It's been pretty quiet on the smartphone front, and tablet for that matter, from Motorola recently. Its only major releases have been the Razr and Razr Maxx so we were glad to get our hands on the latest handset – the Razr i. One of its main rivals in the market is the HTC One S.
See also: Group test: what's the best smartphone?
Motorola Razr i: Design
The Razr I sports what is now a familiar style of design from Motorola. A shiny Motorola logo is the stand out feature on an otherwise plain front while the rear is mostly made of Kevlar, just like its predecessors.
Motorola has decided against the previously used clipped corners design for the Razr i. It's thin at 8.9mm but not quite as thin as the Razr which is just 7.1mm thick. It's also light at 126g.
The key design feature is the 'edge-to-edge' display as Motorola likes to call it. Although the phone is relatively small it has a 4.3in screen. It looks great and is really the first time we've seen a display take up so much of the real estate. Most phones around this size have a 4in screen best, the Sony Xperia P for example.
To the left and right of the screen is only a slither of aluminium so it really does feel like you're holding just the screen. However, the screen isn't exactly 'edge-to-edge' all the way around. This is forgivable at the top where the camera and speaker are located but there's plenty of unused space below the screen.
Motorola Razr i: Build quality
Build quality is excellent with a combination of premium materials and construction. The Razr i feels very solid and well-made in the hand. The Kevlar rear, aluminium chassis and splash-proof Corning Gorilla Glass make the phone robust and negate the need for a case. The only sign of weakness is the flimsy plastic covering the SD and SIM slots.
Motorola Razr i: Hardware and Performance
As we mentioned, the Razr i is the first smartphone from Motorola since it partnered with Intel. Therefore it has an Intel Atom processor, the second to hit the UK with one since the Orange San Diego. This time is has the speedier Atom Z2480, making it the first smartphone with a 2GHz processor, albeit a single-core. The Atom is accompanied by a healthy 1GB of RAM.
In the GeekBench 2 test, which tends to favour multi-core processors, the Razr i scored an impressive 1021. We've only seen a handful of smartphones breach the 1000 mark so this is a good effort. It's not as fast as the iPhone 5 and Galaxy S3 but it's a darn sight cheaper.
In general we found the Razr i slick in day to day use. The only lag we found was, for some unknown reason, when we hit the home key to get an overview of the homescreens and hitting it again to go back to the main homescreen.
The handset didn't fare so well in the Egypt HD test which measures graphics performance. It scored a middle of the road 12fps. However, we didn't find any problems playing games downloaded from the Play Store, including titles like Granny Smith.
Built-in storage is a bit limited on the Razr i since there is only around 5GB of the 8GB capacity available. Luckily there is a microSD card slot for adding some much needed extra space.
Motorola has used the same 4.3in Super AMOLED Advanced display found on the Razr and Razr Maxx. It has a qHD resolution of 540 x 960 giving it a reasonable but not especially impressive pixel density of 256ppi.
Connectivity is reasonable on the Razr i, although there's no HDMI port like the Razr Maxx has. You do get the usual Wi-Fi, Bluetooth plus digital living network alliance (DLNA) certification for sharing content wirelessly and a near-field communications (NFC) chip for things like contactless payments. Physical ports consist of the standard microUSB and headphone jack.
Motorola Razr i: Cameras
Also lifted from the Rarz and Razr Maxx is the rear facing camera, so there's nothing new here either. Like we found with the Motorola's older devices the 8Mp rear camera with LED flash and 1.3Mp front camera produced good looking, natural photos. Video footage can be recorded in full HD 1080p resolution from the rear camera and VGA from the front.
We particularly like the fact the Razr i has a dedicated camera button located on the right hand side. This can launch the camera app quickly when the screen is off and even faster with the screen on. The camera app is simple and easy to use, without lag. There are a few settings and effects but not as many as some other phones we've seen. The main feature touted by Motorola is a burst mode which can take 10 photos in one second.
Motorola Razr i: Software
Our Razr i review sample came with Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich with the promise of an upgrade to 4.1 Jelly Bean to be available soon from Motorola. See also: Group test: what's the best Android phone?
It seems that Android smartphones with the latest versions are coming with a much more vanilla interface and experience. Motorola has made a few changes which are worth noting.
The main tweak is that the main homescreen is at the far left rather than the middle, all additional pages or panes are placed to the right. Swipe to the left of the main homescreen and you get a list of quick settings for Wi-Fi, sounds, Bluetooth and the like. It will be a little hard to get used to for existing Android users but it works.
The lock screen has access to three apps as well as the ability to switch the handset in and out of silent/vibrate mode. There's the usual set of Android widgets plus a very nicely designed one from Motorola called Circles. Three circles show you the date and time, weather and battery level. The circles can be flipped over like coins on the screen to show different data and can even show you notifications for text messages, missed calls and voicemail.
Aside from standard Google apps such as YouTube and Maps, there are not many extras. Motorola, as usual, includes Quickoffice and we're pleased to see Smart Actions which can make the Razr i do certain things automatically. For example, it can turn off background data at night or switch to mute when during scheduled meetings in your calendar. However, we disappointingly can't find MotoCast, an app for streaming content from a PC on-the-go.
Motorola Razr i: Battery life
We're still testing the Razr i for battery life in the lab but benchmarks aside, we found we got more than a day's use out of the smartphone with varied use. The battery lasted a solid two days before we needed to charge it up which is a good result for a phone with a large Super AMOLED screen.