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Motorola Can Do Big Things With the DROID RAZR HD [Opinion]

I know what you are thinking, “What kind of crack are you smoking? You really think another locked down Motorola RAZR variant can help them crawl out of the Android gutter?” Yep, I actually do believe that, but only if some very specific things happen at launch. One of which we haven’t seen in a long, long time from this company, but maybe will now that Google is in charge.

Motorola has had a rough year and a half, but with the DROID RAZR HD, they have a chance to do some big things. Sure, the Galaxy SIII may be out before it and will gobble up all sorts of market share, however, this phone has a chance to be Moto’s best in years if done right. Here are my thoughts. 

Bootloader – Unlock It Already

We have probably talked more about unlocking bootloaders than any publication on the planet, but we are going deeper with our reasoning this time than just the regular fanboy, techie garbage. We actually believe that with this phone, if Moto decides to unlock it, that the world will care. You see, for 2 years now, we have talked nothing but negatively about Motorola phones because of Moto’s incessant need to appeal to Verizon’s “security” policies. However, with one little change, the world will have a field day talking about it, bringing their shiny new RAZR HD to the front of the field in a positive manner for the first time in a while. You see, everyone in the tech industry cares about bootloaders (or at least has to write about them), so if Moto (or Google) does the right thing this time around, it will be praised up and down. “The phone that finally brought about a change.”

And after that, the fanboys come in and buy it in waves. (If you do not believe that the dev community will flock to a Motorola device that is unlocked and on Verizon, then you don’t read Droid Life enough.) The importance of this crowd, is that through them and then through sites like us, this phone lives beyond a simple release week. Rather than a brief mention about the day it becomes available and then here or there until it sees an update, it instead gets featured when it’s rooted, when the first ROM is developed for it, when the first AOSP ROM is developed for it, when CyanogenMod is released for it, and so on and so forth. It continues to live in the spotlight for months, if not years just like the original Droid did and now phones like the Galaxy Nexus do.

There are those out there that like to discount the dev community, rooting and ROMs, but their importance is as great as anyone’s. It’s time that everyone starts to realize it.

Battery – Better Toss in the 3300mAh Beast

This seems like a no-brainer, but if this phone doesn’t come with the RAZR MAXX’s 3300mAh battery, Motorola is making the biggest mistake of the last few years. The RAZR HD could essentially be a complete device as long as this battery is inside it. It will have an HD screen, a top-of-the-line processor, high-end camera, on-screen navigation keys, enough RAM, Ice Cream Sandwich, and 4G LTE. Unlock the bootloader and include a battery that lasts for days and you’ve sold me and who knows how many others on it. What else could you ask for?

HD – Sell That Non-PenTile Screen Like You Mean It

We took a look at the HD screens that Motorola is putting in their Chinese phones back at CES, and from what we can tell they are non-PenTile and gorgeous. With Samsung still using a PenTile display in the new S3, we want Motorola to tell people about it. Tell people that your screen is as clear, crisp, and natural as they come. It may seem like a silly spec to sell, but look at the selling power of a display in the iPhone and new iPad. People to this day cannot stop talking about the “retina” this and that.

Old – Be Your Old Self, People Want You Back

From what we can tell, people want more than anything to have the old Motorola back. And when we say “old” we are talking about the original DROID days – the glory days. Still to this day, people look back to that device as the one that got them started in this Android game and kept them in it. Motorola did everything right there. They pushed specs to their limits, left the device open to developers, and supported it like it was their first born child. Please Motorola, do that with the RAZR HD and you will have another winner. We want to love your products again, but we need you give us some love in return. Why is it so difficult to go with the formula that brought you out of the grave the first time?

So I ask you DL Community, are you with me? If Motorola brings us back to the days of old, are you ready for it? Would you drop your current device for the RAZR HD?

  • cb2000a

    Nailed it! Make us believe again Moto! DROP THE BOOTLOADER!

  • Tom Snyder

    I WANT THIS NOW im paying full price IDC


  • Bootloader – Unlock It Already,but this is the first….

