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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  • sjprg2 - Monday, December 19, 2011 - link

    BIG DEFICIENCY!!!
    The hands free bluetooth implementation is broken in the sense that it no longer announces whom the caller is. Every previous Motorola phone I have owned tells me who is calling.
    Califorina has a handsfree cellphone law and it is very important that I know whom is calling before I answer in the car in freeway traffic. Business calls I may answer, personal calls can wait. This is a deal breaker! I'm stuck with this until they fix it but I am damed unhappy and if I had known I would not have purchased it. It is more of a toy then a useful phone, granted an atractive toy, but still a toy.
    Does the Apple 4S bluetooth work?
    sjprg
    Reply
  • QQBoss - Tuesday, December 20, 2011 - link

    I am living in China, and trying to purchase the 4G version of the Razr (unlocked, of course, or at least unlockable). The Chinese version is the XT912, and does not have 4G support (which makes sense, since China doesn't have a 4G network yet). I travel back to the USA periodically, so having 4G for when I am not in China is worth something to me. I have heard said that the non-USA versions of the Razr might have 4G locked off, so this worries me.

    I found an XT910 brought in by grey market here, but I noticed some things that seem off: 1) it only says Razr, not Droid Razr (so it is probably not the USA version of the phone, I think it was from Singapore) 2) No documentation indicates whether or not it supports 4G, and it doesn't ship with anything other than a basic charger (if there was an external 16 GB microSDHC, it was removed by the seller) 3) Under the different networks supported in the menus, I find one that says "other" with no explanation (could be 4G, but since China networks don't recognize it, it doesn't register?).

    I don't care about the lack of the SDHC, I will get a 32 GB class 10 anyway, and chargers are cheap here, but spending roughly US$500 and not getting the actual phone I want seems like a bad option- there are no refunds for grey market. Unfortunately, I didn't write down the baseband ID number. Anyone have a guess?
    Reply
  • introiboad - Tuesday, December 20, 2011 - link

    Worth mentioning that the RAZR is the second (after the 4S) phone to include support for BLE. Instead of waiting for Google to get their act together and add a standard API to Android, Moto has bundled its own stack (provided by a third party) along with a set of APIs.
    This makes for very interesting applications such as key fobs, hear rate monitors and many others.
    Reply
  • dj christian - Thursday, December 22, 2011 - link

    What is BLE? Reply
  • doobydoo - Tuesday, January 17, 2012 - link

    It says what it means in his post title, 'Bluetooth Low Energy' - basically it's Bluetooth 4.0.

    http://www.bluetooth.com/Pages/Bluetooth-Smart-Dev...
    Reply

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