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Motorola Droid Razr Teardown: Better hardware should anger Bionic buyers

The Droid Razr is thinner, lighter, and has better hardware than the Droid Bionic, which Motorola release just two months prior.

Thin and stylish the original Motorola Razr flip phone was a huge success. I used a Black Razr for many years, until it broke in 2009. In November 2011, Motorola released the first Razr smartphone--the Droid Razr.

The new Razr has a 1.2GHz TI OMAP 4430 processor, 16GB of internal storage, an 8MP rear-facing camera, a 1.3MP front-facing camera, and a 4.3" Super AMOLED display (960x540 pixels). It measures 5.15" (H) x 2.71" (W) x 0.28" (D) and weighs 4.48 ounces. The Droid Razr comes with Android 2.3.5 installed, and can be upgraded to Android 4.0. It's also the first phone to have the latest version of Motorola's Webtop application. In the US, Verizon sells the Razr for $299.99 (with a two-year contract). I bought our Razr test device (sans contract) from a local Best Buy Mobile location for $799.99 (plus tax).

In this week's episode of Cracking Open, I show you what's inside the Droid Razr, and discuss what I learned from my teardown. That basically, the Razr is an upgraded Droid Bionic.

Full teardown gallery: Cracking Open the Motorola Droid Razr

Cracking Open observations

  • Replaceable battery: Unlike the Bionic, the Razr's battery isn't designed to be user-replaceable. But, it's not soldered to the motherboard either. If you're willing to remove the back cover (and likely void the warranty), you could replace a dead battery.
  • Standard Torx T5 screws: I was able to remove all the Razr's screws with Torx T3, T4, and T5 screwdriver bits.
  • Super AMOLED display: The Razr has a 4.3" (960x540 pixels) qHD Super AMOLED display. Although their displays are the same size and offer the same resolution, this is a step up from the Bionic's LCD.
  • 1.3MP front-facing camera: The Bionic has a VGA-quality camera. The Razr has a 1.3MP front-facing camera.
  • Slightly higher-capacity battery: The Razr has a 1,780 mAh battery, compared to the Bionic's 1,735 mAh battery.
  • 1.2GHz Texas Instruments OMAP 4430 Processor: Although Motorola stuck with the TI OMAP 4430 processor, the Razr has a 1.2GHz chip compared to the Bionic's 1GHz processor.

Internal hardware

To avoid damaging our test device, I decided against desoldering all the EMI shields on the Razr's motherboard. Luckily, our friends over at iFixit did.

For more information on the Droid Razr, check out Deb Shinder's real-world review, "Motorola Droid Razr: Super model or serial killer?"

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

20 comments
skipclay
skipclay

I own a Razr. After 3 weeks I have discovered a poo camera, battery that won't make it until the end of the day, it cant sync with ms outlook, without gong thru a cvs file. 4g coverage is spotty at best and slow because of the traffic, I guess. The I phone is a better choice. Or at least not a motorla android. They have not figured out some of us are serious business users and need a native outlook connection.

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

Don't you go taking your stuff apart.Ten years from now you'll see how smart you were because you didn't take your stuff apart.

jeb.hoge
jeb.hoge

"Non-replaceable" does come in degrees, and at least with this one, it's not seriously non-replaceable. We have a Droid Razr at work to use for testing new mobile functionality (yay modern age) and it sure is nice to handle, although I'm not used to a screen that big.

realvarezm
realvarezm

Indredible gadget, but im happy with my droid 3. Motorola is doing a blitzkrieg on the smartphone market with all this powerfull devices and i think they are becoming a major brand in this category. Just like Apple long ago, I though this company was about to be purchased by a competitor like samsung and vanish in time like many big and forgotten companies. But i think Google did the miracle.

oldbaritone
oldbaritone

The Editor's Note in the email says [i]"Beginning Dec. 20th, the TR Dojo newsletter will have a new name, "Cracking Open". The newsletter will still be delivered twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I'm excited about this change. I hope you are too. -Bill"[/i] I'm saddened to see the demise of TR Dojo. It was one of the last bastions of high-end "guru" tech on TR. It had in-depth information for those of us who go beyond point-and-click, and aren't afraid to "get our hands dirty" on the command line. There was information in the Dojo that was scarce anywhere else. Teardowns are mildly interesting, but the elimination of "deep" tech means I'll be dropping my subscription to the Dojo newsletter. It's not a Dojo any more, just a chop-shop. Sad.

