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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  • jjj - Friday, December 16, 2011 - link

    It's not like you can buy any ICS devices yet ( the lack of SD on the Galaxy Nexus makes it a phone i wouldn't used if they payed me).The sad part is that it's not Krait or at least Tegra 3.
    As for when they'll get iCS and further updates,we'll see but it's doubtfull that any other manufacturer will be able to have faster updates that Googlerola.
    Reply
  • zelachang - Friday, December 16, 2011 - link

    How frequently do people really change out their SD cards? I have an OG Droid with 16 GB SD card from 2009 and I still haven't used up half the space. I wouldn't even consider multiple SD cards because I lose enough SD cards for my cameras, microSD cards would just fall in the couch or get eaten by my cats or something. When I first got my phone I thought I would end up swapping out cards a lot but for some reason I've never found a reason to. Reply
  • doobydoo - Tuesday, January 17, 2012 - link

    Exactly, and even if you do run out of space you can simply plug it into a PC for 10 seconds, save all the documents, and continue.

    Or you could use Dropbox (on Android) or iCloud (on iOS) to completely negate the need for multiple SD cards unless you have unusual requirements.
    Reply
  • Cali3350 - Friday, December 16, 2011 - link

    I love your reviews, and I appreciate how in depth you guys go, but your reviews are getting increasingly more and more late and as a result less and less useful. This phone is over a month old at this point.

    I would love to see a Nexus review, but am assuming that cant occur until after Christmas, and that is not that helpful.
    Reply
  • jeremyshaw - Saturday, December 17, 2011 - link

    Quality. Anandtech beats all known in depth and thoroughness. Reply
  • doobydoo - Tuesday, January 17, 2012 - link

    I actually agree with Cali3350, there is a point at which the quality becomes redundant if the phone was released so long ago. When a new phone is released, people don't want to wait over a month for a review, however high the quality - the most sales of any handset happen within that first month.

    I noticed the same thing happened with the iPhone 4S review, and made a comment to that effect at the time.

    Quality is clearly excellent here, and this is definitely the best tech site - but by the time the reviews come out the article has already lost much of its value.
    Reply
  • TrackSmart - Friday, December 16, 2011 - link

    The Droid Charge review says the phone loses charge, even when plugged in, if using it as a hotspot. Same for navigating. This is a serious concern for me, especially when on-the-road.

    Are any of these LTE phones able to stay charged (when plugged in) while actively navigating or being used as a hotspot? I'm hoping you guys can weigh in.

    I don't mind plugging in, while driving, but if I'm still going to have the phone die before my destination - that's bad news... Same regarding tethering over USB.
    Reply
  • secretmanofagent - Friday, December 16, 2011 - link

    I had the Bionic (swapped it out with a RAZR with all the data issues I was having), and I didn't have issues like I did with the original Droid. The original Droid would overheat and stop charging. I didn't have drain issues with the Bionic, haven't tried the RAZR yet. Reply
  • Brian Klug - Saturday, December 17, 2011 - link

    The RAZR hasn't done the discharge-while-plugged-in dance the same as a bunch of other LTE phones. Navigation and hotspot use is fine on it, it'll charge while doing those activities if you use a charger that implements charging spec properly and has enough current.

    -Brian
    Reply
  • TrackSmart - Saturday, December 17, 2011 - link

    Thank you for the reply! This is comforting to hear. The Droid Charge article on Anandtech mentioned this problem and Engadget reported similarly on the Verizon version of the Galxy Nexus. That had me worried that this would be a more widespread problem. Reply

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