The Motorola RAZR V is a slight refresh of an already existing handset, the original RAZR Android phone. The RAZR V is better designed than its predecessor, but it ultimately offers little incentive to switch from rival brands. See also: Group test: what's the best smartphone?
Not as RAZR thin, but better designed
The Motorola RAZR V has a very a similar design to the flagship RAZR with the main difference being thickness. The RAZR V is 8.4mm thin whereas the RAZR is just 7.1mm thin. At the time of its release late in 2011, the RAZR was classed as the thinnest smartphone in the world. See also: Group test: what's the best smartphone?
Thankfully, Motorola has made the RAZR V more comfortable to hold than the original RAZR. Its edges are less sharp and although it's thicker, the RAZR V is a slightly smaller phone on the whole. The edges have been smoothed out, so they no longer dig into your hands when holding the phone. See also: Smartphones buying advice.
At the top of the RAZR V is a bump that sticks out at the back and houses the camera lens, LED flash and speaker, as well as the micro-USB and headphone jack on top. This bump makes the RAZR V a little top heavy and does affect one handed use, especially when typing on the on-screen keyboard. However, the weight is less pronounced than it was on the previous RAZR.
The Motorola RAZR V comes with a Kevlar fiber backing that the company says makes it sturdier than most other smartphones. The RAZR V is also coated in a splash-guard treatment that makes it "water repellent", aiming to protect both the outside and the internal components of the phone. The splash-guard treatment works as well as Motorola says — any water drops on the handset simply slide off the surface easily, much like water beads rolling off a car when it's just been polished and waxed. Keep in mind the coating makes the RAZR V water-repellent, but not water-proof.
The Motorola RAZR V has the same size 4.3in screen as the previous RAZR, though it doesn't use Super AMOLED display technology. Instead, the RAZR V has what Motorola calls a "ColorBoost" screen — a TFT LCD panel which it claims offers higher brightness than competitors. The screen offers good viewing angles, vivid colour and good brightness levels, but it's reflective and therefore difficult to see in direct sunlight outdoors.
The qHD resolution of 960x540 displays crisp enough text for reading, but it lacks the super smooth fonts on higher resolution smartphone screens, such as the iPhone 4S' 960x640 resolution and the 1280x720 resolution of the Samsung Galaxy S III and the HTC One X, for example.
A consistent serving of Ice Cream Sandwich
The Motorola RAZR V is the company's first smartphone to ship with Google's Ice Cream Sandwich operating system out of the box. Motorola has not stated whether the RAZR V will be updated to the latest version, 4.1 Jelly Bean, but we have been assured "it has been discussed". It's likely to happen, but we wouldn't expect to see it until the end of the year at the earliest.
Previous Motorola phones have been criticised for poor UI overlays but the company has clearly listened to consumers in outlining the RAZR V. The user experience and look and feel of this handset very similar to Google's stock ICS UI on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.
The Motorola RAZR V still comes with its own icons and a few widgets but they generally look attractive and nicely tie into the "holo" ICS theme. Motorola widgets include a "favourite contacts" widget that lets you swipe down on it to show up to 20 contacts with an image, along with a "Drive Smart" widget that uses a specialised car menu when you're driving. Motorola has kept a consistent look and feel across most default applications with the home screen, the app drawer and default apps like people, phone and text messaging receiving subtle but consistent changes.
There's also a number of other handy software features. The lock screen allows you to swipe to the right to unlock the screen, swipe to the left to jump immediately into the camera app, swipe up to access the phone menu and swipe down to jump into text messages. A small switch on the top right corner of the lockscreen also puts the RAZR V into silent mode.
Despite a lower price than the original RAZR, the Motorola RAZR V is fast and responsive straight out of the box. It handled most graphic intensive games with ease and we didn't experience any lag or slowdown during regular, day-to-day use.
The Motorola RAZR V includes a number of extra apps over what Google provides by default, but the most notable is the Smart Actions app. This automation app allows you to preconfigure tasks so you don't have to do the same things over and over again. As an example, Smart Actions allows you to set up an action that will automatically begin playing music when you plug in your headphones, automatically set your phone to silent when you nominate a location as a "quiet location" and even turn on Wi-Fi and turn off Bluetooth (or adjust a wealth of other settings) when you get to the office, or arrive home. The app uses a combination of location based and user nominated settings to automate tasks and you can create and activate as many as you like.
8-megapixel camera, good battery life
The Motorola RAZR V has an 8-megapixel camera with single LED flash. The camera app itself is both slick and fast, with minimal time between photos if you are quick on the shutter button. We love the fact you can use the external volume keys as zoom buttons, but there is no physical shutter key.
Images captured with the RAZR V's camera produce good detail but do suffer from some image noise and can often appear washed out. The camera doubles as a full HD 1080p video recorder and the quality is decent for a smartphone, though autofocus can be a little erratic at times. Interestingly, the RAZR V also offers 1080p video playback, whereas the RAZR only played back video in 720p.
The Motorola RAZR V has just 4GB of internal memory, but there's a microSD card slot for extra storage. The slot is concealed by a plastic flap on the left side of the phone, next to a full sized SIM card slot.
Battery life is about what you'd expect from an Android phone. The Motorola RAZR V should last you a full day if you're not a heavy user, though excessive use may drain the battery before the end of the day. We consider ourselves relatively heavy users and managed to push the RAZR V to around 13 hours in most instances.