DESIGN & HANDLING
Thicker on top than on bottom, the RAZR i cuts a classic, sober profile. The front is barren of any physical buttons, leaving the great majority of the space for the screen. In fact, you have to turn the phone around to see any of Motorola's personal touch, with a black and grey soft-touch material and motif covering the durable Kevlar back.
Compact and not too wide considering the 4.3-inch display (it has similar dimensions to the iPhone 5), the RAZR i fits nicely in the palm of your hand and the level of finishing is entirely respectable. It feels like a solid device, which is a good sign for its longevity.
An LED flashes to let you know you've received an e-mail, SMS, etc.
One detail: the bottom of the screen sticks out by just a fraction of a millimetre, but it's enough to notice when you graze your fingers across it. It's a detail, but one that doesn't necessarily leave the best impression.
We also found the touch-sensitive icons to take up a bit too much space on the screen. Why even put them there in the first place?
The 4.3-inch Super AMOLED screen has noticeably low resolution of 540 x 960. Look close and you'll see the pixels yourself. The colours are good but could be better, with a Delta E of 6.5 (Delta E measures colour accuracy, where three and below is considered perfectly accurate). That's just about average... for phones from last year. Today most high-end smartphones have a Delta E equal to or lower than four.
The contrast is excellent but the brightness is a low 283 cd/m², which makes the screen difficult to read in the sunlight. To give you an idea, the HTC 8X goes up to 374 cd/m², the iPhone 5 gets 500 cd/m² and the LG Optimus 4X HD gets 533 cd/m².
INTERFACE & NAVIGATION
The RAZR i currently runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich but Motorola has announced an update to the latest version, Jelly Bean, coming "soon".
Minus a few extras that Motorola has added, such as icons on the lock screen that take you to various functions and the moving icons on the home screen (see below), the rest of the interface is pretty much straight Android. In other words, Motorola hasn't imposed an extensive software overlay like HTC Sense or Samsung TouchWiz. There was a time when Motorola included Motoblur, but those days are over. So what you get in the end is a classic 'Droid interface with tons of customisation options via a number of widgets.
In terms of responsiveness, we didn't run into any major hurdles but we did notice the odd lag while navigating through the menus, and it got "stuck" a couple of times. Could it be a poorly integrated Android? Or the Intel platform that doesn't properly support the OS? In either case, everything else ran fine: apps open relatively quickly, web pages scroll nice and smoothly, and so on.
All the benchmarks we ran showed an ultra-fast CPU (Intel Medfield) with close, if not higher, results than the biggest processors on the market, the Nvidia Tegra 3, Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 and Samsung Exynos quad-core!
The GPU, however, which processes 3D graphics, is an entirely different can of worms. The Intel chipset falls pretty far behind these processors, so the RAZR i will have trouble running any big, new 3D games without seeing the image quality suffer.
As mentioned in our review of the Orange San Diego, the first smartphone with an Intel chip to hit the UK market, not all the apps on Google Play—especially more recent, processor-intensive games—are properly adapted for the Intel platform. These apps either simply don't show up on Google Play or have "not compatible" written next to them. But these are a minority; most apps are compatible and work well.
Armed with a quick-snapping 8-Megapixel camera sensor and a dedicated camera button on the side, the RAZR i produces decent photos, entirely acceptable for a smartphone. But they aren't as sharp as pictures taken on the iPhone 5 or HTC 8X; the contours of objects aren't as clearly hewn and the overall shots contain less detail.
The colours in photographs taken on the RAZR i aren't quite as neutral as most of its competitors, with washed-out blacks and duller tones in general. Basically, they lack saturation.
Videos turn out well enough on the whole and the RAZR i plays HD movies without a hitch.
But the headphone output needs work. It saturates when the volume's on max, which isn't very high in the first place. The audio was clearly not one of Motorola's areas of focus when designing this phone. Yellow card.
Like many recent smartphones the RAZR i doesn't include an HDMI port, so any sharing of files on a TV goes through DLNA.
Some users may like to know that Motorola included the Quick Office suite on the RAZR i for productivity and document editing.
The 2,000 mAh battery makes the Motorola RAZR i last longer between charges than almost any other smartphone out there. It can easily function for more than 24 hours. We ran Battery Benchmark on it, which tests Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Internet, multimedia, varying levels of brightness, etc. (it's a good, balanced stress test that matched the results we got while using the phone) and it showed the RAZR i to have one of the longest lasting batteries on the market, with nearly 14 hours of hardcore, intensive use.