Thursday, February 14, 2013

Motorola Droid RAZR M - review

With a 4.3 inch Super AMOLED screen, big battery, and suggested retail price of just $100 all wrapped up into a remarkably tiny package, Verizon's Motorola Droid RAZR M mixes performance and value. Brighthand takes a closer look.
Build & Design
My first impression on taking it out of the box was that the RAZR M was surprisingly small. While it has the same 4.3 inch screen that the original Droid RAZR and Droid RAZR MAXX have, the M manages to trim away all the excess bezel from the other two, making it much smaller. A third of an inch shorter and a third of an inch narrower might not sound like a lot, but it adds up to a footprint that's about 20% smaller than the RAZR MAXX. The RAZR M even manages to have a smaller footprint than my Samsung Stratosphere, which only has a 4-inch screen. If you prefer small phones and dislike the move toward bigger and bigger devices, the RAZR M is probably the very best game in town for you.
It's solid, too. I wouldn't go drop-kicking it, but in general the M feels as tough as it looks, like it will stand up well to the rigors of daily life. Of course, part of that comes from the fact that it has no moving parts. Like most of Motorola's new devices, the RAZR M is sealed into a single piece: no battery cover and no removable battery means a little more structural stability. But there's also the toughness of using good materials. The Kevlar fiber in the casing is mostly a marketing gimmick -- Kevlar-infused plastic isn't going to be significantly stronger than regular plastic -- but the anodized aluminum frame and Gorilla Glass touchscreen are everything that they're cracked up to be.
The RAZR M shares the same 4.3 inch, 960 x 540 Super AMOLED screen that the two previous Droid RAZR models used. And it still looks just as great, providing sharp clarity and contrast far superior to a regular LCD. You will get a tiny bit less screen space than the older RAZRs: Motorola chose to go with the on-screen back, home, and menu buttons instead of separate ones below the screen. That does save you a little bit of bezel size, though, so it's not a bad trade off.
Over top of the screen is a layer of Gorilla Glass 2, which promises the same strength as the original Gorilla Glass, while being 20% thinner and lighter. If you're not familiar with Gorilla Glass, it's a specialty product made by Corning that is several times stronger than conventional hardened glass. Net result, a screen which is that much more resistant to breakage or scratching, and won't be fazed even by being tossed into the same pocket with your keys.
Other Buttons and Ports
With no battery cover, the SIM card slot and microSD slot are housed under a little flap on the left side of the device. Motorola actually ships the RAZR M with a little plastic tool to help you insert and remove the cards from their slots, but a long fingernail works just as well. The microSD slot is empty out of the box, leaving it ready for any size card you feel like dropping in there.
One important thing to note is that Motorola has changed up the "typical" connector arrangement it has used on basically all of its phones for years, the side-by-side micro-USB and micro-HDMI connectors. The micro-USB is still there, but the micro-HDMI connector is gone. Obviously that means no HDMI output, so if you want to connect to a TV, this isn't your phone. Moreover, although it means that the RAZR M won't be compatible with any of Motorola's accessories that use that plug system. I don't think the loss of the "webtop" mode is that much to be sad over, but not having the option of any of the supposedly-universal docks is definitely more disappointing.
Just to clear up one thing, I've seen multiple claims and reports that the RAZR M can still do HDMI via MHL, which is the method that some companies like Samsung use to offer HDMI through a micro-USB adapter. Unfortunately, in the case of the RAZR that's simply not true. I tested it myself, hooking the RAZR M via an MHL adapter to my TV, and it was a no-go. The RAZR does not support HDMI of any kind.

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