Since the RAZR Review

The Droid RAZR and RAZR MAXX as of this writing have been both pushed the same “6.12.173.XT912.Verizon.en.US” update, which makes a number of changes and improvements that mitigate some of the things I complained about in the initial Droid RAZR review. The core Android version is now 2.3.6. I’ve re-run our performance tests, and nothing has really changed here, unsurprisingly.

 

First, the update changes the Settings page aesthetics slightly, including some icons that weren’t there previously. There’s also a change to some of the other icons on the home screen, and the cDRX features I’ve written about before.

I noted some frustration with the RAZR’s camera app in the original review, this has been significantly improved in the latest update. Stability is much improved, UI items no longer completely disappear and the camera app hasn’t crashed at all. In addition I no longer see the RAZR miss focus entirely like I did before, which was a big problem at times.

GNSS

Some other OEMs have written about GLONASS support on their hardware, and I forgot to note in the initial RAZR review that this device also includes GNSS (GPS+GLONASS) support the same way courtesy the MDM6600. Until recently basically all satellite based location has used GPS, which consists of a constellation of 27 satellites. GLONASS is its Russian cousin, with 24 satellites. The two can be used in conjunction to get faster 3D fixes, better coverage, and greater accuracy. We'll see more and more GNSS solutions start shipping in 2012 as well.


GLONASS satellites are used here, circled in red

If you fire up GPS Test, satellites numbered 65-88 are GLONASS. Qualcomm’s GNSS only uses GLONASS when there either aren’t enough visible GPS satellites for a fix, or SNR is bad (basically an urban canyon or indoors scenario), so you’ll often see a set of bars pop in or out depending on how good the normal GPS SNR is. This implementation is the same for all of the Qualcomm SoCs and MDMs that include GNSS support.

Final Words

If you want a smartphone that’s uncompromising about battery life and also includes 4G LTE connectivity, the Droid RAZR MAXX is a no brainer, especially over the Droid RAZR sans MAXX. There’s just no other device out there right now that lasts as long and isn't a feature phone or crippled in some way, and in a world where everything is being fabbed on a 4x nm process, battery life at the high end is entirely a function of battery capacity. Until 28nm SoCs and basebands start arriving in devices later this year, things aren’t going to change much, either - you just need a big battery to post the kind of numbers the MAXX does in our battery life tests.

The RAZR MAXX is a device after my own heart, as I almost always end up buying or seeking out whatever extended battery option is available for whatever device I carry. There’s just nothing more frustrating than constantly worrying about having a dead device with no charger in sight. On trips and visits to cafes with intermittent or barely working WiFi, hotspot battery life ends up being probably the most important thing to me, and remains the big battery life equalizer. 

Right now on Verizon the top tier of Android phones in my mind really is a two horse race. On one side is the Galaxy Nexus which is awesome purely because it’s running Android 4.0 with no customizations. On the other hand, the RAZR MAXX is a device with very similar specifications (and the same CPU, GPU, and clocks), but with a much larger battery. That's a big simplification, but superficially those are the biggest factors. As soon as the RAZR MAXX gets its Android 4.0 update, I think it’ll be hard to argue in favor of the Galaxy Nexus over the MAXX for most customers, though the former will continue to be the platform that gets updates first, comes with an unlocked bootloader, making it the obvious enthusiast choice. For people who don't find themselves presented with a charger at the end of every day, or can't charge the device on a regular schedule, the MAXX is also a no-brainer. 

If anything, I hope that the RAZR MAXX sets a new trend for devices with internal batteries, which a lot of recent devices have started shipping with. If you’re going to make a device and seal the battery inside, at least make it huge.

Battery Life, Tested
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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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