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Hands On with the Moto Droid 4 and Droid RAZR MAXX

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Jan 10, 2012, 4:03 AM   by Rich Brome
updated Jan 10, 2012, 4:03 AM

Motorola has a couple of new LTE Droids here at CES. The Droid 4 brings the original Droid series in the 4G era. The Droid RAZR MAXX uses RAZR engineering to deliver unheard-of battery life. We go hands-on with both.

Droid 4 

The Motorola Droid is one of the longer-running series of phones in recent cell phone history. We should probably expect that from the company that brought us so many RAZR and StarTAC variants. With the Droid 4, Motorola updates the Droid with LTE, a new keyboard, and Motorola's new design language with the gently beveled corners.

 

Droid 4

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

Although it may look like a Droid RAZR from the front, hold it in your hand for an instant and you'll know that it's not. Motorola proudly claims that this is the thinnest 4G LTE QWERTY smartphone in the world. Sounds impressive, right? Well, the only other such in the world at the moment is the Samsung Stratosphere. So, sure, it's a tad thinner than that Stratosphere. It's still a damn thick phone.

The look and feel is quite nice. Aside from the glass front, it's all plastic, but it feels like a high-grade plastic, and has a nice fine texture to it. Its feels solid and is comfortable to hold. The build quality is excellent, with the two halves fitting very tightly. Too tightly perhaps, as the slide mechanism is difficult to slide open (there's no spring assist) and even more difficult to close.

The keyboard has been revamped. It keeps the wonderful five-row layout, but the keys have more separation and more shape to them, improving the feel quite a bit. The key backlighting is also redesigned, with light coming from the edge of each key. It's both attractive and practical. My only two niggles are that the keyboard (like the phone itself, held sideways) is very wide, so if you have small hands, your thumbs may feel like they're doing yoga. The second is that the plastic below the keyboard sticks up quite a bit, getting the in the way of hitting the bottom row of keys. It's not something that makes it difficult to type, it's just annoying.

The side keys could be better. The lock key is almost impossible to find by feel, but it's situated such that if you mash the center of the top of the phone, you'll hit it. The volume keys on the side are easy to find. The action is a little stiff, but they work well enough. Except that they're a strange shape with a knife edge that's simply uncomfortable to press. There's no camera key.

These aren't deal-breakers, though. The Droid 3 was a good phone, and the Droid 4 builds on that with LTE, a faster processor, and a better keyboard on the hardware side. On the software side, it brings over all of the neat Android tweaks and added feature found on the Droid RAZR, like Smart Actions.

 

Droid 4 interface

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

What it lacks compared to the Droid 3 is global roaming. BUT asked about that, a Motorola rep smiled and told us to "stay tuned. Software updates are a wonderful thing."

Here's a quick video tour:

Droid RAZR MAXX 

The Droid RAZR MAXX is an upgrade and replacement for the Droid RAZR.

Right?

Wrong.

The Droid RAZR MAXX is more like an alternate version of the Droid RAZR, for people who'd gladly trade the thin-ness of the RAZR for some amazing battery life.

 

Droid RAZR MAXX

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

Since the Droid RAZR has a non-removable battery, the RAZR MAXX is akin to a permanent extended battery.

It would have been a little more fair to consumers to introduce both the RAZR and RAZR MAXX at the same time, but now that they're both announced, it's a sensible lineup.

There really aren't any other differences; the features are the same.

The RAZR MAXX comes with 32 GB of built-in memory, just like the original Droid RAZR. But now Verizon also offers a version of the Droid RAZR with just 16GB. They also offer that 16 GB version in three colors: gray, white, and now purple.

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Subject Author Date
Droid 4 battery - is it removable? Sam K Jan 10, 2012, 11:54 AM
No spring assist..???? Sams Jan 10, 2012, 6:41 PM
 
 
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