Hands-on: Motorola Razr HD - A Clean Android Experience

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:

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Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • jacobdrj
    I like the idea of a Kevlar back. While I know the stuff is durable, does anyone know if the snap-fits that would keep it connected to the body of the case are also durable? Kevlar is a bit more expensive than some other phone backing materials and would be a pain to replace if the snap-fits failed...
  • kawininjazx
    I am still running my droid x, skipped the SIII, I have been considering the Razr M and Razr HD, I just don't want to renew my verizon contract and lose my unlimited data. Decisions, decisions....
  • house70
    Best thing about this is... they also have a Hd MAXX phone, similar specs with this one but even bigger battery.
    If that one comes with unlocked bootloader on GSM, I'm all over it.
  • frombehind
    kawininjazxI am still running my droid x, skipped the SIII, I have been considering the Razr M and Razr HD, I just don't want to renew my verizon contract and lose my unlimited data. Decisions, decisions....
    Pay the full price for the phone, and you wont =)

    It will jsut be treated as a device upgrade
  • dr1337
    Is that your hand Marcus?
  • subaru41
    Sweet. I hope they bring it out on other carriers, and not only Verizon.
  • txwest06
    same here, I have a droid x on verizon w/unlimited data, but upgrading to a new phone. just depends on how much data you use. if you travel often & use lots of data might be worth keeping unlimited. however, I checked my monthly data usage & it's less than 1gb, so don't care if I lose unlimited data.
    I don't want to keep having to keep pay full retail price every time I want to upgrade to a new phone.
    not sure if family share is for everyone might work for familys, however, for individual users the plans should offer more flexibility instead of one plan fits all.
  • jesh4622
    Seriously, people are still staying on verizon after being cheated out of unlimited data and being forced to pay for your own upgrades? On top of the highest rates in the industry?
    I would use ANY other company after all the shafts verizon has thrown my way.

    -ex verizon customer
  • Nails on hand in pic are gross
  • jackt
    Too large borders ! too big ! And why the buttons are on display ???