The Motorola RAZR i is Intel’s big foray into high end smartphones, where for years it’s been completely absent. Much like the US-only RAZR M, it’s packing a 4.3-inch 960x540 Super AMOLED screen, eight megapixel camera and Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich”. It’s just it’s packing a 2GHz Intel chip inside as well. Is this the fastest phone on earth?
Motorola isn’t exactly known for its exciting designs and up to date software, especially in Europe, which seems to play second fiddle in its affections to North America. But Moto’s done a great job squeezing such a large screen into a really small space on the RAZR i: calling it “edge to edge” is a but much, but the front face of the phone is virtually all pixels, and that’s a very good thing.
On board, you’ll find a barely touched version of Android 4.0. You won’t find any extra, pointless software on board, just a homescreen with quick access to settings by sliding to the left - it’s as beautiful and easy to use as Google intended. And all the apps work too: the last Intel phone we saw, the Orange San Diego, has some teething issues running games and video apps, but all of those are gone here: everything we downloaded from the Google Play store ran just fine.
And that Intel chip is pretty whizzy, even if in practice it can't compete with powerhouses like the iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S3: the camera pops up in an instant and lets you fire off shot on the double. And yet it doesn’t drain the battery either: the Motorola RAZR i easily lasts two days of use, a remarkable feat for a modern smartphone.
Did you hear? Android 4.0 isn’t the newest version of Google’s operating system anymore: it’s been replaced by Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, and it’s already available on rival phones. So why Motorola hasn’t managed to get it onboard the RAZR i despite the fact that it’s now owned by Google is a bit of a mystery to us. The company says a Jelly Bean update is coming, but won’t say when - and has left UK owners hanging before, so don’t assume you’ll get it anytime soon.
The 4.3-inch display on the Motorola RAZR i really isn’t up to the quality of its competitors either: its super saturated colours will impress you in the shop, but get it home and you’ll realise it’s last year’s panel, missing a lot of clarity. Everything has a slightly fuzzy hue to it, which isn’t really on in an age of Retina Displays and HD screens.
Then there’s the rather bland matte black build, capped off with the alarming issue of the side door that houses the micro SIM card and memory card. It bulges out like a bruise for no reason: it’s never quite clear when it’s shut properly, and if the SIM is in place. It’s these sort of oversights that make you wonder if it’s worth the bother when you could buy a HTC One S, Samsung Galaxy S2 or iPhone 4 for the same or less.
The bottom line
Intel’s removed any lingering concerns we had about letting it power our phone, and the Motorola RAZR i is the most enjoyable smartphone the company has released in the UK for several years. Is that enough to tempt you away from surefire mid-range wins like the HTC One S? Not quite: HTC’s build quality and guaranteed app and software update support makes it the preferable option if you want a medium-sized phone that’s not made by Apple.