Motorola RAZR M Android phone

The Motorola RAZR M is a compact and well built smartphone that doesn't sacrifice performance or features

  • Review
  • Specs
  • Images
  • User Reviews (1)
  • Buy Now 1
Motorola Australia RAZR M
  • Motorola Australia RAZR M
  • Motorola Australia RAZR M
  • Motorola Australia RAZR M
  • Expert Rating

    4.25 / 5
  • User Rating

    5.00 / 5 (of 1 Review)

Pros

  • Compact, well constructed design
  • 4G connectivity
  • Some excellent software features

Cons

  • Limited internal memory
  • Average battery life (especially on 4G)
  • Waiting for Jelly Bean update

Bottom Line

The Motorola RAZR M proves that bigger isn't always better. It sacrifices little in the way of performance or features to achieve its compact and ultimately impressive design. Anyone who likes smaller phones should seriously consider the RAZR M.

Would you buy this?

  • Buy now (Selling at 1 store)

Most smartphones these days seem to be getting bigger and bigger but Motorola has gone in the opposite direction with its latest Android phone, the RAZR M. While its 4.3in screen is hardly small, the razor thin bezel makes it a compact smartphone that's more comfortable to use single-handedly than most flagship Android phones. Better still, the 4G-capable RAZR M sacrifices little in the way of performance or features to achieve its compact and ultimately impressive design.

Typically RAZR, surprisingly compact

Squeezing a 4.3in screen into a phone that's almost the same size as the iPhone 5 is certainly an impressive engineering feat.

If you're annoyed by the bigger is better trend that seems to be common place in the smartphone world, you're more than likely going to love the design of the Motorola RAZR M. Forget the display, the processor or the software — the physical design of this handset is the real killer feature. Motorola says it pushed the RAZR M's display as close as possible to the edge of the phone in order to maximise the screen size without compromising on physical size. The end result is a compact and lightweight phone with a strikingly thin bezel. Squeezing a 4.3in screen into a phone that's almost the same size as the iPhone 5 is certainly an impressive engineering feat.

Size aside, if you're familiar with Motorola's recent Android phones, you'll feel right at home with the RAZR M. It follows the same industrial looking trend that the company is well known for. However, the RAZR M adds some of its own distinctive touches that make the handset comfortable to hold and use. The rear edges are curved and slip comfortably into your palms, the bottom edge is tapered and angled downwards and the corners of the device are slightly rounded so they don't dig into your fingers.

None

We like the matte black finish on the sides of the RAZR M. The surface holds up well to the the rigours of day to day use and doesn't scratch or mark easily. The same can't be said of the glossy, reflective surface that surrounds the camera on the back — it's a fingerprint magnet and we feel it cheapens the overall look of the handset. The speaker hidden behind the Motorola logo above the screen is a nice touch, though.

Three visible torx screws on either side immediately peg the RAZR M as a typical Motorola phone. The rear once again has a Kevlar fibre backing that the company says makes it sturdier than most other smartphones. Like the more expensive RAZR HD, the RAZR M is coated in a splash-guard treatment that makes it "water repellent", aiming to protect both the outside and the internal components.

The splash-guard treatment works as well as Motorola says — any water drops on the RAZR M 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 M water-repellent to splashes, but not completely waterproof.

The RAZR M has a Kevlar fibre backing that Motorola says makes it sturdier than most other smartphones.
The RAZR M has a Kevlar fibre backing that Motorola says makes it sturdier than most other smartphones.

Three visible torx screws on either side immediately peg the RAZR M as a typical Motorola phone.

The Motorola RAZR M has well placed controls. There's a power button and volume controls on the right side, a headphone jack at the top, and a micro-USB port for charging on the left. The micro-SIM and microSD cards are also stored in the left side of the phone, hidden behind an annoying plastic flap that feels rather flimsy when removed. It's the only black mark on the design of the RAZR M, which otherwise feels impeccably well constructed. Two downsides to the construction, however, are the non-removable battery and the lack of a micro-HDMI port.

The Motorola RAZR M uses a 4.3in super AMOLED screen that has a qHD resolution of 960x540. Naturally, it can't display the same super crisp text as larger rivals with higher res screens, such as the iPhone 5, the Samsung Galaxy S III and the HTC One XL. However, we found colours typically vibrant and viewing angles are excellent. There are notable visible pixels around the edge of icons and text and high definition video doesn't have the same wow factor on larger screened devices, but all in all, the display is hardly a weak point of the RAZR M.

The RAZR M doesn't have the same wow factor as larger screened devices, but the screen is hardly a weak point.
The RAZR M doesn't have the same wow factor as larger screened devices, but the screen is hardly a weak point.

A revamped, simpler Android experience

The RAZR M's interface is very similar to Google's stock ICS UI, but a few Motorola features add some value.

The Motorola RAZR M comes with the 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich version of Android. The company says the phone will be updated to the latest 4.1 Jelly Bean version by early 2013, but hasn't set an exact date as to when it will be available. The software update will need to be tested and approved by Telstra, who is the exclusive carrier selling the phone in Australia.

At the RAZR M's Australian launch event, Motorola says it "revamped" its user interface because users find Google's mobile operating system "fairly complex". The look and feel of the RAZR M's interface is very similar to Google's stock Ice Cream Sandwich UI, though there's a few Motorola features that add some value.

The lock screen, for example, 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 lock screen also puts the RAZR M into silent mode.

