Battery Life

Obviously the most important thing with this kind of upgrade is seeing just what kind of use time you can get out of a device with a relatively gargantuan 12.5 Whr battery, and for this we turned to our battery life testing suite. I investigated the Bionic’s extended battery back in its own review, and these increases in battery size almost always reflect (unsurprisingly) almost a perfect linear scaling.

When I started this review, the RAZR MAXX was running the original software release just before the 6.12.173 update which we briefly discussed in a pipeline post. This update adds connected discontinuous reception (cDRX) support to the RAZR MAXX’s ‘Wrigley’ LTE baseband, which improves battery life. That said I’m told only markets with Ericsson as the supplier have been updated, and I’m in an Alcatel-Lucent Verizon area. The point is that battery life really can only get better from the numbers below, and if you’re lucky enough to be in one of those markets, you’ll enjoy the benefits with the latest update. In addition, I also discovered that our RAZR review unit was running a weird build of software, 6.11.777, which I’ve since managed to get running 6.12.173 just like the MAXX, though most of these tests reflect the 6.11.777 numbers we initially obtained. If you’ve been watching bench as I’ve added numbers, this is why things sometimes change around until the review posts as I run and re-run tests. While finishing this review I’ve obtained an HTC Rezound and Droid 4 which we’re working on reviewing as well - these battery life results are included in here where available as well.

Anyhow, onto the results. The tests haven’t changed since we’ve talked about them last, and first up is the call test which consists of a call placed between the phone under test and another line, with music played a both ends at medium volume to avoid saturation.

Cellular Talk Time

Unsurprisingly we see an almost perfect 1.8x scaling here and get very close to the expected 21 hours of battery life you’d expect. The RAZR MAXX lasts astoundingly long if you’re interested in just voice calls, and Motorola continues to dominate the CDMA2000 1x voice tests. On 4G LTE handsets this is with the phone left in “CDMA/LTE” mode, though the LTE baseband is in RRC_IDLE state and consuming almost no power, while the MDM6600 handles the 1x voice call. As an aside, we’re almost getting to the point where voice battery life is so long that running this test is almost unweildy.

Next up are the web browsing tests, on 3G EVDO, 4G LTE, and WiFi. Here we load through a couple dozen pages with the display set to exactly 200 nits until the phone dies. We’re going to update this pretty soon with some more cache-busting features, but for now it does demonstrate that nice scaling for the most part.

Web Browsing (Cellular 3G - EVDO or WCDMA)
 
Web Browsing (Cellular 4G WiMAX or LTE)

Web Browsing (WiFi)

In both the 3G and 4G tests, we see very close to the expected scaling, and the RAZR MAXX easily captures the top spot among Android phones. The only phone close to the RAZR MAXX at basically any point is the HTC Rezound in this test, which surprised me with its LTE battery life. On EVDO the RAZR MAXX is pretty much top dog among the Android crowd, and also good enough to place among the iPhone 4 and 4S. Only in the WiFi web browsing test does the MAXX slip just short of the expected 1.8x scaling, but still posts an impressive result.

Finally we’ve got our hotspot battery life tests, which consist of four tabs of our page tests and a 128 kbps MP3 streaming radio session being loaded on one client laptop and a WPA2 PSK. I had some issues with the hotspot stability on the original RAZR software, and had to resort to running that initial test with WPA2 turned off. I’ve repeated these tests and now have better numbers.

WiFi Hotspot Battery Life (4G)

The hotspot test is great since it’s the only place other than the call test where we can isolate out the display (which ends up being by far the dominant factor) and gauge power draw from the combination of SoC, cellular baseband, RF, and WLAN. Here you can see the RAZR MAXX performs as expected and pretty much blows away everything else - other devices like the Rezound might get better battery life with the display on from using LCD (as opposed to AMOLED), but you can’t get around having more watt-hours to draw from.

So what do all these tests translate to in real world day to day use? Well, like anything the answer depends on your workload. If you use the phone as a hotspot while playing GTA III, obviously you’re going to still kill the phone in a few hours. If you’re just using it to occasionally poll twitter, check email, and reply to a few text messages, battery life on the order of two days isn’t hard to imagine. It’s hard to assign a realistic number given just how varied everyone’s use patterns are.

