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
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  • JonnyDough - Saturday, December 17, 2011 - link

    I should probably mention too that when I got my phone (through Verizon) that I had mobile hotspot, it was one of the reasons I got the phone. Of course, a month later they had made it pay-to-use and blocked me from it with an update. Its kind of like the whole ISP industry putting caps on it because they quote "can't afford" to not do it. Laugh. ArsTechnica had a whole article on that. Its a really good read. Reply
  • loribeth - Tuesday, December 27, 2011 - link

    Don't worry, the hot spot connection is a known Razor issue, or at least that is what I have read doing a Google search. I just dropped my hot spot, today. I also got a refund of al charges since my purchase. It will connect, but will immediately disconnect. Reply
  • Shinobi_III - Saturday, December 17, 2011 - link

    The razr screen might look bad under a microscope, but compared with the SGS2, the colours are so much better, and no banding at all.

    The SGS2 with it's supposedly better layout, looks like sh*t next to a razr in the real world displaying photos or even most games that happen to have a color fade.
    Reply
  • anandtech pirate - Sunday, December 18, 2011 - link

    It’s a bit odd to see the Epic Touch getting better battery life with Wimax than with 3G. Could this be related to a bad Sprint signal at your test location? Sprint 3G data speeds have been terrible in many locations for the past 6 months. Reply
  • victorjr - Sunday, December 18, 2011 - link

    This is what should be called Review! "Reviews" done by other sites are a joke. We can decide with much more success. We can read facts and not only biased opinions. Anandtech is the place I have been for years. This will continue. Cant wait to the Galaxy Nexus review. Reply
  • iSayuSay - Sunday, December 18, 2011 - link

    I don't want to start another flame because I actually feel this Razr is a damn fine phone (apart from it's not bundled with ICS yet), but truly .. Apple just did it again.

    Some hi-end Android now start to use a user un-effin-replacable battery in pursue of thinness and the ability of using hi grade material..

    Adobe start to drop future support on Mobile Flash plugin.

    Some Android now bundled with software or apps which basically iTunes wannabe with all syncing, copying, and not-so-free device managing, something most people bash on iPod and iPhones?

    And I'm sure more and more Android handset going to adapt microSIM on their phone. Just like this phone.

    Long story short, somehow .. smartphone trend start to follow something that most people hate .. the iPhone
    Reply
  • lexluthermiester - Sunday, December 18, 2011 - link

    Had to deal with two iPhones with batteries that stopped holding a charge and a few friends have had to deal with similar problems with their iPads. Sealing the battery inside gives the manufacturer an opportunity cut corners in the battery department. Totally unacceptable. Reply
  • doobydoo - Tuesday, January 17, 2012 - link

    Thankfully you're in a tiny minority. And you can get dodgy batteries whether it's removable or not. Reply
  • georgekn3mp - Monday, December 19, 2011 - link

    I have had the HTC ReZound for a month now, and did not like the width and height of the Razr (or the screen compared to true HD 720p on the ReZound) and hope to see a Galaxy nexus review soon even if Anad never publishes one for the ReZound. I researched all 3 before buying the ReZound and found it was best for my needs and wants for a halo phone.

    Even if the SunSpider and Vellamo tests on GNex beat the ReZound..I am not switching. I love my first smartphone...with a non-Pentile HD 720p display, dual-core at 1.5ghz, a better 8MP camera with f2.2 lens and not as big a bezel. I like the phone dimensions on Rezound better anyway...I can swipe my thumbs all the way across holding it one-handed and can't on GNex.

    So the only thing GNex has that ReZound does not is Android 4.0 (and that will happen eventually). So NFC is crippled anyway without the Google Wallet. Heh, all that waiting for a GNex which is already sporting outdated hardware....I bet both the Razr and ReZound beat it when they get Ice Cream Sandwich...just have to wait long enough.
    Reply
  • Rowlf - Monday, December 19, 2011 - link

    I just came back from the verizon store in an attempt to escape apple hell. I so desperately wanted the RAZR or galaxy nexus to be a replacement for my old iphone. The razr and nexus seemed to be choking on this review or anywhere on anandtech. Scrolling was not smooth and the nexus even crashed once. I tried the newest iphone just for kicks and it had no problems. Was it the demo floor model?

    Also the nexus seemed to be half as bright as my old phone. Yes I made sure brightness was as maximum and auto brightness was off. Was it the demo model?

    Do I need to go to a different verizon store? Is that as good as it gets at this time and I should be looking or waiting for something else?
    Reply

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