  • Waiting for it…SAMOLED A HD VS IPS HD, which one is your like?

  • Yeah, that’s still not enough to make me want it. Ever. The Droid was a great product. It had a lot of heart, but heart doesn’t get the job done. As for everything afterwards? Motoblur was enough to make me never, ever look back. I’ll wait for the Nexus phones. If I’m on a 2 year contract, I don’t want to stop getting updates after the first update.

  • Azuric

    Sitting on the fence as hard as I can that all this comes true before Big Red forces my hand with the shared data plans

  • Taglogical

    Oh hey sweet this article’s comments turned into another Gnex Fanboi Frenzy… again… yay.

    Some of you are doing it wrong though… When a Gnex Fanboi feels buyers remorse, the proper response is to post endlessly in non-Nexus threads flaming Motorola because Verizon delays updates.

    Bringing us back, YES, DL I would pay full retail to be part of such a tasty phone’s inevitable developer community.

  • Prickee

    It’s soo funny reading people going back and forth Nexus vs Razr and so on…Get what ever phone you like and leave it at that. Just stupid to me. I love my Nexus and wife loves her Razr and sister will never leave her !phone 4s. So am I gonna say my Nexus/Razr/!phone 4s is better that the others…..NO!

  • Motorola’s problems for last year’s results have less to do with locked bootloaders, and more to do with being painfully late on the Bionic when other carriers were getting their LTE phones out the door first. That was really important to Motorola for the second big reason, which is that most of their phones (60%, according to latest financials) are sold in North America. They are really dependent on the North American carriers. Samsung for one has done a much better job picking up the pieces left behind by Nokia in Europe.

    A solid Razr HD launch can help Motorola, but they also need to increase their non NA market share.

  • I would go and pay full retail price on release morning to get this phone. Jack it up to $900 and I’d still buy it. If Moto makes a phone that is as revolutionary as you’ve described, then no manufacturer in the world can compete.

  • sporttster

    I’ll tell ya…I really like my Razr and am for the most part glad I chose it. The biggest thing that irks me is what was said….locked BL and small battery. Fix just those two things and you’ve got a beast on your hands. Add in the HD Razr’s better screen and camera and man….it would be unbeatable. I just don’t think they’re smart enough or wise enough to do it. Maybe Google wll change that but probably not immediately, hence the reason I think this is still screwed up and won’t be a change from what they’ve put out.

  • coolhand

    I had the original Droid and I loved it. I have the Nexus now and I love it with one exception, the phone signal is terrible. I ‘ve tried numerous roms and have the latest radio and nothing seems to help. In my opinion Motorola has always had the best signal. With that said, yes I would give the Razor HD a go.

  • InyRules

    I’d definitely consider this. I remember the MOTO phones of my youth fondly. I had a flip phone that was essentially unbreakable, and I have nothing but good memories for my SLVR.

  • Unlocked bootloader? Not going to happen — the phone was designed before Google took over, and a whole bunch of Motorola bureaucrats are still there. I hope I am wrong, but the best we can wish for is for Moto to release an unlock tool after the launch.

    MAXX size battery — they would be stupid not to do it, but who knows. Remember, the phone was designed before Google took over. Motorola may have a plan to “SURPRISE” us with a Droid RAZR HD Maxx 1 months after the Droid RAZR HD is released. I just wish Dennis Woodside won’t “accidentally” get his hands on a prototype of the RAZR that a engineer is toying with a “New Idea” and says, “It’s a genius idea, let’s bring it to the market.”

  • Everything about this phone, if the rumors hold, will be beastly. 720p LCD screen (no pentile or burn-in problems), S4 proc and LTE, and potentially ridiculous battery life if it pairs the MAXX battery with the more-efficient S4 modem.

    But if it doesn’t have a microSD slot, and Verizon forces me off of unlimited, it’s no sale. I’ll need lots of storage for Google Music, to compensate for losing the ability to stream music without worrying about data caps.