Charging Time Comparison
  Motorola Droid RAZR Motorola Droid RAZR MAXX
Charge time from 0% to 100% 3.083 hours 4.217 hours

I also tested how long the RAZR MAXX takes to charge fully after being completely, absolutely bone dry empty. On the MAXX that comes to 4.217 hours using the Motorola supplied 750 mA charger, which isn’t bad at all. The MAXX battery capacity isn’t so large that you can’t charge it on a nightstand and expect it to be 100% in the morning. I also timed the normal RAZR which came to just over 3 hours. I expected the MAXX to take much longer to charge, but the reason is no doubt the fact that Li-Ion battery charge curves aren't linear at all. 

The RAZR MAXX - 12.54 Whr Battery Inside Software Update and Final Words
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  • DanNeely - Tuesday, February 14, 2012 - link

    I can't say I've ever seen an extra bar on my phone from pulling the antenna out. I'm more than half convinced it's purely decorative. Reply
  • Rocket321 - Thursday, February 16, 2012 - link

    heh...they better not include one of those AND try to put the headphone jack on the bottom! Reply
  • sholling - Tuesday, February 14, 2012 - link

    This is by far the best Razr Maxx review that I've seen so far and if my contract were up I'd probably buy one once it gets ICS. It's not exactly what I want but it comes closer than anything else on the market right now. For what it's worth the improvements that I'd like to see for the RAZR Maxx II are quad-core for the energy sipping 5th core, a 4.5" 720 advanced SAMOLED display, and a built-in 32GB of storage with official support for add in 64GB microSD cards. It's rumored that they work now but official support is better. Admittedly I'm a power user but it would be nice to be able to store 30GB of high quality music plus photos, plus audiobooks, plus a huge 3rd party GPS app with on board maps. If it saves me having to pack a high-end GPS and a high capacity audio player along with my smartphone I'd pay a premium. Anyway I have high hopes that Motorola will release something along those lines this summer - just in time to renew my Verizon contract.

    One concern with the built in battery concept is that while I have no problem buying a new phone every two years for new technology I have a big problem having to get it fixed early because the battery capacity is down or even at 2 years because the battery is worn out. That's planned obsolesce like the 70s cars that fell apart as soon as the warranty was up. I've traditionally replaced my original batteries after 12 months and it sucks not to be able to do that.

    Again a really nice review. Hard numbers (including the WHr conversion) like these trump the fluff I've seen elsewhere.
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Tuesday, February 14, 2012 - link

    According to iFixit the Droid Razr's battery isn't that hard to get at; so a DIY swap shouldn't be too hard if needed. Reply
  • sholling - Tuesday, February 14, 2012 - link

    Thank you that's good information! Reply
  • pandemonium - Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - link

    The battery life is rather disappointing for web browsing, however. Have you guys considered running the latest versions of Opera Mobile to see if there's a better subjective result across several different devices?

    I'm really curious to see how some of the Anna, Belle, and WP Nokia phones compare. I'm in the market for a new phone and the camera is the more important aspect of the device for me. It'd be nice to have AT broaden their testing platform to provide more comparison. :)
    Reply
  • Brian Klug - Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - link

    Have you seen our reviews of the Lumia 710 and 800?

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/5266/nokia-lumia-800...
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/5284/nokia-lumia-710...

    We usually do a pretty comprehensive job with the camera especially, this time because the MAXX is just a normal RAZR with bigger battery I went light on details.

    -Brian
    Reply
  • pandemonium - Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - link

    I had forgotten you guys did that - my mistake! I also didn't see the N8 review you guys did early of '11. Considering how cheap an N8 is now (off-contract), that may be my phone of choice. Unless its successor will be unrealistically cheap.

    Any thoughts on using Opera for the browser life comparison?
    Reply
  • EXCellR8 - Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - link

    I picked one of these up over the weekend and have mostly good things to say. It was between this and the Nexus I opted for the droid because it had the bigger battery, better camera, and SD card. The battery does take awhile to fully charge, and I don't like some of the software that comes installed but those are minor grievances. I am anxious to upgrade to ICS but GB is fine for the time being. Overall it's a pretty nice phone, I would have liked a slightly bigger screen but the resolution is decent.

    I'd probably give the device a 4.5/5
    Reply
  • ol1bit - Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - link

    I like how the Rezound does on it's tinny battery. I guess I'll get the extended and beat the MAXX hands down looks like ! Reply

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