Closer Look: DROID RAZR MAXX HD
The front surface of the DROID RAZR MAXX HD doesn’t give off any really obvious clues to its status. The RAZR design theme is not radically different from the previous generation, and the new HD versions are definitely an evolutionary step forward. Comparing them side-by-side will reveal the larger screen size, the smaller border between the active screen area and the edge of the device, the swapping of the touch controls from the bottom of the unit up onto the screen area, and slightly less of a taper at the top and bottom. The net effect is basically more screen, and less of everything else. The three capacitive buttons at the bottom of the active area are used for Back, Home and Recent Applications. The Verizon logo is there to remind you that these new DROID RAZR HD phones are only available on this provider network, at least in the USA.
The back of the new RAZR HD models is where you’ll see the biggest changes. The Kevlar covering, which used to be inset into the metal frame, now extends over the full surface of the rear panel, and it also wraps around the edges. This makes for a very neat, seamless look, and it’s also very comfortable to hold. The Kevlar surface has a unique feel that’s soothing to the tough, yet surprisingly rigid and tough. The rounded contour on the rear edges enhances that effect and makes it one of the more comfortable phones to hold, in my experience. This is especially true while using it as a computing device, where you tend to cradle the device in your non-dominant hand. When using it as a phone without a separate earpiece, people tend to grasp the edges more tightly, as they hold it up close to their ear.
The edge of the RAZR MAXX HD has a definite trim ring around all four sides, that’s metallic and finished in a lighter shade of grey than the rest of the phone. It’s not silver, by any stretch of the imagination, so it doesn’t stick out visually, but it does make the edges better defined. Since the RAZR MAXX HD is about 1mm thicker than the regular RAZR HD, the trim ring could have been the place to make up that difference, but that’s not the case. It’s the Kevlar back panel that’s deeper on the MAXX version, which I think adds to the ergonomics of the device, as I mentioned above. This bold choice in materials is more than just a gimmick to add a bit of visual flair, it offers a real-world improvement in usability, in my opinion.
All of the hardwired user controls and connectors are integrated into the metal trim ring on the sides of the phone. On the right side, as you’re looking at the screen, are the On/Off button towards the top, and a rocker switch nearer the center, which is mostly used for volume control. The two buttons have distinctive textures; the power button is ridged in the center section, which improves traction, and helps your finger to find it. This is the button you’ll be using most often, and the texture definitely makes it a bit easier to find and manipulate than the version on the previous DROID RAZR phone. On the left side are all the ports, two exposed, and two hidden. At the bottom are the HDMI and USB ports, with the latter being used for charging duties. Just off the center line is a small drawer/cover plate that cover up the slots for the SIM card and the microSD card. The SIM card fits into a little tray that is integrated into the cover plate, and the microSD slot is a standard “push it in until it clicks” variety. The tiny round hole in the cover is for the special removal tool which is supplied with the phone, and it will probably respond to a standard paper clip, as well. The 3.5mm stereo headphone jack is along the top edge, which is where it ought to be, IMHO. On the bottom edge are two cross-head screws which are probably the first step in disassembly of the unit. We’re not going there today, even though I do have a penchant for taking things apart…..
Now that we’ve seen what it looks like, let’s take some time to review the main features that set the DROID RAZR MAXX HD apart from all the other Smartphones on the market.