  • Liquidretro

    I agree that this would be a big seller, I would strongly consider it for my next phone despite not having the more efficient LTE modems we are all waiting for. Why? Motorola has great build quality. Their phones just feel well built. They are not some plastic Samsung phone, Motorola phones also work as phones. Call quality is great. Unlocked would be amazing so it gets some developer support. Void my warranty, that’s fine its a risk I am willing to take. I trust the devs. Lets hope the camera is on par or better then the iPhone 4s. Lets face it the P&S Camera is nearly dead. I don’t care about MP, I care about speed and quality.

  • I had an OG Droid, then got all exited and got the DROID3. Thankfully on the Gnex now. After the fiasco that was the DROID3, I don’t think I would go back to Moto. No ICS on a dual core phone. Camera lag like nobodies business. Other major, MAJOR issues. I just wouldn’t be able to trust Moto at this point. Any of their phones could turn out to be the next DROID3. Or God forbid a DROIDX2.

  • Do this, and then unlock the bootloader on the D4, and I’d snap one up in a heartbeat.

  • Love my MAXX, but I’ll be damned if I don’t jump all over this, provided they get the battery and display right. Bootloader I don’t care to much about, but I understand why many do, and the camera is just a bonus. TAKE MY MONEY!!!

    • Yes, a locked-bootloader means nothing to me; likely also to the vast phone-wielding public as well. I have the MAXX too, since January, and it’s proven to be an invaluable aid. A significantly improved version of the MAXX, as the RAZR HD hints to be, would be the phone to see me well into 2013.

  • azndan4

    It is going to take a lot for me to consider buying another Motorola phone, even if it is unlocked. Motorola has a well deserved reputation for not listening to their customers desires and repeatedly lying and breaking promises.

  • Dave Maillet

    Here’s the problem….Motorola will have to prove to their potential customers that they won’t leave their phone behind in the dust as soon as the next best thing comes out. Take a look at the last year’s worth of releases: Droid X2 (5/19/11), Droid 3 (7/7/11), Droid Bionic (9/8/11), Droid RAZR (11/11/11), Droid RAZR Maxx (1/26/2012), Droid 4 (2/10/2012).
    Every two months Moto releases a new phone that makes the previous one obsolete….why should I buy Moto when I know 2 months later, it’ll be forgotten about?

    • I don’t think you know the definition of the word “obsolete”.

      • InyRules

        It would kinda be “obsolete” in the eyes of the average customer. They have just purchased a phone for $300 (the default Verizon price for new, high spec phones), committed to a 2 year contract, and within 2 months, their phone is no longer the “latest and greatest.” I get what you’re saying about the obsolete definition, but that’s the way average consumers will see it as. “My phone isn’t the best anymore? Oh man, this thing sucks, I want the newest one with the better battery!” And that release date from from the RAZR to the RAZR MAXX was really a kick to the teeth.

        • Yes for RAZR to RAZR Maxx, but it certainly doesn’t apply to RAZR Maxx until now, and it definitely doesn’t apply to the Droid 4 or X2, neither of which were ever the “latest and greatest” $300 phone.

          The RAZR to RAZR Maxx issue simply shows the problem with non-replaceable batteries. They’re the same phone. If it were a regular phone, they would have simply sold it as a replacement extended battery.

          Would you have rather that they never come out with a longer battery version? Would you rather that they have delayed the RAZR release (even though they’d miss Christmas.)

          Having the RAZR Maxx released on 11/11/11 was *never* an option. The alternative, to avoid the short product cycles, was no initial RAZR at all, and people from 11/11/11 until the end of January 2012 being stuck with the Bionic or other phones or else having to wait two months.

          • InyRules

            If they were just going to release the MAXX 2 months later, what was the point of releasing the RAZR? I say the RAZR MAXX should have been the only RAZR to be released. It’s not like they made a split second decision to release the MAXX. And why couldn’t the MAXX be released on 11/11? I do agree with you on the issue of non-replaceable batteries, though.