JJFitz
JJFitz

I think I'll keep my Bionic for this reason.

rhonin
rhonin

Would like it or a similar device to come over to AT&T. With LTE and HSPA+ it would very likely do well.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

Haven't seen you around in a while Balthor. Great to have you back! I don't know however, why someone would want a 10-year-old smartphone. As a bona fide geek, with a closet full of old tech, I don't think a Droid Razr will be worth much in a decade. The technology will be too old to be useful, but not old enough to be collectible. Wait 50 years and perhaps...

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

Thanks for the kind words about the TR Dojo series. We've worked hard to make it successful. And don't worry, it's not going away. Stay tuned until 2012.

kbrown
kbrown

I will defiantly miss TR Dojo. Hopefully it will still pop its head up now and then and give me that useful knowledge that it dispensed so well.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

Having a user-replaceable battery was once a must-have for any phone I owned. But having used an iPhone for the past three years, the installed battery really hasn't been a problem. Even when I used phones with replaceable batteries, I never found myself actually buying a second battery. Sure, there are people who truly do need a communication device that allows for regular battery swaps. But, I've come to the realization that I'm not one of those people. And given the success of phones without user-replaceable batteries, I think most others are as well.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

Thanks for the compliment. And, don't worry. TR Dojo will still be around in 2012. I've been splitting my time between TR Dojo and Cracking Open for about a year now. If you look back at the newsletters and blog, I've done one of each post/video/gallery each week. Next year, we're actually planning to expand Cracking Open and keep doing TR Dojo.

richard
richard

Especially since, from what I've heard, the 4G/LTE radios are a serious power suck -- leading to a need for more recharges. Do you know the number of cycles that the Razr's battery is expected to give before dying out?

JJFitz
JJFitz

From what I have been hearing online and from my co-workers, the iPhone 4s has a serious problem with battery drain that still has not been resolved. I keep a spare fully charged battery in my bag and I have a battery charger to keep the other one topped off. I use my phone heavily (data mostly). My office has poor cell reception so the battery drains in 8 to 10 hours. I often switch the battery at the end of the work day. You can't do that with the iPhone and some newer Androids. I see it as a problem. I hate having my phone attached to a car charger or an external battery pack when I am using it. The replaceable battery works better for me.

JJFitz
JJFitz

It seems to work hard and drain faster when you are on the edge of 4G coverage. Has anyone else experienced this?

JJFitz
JJFitz

Yes, wifi is better than 4G at the office. The only thing is I used to forget to connect to the wifi. Now I use Tasker to help manage my battery. Tasker is location aware so it automatically turns off wifi and turns on GPS when I am in the car and turns wifi back on when I am in the office or at home. It can even set off an alarm, go to airplane mode, and / or send an SMS when the battery goes below X%. I am just scratching the surface of the capabilities of the app and having a lot of fun with it. :)

JJFitz
JJFitz

Although there was a software release recently, my friends who have iPhone 4s' are telling me that it did not significantly improve their battery's performance. Yes indeed - it is my preference to use 2 batteries. I knew I wanted the extended battery so I bought that on day one. That means that I had the smaller battery available as a backup. and I bought a battery charger for $20. Lucky me. :)

MLR21
MLR21

the IPhone 4s battery issue has been resolved through the latest update that took place a couple of weeks ago. Also i understand your work flow with respect to needing multiple batteries. User preference.

jeb.hoge
jeb.hoge

Does your office have a wi-fi network that your phone could connect to instead? Our house has marginal 3g coverage but solid wi-fi, so I usually just switch that on when I get home. Faster speed, stronger signal, less need for the phone to search for data. Also, when my Ally's original battery was old and not holding charge as well, I got into the habit of connecting it to a charger at my desk in the afternoons when I knew I'd be stationary for an hour or two. That would usually kick it from the 30% it'd hit by then back up to 70%, which was good enough to get to bedtime. Chargers are cheap, even direct from Verizon. However, I did finally replace the battery, and that plus a new optimized ROM made a world of difference.