updated 11:35 pm EST, Wed January 11, 2012
Our test of Motorola's early 2012 roster
Motorola launched several Android phones at CES this week, including two high-end Verizon 4G models, the Droid 4 and the Droid RAZR MAXX. We tried all of them at the floor. Continue on after the break for an early look at what you can expect as they launch.
The Droid 4 has already been likened to a Droid RAZR with a keyboard, and that's not entirely inaccurate. The design, Android 2.3, the 540x960 resolution, and the eight-megapixel camera are all the same. Adding a keyboard does change the dynamic, however: the Droid 4 has a four-inch LCD instead of the 4.3-inch Super AMOLED of the original, so it's a bit smaller but visibly sharper and more pleasant to look at.
The keyboard is of course he core difference, and we're glad to say it's a fairly good keyboard. Each key is a bit shorter than we'd like, but they have a firm action with good spacingand can be used to type quickly. We normally prefer touchscreen keyboards for speed, but Motorola makes a good case for hardware keys.
If there's a concer, it would be battery life; we don't know what it's like in real life. The Droid 4 is thicker than the RAZR, but LTE is still a noticeable hit to the battery. We'd expect it to be a balance between the RAZR and RAZR MAXX.
On that subject, the Droid RAZR MAXX is literally all about adding the extra battery life. It has swollen up from the super-slim 7.7mm (0.3in) to 8.99 (0.35in), but in practice it doesn't matter that much and is more than worth the extra life: Verizon is promising a full 21 hours of call time, and it should be one of the first LTE phones to have all-day battery life with heavy data use. We wouldn't hesitate to get the MAXX over the original for that reason alone.
The MOTOLUXE and Defy Mini are more modest in expectations. As you might imagine, we most liked the MOTOLUXE: the four-inch 480x854 display and the 800MHz processor give it very reasonable performance given that it's targeted at China and other countries where cost is a factor.
The Defy Mini, though, we'd likely dismiss: at 3.2 inches and 320x480, it's not much different than a slew of tiny phones like the HTC Wildfire S. While the toughness is hard to verify, the small screen size still feels cramped and would likely hurt in the long run. The new social cloud is potentially handy as it makes it easier to reach people the more often you contact them, but to us it comes across as a fairly simplistic trick rather than an everyday utility.
We're much more taken with the MT917 and XT928. Both have 720p LCDs that are beautiful to look at, and either was brisk throughout Motorola's interface. The 13-megapixel camera we couldn't test in this environment, but we suspect either will be an improvement over the RAZR's camera, if just through brute force. The only limitation, if you like Motorola's skin, is that they're only available in China.
Droid RAZR MAXX