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Motorola XT925 Razr HD LTE

Fido started offering this phone at a very reasonable price. I was off contract and they basically offered it to me for free on a promotion in exchange for a 2 yr contract so I went with it. I took a little while to decide once I ordered it as to whether I’d made the right choice (before opening it). But in the end decided to go ahead. My conundrums were:
1) Was Fido the right carrier for me? I contemplated switching to Bell/Rogers/Telus/Kodoo. In the end none of them could come close to the plan I was on. I got on an old iPhone plan and have stayed with it ever since. 6G of data has a certain comfort to it. You never worry about data. You just do your thang
2) The new LG Optimus G has been getting fabulous write ups. I must say though, I’m skeptical about LG. They have botched a number of devices lately and a colleague has one he’d love to just throw some days. But the Quad core processor is tempting. The HTC One X+ also looked tempting also with a quad core. In the end I decided there’s always going to be something new. That’s what Kijiji is for! 🙂
3) Lately Motorola has been moving to non-replaceable batteries. I am accustomed to carrying a spare battery at all times. Frightening how often I have had to use the spare battery. Unfortunately the LG Optimus G also is a non-removable battery so this became a moot point.

So I opened the box. The box itself is quite plain. Nothing to get you excited. Inside you find a headset (with no controls for play/pause or volume or anything) that seems a little cheesy albeit comfortable, the phone, and a nice mini travel charger. Right off the bat the device feels solid. The non removable back means this is one solid phone. It’s not light by any means. The design seems well done but as usual I wish the companies would make the sides and back of the device a little less slippery to make it less easy to drop. How hard would that be? Why do I want to go out and have to buy some kind of a cover to put over it?

This phone uses the newer form factor micro SIM. What this means is once activated I can not move my SIM to any of my older phones. A quick trip to ebay and I ordered a micro to normal SIM converter. Stupid but what can you do.

The SIM is on a tray that slides out from the side. Reminded me of an iPhone. The tray also covers the uSD slot. This is a really dumb design. What it means is your back to needing to power off the device to remove the uSD card. and to make matters even worse you need to carry a tool that allows you to remove the tray and eject/insert the uSD card. Now if I decide to keep this phone the first thing I would be doing would be to cut this tray so it doesn’t cover the uSD slot. This has to be stupidest idea I’ve seen in a while. Motorola, WTF were you thinking?

The Buttons on the phone are power (nicely knurled so you can easily find it) volume up and down and that’s it. There’s a micro USB charging port and a micro HDMI output. Motorola has done this a couple times and I really like it. No more proprietary cables or pig tails like Samsung have. It’s a standard cable.

And I have to say, Motorola has finally done the HDMI output right. Even better than Samsung. The screen immediately rotated to fit HDMI. I had to mess with aps to do this on the Samsung. The home, options, recent apps and back buttons are soft buttons so they rotate properly on the screen and are selectable with a mouse. Wow. This is the first time I’ve seen this. Bluetooth keyboard properly supports options, home and search. The only miss is that bluetooth mouse is only 1 button. Almost perfect. Another miss is that they shut the screen off when plugged into HDMI. I downloaded an app called Screen Timeout to fix that issue. I would say hands down, to date, this is the best HDMI experience I’ve seen on a phone. Pity almost no one will ever notice. The number of folks that use this I suspect is limited to uber geeks like me 🙂

Bluetooth was sadly unreliable on multiple headset with my S2. So far it’s been better on this one. Like other Motorola phones I’ve played with this one adds a message to the screen of the bluetooth stereo when a text message comes in. On my Ford Sync it even shows the name of the person (if it’s in the phonebook) that sent the text. The read text message on my Ford Sync works correctly with this phone. Doesn’t on the Samsungs for some reason. The streaming audio still does not show the name of the song or band so this may be a missing function on my version of Ford Sync. Bluetooth tethering is back (lost it when I downgraded to Gingerbread on my S2) and is compatible with my Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 Plus! Yay. It also stays enabled so you can initiate it at any time from the remove end without having to pull out the phone. It also seems to stay connected (while on my S2 it disconnected after a period of time) This form of tethering is slower than WIFI hotspot but also draws much less power. The Bluetooth tether does reset to off each time after a reboot. No idea why they did that.

Finally Motorola have added support for a class 10 uSD card. This hasn’t worked on past Motorolas. At last!

Motorola has added some minor improvements to standard android. The home screen includes some animated round icons that includes the battery status, weather and date/time. The homescreen even includes supports for folders, a nice touch. The Music player is the standard Google Play Music, so basic. I have played with two other web based music lately Songza and AudioGalaxy. I’m disappointed none of them include the ability to play local music that would give you one app for all music. There’s no added features (in Google Play music), no band info, no song recognition, no ability to share a song, no links into social networking, nothing. Very basic. The album view especially in landscape is quite nice and very smooth even with large collections as I have. I can only hope Google will eventually add some time to making this a better ap. I’ve had the occasional issue with the ap just simply refusing to start playing, and I have no idea why. And the only fix I’ve found to date is a reboot.

