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Next Day Thoughts on the New Family of DROID RAZRs [Opinion]

Today may have been all about forked Android new Kindle Fires, but for whatever reason, I’m still thinking about the event that went down yesterday, from Motorola. There were all sorts of interesting story lines to pay attention to. We had the first ever product announcement by new CEO Dennis Woodside, some of us hoping for a surprise or two, and then a mention that this was a “new Motorola” that would return to caring about customers. It was a lot to process, but I came away with some opinions and wanted to share. 

“New” Motorola

Even if Dennis Woodside had not been on stage talking about a “new” Motorola, we all could have guessed that this was indeed a new beginning for a company desperately in need of one. Motorola is now Google-owned and has a former Google exec running the show, along with a number of hand-picked big wigs. There is no way, that going forward, there won’t be a Google influence on this company even if Google will continue to try to tell you that there won’t be. After all, Eric Schmidt opened the damn thing, talked about Google for 5 minutes, and then brought Woodside on stage. Following his intro, Woodside then mentioned Google more times that I could even keep track of.

But being “new” is something I think that we all can appreciate. Former CEO Sanjay Jha seemed to care about two or three things that no one else on the planet cared about:  locking down phones, enterprise garbage, creating a Blur database, and attempting to re-invent the wheel. It’s clear that with Woodside in control, it’s about getting devices in as many hands as possible and actually listening to customers. In order to do that, Motorola is creating devices that appeal to everyone, built with quality materials, at affordable prices, that are hackable (if you want them to be), and last a long time on a single charge.

The Devices

We were introduced to the RAZR M, RAZR HD, and RAZR MAXX HD yesterday, three phones we essentially already knew everything about. Well, we didn’t know for sure that a MAXX HD was on the way, but when it was announced, it didn’t exactly surprise anyone. All three phones look fairly impressive. They all sport the latest in high-end specs, are built with high-quality materials, and will likely hold a signal better than any other phone on Verizon’s network.

But did any of it blow our minds? If we look at the competition, it’s tough to jump up and say, “Hell yes it did!” The Galaxy S3 has all of the specs in the RAZR HD, but with double the RAM and it has been out for a couple of months now. The RAZR HD, well, it won’t be out until this winter when a new Nexus or two will arrive, along with HTC’s 1080p phone, and who knows what else.

The RAZR M is an interesting product, though. It’s affordable, has great specs, and an edge-to-edge display that helps it fit into a smaller package. If only Motorola could have taken the edge-to-edge approach to the RAZR HD, then maybe we’d be talking about something truly innovative.

So while I haven’t had my hands on any of these phones yet, after watching the press event, I’m simply left shrugging my shoulders at them. Style-wise they look OK, if you like the look of the original RAZR. I know that I can’t ever go back to qHD, so the RAZR M isn’t for me. The RAZR HD could be an option, but it won’t be out for a couple of months and by then, we’ll have so many amazing options that I’m trying to figure out if it will even be in the equation?

Developer Editions

One of the highlights to the event was the announcement that Motorola is going to care about the “tinkerers and hackers” in the Android game. They will release developer edition phones with unlockable bootloaders, since the whole hacking scene is part of the draw for many to Android. The only problem is, you can’t buy one of these at a subsidized price and will instead have to fork out anywhere from $550 to $650 for one. I appreciate there being options like this, but not everyone has $700 lying around or is willing to save up that kind of cash to spend on their next phone. Plus, at that kind of price, I can’t imagine there will be enough in the wild to create much of a developer scene. The majority of RAZR HD owners will likely buy the phone on contract at $199 and then hope that someone can root it and eventually figure out how to get recovery on there for custom ROM flashing.

Nothing will change from the scene today, but this way, Motorola and Verizon can say, “We gave you an option.” Just seems half-assed at this point. If they really want to support developers, then they should release a bootloader unlock tool for all of their phones and then make it clear that if you unlock, you void your warranty. Keep track of MEIDs that are unlocked and refuse to support warranty claims that were willing to roll the dice. That’s giving people a choice.