    • Doesn’t the fact that it’s already been five months since the last flagship phone with no release data already prove something?

      The Droid 4 didn’t make any of the RAZRs obsolete, it’s the slide out keyboard replacement for the Droid 3, 6 months later. The sliders/physical keyboard phones are a completely different competing form factor.

      The DroidX2 is a non-LTE phone, and doesn’t compete with the flagship phones. It was never promoted nor priced as a top-tier flagship.

      The other complaints are legitimate, and are chalked up to the Bionic being delayed and re-engineered (pushing its date later, towards the RAZR release), and then the RAZR probably being rushed out before the Christmas season combined with lots of people complaining about the battery life on all LTE phones.

      Even so, I really don’t worry all that much about phones constantly getting better. Do you really find it a problem that the pace of innovation is too quick?

  • CORYK333

    Dope op-ed Kellen, shame i just had to scroll through 60 “my gnex rules/my gnex sucks” comments before i got to something relevant

    • Greyhame

      @coryk333 – my sentiments exactly.

  • aaCharley

    If this is configured as a MAXX HD Unlocked, why would it get more Droid Life fan followwing than the HTC Rezound? Sure, it would be a great phone. But I don’t understand why it would have such immediate Droid Life love and mention when the excellent phone HTC Rezound was noted and then little mentioned.

  • Motorola Razr V MT887 release in China. Link http://imageshack.us/f/853/motorolarazrvmt887.jpg/

  • Knlegend1

    Wow this article sounds like a comment from the fanboys lol. With that being said I agree with the battery thing and that’s about it.

  • LordStickMax

    i just got a galaxy nexus and i would upgrade in a second if it met these requirements. hell i almost got a razr maxx but the nexus won for those reasons.

  • Gremlin Flasher

    Sure, if Droid Life decides to buy me the phone off contract, yeah, I might consider switching to it. But in the end I still wouldn’t personally choose a phone that doesn’t have a removable battery, no matter how high of a capacity it is. I’m doing fine with my current phone, and seeing how Whorerizon keeps trying to get rid of features and add on new charges. Well, I don’t see myself upgrading anytime soon, if ever. I’ll most likely just downgrade to either my Droid or my Droid X. Or buy an older phone on Ebay or Amazon.

  • It would take a lot for me to seriously consider a Motorola phone, but a 4.5″ 720P screen with that gigantic battery would make me at least check it out.

    Hopefully they’ll do something about that design aesthetic as well.

  • MentatYP

    Interesting point about unlocked bootloader providing continuing publicity as ROMs are released for the phone. Never thought about that, but I think it’s a good point.

    For me if the Razr HD is 720p with a non-Pentile screen and includes the 3300 MAXX battery I’m on board for sure. I’m not a big ROM enthusiast so I can live with a locked bootloader but I’d be happy to see it unlocked. Not a deal breaker for me personally though.

  • TrojanFan

    For those complaining about their “crappy” Galaxy Nexus I highly recommend you root and throw on the AOKP rom. I was pretty sick of my non-rooted Nexus, but finally got tired of waiting for Verizon to push out the next ICS update, and decided to root over the weekend. Wow! AOKP is a breath of fresh air. It is seriously like having a different phone. Battery issues are a thing of the past — no more random reboots. I couldn’t be happier, and wish I had done this months ago. So take the plunge — I promise you won’t be disappointed.

    • InyRules

      While I would agree with you, this post isn’t about the Nexus…

      • TrojanFan

        True… and my apologies for straying off topic. I just thought I would offer some friendly advice to the hoards in the comments section who seem fed up with their Galaxy Nexus and Verizon. After all, that’s what these online communities are for — helping one another out.

  • Faber

    Hate moto, but if they did it right: id buy one.

