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printed October 1, 2014
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Review: Motorola Droid RAZR HD / MAXX HD for Verizon Wireless

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Media

All of the stock Android media tools are available on the RAZR HD. That includes YouTube, Google Play Music, Play Movies, Play Books, and Play Magazines, as well as the Google Play Store.

In terms of performance, music that I played through the Google Play Music app sounded good, even when streamed over the cellular network or Wi-Fi. I wish the Google Play Music app had more controls for fine-tuning the sound, though. The Google Play Movies app is a fine video player for sideloaded, captured, or purchased content. Movies looked really good on the display, and sounded good on my favorite pair of earbuds.

 

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Since this is a Verizon phone, its NFL application is on board, as well. Football fanatics may enjoy the access it provides to games on the weekends.

 

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Last, Slacker is there to satisfy music-streaming needs.

Camera

Neither the RAZR HD and MAXX HD has a dedicated camera button, but the camera can be accessed from the lock screen. It launches quickly. The camera controls are nicely arranged and intuitive to use.

The RAZR HD's camera can shoot at a maximum of 8 megapixels with a 4:3 aspect ratio. If you want to shoot in a 16:9 ratio - matching most of today's TVs and computer monitors - images are 6 megapixels.

The focusing box hovers in the middle of the screen, but the RAZR HD also includes touch-to-focus if you want to be specific. There’s a slide on the left of the display for zooming and the volume key doubles as a zoom key. The RAZR HD's camera offers shooting modes such as portrait, landscape, close-ups, sunsets, and more. There’s an easy panorama mode for taking shots of wide vistas.

Overall, the camera functions well. It opens quickly, is quick to focus, and is fast to capture/save images.

 

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Photos

Both cameras use the same software and components, so the results are more or less identical. I compared images that I took with each phone side-by-side and couldn't spot any noticeable differences in the quality of the shots.

The phones did great at capturing images. I found focus to be accurate, white balance was correct, and exposure spot on. As is typical, images taken in low light had some visible grain, but not an egregious amount. The flash does a good job at lighting up faces in dark places as long as you're within a few feet of the subject.

The photos are definitely FaceBook, Twitter, and Google+ worthy (but please don't post them on MySpace).

 

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Video

In addition to 8-megapixels, the camera sensor also captures video up to 1080p HD resolution. I was pleased with the results. The video was RAZR sharp, well exposed, and free from smearing and pixel blocks. Thanks to the HDMI port, sharing on your HDTV will be a breeze.



Gallery

The RAZR HD uses the same gallery app that we've seen on most Android 4.0 phones. Photos and videos are broken down into groupings such as Camera Shots, All Photos, All Videos, and Screenshots. The gallery also includes access to online accounts, such as Facebook or Picasa.

When viewing images, buttons appear along the bottom for performing actions such as share, delete, play, and so on. It's a snap to share photos through any social network/messaging service you want.

Editing features are decent, and include various filters, such as Fill Light, Shadows, Posterize, Vignette, and Fisheye. The RAZR HD and MAXX HD also let users crop photos, eliminate red-eye, straighten them, rotate them, flip them, and sharpen them.

 

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Apps

The RAZR HD ships with an average number of apps for Verizon devices. The generous on-board storage (16GB) combined with support for 32GB microSD cards means you don't need to worry about running out of room for your own apps. In addition to the Google Play Store, Verizon has supplied its own app store.

 

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Browser

Google's Chrome browser is the only one available on the RAZR HD and MAXX HD out of the box. It is fast, does a great job of rendering web pages, and offers plenty of advanced tools. When used over LTE 4G, it’s blazing quick. It’s slower when used on Verizon's 3G network, but not that much slower. Of course, alternate browsers are available in the Google Play Store.

 

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Bluetooth

Both the RAZR HD and MAXX HD support the typical set of Bluetooth profiles, including those that allow you to connect to mono and stereo headsets, other phones, PCs, cars, and so on. It paired with all device without issue and had no trouble communicating with other gear. Phone calls sent to Bluetooth headsets were quite good. Music sounded OK when passed through stereo Bluetooth speakers.

Clock

A quick press of the lock key lights up the RAZR HD and MAXX HD's display, making the large digital clock visible. The clock is white, so choose your wallpaper carefully. The behavior of the lock screen clock can't be adjusted, but of course there are myriad clock widgets for the home screen panels.

 

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GPS

The RAZR HD and MAXX HD include Google Maps and VZ Navigation. Google Maps is great for a free service, with cool features such as offline use and 3D maps. VZ Navigator is an excellent navigation app, but it costs $10 per month to use. As far as the GPS performance itself goes, both the RAZR HD and MAXX HD were quick to locate me. They often found my exact location in less than 10 seconds. Accuracy was within about 10 feet.

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