Motorola's Droid Razr Maxx is a smartphone breakthrough for one single reason -- battery life.
In about a week and a half of testing the Razr Maxx -- making calls, surfing the Web, checking email and using apps throughout the day -- I found myself only needing to charge the phone about once every two days.
What makes this so amazing is the Razr Maxx, like its predecessor, is a 4G smartphone with a 4.3-inch touchscreen. In fact, aside from the battery, the Razr Maxx is essentially the same phone as the original Droid Razr -- they each have the same 960 x 540 screen resolution, 1.2-gigahertz dual-core processor, 1 gigabyte of RAM, 8-megapixel/1080p rear camera and 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera. Both phones run on Google's Android Gingerbread operating system, though an upgrade to Android Ice Cream Sandwich is on the way.
No 4G phone I've ever used, and many 3G phones I've used as well, haven't been able to go two days before a charge. Motorola pulled this off by outfitting the Razr Maxx with a 3,300 mAh (milliampere-hour) battery that is just under twice the size of the original Razr's 1,780 mAh battery.
Along with a bigger battery, of course, comes a bigger phone. The Razr Maxx is 0.35 inches thick and weighs in at 5.22 ounces. The original Razr is 0.28 inches thick and weighs 4.48 ounces. Thankfully, the slick styling of the original Razr is carried over to the Razr Maxx, with a stylish and grippy kevlar-coated back and metallic grey chassis. Up front, both Razr models are covered in Corning's scratch resistant Gorilla Glass.
If you can deal with not having to have the thinnest 4G phone on the block, then there is no question -- the Razr Maxx is a better smartphone than the Razr. For this reason, I could see some early adopters of the Razr, who do value battery life, feeling pretty burned by Motorola's release of the Razr Maxx just a few months later.
While the Razr Maxx is thicker than the Razr, it's still only about as thick as an Apple iPhone 4S -- which is still a very thin phone. I found the Razr Maxx's added weight and thickness resulted in a phone that felt solid but never heavy.
Motorola claims that the Razr Maxx can hit about 21 hours of continuous talk time and 8.5 days of standby battery life -- two figures I wasn't able to reach myself in testing because I was using the phone daily and not talking nonstop for nearly a day. But the performance that I found in the Razr Maxx makes me think this would be an ideal smartphone for someone who travels or is often out of the office and doesn't have an outlet nearby at all times.
Check out my review of the original Razr for my take on the other details of these two phones -- as they really offer the same user experience.
The Droid Razr is a Verizon exclusive and sells for $299.99 on a two-year contract, with 32 gigabytes of storage (16 gigabytes built in and 16 gigabytes on an included microSD card). The original Razr, which launched at the same price and storage size, has fallen to $199.99 on a two-year contact and is now down to 16 gigabytes of storage.
[Updated Feb. 6, 9:22 a.m.: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that Droid Razr Maxx's battery was "more than double" the size of the battery in the Droid Razr. The Razr Maxx's battery is just under twice the size of the battery in the original Razr.]