Odds and Ends

  • Jelly Bean Updates:  Woodside understands that the update process is broken. He talked about Jelly Bean updates coming before the end of the year for most of their phones. He also introduced a $100 credit for those that bought phones this year that won’t be upgraded to Jelly Bean. They want you to be current and are giving you an incentive to stay with Motorola.
  • Battery Life:  I really do love Motorola’s focus on battery life. Even though we are entering an era where processors are efficient enough to give you good battery life anyway, we should get even more life out of a single charge thanks to the magic that Moto is tossing into phones. The batteries are thinner, bigger, and last a hell of a lot longer. I’m still not sure why we need a RAZR HD and a RAZR MAXX HD, though. Just make one phone and call it good.
  • End of Sanjay’s Moto:  I can’t help but think that these phones were the last from former CEO Sanjay Jha. I wouldn’t be surprised if the 2013 Moto phones look and feel nothing like what we were introduced to yesterday. Since phones take months and months to plan and create, this is what Woodside and the new crew were left with, so they are trying to make the most out of them. Next year, it should get really good.

At the end of the day, I’m still excited to give these new RAZRs a spin. Official opinions can’t ever be formed after watching a live press event over YouTube. But beyond the products, I think what I’m more excited to see, is what Dennis Woodside and his crew can do with this company that we have all wanted to love for the last two years, but were unable to after watching them make horrible decision after horrible decision. Moto should have a bright future, we just need to get out of 2012 to see it.

  • postman

    Had these been available for pre-order before the end of unlimited data I would be all over one of them. As it was not, I am now using a SG3. Not unhappy but I had been with Motorola for several years and was happy.

  • thebluegod

    I sure hope there is a Jelly Bean update in store for my OG RAZR… And I wouldn’t mind if it was the last update it will have (probably will be too).

    • AnGeLFaCe777

      We will but not the bionic.

  • “on the planet”… most overused (and unnecessary) phrase on this website. Sorry, but it’s true.

  • JulianZHuang

    Even though we are entering an era where processors are efficient enough to give you good battery life anyway”

    are you serious? how come i charge my GN 2~3 times per day?

    • Exactly, my RazrMAXX (International) lasts easily 2 days, but GNexus (GSM) needs to be charged twice a day…???

    • AnGeLFaCe777

      Lol the gn was a failure.

  • MKader17

    I think that your last point is spot on; Woodside was introducing a Moto that he hadn’t controlled for long. If you think of it hat way he did a stellar job. He basically took what could have been an overlooked incremental product announcement and added excitement to it. You could see the remnants on old Moto crashing with new Google (AKA: the ackwardness of the beginning). This keynote gives me faith that Moto will get there.

    I’m still worried about the boot loader situation though. I hope the Nexus program holds strong and gains more traction with the average consumer.

  • cowdog

    I think companies like Moto would do better with fewer phones, extending models across carriers allowing for streamlined marketing. This would also allow them to focus resources on features and updates.

    I think dumping all kinds of phones on the market, with different models on different carriers is nuts. And shipping a phone with last year’s android OS is absurd. We’ve been through this before, and nothing changes.

  • Jake

    Dev edition device could become a surprise success among Unlimited plan white fisters. Wait and see!! You have to be willing to buy into this new silly billing regime to even consider subsidized prices now anyhow. And if word gets out you have a more “YOUR” device option, it’s possible even not hacking sorts who want to keep unlimited would be interested. The only issue is there won’t probably be any marketing for this option.

    • KleenDroid

      I’m not sure enough people will pay full price. I have many times and will again when the right phone comes out that I can replace my Nexus with. But until the right phone is out I doubt enough people will pay full price to make the development community intriguing enough.

  • owan

    Yawn. Boring designs with ‘me too’ hardware. The maxx’s battery is again slightly intriguing, but swap-able batteries in better designs with better hardware (GS3) make it kind of a moot point. Give me a Samsung or HTC Nexus any day… at least until Motorola makes a non-nexus phone I’d want to own first.

