The most notable improvement is in the display. The Razr HD moves up from last year’s 4.3-inch 960 x 540 resolution display to a 4.7-inch 1280 x 720 display. Unfortunately, though, even with the Razr HD’s higher-density display, Motorola sticks with Super AMOLED PenTile technology found in previous Razrs and not the beautiful LCD panel seen on the Atrix HD’s 1280 x 720 touchscreen.
PenTile displays, which are cheaper to build than LCD displays, have always offed a subpar experience when compared to LCD displays. This is due to a subpixel arrangement that results in discernible pixelation and jagged edges between contrasting colors. Once you notice the flaws of PenTile displays, it’s pretty much impossible to un-see them. That said, the Razr HD is one of the best-looking PenTile displays we’ve come across. The pixel density means most of the screen’s shortcomings are invisible unless you’re holding the Razr HD within a couple inches of your face.
Still, the display isn’t nearly as good-looking as the screen on the Atrix HD, HTC’s One X or the Retina Displays on Apple’s iPhone 4, 4S and 5. This is pretty darn good, but, Motorola, we know you can do better here.
As has been the case in the Razr line dating back to the original flip-phone Razr, this one earns its name by maintaining a super-thin profile. Last year’s Droid Razr came in at just 0.28 inches thick and 4.48 ounces. The HD is a little thicker and a little heavier, at 0.33 inches and 5.15 ounces, but that extra heft is not even close to a bad thing. This is still one of the thinnest and lightest smartphones available, particularly when we’re talking about handsets with such a large display.
Another plus from the added junk in the Razr HD’s trunk is much better battery life. The Droid Razr got about 10.5 hours of battery life under normal use. The Razr HD can last up to about 24 hours in normal use, or about 16 hours of straight talk time. Motorola claims that the Razr Maxx HD — which is essentially the same phone as the Razr HD but with an even larger battery inside — can deliver up to 21 hours of continuous talk time. We just got the HD in our hands yesterday and won’t have a Razr Maxx HD for another day or two, so we haven’t been able to vet these battery-life claims. But the prospect of true all-day battery life is an exciting one.
The Razr HD and Razr Maxx HD also boast a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and 1GB of RAM, which is the same as what’s inside the Razr M. This mix of internals provides plenty of oomph when using the Razr HD, which is a joy, thanks to Motorla’s decision to load its smartphones up with a version of Android that is closer to pure, unadulterated Android than any other manufacturer offers (aside from what’s found on Google’s Nexus handsets). The Razr HD does run Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, rather than the newer Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, but an update is promised for later this year.
We got to test out a Razr HD running Motorola’s version of Android Jelly Bean, and there wasn’t much of a difference betten it and the Ice Cream Sandwich build that will ship on the handset. The one standout feature that Jelly Bean will bring is the inclusion of Google Now and improved voice search.
Everything here is incased in an attractive, tough-looking chassis. It gets a woven black-and-grey kevlar back, a slab of scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass on top and a sleek aluminum band holding everything together.
Good looks, great battery life, and the pricing seems right, too. The Razr HD will be available for $200 on a two-year contract, with 16GB of built-in storage. The thicker Razr Maxx HD will $300 on a two-year contract, with 32GB of built-in storage. Both are exclusive to Verizon and will go on sale Thursday.