RAZR: First impressions reveal slim, sturdy, powerful smartphone

RAZR: The new Droid RAZR performs impressively, but some buyers might be turned off by the lack of Ice Cream Sandwich software.

By , LAPTOP Editor in Chief

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    Sanjay Jha, CEO of Motorola Mobility, introduces the Droid RAZR Tuesday in New York. Seeking an edge in the world of high-end smartphones, Motorola is bringing back the 'RAZR' name, once attached to the best-selling phone in the world.
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If you recently purchased a Droid Bionic, we have one thing to say: Oops. The Droid RAZR is better in pretty much every way. We just went hands-on with this Android superphone, coming to Verizon Wireless for $299 in November, and were blown away by not just the thinness of the design but the beauty of its Super AMOLED Enhanced screen.

As we found out, Super AMOLED Enhanced means that the Droid RAZR’s display is sharper than what you’ll find on the Samsung Galaxy SII (960 x 540 vs. 800 x 480 pixels) but it also has technology that optimizes battery life. Speaking of battery life, we got a quick demo of the Smart Actions software, which can save you additional juice by suggesting you make changes if the phone sees you’re running out of juice early every day. You can go in and set rules to help save you time, too, such as starting music playback when you plug in headphones—great for working out.

Check out our hands-on video and photo gallery below. The Droid RAZR definitely gives the Samsung Galaxy S II a run for its money in the design department. The Kevlar back and diamond cut finish give it a sturdier and more premium look and feel, and we love that the back has a good grip so the handset won’t slip out of your hands. The power button is on the right side for easy access, and you’ll find the microUSB and HDMI ports up top along with the headphone jack.

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On the performance front, the Droid RAZR’s dual-core processor 1.2-GHz processor and 1GB of RAM provided silky smooth performance as we opened and closed apps and flipped through home screens. The 4G LTE performance was also pretty smokin’; we saw download speeds in excess of 17 Mbps and upload speeds as high as 21 Mbps (that has to be a glitch).

Motorola doesn’t have music or video hubs like Samsung, but the Droid RAZR will be able to download movies in full HD from Netflix. No, the screen isn’t full HD, but you can use the HDMI port to watch movies on a larger monitor or one of the Motorola Lapdocks.

One of the other compelling apps is MotoCast, which is like ZumoCast on the Motorola Bionic in that you can stream content or download it from a PC over the web. However, this time around Motorola has built MotoCast into some of the apps, including Photos. It’s more integrated now.

Overall, the Droid RAZR looks pretty sweet, but the lack of Ice Cream Sandwich software might be a turn off for buyers. And there’s no ETA from Verizon or Motorola as to when it might arrive on this handset. As far as Gingerbread smartphones go, the Droid RAZR boasts one of the best designs and displays around and backs it all up with 4G LTE goodness. Is all this worth $299? Stay tuned for our full review. In the meantime, see the phone up close in our Droid RAZR video below.

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