  • zUFC

    I disagree Kellex. These new procesors arn’t good enough to get me through the day. I use my phone for work calls and I need every once of battery life there is. People that keep the phone in pocket most of the day with occasional use, it will be fine (like mine on weekends). But during the week of normal use I (we) need MAZZ type life.

    • AnGeLFaCe777

      You have the option to get it.

  • and then make it clear that if you unlock, you void your warranty. Keep track of MEIDs that are unlocked and refuse to support warranty claims that were willing to roll the dice. That’s giving people a choice.”

    I couldn’t disagree more Kellex. The QC on just about all these manufactures is crap. heck most the time I load a new ROM to fix issues that the manufacture has failed to fix. If the radio gives out, or the display burns in (like my gnex) I shouldn’t be on the hook for it just because I loaded up CM10. Much like I shouldn’t be on the hook for my in warranty laptop’s hard drive dying because I loaded up a clean OS at some point in the past.

    I’m aware of the debate “they have no way of knowing if it broke because of the MODs or because of a design defect” Well…that’s their problem (more on that below). Let’s be real. A ROM isn’t going to break anything in the hardware…sure some may argue overclocking could…but if that has ever happened it is so rare it should be discounted completely. What loading a ROM may cause them increased support over is 2 fold.

    -People calling in for routine support, and the call center doesn’t know how to support it because it is running a custom ROM.
    —The solution to that is simple, track the MEID like you said, and deny software support to people that have it loaded. Under no circumstances should hardware warranties be revoked though

    -A person loaded up a bad ROM and bricked the phone.
    — This one is the most common, but it’s their own fault. Their custom recovery should be robust enough to be able to return a phone ot factory specifications no matter what ROM is loaded up.

    It really makes me sick to see how everyone is so willing to throw away their warranties to have access to the device we bought and paid for. What person would be willing to give up the warranty to a new car to be able to “unlock:” the engine bay?

    • I agree with you in general terms. However, people who hard-brick their device should not be covered under warranty. If you mess around with things you don’t understand (low-level radio programming, for example), and your device no longer functions, you should absolutely have to pay for repair/replacement. However, the reality has been that most companies will replace obvious or known hardware defects regardless of the state of the bootloader.

    • RoadsterHD1

      Couldn’t agree more. If the screen freaks out and gets wiggie we should be able to file a warranty claim.

  • Destroythanet

    Excellent article. We definitely agree about how incompetent Sanjay was. I just can’t believe someone actually put that moron in charge in the first place.

  • zacomaco

    great article +1

  • Alan Paone

    It always struck me as super weird that Motorola could so totally nail the OG Droid and then do the opposite for three years without ever catching on. Its still one of the best designed android phones ever, and everyone is saying “well that was wildly successful and wildly praised, how about never doing anything like it ever again”

    • AnGeLFaCe777

      You are so lost. The best designs is between the droid razr m, the droid x and the droid razr. The photon and the atrix are nice too. I’m giving the droid razr m the edge here.

      • Alan Paone

        I dunno about lost 😛 its more than just the design, too. I’m thinking of the whole package, stock, unlocked boot loader, the display, the build quality, even the marketing. The Droid had a solid, winning formula and no one is imitating it

        • AnGeLFaCe777

          The droid was one of the best Android devices. That’s one of the reasons. The droid x blew the droid out of the water specs wise.

  • yarrellray

    My Galaxy S3 and upcoming Galaxy Note 2 on Tmobile pimp slaps these exclusive Verizon devices. You gotta laugh at this Verizon junk my Galaxy S3 will have jellybean by September 30th. And my upcoming Galaxy Note 2 will launch with jellybean out the box. Motorola has got to be joking with these overpriced Lte devices. Back to the drawing board moto. Samsung rules this space.

  • cb2000a

    Next years Moto phones will be something. I think the M with it’s small bezel is a glimpse into what we can expect.

    • AnGeLFaCe777

      I really would love that a 4.3 version of the m with the hd display or a 4.7 hd edge to edge.