Shortly after Motorola announced their flagship Droid RAZR HD and HD MAXX I wrote an op-ed piece asking “what is Motorola doing?” Why would consumers spend $299.99 for an HD MAXX when they could buy a Samsung Galaxy S III (SGSIII) for $99.99? The specs were nearly identical and the extra battery capacity didn’t justify the almost three times higher price tag in my view. When Verizon officially announced pricing I wrote another piece about how overpriced both handsets were and again recommended the SGSIII. After some hands on time with the HD MAXX, here are seven reasons why I was wrong and why it warrants consideration if you’re in the market for a Verizon smart phone:
1) It’s a great phone. Bizarre reason, right? In the era of quad-core processors and 720p screens it’s easy to forget that a smart phone’s primary function is to be an actual phone. The RAZR HD MAXX continues the long Motorola tradition of excellent radios. Measured side by side with the SGSIII, it continuously had better signal and pulled down faster data speeds.
2) The build quality makes the SGSIII look like a cheap toy. Say what you will about the Motorola design aesthetic, but they certainly know how to make a premium feeling device. The HD MAXX features a Gorilla Glass 2 screen, an aluminum side band and a kevlar back plate. Compared to the cheap plastic used by Samsung, the HD MAXX just feels solid.
3) The pentile matrix 4.7″ 720p screen isn’t that bad. In person it’s easily the equal of the SGSIII screen. While I think pentile screens should be banned, the average user would likely never know the difference. Blacks are deep, colors are vibrant, and the screen is sufficiently bright.
4) It has on-screen buttons! Google officially ditched physical buttons with the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and yet a year later the number of phones that have followed suit could be counted on one hand. On-screen buttons have more flexibility and look cooler. I wish more Android OEM’s would follow Motorola’s lead on this one.
5) MotoBlur is one of the lightest OEM skins. The version on the HD MAXX is very close to stock Ice Cream Sandwich. Compared to HTC’s Sense or Samsung’s Touchwiz it’s nice to see something so close to what Google intended.
6) Amazon took care of the overpriced situation by dropping the price of the RAZR HD and HD MAXX almost immediately after launch. Customers with an upgrade can get the HD for $149.99 while the HD MAXX will set you back $199.99. This is what Verizon should have charged.
7) The battery life is simply stunning. This is an actual HD MAXX battery log from an acquaintance of mine:
The RAZR HD and MAXX HD are not without flaws. The camera is not nearly as good as the SGSIII and the shape of phone can make it feel large and unwieldy. Still, the combination of excellent reception and amazing battery life is very attractive. If you’re in the market, give it a look. Sure it costs more than the SGSIII, but never having to worry about your battery dying during the course of a day ever again might very well be worth the premium.