iOS or Android seems to be the only consideration when choosing a mobile platform these days, at least when it comes to the general public. Not many are ready to trust Microsoft, and BlackBerry’s appeal is waning. But with so many Google powered phones out there, it’s hard to pick one of those, especially when the iPhone gives a proven and consistent experience.
So, I decided to check out the Motorola Droid-wanabe, the RAZR XT910. Essentially, it’s a Droid RAZR for those outside the States, and those of you on one of the US’ GSM carriers. Last week I gave you my first impressions, along with a comparison gallery. In the same sense, to take this away from the age-old Android vs. iPhone argument, I’ve decided not to compare software, instead comparing hardware and performance, and attempting to be objective.
The iPhone is one of the most recognizable phones ever made. Its consistent front adorned with little but a home key and 3.5″ Retina display mean no one can confuse it for any Android device. The device is made of Aluminum and glass, giving it a real quality feel. Surprisingly, the Motorola device does well on this front. With most Android handsets being plastic, it’s nice to see a well-constructed handset in the line-up of Google’s phones.
The front is covered in Gorilla Glass, and the back is protected by a bullet-proof vest. Fine, it’s not bullet proof, but the Kevlar certainly inspires confidence in the handset’s structural integrity. The back feels incredible. It’s soft and smooth, but isn’t slippery. For me, that’s where the positives end with the RAZR.
The device may be super slim, but its square, angular design means that all sense of comfort is lost in its skinniness. Picking it up one-handed is awkward, even in portrait mode. Aesthetically the designers appear to have run out of ideas for the front face of the RAZR. All the effort’s gone in to making the Kevlar and smoked chrome back attractive, they just couldn’t care less about the part we’re spending most of our time looking at. The black bezel is way too thick, and the display is an awkward shape. Despite being a 4.3″ display, it’s made to look too small thanks to the aforementioned frame. Way too much nothing-ness going on for my liking. One small issue I had that really irritated me was the front facing camera. Camera lenses are round, and therefore should be surrounded be a circular frame. Instead Moto decided square was easier despite the fact that it looks awful.
Don’t get me wrong, I really like that Motorola are attempting to modernize the RAZR brand by bringing the slim rectangle shapes of 2004 in to the present day. It’s nice to see something different in the market. But, if you’re going to do it, do it well. This takes the RAZR name and squeezes it through a mangle. If the back of a device is the only good looking part, your design team needs firing.
iPhone 4S 1 vs. RAZR 0
The iPhone’s Retina display is almost unmatched in the market for pixel density and sharpness. That being said, there are displays that out run it in terms of sheer size, color reproduction and giving an immersive experience. Having been so impressed with the Galaxy Nexus’ display, I was hoping for performance from the Motorola. Sadly, I was let down.
The spec sheet boasts a 4.3″ display with a 540 x 960 resolution, giving a supposed pixel density of 256ppi. Let’s just say it didn’t show. Being so used to the iPhone’s clear display for my day-to-day use, moving across to the RAZR was a bit of a shock. Small text is fuzzy, and unclear, and if the brightness isn’t maxed out, it’s almost illegible. It’s noticeably worse with black text on a white background; in the browser for instance. Fuzziness almost disappears if you hold the phone far enough from your face. Arm’s length almost did it for me. Color reproduction was too saturated and unnatural.
Despite being too small, in my opinion, the iPhone’s display wins here for quality. If Motorola wants to be taken more seriously globally, it needs to focus on getting its display right.
iPhone 4S 2 vs. RAZR 0
iPhone 4S camera is great. So, before testing I wasn’t expecting much of a challenge from the RAZR, and I didn’t get one. Indoors the shots appear grainy, and over sharpened on the user interface. On the plus side, it’s not slow, and the shutter does its thing pretty snappish (pun intended).
The most immediately apparent difference is the color tone. Unlike the Galaxy Nexus’ images, these appear very washed out compared to the iPhone. They’re also lacking in clarity. However, since most people just upload photos to twitter or Facebook, and probably won’t be developing them professionally, the camera is adequate.
The problem with comparing this camera with the iPhone is that I’m comparing it with what is easily the best lens on the smartphone market. The best camera is always the one you have with you, and if you like Android, and you like the design I’m guessing you can make do with the camera on here. More extensive camera comparison is on its way. For now, results are conclusively in favor of the iPhone.
iPhone 4S 3 vs. Motorola RAZR 0
The Motorola comes equipped with a dual-core 1.2Ghz processor, and you can tell. Loading up apps and sweeping through screens is responsive and snappy. No lag whatsoever. Browser speed is absolutely fine, but isn’t noticeably quicker or slower than the iPhone 4S. In fact, in terms of responsiveness and loading times I can’t separate them. Despite its more powerful processor, the RAZR’s more demanding operating system means that it doesn’t dominate in this area.
iPhone 4S 4 vs. Motorola RAZR 1
My iPhone lasts less than a day with normal use: games, browsing, calls and texts. Spoiler alert: Moto wins this section, and I’ll tell you why. The iPhone 4S came without the option to switch off the 3G data connection. The Motorola RAZR with its 1780mAh battery makes light work of everything once the 3G is off. I got it last Friday, and after the initial full charge when I unboxed it I’ve only had to plug it in once. It took 3 days to get it down to 40%. Usage was fairly low, but even with the 3G off on my old iPhone 4, I’d still need to charge it every 2-3 days. The RAZR almost went an entire week. I charged it yesterday.
iPhone 4S 4 vs. Motorola RAZR 2
Other considerations: Sound quality, Android etc
If you’re a big music fan, chances are it’s going to be hard to convince you not to get an iPhone. If you hate Apple, you’ll be hard to convince not get the Beats Audio equipped Sensation XE. That being said, sound quality needs big improvement on the RAZR.
One thing certainly worth considering is the software – I know, I said I wouldn’t go there. However, the Droids/RAZRs are yet to see an update to ICS, which frankly makes Gingerbread look old. Ice Cream Sandwich is what makes the Galaxy Nexus the fantastic device it is. Without it the RAZR is just an average smartphone with a pretty backside. With it, it becomes more of a contender. I really wanted to like this phone, just because I loved the original RAZR V3 so much. Unfortunatly, it doesn’t quite live up to the hype.
Obviously, I’m an iPhone fan. It’s my preferred operating system, which is why I decided not to compare operating systems. iTunes and the App Store are big parts of all Apple products and shouldn’t be ignored. It’s the reason I’m not rocking a Galaxy Nexus right now. But, I have to say, the Motorola – mostly down to its size, shape and display – hasn’t been a pleasant experience for me at all. I tried using exclusively for an entire week, but after a few days, I gave up. I just didn’t enjoy using it at all. Happily I can say it’s one of the poorest Android experiences around. I’d sooner jump back on the T-mobile G1 than use this again. My personal thoughts and opinion. You might love it. I didn’t.