A warm day in December

Even more rare than a warm day in December here in California is a bit of technology that I am amazed by. After putting up with a Droid X for 18 months, and on more than one occasion wanting to hurl it at a wall because it just took 10 seconds to switch between apps, or yet again rebooted as soon as I got in the car, turned on navigation, and drove a block from my house (this happened more than 50% of the time), I finally decided I had some options to upgrade to.

Given I wanted to actually use the phone as a phone on occasion, I wanted good voice quality. I’ve always been happy with the voice quality of motorola phones. I’ve had many of them, from a Startac to an original Razr, and then this Droid X, so tallying up the top 3 Android phones out on Verizon (or about to be), from HTC, Motorola, and Samsung, I went with the Motorola Razr.

I was impressed by the form factor, although I also recognized that the big selling point of the phone being thin, was also that the battery was going to be ultra thin, and thus have less power than I’d likely want from a phone with such a huge display. And, to match the thinness, indeed the phone weighs almost nothing. I’d personally be happy with a thicker, heavier phone that had a great battery life, but hey, the billboards wouldn’t be nearly as eye-catching.

The display is bright, and quite impressive, as AMOLED displays tend to be. And, it’s huge. Slightly larger than my Droid X, which was already vying to be a small tablet.

But, what impressed me was the speed. Everything happens instantly. The longest wait is for the camera to launch and be ready to shoot, which is a constant 2 seconds. Up to 3 seconds, if I’m using a 3rd party app. Other than that almost imperceptable delay, which is still faster than my Panasonic Lumina camera, everything else launches immediately, and moving between apps is also instantanous. Given the minimum 3-5 second delay on my Droid X to switch contexts, or even just return to the launcher app, this is almost magical.

Motorola also has done a much better ob on their bloatware, and having apps that are actually quite functional. I was very impressed when I first started the native music app, and saw the lyrics start scrolling by (sort of) in time with the music. The stock launcher works really well, and some of the widgets are better looking, and more functional than the ones I’d been using from the market. The Droid X had background tasks that ran constantly, for instance trying to hook up to every social network every second or two, even though I’d given it no creditials (this from the debug log I watched with Eclipse). The Razr doesn’t do these things. It’s one of those things that really encourages you that the team learned from their mistakes. 

The one thing that can be improved is battery life, and time to recharge. For that, the benchmark is without a doubt my iPhone 4. Although I’ve turned off AT&T service, which does improve battery life a little, I still can easily eek out 2 days from one charge on my iPhone. Getting through one day of hard use wasn’t even an issue with the iPhone.

Getting through breakfast to lunch on the Razr with frequent use doesn’t appear to be an easy thing to accomplish. The primary culprit appears to be 4G data (and naturally the huge display). Turning 4G off seems to extend battery life quite a bit. Given that Verizon’s LTE network is feeding me at 15-20Mbps, keeping it turned off until I’m downloading or browsing, then turning it on when I have a Need For Speed, seems to be the best way to make it through a stint without power. I’m more than willing to do a little hoop jumping for the astounding speeds 4G provides when use it.

At first, I was disappointed the Droid Razr didn’t have a removable battery, but my Droid X had a removable battery, and instead of paying $50-80 for an extended life battery, I opted for other charging methods. I realized I wasn’t willing to through away money on an extended battery that would only work with one phone, given phones only have a 12-24 month life. So, when I upgraded phones, I’d have an extra battery, and an obsolete phone worth less than the extended battery cost alone.

So, I opted for a Minty Boost from Adafruit, and a Duracell USB charger to carry with me for evenings out, or weekends when I wouldn’t be near power to keep things fully charged.

I’ll do an update in a couple months to see if I’m still entralled, but it hasn’t been since the original iPhone that I’ve been this enamored with a piece of technology which just seemed to get most everything right.