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Droid Razr HD vs. Galaxy S3


October 11, 2012

How does Motorola's latest stand up to Samsung's leading Galaxy S3?

How does Motorola's latest stand up to Samsung's leading Galaxy S3?

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Last year, Motorola brought a familiar brand back from the dead. The Razr moniker, famous for a legion of feature flip-phones from the mid-2000s, was revived and updated for the age of smartphones. The original Razr (Droid Razr in the US) smartphone was a super-thin, high-powered LTE handset, and its companion – the Droid Razr Maxx – added great battery life. Sales were good, with the Razr Maxx reportedly outselling the iPhone 4S at Verizon for a period earlier this year.

After the release of Samsung's Galaxy S III, though, the Razr line got lost in the shuffle. Now Moto returns with its first true follow-ups: the (Droid) Razr HD and the (Droid) Razr Maxx HD. How do the two sequels compare to Android's King, the Galaxy S3?


The Razr isn't so razor-thin anymore - but it's not exactly chunky either.

When Motorola released the original Droid Razr, it was billed as the thinnest smartphone ever. At 7.1 mm (discounting its hump), it broke new ground. Unfortunately, squeezing all of those high-powered components – and LTE – into such a svelte package compromised battery life.

Moto is determined to avoid releasing another battery hog, as the Razr HD is thicker than its predecessor – a rarity in the world of personal technology. Gone is the hump and the unprecedented razor-thin design. The Razr HD is beefier than the iPhone 5, and only a hair thinner than the Galaxy S III. The Razr Maxx HD, meanwhile, is almost a full millimeter thicker than its cousin.


There are much lighter phones on the market than the new Razrs.

In addition to adding some girth, the Razr HD also puts on some weight. Both the Razr HD and Razr Maxx HD pack on nearly 20 g (0.7 oz) each over their predecessors. The standard model is 13 g (0.45 oz) heavier than the Galaxy S3, with the Maxx adding 24 g (0.84 oz) of extra heft over the S3.


The Razr HDs continue the trend of supersized Android displays.

At least on paper, the two displays are similar. Samsung's is a hair larger, while the Razr's has slightly higher resolution.

Though their resolution and display tech aren't unprecedented, the new Razr's sport larger displays than last year's editions. The original Droid Razr and Razr Maxx rocked smaller 4.3-inch displays. Much of that difference, though, is dedicated to the on-screen navigation buttons in Ice Cream Sandwich (the older versions had capacitive buttons below the display).


The US versions of both phones rock Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 chips.

In North America, both phones have identical Snapdragon S4 chips. The international version of the Galaxy S3, meanwhile, rocks a quad-core Samsung Exynos processor.


The US edition of the S3 pumps the RAM up to 2GB.

Here's another split between the international and U.S./Canadian versions of the Galaxy S III. The global version is limited to 1 GB of RAM, while the North America edition compensates for its lack of a quad-core processor with 2 GB.


Motorola offers less options than Samsung, but - with expandable microSD storage - it should be plenty for most people.

While Samsung sells the S3 in multiple storage sizes, each version of the Razr HD only offers one option: 16 GB for the standard, and 32 GB for the Maxx. All handsets sport microSD slots, though, so that can be expanded.


Both phones ride blazing-fast LTE networks.

You aren't going to see any high-end smartphones today that aren't compatible with LTE. These two are no exception.

In the U.S., the Droid Razr HD and Droid Razr HD Maxx are exclusive to Verizon. The Galaxy S3, meanwhile, is available on all the major carriers.


Moto is now prioritizing battery life over thinness. Perhaps it should be called the Droid Juice?

This is where we see the other end of the thicker/heavier tradeoff. The standard Razr HD has more juice than the battery in the Galaxy S3, and the Maxx version blows it away with 3,300 mAh of power. Other factors influence actual battery life, though, so we'll need to wait for real-world testing before concluding that the Razr HD outlasts the Galaxy S3.


Both cameras include 8MP rear shooters.

