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Motorola RAZR HD review

We review the Motorola RAZR HD, an Android 4.1 smartphone with 720p display.

Motorola doesn’t always hit the headlines with its handsets. They can be disappointing. But the RAZR HD shows that Motorola really does know how to do the right thing. It is a super phone.

The RAZR HD is really nicely made. The distinctive angled corners that Motorola uses widely these days as a signature design feature make an appearance, and the back also has a recognizably Motorola style block pattern finish.

The Kevlar material means the handset is tough, and it has a splash guard coating that helps it resist small amounts of water. What this handset is not, though, is waterproof. Its left side mounted USB and HDMI connectors are not protected by a cover, and nor is the top mounted headset slot.

It’s far from Xperia Z levels of protection, then, but may be enough for you to use the device in a rain shower without being too worried about potential damage.

There’s more than a little attention to detail in the build. The main power switch and volume rocker are both found on the right edge. The rocker has two small knobbles – one at each end – which help you find it by touch alone. You’ll want to do this to change music volume, for example, when the phone is in your pocket.

The main power switch is ridged, so that it feels rough under the fingers. Again this helps you find the button without actually looking at the phone.

The RAZR HD is large, but it feels well weighted and it is just 8.4mm thick making it a very comfortable hold.

Things are just as good when you start looking at the specifications and capabilities of this handset. The screen is one of the larger ones around at present, with its 4.7 inch corner to corner measurement.

The 1,280 x 720 pixels put it among the last generation devices but can handle plenty of detail, and crisply too, with a pixel density in excess of the magic 300ppi mark.

And the Super AMOLED technology means it is very, very sharp, and the colours are extremely vibrant. Not everyone likes this screen technology – some people find the colours over-saturated for their tastes. But if it is your cup of tea, then the screen is a treat.

A clear benefit of the large screen is the ability to read many web pages without zooming, and it works well for video viewing too of course.

One area Motorola has put some effort into is battery life. With a large screen to keep going and a 1.5Ghz dual core processor to power there’s a lot of call on the battery.

It’s disappointing that you can’t actually get inside the handset to remove the battery, but on the other hand we found it did keep going rather longer than the average and ought to get many people through a day without too much trouble.

Even better, Motorola has included its rather clever SmartActions app on the handset. This application gives you the opportunity to set the phone to do things automatically when certain conditions are met. For low battery status this could be to disable some functions. Equally, though, you could use it to turn on silent mode when you are in a meeting or switch the music player on when you put in headphones, or a whole range of other things.

There’s 12GB of user accessible storage. With no access to the battery area your microSD card goes in a slot right next to the SIM. Both are under a cover on the left edge of the phone. The 8 megapixel camera shoots average quality pictures, about in line with our expectations for a device that does not sell itself on its imaging capabilities.

Android 4.1 is built in, and the RAZR HD has 4G support and NFC. Motorola hasn’t fiddled with Android too much, but there are some very neat widgets. A weather/time/battery status widget displays information in circles each of which you can flip with a finger flick to get to second functions.

Meanwhile flicking right from the home screen takes you to a settings area for Wi-Fi, GPS and so on. The skin is similar to that which we saw and loved on last year’s mid-range RAZR i. It’s subtle and light, and is styled mostly in line with Android’s Holo theme, which means it feels like a natural extension of the OS rather than something simply dumped on top of it. It’s possibly our favourite skin to date.

Overall, it is hard not to come out in favour of the Motorola RAZR HD. Inside and out, there are some very alluring features. The specs may not be able to match up to the bleeding edge flagship devices of 2013, but there if you’re not too concerned about that then there’s an awful lot to like here.

Written by Sandra Vogel.