Motorola has simplified the user interface of the RAZR M.
Motorola has simplified the user interface of the RAZR M.

By default the RAZR M is set up with a single home page. A swipe to to the right lets users add a blank or preset template page, while a swipe to the left shows a quick settings menu that includes the ability to change the ringtone, toggle Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, mobile data and airplane mode and change the default screen lock option. There's also a link to all settings on this screen. A question mark next to each setting lets users learn more about each item in the list, a nice feature for first time Android users.

Motorola's circle widget is another appreciated touch. It displays three circles that include a clock, a weather forecast and a battery life indicator. A simple swipe on each circle will flip between different modes, like showing a digital or analogue clock, adding a city to the weather widget and adjusting notifications settings. New text messages, missed calls and voicemail notifications will conveniently appear instead of the clock when active. Other 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 can be set to activate a specialised car menu when you're driving.

There's also favourite apps tab in app drawer, which allows users to add selected applications to appear in that menu. A setting that automatically adds future downloaded apps to this favourites menu is another nice touch. Motorola includes the Swype keyboard as a pre-loaded option, though you'll need to activate it from the settings menu.

Motorola's Smart Actions app.
Motorola's Smart Actions app.

Motorola has once again included its excellent Smart Actions app on the RAZR M. 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.

Motorola's Guide Me app is also handy inclusion for first time users. It runs you through basic tutorials that cover general usability, apps, calls and contacts, settings, and messaging and calendar details. It includes an interactive, step-by-step guide with highlighted screen taps and instructions.

Little sacrificed in performance

Smaller phones usually mean downsized performance but that certainly isn't the case on the Motorola RAZR M. While it isn't as butter smooth as more expensive models like the Samsung Galaxy S III 4G and the Samsung Galaxy Note II, the RAZR M is relatively fast and responsive straight out of the box.

Smaller phones usually mean downsized performance but that certainly isn't the case on the Motorola RAZR M.

The RAZR M is powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM, the same internals used in the larger RAZR HD. Like that model, we didn't experience any regular lag or slowdown during day-to-day use but there are still some basic elements in Google's Ice Cream Sandwich software that aren't as smooth as both iOS and Windows Phone platforms. As an example, opening and closing the app draw, swiping through widget heavy home screens and scrolling in the Chrome browser sometimes offers a visible stuttering animation. We expect this and many other small issues to be ironed out once the RAZR M is updated to Jelly Bean in early 2013.

None

The Motorola RAZR M is a 4G compatible phone in Australia and it's exclusively sold by Telstra. We managed to achieve download speeds of up to 36Mbps when testing the RAZR M, but data speed and performance will depend on a number of factors including location, network congestion and time.

The Motorola RAZR M 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, and you can even set the volume buttons to act as a shutter key, if you wish.

Images don't quite stack up to the top camera phones on the market, but the RAZR M's camera can capture decent quality photos with good detail levels. We found macro shots difficult to capture as the lens wouldn't always focus on close subjects. Low light photography is also below average and colour reproduction was often dull.

A photo we captured with the Motorola RAZR M (click to enlarge).
A photo we captured with the Motorola RAZR M (click to enlarge).

The RAZR M's camera also doubles as a full HD 1080p video recorder and the quality is decent for a smartphone with good detail and a sharp image overall. The video recorder features some interesting settings including a time lapse mode and a wind reduction mode that aims to eliminate noise when recording in windy conditions. Images and videos can be saved on the 8GB of internal memory or an on optional microSD card.

Battery life on the Motorola RAZR M is about what you should expect from a modern day smartphone. With constant use, the RAZR M almost lasted a full day but often fell short. However, it should push most moderate users through a day of use before requiring a charge. 4G connectivity appears to be the biggest battery drainer. If you're constantly in a 4G coverage zone expect the battery to drain fairly quickly, though it's fairly power efficient when in standby.

The Motorola RAZR M is available exclusively through Telstra stores and online in Australia.

Related content

Motorola RAZR M unboxing and first look
Motorola RAZR HD review
In pictures: Motorola launches RAZR HD, RAZR M Android phones
Motorola RAZR HD, RAZR M aim to simplify Android
Motorola RAZR HD, RAZR M launching in October?
Telstra expanding 4G arsenal with new RAZR's
Telstra: 4G will serve 66 per cent of Australia by mid-2013

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jim Barth

1

Nice review, but Motorola has recently cancelled scheduled and promised ICS updates for a whole host of phones. Any "update coming soon" that I see in any Motorola review does nothing but raise a huge red flag for me. Unless they give me a release date in writing with a money back guarantee I'll never fall for another promise from them again!

Daniel

2

No thanks. Will stick with my Nokia. Bigger IS better

Post new comment

Users posting comments agree to the PC World comments policy.

Login or register to link comments to your user profile, or you may also post a comment without being logged in.

Peter

5.0

1

Pros
Smart Actions, battery life, phone size
Cons
the power button location takes some getting used to.
• • •

Jelly Been is due on the 8/2/2013. I have one of these phones and think it is excellent. It beats the Nexus 3 that my wife and kids have on performance and the right size to use one handed. I have had G III workmates asking what app produced the 3 circles. I am a low to medium user and with the battery saver on, I can last all day and still have 60+ % left at the end of the day.The phone feels solid in the hand and is very responsive with a good antenna.

One thing to note, the black one has a kevlar back, but the white one doesn't (according to the Telstra phone rep), so black for me.

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?