Verizon, The RAZR, and The Public

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RazrJust after bowing to consumer pressure and lowering the price of its months-old Motorola Droid RAZR mobile phone, Verizon Wireless is about to unleash on the public an upgraded version of the phone.

Unveiled at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month and scheduled to hit stores before February, the Droid RAZR MAXX is billed as having the thinnest and the longest battery life of any 4G smartphone, as well as rocket speeds.

“Verizon’s turbo-boosted 4G LTE speeds will have you rocketing through your everyday,” the company declares, adding that users can video chat, stream and download “at top speeds and with confidence on the fastest, most reliable 4G network.”

With a vast 4G network that covers 200 million-plus people nationwide, Verizon has learned to be all ears in today’s environment of surging consumer power. Last December, public outcry forced the company to nix plans to charge a $2 fee for each debit or credit card payment made over the phone or online. Similarly, the Droid RAZR was originally priced at $299.99 with a two-year contract, but on Jan. 17, Verizon announced that it was dropping the price by $100, offering the device with a two-year contract for $199.99.

Consumer unhappiness clearly played a role in the price reduction.
 
“As soon as they see the price, they just move on to the next one,” said an employee at a New York City electronics store, commenting on the Droid RAZR days before Verizon announced the price reduction. Other sales persons interviewed for this article made the same observation, but spoke positively of the device itself.

“There is no reason why this phone shouldn’t be more successful. I was given a demo and I instantly became a fan. It’s much clearer, quite crisp, processes faster, and the features are easier to use than many other brands,” says Bernard Vilnenay, a manager of a Radio Shack in Brooklyn, N.Y. “I’m an android person, meaning I already own an android phone but am willing to switch to this model.”

The Droid RAZR offers a uniquely slim 0.28-inch frame with a 1.2-gigahertz dual-core processor. This houses both microHDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) and microUSB input ports, along with the audio jack. The phone is also equipped with a 1080p (progressive) HD-ready camera for both video and picture capture abilities. At its thickest, the part of the frame that houses the camera is 0.4 inches at the top compared to the iPhone’s entire body size of 0.37 in.

A two-and-a-half-week usage test of the RAZR showed a number of drawbacks, including the fact that it is awkward to hold. The user almost always needs a second hand to steady it, making one-handed usage virtually impossible.

The volume bar, a bit small for relatively larger hands, seems too short and is placed too flush against the body to easily distinguish and toggle between the “up” and “down” functions. Although the battery life is comparable if not better than most cell phones, the fact that the battery is not removable can also be seen as a negative.

Lastly, since the price reduction, Verizon is no longer bundling a 16 Gigabyte microSD memory card with the phone, although the slot remains.

Still, the Droid RAZR is considerably lighter and has greater durability than most phones, attributable to its DuPont™ KEVLAR® fiber and Corning® Gorilla® Glass screen encasement. The encasement also renders the device water repellent and scratch resistant, essentially eliminating the added expense of a protective case.