Putting the Motorola Droid Razr Maxx’s Battery Life to the Test

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Jared Newman / TIME

As Verizon Wireless tries to push a broad lineup of 4G LTE smartphones on its customers, the company omits an important fact: LTE destroys battery life. This may improve some day, when tech companies figure out how to optimize their hardware for the faster network, but for now the only way to solve the 4G LTE battery problem is through brute force.

That’s where Motorola’s Droid Razr Maxx comes in. A follow-up to the Droid Razr, which only launched a couple months ago, the Maxx packs a battery that’s nearly twice as large, at the expense of added weight and thickness. The payoff? Up to six hours of streaming 4G LTE video, or 21 hours of talk time–or so Motorola claims.

(MORE: The Coolest Smartphones of CES 2012)

Here’s what I found after testing the battery life:

Droid Razr Maxx Battery Test #1: Streaming 4G LTE Video

At CES, Motorola Senior Product Marketing Manager Jeff Hadden told me that the Maxx could stream six hours of video on Verizon’s 4G LTE network. On any other phone, you’d be lucky to get through a single film, so I was eager to try this out.

After one movie–approximately two hours in length–with Wi-Fi off and 4G LTE on, the Maxx’s battery meter read 50 percent. A second two-hour movie killed the battery about 15 minutes short of the credits.

So in my testing, Motorola’s 4G LTE streaming claims didn’t hold up on the Razr Maxx. Still, the phone’s ability to stream even one movie and still have half a tank of battery left was impressive. With that much streaming video, the bigger issue isn’t battery life, but data consumption; by the time the phone ran out of juice, it had consumed more than 5 GB of data, which is enough to incur overage charges on a tiered data plan.

Droid Razr Maxx Battery Test #2: Screen On Marathon

If you use your phone for long stretches at a time, the display is usually the biggest cause of battery drain. So for my second test, I simply set the screen timeout interval to “never” and put the phone aside with Wi-Fi off and 4G LTE on. I kept activity to a bare minimum.

With the screen turned on around the clock, the Droid Razr Maxx died just under the 24-hour mark. Although this kind of use wouldn’t really happen in the real world, it shows that the phone should have no trouble staying strong during long periods of low-power use, such as web browsing or e-mail checking.

Droid Razr Maxx Battery Test #3: Normal Use

Everyone uses their smartphone differently, but for me, “normal use” includes an occasional short phone call, a half hour of streaming music as I drive to and from lunch, an hour or two of web browsing and Twitter checking and lots of standby time. For this test, I leaned a little heavier on the phone by having a 45-minute conversation, and be spending a couple hours browsing and gaming on the phone at night. I kept the 4G LTE connection on the entire time, but used Wi-Fi at home.

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