’s not-Blur motoblur skin replete with resizable widgets, 3D launcher with a paginated 4x5 grid of icons, Motorola’s own slightly tweaked home screens, blue and grey Android UI colors, and basically the same software preload, but that’s not to say there aren’t some major changes.

 

If you recall back to the Bionic review, I noted that device’s Blur version, which was 5.5.886. On the RAZR, Blur is now:

Blur_Version.6.11.777.XT912.Verizon.en.US

This change incorporates a bunch of new features. First up is a new lock screen with a quick shortcut that gets you right into the camera (something that basically everyone seems to be doing right now) and still gives the same vibrate/silent and date/time informatics at the top.

The other big change is the addition of so-called “Smart Actions” which really are location, time, and other trigger defined rules. There are a variety of preconfigured samples that you can tailor and build off of, for example to silence your phone when your location is at work or between certain hours, or remind you to charge your phone before sleep. It’s similar to Reminders for iOS but with more system integration and using other hooks in the OS for doing more than just location or time based alerts.

 

I usually have all my mobile devices on vibrate all the time, but having time and location-triggered silence mode is a far-overdue functionality for smartphones. It’s a lifesaver if you’re in a workplace or classroom where email and SMS alerts are frowned upon - or worse.

 

The other big change (and a welcome one) is the relocation of Motorola’s battery management and sync restriction system under the smart action umbrella. I’ve complained a few times in other reviews that both other tech press and end users are confused by the default power saving setting on the previous builds of Blur which disabled account sync between some hours. This is now totally removed and again an optional smart action (battery extender or nighttime battery saver). Instead, under settings is “battery information” which just gives you the percentage and a shortcut to Android’s battery use view.

The rest of Android on the RAZR is again much the same as other Motorola devices of this latest generation. There’s no doubt that Motorola’s suite of skins and customizations will also roll over to its Android 4.0 port - as they’ve noted in blog posts a few times already - the question is what that will look like when the time comes.

The storage situation on the RAZR is important, again you get 16 GB of internal NAND and a microSDHC port that’ll take up to 32 GB cards, and out of the box you get a 16 GB class 4 card preinstalled. Of course, that 16 GB of internal NAND can be divied up in multiple ways, but running df clears things up.

Filesystem             Size   Used   Free   Blksize
/dev                   460M   380K   459M   4096
/mnt/asec              460M     0K   460M   4096
/mnt/obb               460M     0K   460M   4096
/system                636M   402M   234M   1024
/pds                     3M     1M     2M   1024
/preinstall            605M   440M   164M   1024
/data                    3G   518M     2G   4096
/cache                1007M    17M   990M   4096
/osh                     1G     1G   275M   2048
/mnt/sdcard-ext         14G   432M    14G   8192
/mnt/sdcard              8G    47M     7G   8192

There’s an 8 GB internal storage partition which works like an SD card (/mnt/sdcard), 3 GB for applications (/data), and then the 16 GB /mnt/sdcard-ext partition which is actually the external card. I’m assuming the rest of the space from that 16 GB of NAND is actually used for the lapdock.

Battery Life - No Surprises Display - Super AMOLED Advanced
POST A COMMENT

75 Comments

View All Comments

  • secretmanofagent - Friday, December 16, 2011 - link

    Brian, have you seen any data connectivity issues that plague the Droid Bionic on the RAZR? It was something Verizon confirmed was a known issue (there was a patch released yesterday but don't know if that addressed that issue) and was happening to me quite frequently. I managed to move from the Bionic to the RAZR because of Verizon, and I've seen some hiccups that looked similar to the Bionic issue (it's the same LTE and CDMA baseband). Reply
  • flyfishin69 - Sunday, December 18, 2011 - link

    I to am an (almost) former owner of the Bionic. The phone will loose all cellular data after coming in contact with 4g and trying to negotiate back to 3g. And especially in the Hagerstown Md. Area where verizon has no 3g service only 4. I would always find the bionic lifeless. I spoke with a verizon rep and he is sending my Razr tomm. Are we seeing these same problems in the Razr? Reply
  • Nfarce - Sunday, December 18, 2011 - link

    Hmmm. I have had the Bionic for three months, since it first came out, and never had a single issue. Here in the greater metro Atlanta area I go between 4G and 3G all the time depending on how far outside the city. I have roamed all over the Southeast while driving and never had a problem either.

