Review: Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD

Motorola is keeping its iconic Razr brand name alive with two phones currently on shelves — the Droid Razr HD and the Droid Razr Maxx HD. Both have stunning looks, top-rate build quality and Motorola’s tastefully restrained take on Android. Both run on Verizon’s fast and wide-reaching 4G LTE network.

With moderate use, very few phones will last beyond the early morning of a second day, let alone make it through two sunsets. But the Maxx proves it can be done, all while powering a massive screen and running on the high-speed 4G LTE network.

But the big reason to buy the Razr Maxx HD — and of these two, it’s the Maxx I’d recommend — is its amazing battery life. I tested both, and while the more svelte Razr HD’s 2,530 mAh battery had no problem cruising through an entire day with 10 to 20 percent of a charge left over by bedtime, the Razr Maxx HD, with its much larger 3,300 mAh battery, regularly pulled through an entire day, and routinely lasted a whole extra workday before needing to be connected to an outlet.
This is outstanding. With moderate use, very few phones will last beyond the early morning of a second day, let alone make it through two sunsets. But the Maxx proves it can be done, all while powering a massive screen and running on a high-speed network. If you live a life on the road, you can’t ask for a more compelling reason to pick up the big Razr than that.

The Razr Maxx HD debuted at the end of 2012 for $300, but it has since seen a price drop and can be found for around $200, depending on the retail outlet and the status of your Verizon contract.

The phone isn’t small — it comes in at 0.37 inches thick and 5.54 ounces — but while it feels substantial, it doesn’t seem bloated. Like other Razr devices, it has a distinctive DuPont Kevlar back. Motorola pioneered the use of Kevlar fiber on smartphones, allowing the Razrs to stand out in a sea of me-too designs. Not only does it look great, but the handset stands up to the usual in-pocket abuses and clumsy drops. It’s grippy and comfortable to hold on to, as well.

Most everywhere else, Android is left alone. It still isn’t as good as stock Android, but it’s the closest thing to it and for that reason, it’s the best alternative to vanilla Android that anybody is putting out. UPDATE, MARCH 6: Motorola has issued a software update to the Droid Razr Maxx HD, and it now runs 4.1.1. The only big stumble in the software is that Motorola’s Droid Razr is still running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, and not the newer 4.2 Jelly Bean, which Google (now the owner of Motorola’s smartphone business) debuted many moons ago.

Still, the Razr Maxx HD is a fantastic phone. It’s not burdened with features that are cumbersome or clumsy, and its brilliant screen and powerful internals will satisfy almost anyone who wants something and fast and adequately future-proof. And of course, there’s that massive battery to keep everything running for literally days.

UPDATE, March 6: The original version of this review overlooked the fact that the phone has a microSD card slot. That has been corrected, but the new information did not change the rating. Also, the Razr Maxx HD’s software has been updated to Android 4.1.1.

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