By Harry McCracken | Tuesday, October 18, 2011 at 2:36 pm
When I wrote about the new Droid RAZR this morning I hadn’t seen one in person. A few hours later, I visited with representatives of Motorola and Verizon and got a demo and a bit of hands-on time.
A few additional observations:
It looks nicer in person. In the stock photo I ran earlier, it looks pretty much like every other big-screen Android smartphone. In the, um, flesh, the phone is all Gorilla Glass and chamfered edges and Kevlar back, and the fact it’s 7.1mm thin makes it feel like less of a beast than some 4.3″ Android phones. It’s the classiest Droid I’ve seen to date. (There is a little hump at the top, where the camera and ports are, but you won’t feel it when you hold it.)
The battery is built in. I shoulda been able to figure out that a phone that’s meaningfully thinner than the iPhone must seal the battery into the case to conserve space. The rest of the industry has been slow to follow Apple’s lead when it comes to dumping removable batteries; I wonder if the RAZR is a sign of things to come?
Smart Actions are neat. As I said in my first post, battery life is always a concern with LTE phones. (Actually, it’s a concern with phones, period, of course.) The RAZR addresses the challenge in part by packing a huge honkin’ battery, but it also offers a feature called Smart Actions which can automatically tweak settings to eke as much out of a charge. For instance, it can shut off LTE and GPS when you get home, since you probably have Wi-Fi there and know where you are. Some options are preprogrammed and you can create your own ones, including ones that don”t involve power conservation, such as switching wallpapers when an action is triggered.
Motorola is doubling down on LapDocks. The turn-your-phone-into-a-notebook peripheral that debuted back in February with Motorola’s Atrix still has some rough edges, and hasn’t yet changed the world. (I’ve only seen one person using one in the wild.) But I’m glad to see Moto continue on with the concept. The RAZR will work with two LapDocks: a new 11″ model and a 14″ one with a Webcam. And it’s come up with a new design that lets one LapDock work with a variety of phones, with a pull-out cable and slide-out tray.
Motorola hasn’t announced pricing for the new LapDocks, and I’ll be more excited about the concept when someone comes up with a laptop dock that can be used with any phone. ( In fact, I’ve been excited about the idea for years, long before LapDocks existed.) I figure there aren’t any fundamental technological roadblocks standing in the way of it happening at some point.
Ice Cream Sandwich is on the way. It’s an odd time to be buying an Android phone, because the next version of the OS, Ice Cream Sandwich, should be along very shortly. Motorola says that ICS will be available for RAZR owners, and full details will be announced within six weeks of the phone’s launch.
I plan to do a review of the RAZR; more thoughts then.