The movie recorder is quite good and is capable of full 1080p movies. You can even use the light with the movie recorder. Nice! Geo tagging is also supported for pictures and movies. Stored content can be put on the internal storage or the SD card. Still no support for any of the cloud storage built in but you can add an app.

Motorola has added owner info that is displayed on the lock screen, in case you loose your phone! Of course I use Where’s my droid for more active location of your lost phone!

The phone when plugged into USB mounts itself as an MTP rather than as drives. And unfortunately the work around for Android 2 (which is to turn USB debugging on and then it mounts as a normal drive) doesn’t work. Seems ICS removed that.

Motorola allows over the air firmware updates. no upgrade to Jelly bean for now. Suppose to be coming.

Motorola includes something they called smartactions. An ap that can be downloaded from the play store. It allows you to automate tasks like changing volumes and the like based on triggers. Triggers can be location, time battery status etc and can then change data status, wifi, bluetooth etc. A nice little ap that can replace a lot of other aps. I didn’t find the location based trigger to work well at all. It kept triggering. I like the way Y5 uses cell tower to detect location based WIFI triggers. I wish smart actions did the same. The volume control only allows you to control the ringer volume. A miss that leaves me scratching my head with another of those WTF was Motorola thinking?

The menuing sytem includes the ability to easily uninstall aps from the menu system as well as support for folders of aps on the main screen. The menu screen does not wrap around like it does on the Samsung. I like that and miss it. It does however move to the left into a settings screen that is handy and to the right which allows you to add new screens to your homescrens as well as organize them.

I am so thrilled to have a notification LED back! The vibrate on this is so much better than on any of the Samsungs!

Samsung have focused on DLNA to make it as easy as possible using an app called Allshare. Motorola use to have an app simply called DLNA. On this incantation they seem to have hidden it. By default it is turned off from a share point of view. I found it under Settings Wireless Networks More Media share settings. You need to enable media share, ease off on security settings and select what you want to share. When playing a movie you can simply click on the icon and select the destination from within Google Play Videos. I couldn’t for the life of me find where to enable DLNA output on Google Play music though. The built in file explorer includes the ability to surf windows shares but I didn’t find it fast enough to support playback of videos over the file share.

I was unsuccessful at getting my Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 plus to connect over WIFI direct with this phone. VERY disappointing. I eventually after rebooting both got them to connect but still couldn’t figure out how to start a transfer from the Moto.

USB OTG worked (I’m shocked, this is the first Motorola to support this) using a standard microUSB OTG cable with USB mice (one button only, same as bluetooth mice) and flash drives working properly!

I’m all about the accessories. Car dock, home dock, extra batteries etc. Unfortunately, there are non at all for this device. Odd the older XT910 has a car and home dock. Pooh.

Of all the phones I’ve played with in the last little while this one is by far the pickiest in terms of working with chargers. A number of my standard microUSB charges will not charge this device. A couple of them would maintain but not charge and some of them were just plain ignored.

Size of screen is a real personal thing. It has to do with so many factors. Android requires you to be able to reach both top (for the notification bar) and bottom (for the options, home, and back button). When a screen is too big for your hand you have to shuffle the phone in your hand and risk dropping it when trying to do one handed operations. This is made even worse by the slippery surfaces most phones have on their backs. For me the 4″ form factor is good in the hand but a bit small for reading off of. The 4.5″ is just a little too big. I had to shuffle a bit in the hand. The screen on this phone is 4.7″ and I find myself shuffling it more often, and even using two hands. It’s wonderful for things like GPS and nice for reading ebooks. As the screens get bigger and bigger I find myself using my 7″ tablet less and less.

There’s much todo made about the battery on this phone. It’s big at 2530 MaH vs 1850 MaH for the S2. They refer to all day battery life. Now the battery life on this phone is good, but to say all day is an exaggeration. And the issue becomes one of the fact that once it’s dead you can’t just pop another one in (because it’s not replaceable) your waiting a VERY long time for it to be recharged. So your either without a phone or tied to a power outlet.

Motorola put the speaker on the back of the phone. And when it is covered by laying on it or in a carrying case the sound doesn’t make it’s way out very well. It’s easy to miss notifications. Given the notification light is on the front (HTC put one on the front and back) you end up needing to decide if you want to hear the notification or see it.

Performance on this device is so so. Disappointing given the dual 1.5G. I would say it’s slower than the S2. There are occasional pregnant pauses. Brain farts. This phone is far less instantaneous although in some areas like scrolling music and the like which are smoother.

So all in all this is a great step forward for Motorola. I hate the inability to change the battery. Compared to the S2 this phone is better in a number of ways. For now, until the Jelly Bean update comes out for the S2 (rumored to be end of January) I’ll be sticking with this phone. Like all devices on the market right now the device is a collection of annoyances, and bugs. The one you stick with is the one that irritates you the least.

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January 13, 2013 - Posted by | Android

7 Comments »

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