Motorola MOTORAZR maxx review

Motorola to the maxx

TechRadar Verdict

A strong contender in most areas from Motorola, but the touch-sensitive screen needs some work


  • +

    2-megapixel camera

    Touch-sensitive music player controls

    3G HSDPA broadband data speeds


  • -

    Limited camera light

    No FM radio

    Glass front

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By any stretch of the imagination, Motorola hasn't done at all badly with its iconic RAZR range of slimline fashion phones, with millions sold and topping multiple style icon lists. Which basically means that they're not about to stop now.

The latest in the line is the top-of-the-range MOTORAZR maxx - not quite as slim as some of its predecessors, perhaps, but it does manage to pack in a heap more techno-goodness.

It's slightly thicker than the original RAZR at 15.5mm (according to the official stats) but it's slimmed down from the first 3G incarnation of the RAZR, the V3x, while still keeping that phone's third generation technology.

Actually, that 3G tech has been augmented with the addition of the latest version of HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access), the mobile broadband standard that, in theory, will allow you to connect to the internet at anything up to 3.6Mbps - faster than the broadband connection in most UK homes.

That's the theory anyway, although of the networks offering the handset, Vodafone and T-Mobile's 3G HSDPA services only promise a real-life experience a touch over 1Mbps at present (1.8Mbps is the stated maximum speed), while 3's HSDPA service is just about to launch in the UK.

Also, movement, obstacles and network availability will all conspire to slow the connection rate - but the browsing and download experience is still much, much faster in practice than we've been used to.

The look is different from other RAZRs too. While the recently released V3xx follows the standard metallic styling of RAZRs past, the maxx instead sports a toughened glass panel on the front and a soft plastic coating on the rest of the shell, which all helps to make it feel somehow 'warmer' than its stablemates.

Added on

That glass cover does seem to do its job well enough - it's resistant to scratches and cracking, though not to smudges. But it feels a bit added-on, and not properly integrated into the overall style of the handset; integrated design is something the other RAZRs have in spades.

In fact, the glass panel's real purpose seems to be as a mount for a series of touch-sensitive music player control keys, which work fine, but don't look as effortlessly smooth as say, those on LG's Chocolate phone range.

The controls' ice-blue glow looks nice though, and they're very sensitive to the touch. Fortunately, they lock automatically after a few seconds to stop them being activated accidentally in your pocket.

The sound is very good too - deep and rich, with a broad stereo image (the Spatial Audio feature helps with this) and it doesn't feel too compressed. There's a bass boost and an intuitive menu system, plus it will play MP3, AAC, AAC and WMA tracks. It can display cover art as well and usefully, you can activate the music player with the phone shut, via the smart key on the side.

The mini USB slot has a little plastic cover that feels quite flimsy. Unusually, this is not only the connection for your PC, but also for the supplied stereo headphones. These are pretty good, but if you want to upgrade there's no mini-jack option to connect them with. The phone has stereo Bluetooth support onboard, though, so you can listen to your music without the need for wires with the appropriate Bluetooth pair.

We tried Motorola's chunky S805 DJ-style full-ear stereo Bluetooth headphones but found the Bluetooth connection didn't deliver as well as a standard wire. There's a little less bass than would be ideal, and perhaps a little too much compression on the treble and midband too. In contrast, the supplied (corded) headphones sounded fuller, rounder, clearer, with more body overall. It's only a shame that there's no FM radio.

With the phone flip open, it actually looks much more like a standard RAZR. The keypad is flat and metallic looking of course, with raised icons for the numbers to help you find your way around. The blue-backlit metallic panel seems to be better fixed than the earlier models too.

The large (34 x 48mm) 256,000-colour screen is really rather excellent - bright, clear, detailed, and not overly subject to fade. It offers a decently wide viewing angle too. The menu is graphic-based and reasonably easy to navigate. There's also the option to program the softkeys to access your favourite functions.

The 2-megapixel camera is a very worthwhile addition, getting the jump on the V3xx's 1.3-megapixel version. It resides at the bottom of the flip and is best used with the phone open, using the large internal screen as a viewfinder. It can also be used with the phone closed incidentally, with the outer screen (65,000-colours, 120 x 160 pixels) as the viewfinder, although this is only really useful for self-portraits.

The quality of the shots however is decent if not exceptional - a definite improvement on the other RAZRs, but there are better 2-megapixel cameras out there. There isn't much in the way of editing options either, though there are the usual options for resolution (four sizes), lighting conditions, exposure and effects, which are rather crude.

There's an 8x digital zoom though, which is useful. The camera light (there's no actual flash) is powerful enough, but we found we needed a very steady hand to avoid blurred pictures when using this feature. There's also a VGA camera on the opposite side of the hinge for video calling.

Motorola has packed in some 50MB of user memory - not bad for storing music, pics and video, though there's also the option of adding more memory via MicroSD card. It also comes with two games - Crazy and Escape, neither of which are worth getting worked up about, though you can of course download other Java games.

The MOTORAZR maxx certainly has some good things going for it - a decent music player with fancy buttons, an exceptional screen and a pretty good camera, as well as fast internet access and video calling.

It's got its own style too, which feels like an evolution from the 'cold' RAZR, but that tacked-on glass panel gives the feeling that it's jumping on the touch-sensitive bandwagon a little too quickly. It's certainly no stiff, but it probably needs another round of evolution before it gets that old RAZR magic back. was the former name of Its staff were at the forefront of the digital publishing revolution, and spearheaded the move to bring consumer technology journalism to its natural home – online. Many of the current TechRadar staff started life a staff writer, covering everything from the emerging smartphone market to the evolving market of personal computers. Think of it as the building blocks of the TechRadar you love today.