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

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Jared Newman / TIME

As of late Tuesday afternoon, 32 hours after unplugging the Droid Razr Maxx from its power source, the battery was down to 20 percent. At this rate, it should have no problem getting through the rest of the day.

By comparison, this kind of use on my Samsung Galaxy S II knocks the phone’s battery well under 50 percent by bedtime, and leaving the phone unplugged for two consecutive days is out of the question. And that’s without a 4G LTE network draining the battery.

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Battery life is going to fluctuate based not only on how you use it, but where it’s located and whether it’s ever searching for a signal. But in my neck of Cincinnati, Ohio, the Droid Razr Maxx’s battery life was outstanding, staying strong for two work days in a row.

But is it a good phone?

Of course, monster battery life doesn’t mean much if the phone isn’t any good.

I don’t dislike the Razr Maxx–I’m a fan of Android in general–but I’m not crazy about Motorola’s user interface, which it slaps on top of Android 2.3. It’s jerkier than Samsung’s TouchWiz interface, and it’s a little on the slow side when transitioning between menus, despite the phone’s dual-core processor. Unlike TouchWiz and HTC’s Sense interface, you can’t customize how many home screens are available, nor can you access quick settings through the phone’s notification bar. Motorola’s saving grace is a built-in app called “Smart Actions,” which conserves battery by toggling settings like Wi-Fi or GPS in areas where you don’t typically use them. But with this phone’s battery life, Smart Actions aren’t really necessary.

The Droid Razr Maxx is also a wide phone for its 4.3-inch screen size, thanks to a thick bezel along its vertical edges. Considering the big battery inside, the phone stays thin, measuring 0.35 inches at its thinnest point, and tapering up to a slightly thicker hump where its camera is situated. (That camera, an 8-megapixel shooter with flash, takes crisp pictures and has a speedy shutter.) Although the phone is comfortable to hold, it’s a bit tough to operate with one hand. Also, a word of advice to Motorola: No more kevlar coatings on the backside of your handsets. It scratches under a thumbnail and won’t stop bullets anyway.

A couple other nitpicks: The Razr Maxx uses a 960-by-540 resolution PenTile display, a type of pixel matrix despised by screen quality diehards. You may not notice the jagged edges and slight discolorations unless you look at the screen up close, but once you’ve seen PenTile’s problems, they’re hard to unsee. Also, my review unit only showed battery life percentage in multiples of 10. I’m told this is not a common issue, but haven’t been able to test other phones to find out.

If you’re looking for a Verizon Wireless Android phone and battery isn’t everything, you can do better than the Razr Maxx. Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus and HTC’s Rezound offer crisper displays and better software. But what good is a smartphone if it doesn’t get through the day? For power users–especially those who might root the phone and tweak its interface–the Droid Razr Maxx provides fast data speeds and an assurance that it won’t die on the commute home, even if you use the heck out of it. It’s about time a phone maker realized how important that can be.

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