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First Look review: Motorola Droid Razr Maxx is a power miser

Consumer Reports News: February 03, 2012 04:53 PM

The Motorola Droid Razr Maxx, an updated version of the Motorola Droid Razr, was one of the most talked-about phones to debut at CES 2012, for one reason: It has the largest-capacity battery ever squeezed into a smart phone.

The jumbo battery packs 3,300 milliamperes, where most smart-phone batteries are about half that. Initial Consumer Reports lab tests confirm Verizon's claimed 21 hours of talk time, but that's only under optimal conditions involving a strong signal. That number will undoubtedly be lower as we test the phone under weaker signals to simulate a variety of real-world conditions. My informal tests suggest the Razr Maxx's battery life is simply astounding, and the best I've ever seen on a smart phone.

In other respects, however, the Maxx is all but identical to the Droid Razr, which debuted in November and remains one of the highest-scoring phones in our smart-phone Ratings (available to subscribers).The Maxx's beefier battery adds only a tenth of an inch to the thickness of the Razr, and the its back is much more rounded than the Razr's, which actually makes the Maxx more comfortable to hold.

But the Maxx weighs 0.6 ounces more than its sibling and, at 5.1 ounces, it's the heaviest phone in our Ratings, outweighing even the heavyweight iPhone 4S. At $300, it's also $50 to $100 pricier—and one of the more expensive phones in the Ratings.

The details:

Battery. In my use of the Maxx, it managed to retain 75 percent of its battery life after a full day of moderate to heavy use (frequent video streaming, push e-mail, Web browsing, camera use, and so on) on Verizon's 4G LTE network.

More incredible, on a full charge, I was able to stream the two-hour "Iron Man 2" movie from the HD Netflix app to the Maxx for almost three entire viewings before the battery died. By comparison, the Razr, which has a 1,780-milliampere battery, gave up the ghost a little more than 30 minutes into the second viewing.

Display. Videos and pictures on the Droid Maxx's 960-x-540-pixel, 4.3-inch Super AMOLED display appeared very sharp, with deep blacks. We rated the Droid Razr's display (which is identical to the Maxx's) excellent, with superb keypad readability under most lighting conditions. I'm sure our engineers will rule the same for the Maxx. A minor annoyance: Videos skipped or paused a handful of times on both Razrs during the "Iron Man 2" screenings, something that rarely happened with the LG Spectrum I reviewed earlier. I also found text on both Razrs appeared coarser than it did on the Spectrum.

Camera. Just like the original Droid Razr, the Maxx has a 8-megapixel camera that can capture video at 1080p. In our tests, we found the Razr's camera has a very short shutter lag, and it produced very good photos when they were taken under well-lighted conditions. But the quality of video recorded at 1080p was only adequate compared to the better HD pocket camcorders.

Bottom line: With its phenomenal battery life, the Droid Razr Maxx will give you more time (at least a full day) to enjoy its many high-definition, high-speed, charms at full throttle without being tethered to a charger. But its high price will also put a noticeable drag on your pocket.

Mike Gikas

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