Earlier this month, Motorola unveiled three new Razr phones, all running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
While it may seem odd that a company owned by Google isn't packing its phones with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, Motorola is taking a new approach with Android that brings it closer to its parent company.
The first hands-on example of this approach is from a Razr HD, running on Rogers' LTE network in Canada. In what should please most Android enthusiasts, Motorola has done away with its MotoBlur UI customizations.
In my review of the original Razr (as in the Android model, not the flip phone), I found MotoBlur to be a distraction from the core functionality. (At this point it's important to note that my personal device is a Galaxy Nexus, so I'm partial to stock Android – or at least something very close to it.) Motorola has taken away MotoBlur and the result is a much cleaner OS that will reside on the new Razr phones.
The lightly customized version of ICS running on the Razr HD has a similar look and feel to stock Android, with an app drawer that appears to only add a favorites section. The Razr HD also incorporates the software-based buttons like the Galaxy Nexus.
Motorola's customizations have been reduced to some custom functionality, such as the allowance for quick swipes to access device settings and speed dial options, and software apps such as the much-loved Smart Actions from the original (Android) Razr.
Making a return bigger than ever is the Kevlar-backing that we so loved from the previous model. Instead of it being just a sheet of Kevlar, with the Razr HD, the entire back cover is made of that sturdy, yet pleasant-feeling soft-touch material. Phone designers should just give up on trying to make phones out of metal, plastic and glass and just go with this Kevlar stuff Motorola is using.
The original Razr (both models, I suppose) earned their titles for being exceptionally thin. While the new Razr HD, at 8.4mm thick, isn't quite as thin as the previous model, it doesn't have that camera hump. Moreover, the Razr HD takes up basically the exact same footprint as the previous model, but with a 4.7-inch screen, improving upon the old one's 4.3-inch panel. Even better is that Motorola packed a 2,500 mAh battery inside, leading the company to boast that this is a true "all-day phone."
Old vs. New: