Motorola's original Razr phone was a metal clamshell affair that came in a glorious pink hue. It was extremely popular, but several years have past since then -- aeons in phone time -- and Moto has lost its stylish edge.
Not one to fade into the background, Motorola resurrected the Razr in smart phone form in 2011 and it's back again with a fresh offering for 2013.
The Razr HD, as this sharp new effort is known, brings a 4.7-inch 720p screen, Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean software and a 1.5GHz dual-core processor. It's available SIM-free from sites such as Expansys for around £400, and free on monthly contracts from £26 per month on a two-year deal.
Should I buy the Motorola Razr HD?
The Razr HD's 4.7-inch 720p screen is enjoyably vivid and its kevlar back plate makes it feel like a sturdy handset. It's a little thicker than some of its rivals, but that means it can fit a bigger battery. So far, so good, but the Razr HD really falls down with its price.
At £400 SIM-free, it's right up there with the smart phone big boys. Its dual-core chip might be good for a mid-ranger, but it can't challenge the quad-core Nexus 4 or Samsung's Galaxy S3. That's something of a problem for Moto, as you can snatch the Nexus for well over £100 less and the S3 for not much more than that.
The Razr HD's capacious battery will certainly come in handy, but it needs to be quite a lot cheaper for it to become a reasonable purchase. At its current price, I don't recommend it. At such point that it drops below £300, it'll be more worthy of your consideration.
Design and build quality
Look at the Razr HD from the front and I bet you won't be able to tell it apart from any of the others in the Razr range. It's dominated by a single, unbroken piece of glass with the Motorola branding above the speaker at the top. The corners have again been cut into slightly, although not at such a sharp angle as the original Razr.
On the back you'll find the same Kevlar-weave pattern. It now stretches the whole way across, rather than being framed by metal, and the glass strip that housed the camera at the top is gone. I personally prefer the older design, but I'm also not one to argue with added Kevlar.
That material is apparently there to toughen the phone up. I found it was easily able to fend off scratches from keys in my pocket and isn't likely to shatter in the same way a glass back could. I don't know whether it can fend off bullets like Kevlar vests can, and I really don't advise you try, but it certainly seems sturdy enough for day to day use.
At 8.4mm thick, it's fatter than the iPhone 5 or the 7.1mm of the original Razr, but it's far from chubby. With a screen size of 4.7 inches it won't appeal to those with tiny little hands, but if you're familiar with the larger end of the smart phone world already, it won't come as a shock.
Around the edges you'll see a volume rocker and power button -- both of which are simple to find by touch alone and easy to press -- a 3.5mm headphone jack, micro-USB port and mini-HDMI port. There's also a microSD card slot to expand the 16GB of internal storage. It's hidden away with the micro-SIM card though, so you'll need to use the included tool -- or, more likely, a paperclip -- to remove the tray.
The Razr HD runs Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean, which is almost the latest version of Google's operating system. The specs list for the phone on Moto's website suggests it's on the older Ice Cream Sandwich, but it's evidently been given an update since then so you can happily ignore that.
The interface's overall look is not much different to most Android phones, and barely different to any of the other Razrs. Out of the box you'll have two homescreens to fill up with apps and widgets, but you can add five more, up to seven in total. That should be plenty of room for all the nonsense you could want, but I think it makes sense for the default to keep it simple with a few choice apps on the main screen.
To the left of the first screen is a quick settings screen. It gives instant access to key settings such as brightness, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It's handy not needing to jump into the menus for them, but you will need to quit out of apps to get there. Phones like the S3 and Nexus 4 provide quick settings access from the pull-down notifications bar.
Elsewhere, the interface is pretty much par for the course. You naturally have full access to the Google Play store for apps, movies, books, magazines and music, and many of the key Google apps -- Maps, Gmail etc -- are installed as standard. With the exception of the ability to launch the camera, messaging or phone apps from the lock screen, Motorola hasn't really done a great deal to Android.
One nifty feature though is the SmartActions tool. First introduced on the original Razr, it allows you to set certain actions to automatically take effect when set criteria are met. For example, one of my SmartActions dictated that when I arrived at the CNET UK office (determined by a preset geolocation), the phone would turn to silent mode and reply to all calls with a text message.
Another particularly handy one for me was the ability to automatically fire up the music-streaming Spotify app when I plugged in my headphones. There are a load of different scenarios and actions to choose from, so it's really worth having a browse and seeing what would fit your day the best.