  • jbo

    Verizon just doesn’t get good reception at my work (Tampa????).. getting dropped even if the phone were free, with a genie and three wishes. Worthless

    • But if you had a gene with three wishes you could wish for better Verizon service #problemsolved

  • Auustin

    So far i love everything about the phone, its designed to compete with the nexus a gs3, but they need the bigger batter to have the adge. They REALLY and i mean really need a huge marketing campaign, make it so i cant turn on a tv for more then 30 min without seeing a commerical about, and finnally push the screen like you never have before ; pentile is getting old

  • BlueLetter

    None of those Chinese models looked like they were packing the Maxx’s battery, and I hope they don’t go with some plain jane HD display. There’s no point in HD if your viewing angles are crap, it washes out in sunlight like some devices whose names I won’t mention.
    I’d rather they just go with another AMOLED screen, but try to do something about that damn green tinge this time.

  • Only if its a Droid 4 HD. I gotta have the keyboard, just like the OG Droid did.

  • trumpet444

    Seems like this comment section has been hijacked by complaining GNex owners. I get it, some of you have problems. Replace it or find a solution on some forums. Just shut up about it already

    • MKader17

      More like GNex haters. It’s too bad because this was a good article and brings up valid points

  • N8shon

    I love my Razr Maxx. If the Razr HD ends up being as much of an improvement as it looks to be, I’ll be selling my Maxx and buying on of these. I’m glad to see Motorola stepping it up yet again on the hardware side.

  • adam

    I JUST upgraded to the Maxx -____-

  • Raven

    If they make a Droid 5 keyboard slider version of it then yes, definitely. I know they are down in popularity, but there is still a core group of people that need a physical keyboard or they won’t even look at a phone, no matter how good the specs are.

    • MyStroPro

      I know this sounds utterly silly, but I’m practically as fast as I was with the new keys on the latest Swype betas. Honestly, Swype features have come a long way (even if you are using third party swype styled keyboards). I’d say give it a try for a week and see what you think after.

      I used to be one of the “must have keyboard” types, but I left that with my Razr and haven’t missed a step.

  • jdbarn

    I love my GNex and have had no issues with it but everyone knows Moto makes the best phones at lease when they don’t have their head stuck where the sun don’t shine. If the Razr HD lived up to these high expectations I would definitely get one.

  • Ahku Droid

    Hell to the yes. Unlocked HD version of the MAXX would be incredible. Double the RAM too for some future proofing.

  • cooksta32676

    Don’t give it a huge bezel, keep the device usable with one hand with a 4.6-4.7″ screen. We don’t need Zac’s phone from saved by the bell. A tad bigger than the DX would be perfect.

  • Steve Douglas

    If they unlocked their bootloader, and had the specs noted. I would love to have this in my hands. No bootloader, no interest.

  • r0lct

    I agree, as a former DX owner I would go back to Moto in a heartbeat for a Nexus device or at least an unlocked bootloader if it was better than the rest. I’m not a fan or Samsung or any oem, just of Nexus or unlocked bootloaders. Whomever has the best device out unlocked I’m ready to buy.

  • Great point on the battery, but I have come to really enjoy the ability to swap to a full battery on the run. I can get OEM batteries for $5 on eBay and switch them out without having to sit and wait for my phone to charge. All this is made easier with a separate battery charger that came with my Costco bundle.

  • fbrn

    I completely agree with everything you have said. Have refused to buy Motorola since they locked down the bootloader. And I have convinced everyone that I can to stay away from Motorola for this reason. Which granted I am only one person but I know for a fact that over 15 people have chosen other phones because of me telling them about the locked bootloader and how little you can do to customize beyond what it is shipped with.

  • hfd1113


  • I don’t know if I trust motorola being I have a long forgotten Droid 3 sitting here that was outdated and replaced about 2 months after I bought it. It’s junk, can’t even keep the navigation working on it and have had 3 or 4 replacements by now.

    • LionStone

      What were you thinking bro? 4G phones were out already and you chose a 3G phone that you MUST have known was gonna be outdated and left behind. Don’t blame Moto for a choice you made…sorry 🙁

  • PaulSchroeder

    Great points, Kellex. Someone send this to Moto Mobility