The RAZR made quite an entrance last year – mainly thanks to its Kevlar-coated skinny body, respectable dual-core innards and useful additions to Android. Less than six months later and we've already got the MAXX to contend with, essentially the RAZR with a 3300mAh battery stuck on the back and bragging rights that include a whopping 607 hours in standby mode. But can this long-distance handset compete with the Samsung Galaxy S3 and HTC One X?
Motorola RAZR MAXX – introduction
Make no mistake about it, this is one big phone. At 8.99mm thick, the RAZR MAXX is significantly chunkier than last year's 7.1mm RAZR. Thing is, that’s not necessarily a bad thing – the MAXX is actually easier to hold, especially if you have hands like spades. With Kevlar fibre and Gorilla Glass on board, you'll feel like you can knock the RAZR MAXX about a bit without causing damage, and compared to its smooth, curvy rivals this new Motorola phone plays it seriously masculine. You won't find any pebble hues here.
The new design is of course down to that big old (or new, rather) 3300mAh battery. Designed to combat the power-draining 4G in America, you’ll still feel the benefit in countries lagging behind in the mobile internet stakes. The RAZR MAXX's battery life is very, very impressive, using up about 50 per cent a day with brightness on full blast and liberal use of 3G, Wi-Fi, apps and the music player – not to mention constant email and social notifications.
Motorola RAZR MAXX – design
Don't let the lack of a quad core badge put you off (unless Tegra zone gaming is top of your list), the RAZR MAXX's 1.2GHz processor and 1GB of RAM hold up nicely when running multiple apps, with only the occasional hiccup while gaming or using MotoCast revealing themselves in our testing. Ports wise, you're looking at the same microSD card slot and mini HDMI port found on last year's RAZR. Only the choice of microSIM has the potential to disappoint.
The chunky bezel around the RAZR MAXX's 4.3in display does unfortunately make the whole phone look a little retro. At first glance, though, the 540x960 Super AMOLED affair impresses with bright colours and deep blacks. However, text isn't as sharp as it could be and whites sometimes take on a blueish hue. You'll notice if you've spent time with superior displays – like those on the iPhone 4S or Galaxy S3 – but if staying power trumps pixels and viewing angles on your priority list you’re unlikely to be disappointed.
Motorola RAZR MAXX – battery life
The RAZR MAXX runs the same tweaked OS (Android Gingerbread 2.3.5) as the RAZR and sports an identical 8MP camera with 1080p video on the rear and a 1.3MP snapper up front. While the MAXX can’t compete with the new wave of premium Android handsets for photo or video quality, it does take perfectly decent, if slightly washed-out, snaps. It’s also worth noting that the MAXX is due an upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich later in the summer.
It also packs some interesting business-friendly extras that you won’t find built-in elsewhere. MotoCast is simple to set up and gives you remote access to any files (documents, movies, music, photos) on your home and work computers as long as they're switched on. And Smart Actions – which reminds us of Sony's NFC Smart Tags – will automagically do useful things like turn your phone on to silent if there's a meeting scheduled in your calendar, or remind you to charge the battery at your usual bed time. As if you’ll need to.
While it might not be the sleekest or most innovative phone of 2012, the RAZR MAXX does have a reliably solid build, decent performance and superb battery life. It’s not got the sexy, stand-out skills of the very best new phones, but its killer party trick is not dropping dead halfway through the night – and for some people that’s as important as anything.