It looks like most manufacturers have settled on 8-megapixels as a good resting place for smartphone cameras. Most high-end handsets from the last year have been hitting that mark, and these two (three if you count the Razr Maxx HD) add to that list.


Is it better to be bullet-proof, or King? (Batsuit: Eva Rinaldi|Flickr, Android: kamotegirl|Flickr, crown: Shutterstock)

Holy kevlar, Batman! Moto has been marketing the protective coating of the material in all of its Razr phones, and the new models continue that trend. Kevlar protected the Dark Knight from gunshots in Christopher Nolan's recent trilogy, and it may help shield your Razr HD from damage in an unfortunate spill.

The Galaxy S III is the undisputed King of Android. Unlike in previous years when there was a new Android "it" phone every month, Samsung has cemented its lead, and nobody else is close. Until Google releases its next Nexus phone (or phones?), the S3 should continue its reign.

Both handsets still ship with the nearly year-old Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Both should eventually be updated to 4.1 Jellybean, but without firm release dates it would be wise to only buy either because you're happy with them as they are now. Consider it a bonus when they finally get updated.

Summing up

When the Razr was reincarnated, it made headlines with its absurd thinness. That got customers' attention, and then Motorola remedied its biggest flaw – battery life – at the expense of its sexiest feature. This was either a clever, premeditated strategy (get our attention with an extreme, then balance things out), or a quick adjustment on the fly. Either way, the Razr line is one of the most notable series of Android devices. It may not be able to save Motorola from losing money, but it at least gives customers another option.

What do you think? Are the new Razr HD phones worth checking out, or are they merely placeholders until Google drops the next Nexus powerhouse(s)? Let us know what you think in the comments.

About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin is Gizmag's Mobile Tech Editor, and has been part of the team since 2012. Before finding a home at Gizmag, he had stints at a number of other sites, including Android Central, Geek and the Huffington Post. Will has a Master's degree from U.C. Irvine and a Bachelor's from West Virginia University. He currently lives in New Mexico with his wife, Jessica. All articles by Will Shanklin

I have an S3 and my GF has a 3G Razr. I think making the Razr a little thicker with a bigger battery makes sense but again I'm not sure why they chose the Razr name for the phone. I guess the intention is to market everything with a keyboard as "Droid" and everything without as "Razr"?

I guess the name makes sense when you consider the first Razr flip phones were 13 to 15 mm folded and the current phones are just 8.4 and 9.3 mm.

The S3 is a solid phone and this Razr update makes it mostly the same on paper. I doubt the Razr HD will see kind volume sales the S3 had in part because I think a lot of people who were sitting on contracts that were up already pulled the trigger on the S3 or iPhone 5.


Motorola has done a great job at prioritizing battery life. Maybe that's why they didn't go for a fancy quad core. But I would have bought it if it did come with Quad Core and 2 gb ram. A 12.1 mega pixel camera would have been a bonus, I like pixel count too. I use the HTC One X in which everything is excellent, except the battery life.

Dawar Saify

What about screen type? (Both super AMOLED?) or, as Dawar mentions, camera and optics? Also, why is Google (who now owns Motorola mobility) churning out phones with an obsolete OS? My Galaxy Nexus has 4.1, and it's 10 times better than anything "motoblur" ever thought of. At least Samsung has the excuse of "we have to wait for release and then reprogram it" but Motorola?

Charles Bosse

As a former Motorola consumer of a Milestone, Atrix and Atrix 2. If you want to buy the razor, you'd better be fanatical about Ice Cream Sandwich. If history is an indicator, Jelly Bean will be the only update this phone will ever see, and when it finally comes out, probably Android would be on it's 6th or 7th incarnation. Good luck having to flash new roms every month just to have an updated android experience on a Motorola phone, and hopping the guys at cyanogemmod were able to reverse engineer something that Motorola keeps as a close secret and that because of it, your indie ROMs version are always broken somewhere with some hardware component in your phone that they can't support, or with poor battery life, random crashes and so on...

Marcos Santos
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