    Sounds to me like you just got a lemon.
    Reply
  • secretmanofagent - Monday, December 19, 2011 - link

    Nope, they weren't lemons. Check out Verizon's update:
    http://www.droid-life.com/2011/12/08/droid-bionic-...

    Big one is "Improved stability of data connections on 3G and 4G". Worst part for those who still have it: Verizon says it will "help alleviate" the problem.

    You're only one of three people that I know of who have said they weren't affected, out of about 10-15. Consider yourself lucky.
    Reply
  • Nfarce - Tuesday, December 20, 2011 - link

    Yes I guess I was lucky. I actually had no idea this update was even coming until trying to make a call Thursday evening last week. About the only gripe I had of the phone was the crappy autofocus problem. It seems to be a lot better now. I surmise the 3G/4G issue depended at least to some extent what region of the nation you lived in. Two co-workers have the phone (one got a RAZR and gave the Bionic to his wife) and neither reported problems either. Reply
  • secretmanofagent - Monday, December 19, 2011 - link

    I've seen a couple times like what I had seen with the Bionic, but only momentary losses. Reply
  • loribeth - Tuesday, December 27, 2011 - link

    Both 4G and 3G data drops for me. I live 30 miles north of Indy, which is 3G, but work in 4G territory. The upgrade has not helped and only created other buggy issues. Reply
  • LoneWolf15 - Friday, December 16, 2011 - link

    I just did a lot of research before picking up a phone this week. The RAZR was among the half a dozen smartphones I considered --until I picked it up.

    I have relatively large hands with long fingers, and the phone is STILL too wide to comfortably hold in the hand. It's actually wider than the Droid Bionic (which I did purchase), and its relative thin-ness makes it less comfortable in the hand rather than more. Making a slightly thicker phone, and using that extra thickness to increase battery size would have actually made it more comfortable.

    Of course, that would make the phone a Droid Bionic. Which is now $100 cheaper due to the RAZR coming out, so you can save $100 and get a phone that's every bit as capable, with more battery options. They also released a major update to the Bionic this week that squashed a ton of bugs.

    At the $299 price, I'd probably look at the Galaxy Nexus or the HTC Rezound --not the RAZR. The Bionic is a much better value if you want a Motorola phone. So far, I'm happy with mine.
    Reply
  • Nfarce - Sunday, December 18, 2011 - link

    Yep, I like the feel of the Bionic more than the RAZR. I got the thin rubber-like enclosing protective case and it helps even more on the grip. My friend's RAZR feels too fragile and I'd definitely be more worried about dropping it. Thinner isn't always better to some of us.

    I would have waited for a price drop on the Bionic, but since my older Droid died and I was going month to month without a contract, I had to buy a new phone like yesterday, and in September, the Bionic was the best. Verizon threw in $70 worth of free accessories for me at the full $299 purchase price, so that eased the pain a little (case, car charger, screen protector).
    Reply
  • JonnyDough - Saturday, December 17, 2011 - link

    "Thankfully holding volume down and power/lock for 10 seconds reboots the device even when the device is totally unresponsive (which I did in fact encounter once)."

    Something I often encountered on my original DROID and also on my Thunderbolt 4G LTE. I'm honestly a bit sick of the issues with Android. You would think they would fix them. My phone has been known to do some really quirky stuff. From calling people on contact lists from that others who share a phone plan with me have on THEIR phones (the people my phone called are NOT on my phone!), to random reboots, SMS's not sending, and the 3G/4G service acting dodgy, even though I may not leave the house for awhile. Those are just a few of the issues I have suffered through over the last 2 years.
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now