Camera - Still

I guess it shouldn’t come as any surprise at this point that the RAZR, you guessed it, uses the same OmniVision OV8820 8 MP CMOS sensor as the Bionic. That means 1.4µm square backside illuminated pixels. However, as we’ve discussed in the past there really are four parts to the whole smartphone imaging chain: the sensor (CMOS), optical system, Image Signal Processing (ISP), and finally software on the OS talking to the ISP. What’s different on the RAZR versus the Bionic is optical system and software.

The Bionic included F/2.8 optics with a 4.6mm focal length. The RAZR keeps that 4.6mm focal length and includes F/2.4 optics according to EXIF. It’s entirely likely that the focal length field hasn’t changed, but given that from what I can find commercially available OV8820 F/2.4 packages have a focal length around 4.95mm. However, it’s reasonably close. Both of these designs are likely 4P (4 plastic elements) as well.

We’ve done the usual thing and taken photos with the phone under test in our smartphone test locations (which are a bit difficult to control and might have slightly different than usual lighting due to seasons changing) and in our controlled indoor tests.

As a reminder, in the smartphone bench samples only locations 3-7 remain available for testing.

The RAZR does decently well in our controlled testing. Distortion is minimal, the lightbox with light on sample is sharp and looks accurate, and colors look similar to the Bionic. Despite being a half stop wider on the ISO12233 chart we see no more spatial frequencies in the horizontal or vertical (meaning performance is clearly not diffraction limited, which isn’t a surprise). In the lights off test, the RAZR still doesn’t illuminate the scene in the dark, and instead defaults to focusing to infinity which produces a blurry image in our box.

I guess while we’re on the subject of focus, this is a continual problem in the bench test. Focus is soft or missed focus entirely in locations 3 and 4, and in our sample bench video as we’ll show later. I’m not sure what the problem is here, but I’m confident I allowed the AF routine to run properly before capturing - this is just the position the software decided was best focus.

I mentioned software because the RAZR’s camera software subjectively seems less stable than the Bionic’s. I experienced a crash or two in the course of taking bench samples and normal test photos, and like other Motorola camera apps had UI elements disappear sometimes. Obviously not having a physical shutter button makes having a working UI even more important, and the RAZR just needs a bugfix update to address the camera app stability.

Camera - Video

I also shot video at the test location, and here if you look at 1:1 zoom you can see that the RAZR does appear to miss focus despite running its continuous auto focus routine a few times. I shot this video a number of times after a reboot expecting different results but never got a completely sharp video.

The positive part of video recording on the RAZR is that it still uses the same bitrate and H.264 features as the Bionic - 15 Mbps high profile for 1080p30, and 10 Mbps high profile for 720p30. Audio is two-channel stereo AAC at 128 Kbps. You can again pull all of these out of build.prop just as shown below.

ro.media.camcorder.1080p=mp4,h264,30,15000000,aac,128000,44100,2 ro.media.camcorder.720p=mp4,h264,30,10000000,aac,128000,44100,2 ro.media.camcorder.d1NTSC=mp4,h264,30,6000000,aac,128000,44100,2

So that’s a good thing, and again thanks in part to OMAP4’s excellent video encoder, though we see most of the high end smartphones shooting 1080p based on OMAP4 and Exynos using high profile.

Rear Facing 1080p30 Video Sample

Front Facing 720p30 Video Sample

In addition we’ve uploaded the raw rear facing camera video sample without YouTube’s transcoding which you can grab from us in a big zip here. Again the encode quality of the videos is above average, but sharpness would be much better were it not for these focus issues.

Cellular Connectivity - MDM6600 + Wrigley LTE Performance - 1.2 GHz OMAP4430
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  • ananduser - Friday, December 16, 2011 - link

    Much better than the one on The Verge. Reply
  • GrizzledYoungMan - Friday, December 16, 2011 - link

    As usual, the reviews of wireless devices here kick ass. I'm not really interested in this phone - the wide bezel around the screen and the motoblur really bugged me - but it is a treat to read something about it that amounts to more than "how is this not like an iphone?"

    Looking forward to the Galaxy Nexus review, even though I'll likely already own it by the time your review is published. On principle, I can't bring myself to buy any phone loaded down with skins and bloatware, so there's only really one Android phone choice for me.

    Maybe I'm just surly this morning, but Motorola's latest industrial design language really isn't doing it for me. It has this Tron Legacy-esque cheesy vibe to it that is going to age quickly and poorly, I think. By comparison, it seems like Samsung and Nokia are on the right track, focusing on designs that are respectively helpful and pragmatic, and personal and pleasurable to use.

    Apple has been disappointing lately on design. The iPhone 4S body still looks great, but their software is getting more decorated and literal with every revision. I like a lot of things about the 4S - especially the camera - but the software was a huge disappointment.
    Reply
  • zeagus - Friday, December 16, 2011 - link

    Keep in mind the Galaxy Nexus is suffering some controversy vs. the "Pure Google" GSM version by having had VZW remove Google Wallet from it and adding My Verizon Mobile and Backup Assistant.. Reply
  • medi01 - Friday, December 16, 2011 - link

    Why do mentioned manufacturers: Appl,Motorol,Noki need battery "tradeoffs" due to slimness and lightness, while Samsung doesn't? Hard to follow on this one. Reply
  • JasonInofuentes - Friday, December 16, 2011 - link

    Samsung makes an entirely different trade off, plastics. Sammy has perfected thin, hard plastics in their pursuit of slim, lightweight phones. The cost is feel. The RAZR feels as expensive as it is, the Samsung phones feel like shiny, low cost plastic. That said, using light plastics hasn't stopped Samsung from producing attractive designs, and though the plastics can scuff easily they are otherwise quite durable. Reply
  • TedG - Friday, December 16, 2011 - link

    I got sick of waiting for the Nexis (or iphone 5) and purchased the Razr about a month ago upgrading from the Droid X. In real life use it is pretty nice. It is quick responding and well built. The camera to me is just OK. I got a widget that turns the 4g off most of the time extending the battery life dramatically. Overall I really like this phone. Reply
  • loribeth - Tuesday, December 27, 2011 - link

    I wonder if I turn off my 4G, my hot spot would stay connected? Reply
  • geniekid - Friday, December 16, 2011 - link

    Two things.

    1) I second lemmo's request for an audio quality section like the one for the GS2 review. That particular review revealed some nasty things about interference and a poor codec that completely turned me off to the GS2.

    2) I completely agree about the importance of battery life. It's really the only complaint I have about my 1.5 year old Incredible running Cyanogen. Give me the same phone with 2x the battery life and I'd gladly take it over anything else in the market right now.
    Reply
  • lemmo - Saturday, December 17, 2011 - link

    Thanks geniekid, yep I reckon audio testing will be a real diferentiating factor for Anandtech, as no other sites do it... similar to Anand's battery testing methodology which set the reviews aside from all the rest.

    Maybe they will do a comparative audio test with other phones when they do the Nexus review...?
    Reply
  • ecuador - Friday, December 16, 2011 - link

    After so many Android reviews I am still waiting for Anandtech to review the only phone & OS I have tried that seems to me clearly better than iOS. I am talking about the Nokia N9 with MeeGo which blew me away so much when I tried it I bought it immediately despite the somewhat steep price. Am I alone to being unimpressed by most Android phones? Reply

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