It's worth noting this isn't quite the latest version of Android, and Motorola doesn't have a good track record of handing out updates in a timely manner. With Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie potentially just around the corner, you might want to think long and hard about this phone if you care about getting the latest software on time.
The Razr HD can connect to 4G networks for you to enjoy super-speedy data. Currently, we here in good old Blighty can only turn to EE for our 4G needs, but the other providers -- Three, Vodafone, O2 and so forth -- will all be launching 4G services later in the year. The Razr HD works across a number of radio bands, so it should be able to make use of whichever spectrum your network occupies.
Due to EE's current monopoly, 4G contracts are prohibitively expensive, so the feature isn't currently a huge factor in deciding which phone to get. It's good to know it's future-proofed in this regard, however.
Processor and performance
Held within that Kevlar plating is a dual-core processor clocked at 1.5GHz. In comparison to the quad-core chips of the current top end phones -- to say nothing of the eight cores in Samsung's upcoming Galaxy S4 -- that might not seem like much. And it's not.
The debate is still going on, however, as to whether a phone even needs four cores anyway, and as we've seen in the Google Nexus 10, a nippy dual-core chip can still be enjoyably fast.
Thankfully then, that's exactly what I found with the Razr HD. To see how it compares with others in the smart phone world, I booted up the Geekbench test, on which it achieved a score around 1,500. While that isn't close to the near 2,000 of the Nexus 4 or the ridiculous 2,668 of the HTC One, it's far from poor.
Navigating around the Jelly Bean interface was a satisfyingly swift affair. Page swipes were judder-free and there wasn't any discernible lag when opening menus and apps.
It also handled photo-editing in the Snapseed app perfectly well, with filters and effects applied without much hesitation. 3D gaming also wasn't a problem, with Riptide GP and the new Real Racing 3 tackled with good frame rates for smooth game play.
So does having a dual-core chip really matter, if it works this well? Yes, I think so. It might be fine with today's games, but in a year's time, when quad-core is the standard, it'll be getting pretty creaky -- and you'll still have another year on your contract.
The Razr HD generally has plenty of power for most things you're likely to throw at it. The problem is that it's priced at a level when you'd be right to expect it to not only compete with, but beat the best smart phones around. It falls short of the quad-core power of the Nexus 4, and you can snag that for well over a hundred pounds less.
Breaking up that bullet-proof back plate is an 8-megapixel camera with an LED flash. The iPhone's 8-megapixel camera has managed to become the most popular camera ever on photo sharing site Flickr, so it really has a lot to do if it hopes to compete.
The Razr HD's attempts aren't going to worry Apple. In my indoor shots with fair lighting, the exposure of the scene was acceptable and colours weren't too bad, but it lacked clarity, which made the whole image look grainy and unimpressive.
It didn't redeem itself at all with mixed lighting conditions either. The image noise in the darker areas of this shot of our pool table was really bad and distortions are visible towards the top. If you're outside in the sun with your friends, it'll no doubt do fine for some snaps, but it shouldn't be the reason you buy this phone.
Mercifully, it's backed up by some software features to help present your photos in an arty way. There are various scene modes to choose from, as well as a handful of image effects. There are HDR and panorama modes too, and an image burst function to capture action sequences.
The Razr HD packs a capacious 2,530mAh battery, which together with the less demanding dual-core processor, should be able to give it a good lifespan away from the plug.
I found it coped very well. After an hour of streaming a YouTube clip over Wi-Fi, with the brightness set to the maximum and Bluetooth switched on, the battery had only dropped to 92 per cent. I found my Nexus 4 would drop much lower than that doing lighter tasks like simply sending emails and Whats App messages, so I was impressed with the Razr's effort.
If you really demand a lot of the phone, making use of push email, Bluetooth connections, streaming over 3G and 4G and playing 3D games, you probably won't get a full day's use. Still, if you keep things simple and leave heavy gaming until you're home and within dashing distance of a plug, there's no reason it won't serve you faithfully.
If it was a mid-range mobile, the Motorola Razr HD would be a smashing blower. Its 720p screen is bright and bold, it's enjoyably swift for a dual-core device, and it has a hefty battery. It's let down, however, by a needlessly high price that pits it unwisely against the smart phone elite.
For over £100 less you can grab yourself the excellent Google Nexus 4, and for £60 less you can snap up the more powerful Galaxy S3. Unless battery life is an overriding consideration, I'd say those are both much better value for your money.