Motorola Razr i review: first look
There was a time when it was considered commercial suicide to launch any device, let alone another smartphone, at the same time as an Apple iPhone. Yet as Android has matured, rival manufacturers have steadily become bolder with the timing, and with the razzmatazz surrounding their announcements.
The latest to attempt to give Apple a black eye is Motorola with a new addition to its Razr family of smartphones. The Razr i will be available in the UK from the beginning of October.
Where Apple's big selling point was a larger screen, Motorola's is a new processor - it's the first big-name manufacturer to put its weight behind Intel's smartphone architecture. The Razr i sports a 2GHz Intel Atom Z2480: it's a single-core 32nm part, but it's Hyper Threaded so it appears as a dual-core processor to the operating system.
We were impressed with the raw speed of the first UK Intel-based phone, the Orange San Diego, earlier this year and this one's even quicker. So far, we've run the SunSpider benchmark, which returned a scorching score of 1,118ms - the fastest we've seen - and Quadrant, which gave an equally impressive result of 4,320.
At the launch event Motorola reps were keen to stress that the processor was not only fast, but efficient, stating the Rzar i had a battery that would last for "20 hours of mixed use" - and bravely adding that a smartphone is "only half a phone if it lasts for half a day". We can't comment on that until we've carried out further testing, but the power pack sealed in the Razr i's chassis does have a capacity of 2,000mAh, which bodes well for stamina.
Aside from processing power and battery life, it's a nice-looking handset. The frame of the phone is made from solid-feeling aluminium (it's "aircraft grade" according to the press materials) and the rear has the same Kevlar material coating as the original Razr. Perhaps due to the larger battery, this phone isn't as skeletally thin as that handset, but overall it's a nice design.
However, to focus simply on looks and thickness would be to rather miss the point. What's most impressive about the design of the Razr i is that it's far smaller than the Razr yet has the same-sized 4.3in qHD (540 x 960) Super AMOLED screen. It doesn't feel much larger in the hand than an iPhone 4, whose screen is nearly 19% smaller - in fact it's only around 6.5mm taller and 2.5mm wider.
This is largely due to the extremely narrow bezel, which we measured at around 2mm either side of the so-called "Edge-to-Edge" display. It's also good news that the glass on the front of that display is shatter- and scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass, and that the phone has the same water-repellent "Splash-Guard" coating that last year's Razr had.
Elsewhere, the phone looks to be a little less groundbreaking. It runs Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4) rather than the more recent Jellybean (Android 4.1). That's disappointing given Motorola Mobility is owned by Google, but there are at least a couple of Motorola-specific touches: a quick settings screen accessed by swiping once left from the main desktop, and a neat notifications widget on the home screen that comes in the form of a collection of circles displaying updates on missed calls, recent messages, the weather and so on.
The camera, meanwhile, is an 8-megapixel unit, and comes equipped with the now obligatory multi-frame burst mode. The Razr i's camera is capable of firing off ten frames in a second and Motorola says it will also fire up in under a second, even when the phone is locked and in standby. Our brief tests indicate that claim to be accurate. It will also shoot 1080p video, but there's no sign of the fancy optical image stabilisation we saw at the launch of the Nokia Lumia 920 the other week.
What wasn't mentioned at the launch was whether Motorola would be launching a 4G version of the Razr i, and pricing is as yet unconfirmed. However, a spokesman indicated it wouldn't be priced at the budget end of the smartphone market.
Look out for our full review of the Motorola Razr i soon.