Another interesting software spin on Android is Motorola's Smart Actions app, designed to make the company's handsets easier for novices to operate. It's basically an automation tool for phone behavior that follows rules you define. For example, you can have the phone automatically turn off Bluetooth and GPS when it detects your home Wi-Fi network, or dial its screen brightness way down when battery levels are critical.
Other neat tricks are possible, such as setting the ringer to automatically silence itself in the office or the music player to launch when you plug in your headphones. Still, I'm not sure how useful this is since I feel humans should control their technology, not the other way around. When smartphones really become self-aware and double as personal companions, perhaps they'll be able to predict my whims, but for now I'd rather choose what I want to do when I want to do it.
A jack of all trades, the Motorola Droid Maxx serves up a wealth of multimedia options to pass the time. Besides third-party apps like Slacker Radio, the Maxx has the usual Droid robust Music app, which is much more capable than the stock Android software. Like on the Droid Bionic, the app has Internet radio functions, a Music Store courtesy of Verizon Wireless, and my personal favorite, support for podcast subscription and playback. Don't forget, you can also use the app to stream music from your home server via MotoCast. Thankfully, the Droid Razr Maxx has 16GB of internal memory, plus a preloaded 16GB microSD card, and can support cards up to 32GB. Files it can handle are AAC, AAC+ AAC+ enhanced, AMR NB, AMR WB, MIDI, MP3, WAV, WMA v10, and WMA v9 formats.
Netflix pairs nicely with the Maxx's stunning HD AMOLED screen. Watching "Tron: Legacy," even over an LTE connection, was mind-blowing and I quickly forgot that the movie has no logical plot. Colors were rich and deep, and blacks were endless. Another treat is the phone's Micro-HDMI port, which you can hook up to a large-screen HDTV to make your experience even more enjoyable. This is possible via DLNA as well. Video formats supported are H.263, H.264, MPEG4, or WMV v9; load your own or download them directly from the Android Market.
Just like the Droid Razr, the Droid Razr Maxx offers a nimble 8-megapixel camera that loads up in a swift 1.1 seconds from the lock screen. There's virtually no shutter lag in between shots to speak of, either. You can adjust the resolution, the shutter tone, the color effects, shot modes, and the exposure. Other settings include geotagging, a self-timer, several scene modes like Macro and Night Portrait, panorama mode, and flash.
For all the Droid Razr Maxx's speed, picture quality was solid, with clear images and detail. Color accuracy is the phone's weakness, though. Still-life shots looked washed out and muted. In low light, most photos contained image noise, too. The LED flash didn't help this problem, but it didn't blow out subjects in the foreground, either. Able to capture full 1080p HD video with many extra audio functions like Stereo, Wind Reduction, Concert, Balanced, and Front Facing to choose from, home movies are the Maxx's forte. My video clips were clear and well exposed even in low light, and the auto stabilization tamed any hand shake.
I tested the Motorola Droid Razr Maxx on Verizon's CDMA/LTE network in New York. Confirming that there's a reason Verizon is proud of its cellular infrastructure, in my tests the Razr Maxx demonstrated excellent call quality. The phone's earpiece had plenty of volume and I heard no static, buzz, or other digital artifacts during the voice calls I placed. Callers on the other end also said the line was clean and free of any distortion and they had difficulty telling I was speaking to them from a mobile phone. Similarly, callers couldn't tell I had switched to the Razr Maxx's speaker phone. I on the other hand noticed that the handset's speaker was soft and lacked serious oomph. That said, sound didn't become distorted at high volumes.
Motorola Droid Razr Maxx call quality sample
During the short evaluation period, data speeds, even within the CNET offices, were impressive, with fast download speeds averaging just shy of 9Mbps. Uploads, however, in the same location hovered around 0.6Mbps. This performance is lower than the typical speeds we see from Verizon LTE handsets. I plan to update this review with additional test results soon.
Of course the Droid Razr Maxx's claim to fame is its high-performance 3,300mAh battery. The phone is rated by Motorola to offer 21.5 hours of talk time and close to 16 days in standby mode. With numbers like these, it'll take time to run our battery tests on the Maxx, but in anecdotal use during my brief initial test period, the phone never dropped below 80 percent charge -- quite remarkable. Later, while testing in the CNET Labs, the Razr Maxx played "The Godfather," with the screen brightness at 50 percent and audio at half volume, on a continuous loop for 19 hours and 47 minutes straight. That's enough juice for more than three back-to-back, coast-to-coast flights. In subsequent tests, we squeezed out 20 hours of continuous call time. Though it's less than the promised 21.5 hours of talk time, it's still stellar.
Since this review was published we've gone back and tested the Motorola Droid Razr Maxx with the official CNET Labs Video playback battery drain test. As you can see in the chart below, the Droid Razr Maxx's run time of 916 minutes (15 hours and 16 minutes) beat all other phones that have yet run the same benchmark.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Samsung Galaxy S3 (T-Mobile)
Android 4.04, 1.5GHz dual-core, 16GB internal storage, 4.8-inch display
HTC Evo 4G LTE (Sprint)
Android 4.0.3, 1.5GHz dual-core, 16GB internal storage, 4.7-inch display
Samsung Galaxy Note (AT&T)
Android 2.3, 1.5GHz dual-core, 16GB internal memory, 5.3-inch display
Motorola Droid 4 (Verizon)
Android 2.3.4, 1.2GHz dual-core, 16GB internal memory, 4-inch display
HTC One X (AT&T)
Android 4.0.3, 1.5GHz, dual-core, 16GB internal memory, 4.7-inch display
HTC One V (US Cellular)
Android 4.0.3, 1GHz, 512MB internal memory, 3.7-inch display
Motorola Razr Maxx (Verizon)
Android 4.04, 1.2GHz dual-core, 16GB internal memory, 4.3-inch display
In many ways, the Motorola Droid Razr Maxx is the smartphone the Droid Razr should have been. Adding a powerful battery yet keeping a slim and trim size makes this excellent Android handset extremely tempting. I really wish the phone came running Android's latest and greatest Ice Cream Sandwich instead of the mere promise of future upgrades. Additionally, its sky-high $299.99 price tag will give all but the most addicted gadget hounds reason to think twice. Still, with fast 4G LTE data speeds, an amazing HD AMOLED screen, and a battery built to make the Energizer Bunny green with envy, the Maxx may be more than enough mobile tech for your needs.