November 21, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
The Droid Razr runs a customized version of Android 2.3 layered with that UI we’re not allowed to call MotoBlur even though Motorola won’t come up with a new name for it. Whatever you call the software, it’s a step-up from what we’ve seen in the past. In my Droid X2 review, I said it was the first time Motorola put a skin on Android that I could actually live with. The Droid Razr has some unique elements baked in to push me further away from my earlier distaste for NotBlur UI.
First, there’s the Smart Actions that create automated profiles that can do things like launch a music player when headphones plug-in or disable battery-draining settings when your charge level is low. It’s not as feature-rich as Tasker, but it is definitely simpler and a nice tool to have built-in to the phone. (Read more about Smart Actions.) Then there’s MotoCast, which is the all-in-one media center that can stream songs, movies, and photos from the desktop to the phone. The music player is great, includes audio effects profiles (more bass, treble, etc.), and includes Shoutcast Internet radio.
Overall, the software is solid, however it still lacks some polish. The widgets aren’t easy on the eyes and the Droid Razr lacks the convenient quick toggles found in the notifications windows on HTC and Samsung phones. Still, there are far more positives than negatives, and the promise of Ice Cream Sandwich in 2012 will hopefully improve things further. It also helps that the sluggishness that often plagues Motorola phones is absent from the Droid Razr. The NotBlur UI and OMAP processor feel and look like they are working with each other rather than against.
- Though widgets aren’t the best looking around, the Contacts widget is the best that I’ve ever seen. It shows 4 main contacts and a total of 20 when you drag the widget down.
- The non-Verizon, non-Motorola bloatware is uninstallable. Not all apps are removable, but you can Hide them from the launcher.
The Droid Razr has great camera software that can change exposure, shooting modes, stabilize video to cutdown on shakiness, and easily switch between its “HD” front-facing camera and the rear 8 MP cam. I can’t praise the actual camera as much, sadly. The rear shooter takes good photos outside, but doesn’t keep up with rivals indoors. And while the lens is not as slow to focus as the Droid Bionic, it’s not exactly quick either. Unless you’re in substantial lighting – outdoors, fluorescent, or open window on a sunny day – photos won’t be as beautiful as one would hope. However, I will give Motorola credit for giving the Droid Razr the best front-facing camera around.
There are far more good things to say about the Droid Razr than there are bad things to complain about. However, in the areas that the phone fails, it does so noticeably. The Droid Razr has a lot to love and that may be enough to overlook its shortcomings. The design and performance are in elite status among Android phones, and it ranks as the most efficient Verizon 4G LTE phone yet. In real world use, I’d put this phone up against any Android before it and feel comfortable saying it could hold its own.
Most encouraging of all, the Droid Razr is another case of Motorola making big strides in improving the software formerly known as Blur. Ice Cream Sandwich is promised for early 2012, so we can only hope that next step will cover even more ground in making the software as equally amazing as the hardware feels. The Droid Razr won’t be the landscape-changing device that its forebears were, but it is a more than respectable phone.