Android Upgrade Dilemma: HTC Rezound, Motorola RAZR, or Google Nexus?

It's a solid device. But compared to the Nexus and RAZR I'm not convinced there's any compelling reason to choose it, unless, of course, you are smitten by HTC sense or Beats Audio.

HTC Rezound on Verizon

HTC Rezound on Verizon

First, the good news: there are 3 hot Android smartphones available this month. All will be available on Verizon, and pack 4G LTE. On the downside, us upgraders can (likely) only choose one. And that handset will need to get us through the next two years, assuming that is we don’t jump out of contract early- always a tempting proposition.

We already know quite a bit about the Samsung Galaxy Nexus (aka Nexus Prime), and the awesomely thin Moto RAZR – a tough choice between two Android heavyweights. And now, thanks to the launch event today in New York, we’ve got the official skinny on the HTC Rezound, odd name and all. Here’s the quick run down:

HTC Rezound Specs

HTC Rezound

— 4.3″ 1280×720 display (par)

— 4G LTE (par)

— 1.5GHz dual-core processor (par) Update: this is better than both RAZR and Nexus, thx @KristinL

— 8MP camera with 1080p video (slightly above the competition)

— 2MP front-facing camera (not important to me, but per @KristinL in comments is almost twice the res of the others)

— 1GB RAM (par)

— 16GB storage (par)

— Beats Audio with earbuds (will matter to some, but I won’t use it)

— Android 2.3 (advantage to Nexus, though I’m guessing RAZR and Rezound will both get ICS early 2012… but I don’t want to wait!)

— HTC Sense (it’s the slickest skin out there, but I prefer stock experience)

— 1,620mAh battery

— $299 w/2 year Verizon contract (par)

It’s a solid device. But compared to the Nexus and RAZR I’m not convinced there’s any compelling reason to choose it, unless, of course, you are smitten by HTC sense or Beats Audio.

The Nexus, of course, will be the first Android device to come with Ice Cream Sandwich, and that alone for me is probably reason enough to move it to the top of the upgrade list. I also like the idea of soft keys which will give developers a chance to get creative with app navigation controls, plus make more room available when a video is playing.

As an original Droid owner (Nov 6, 2009 launch day at local Verizon store here in Silicon Valley!), I am partial to the Motorola brand, especially since it’s an American company and now part of Google. My trusty Droid has survived the rough-and-tumble Baja, many a bounce off the floor, and lots of scratching action against car keys and lint in my pocket. Through it all it’s been exceptional. Now I find it too slow, but this is a two year old phone now.

I know this much: Just say no to iPhone.

So onto the upgrade… current rankings:

Samsung Galaxy Nexus

Clint’s Android Hotness Rankings

1. Samsung Galaxy Nexus (ICS, softkeys, Samsung build quality)

2. Motorola RAZR (well… razor thin!)

3. HTC Rezound (no distinguishing feature unless you absolutely must have HTC Sense)

I’m convinced I’ll go Nexus. Plus the recent delay works well for me as I’m Baja bound for a few weeks, and will return just in time to begin phase 2 of life with Android.

What say you?

Follow Stark Insider on Twitter and Facebook. Join our 11,000 subscribers who read SI on tablets and smartphones on Google Newsstand. Prefer video? Watch us on Amazon Prime or subscribe to Stark Insider on YouTube, the largest arts & travel channel in San Francisco.
  • Anonymous

    I agree 100%. HTC should have just held this phone back until they had ICS ready. Most Android faithful wont even give the Rezound a second glance. Its simply another Gingerbread phone.

    Let’s get to the real deal. Galaxy Nexus please.

    • Yes I think HTC wanted to take advantage of the biggest Android upgrade cycle. A lot of us Droids are coming off 2 year contracts, and I’m sure they want to score some of that business. I agree: Nexus.

  • KristinL

    Um, a few of those ‘par’s seem to be misplaced…

    Display: How is 720p only “par” when the RAZR won’t even have it?
    Processor: 1.5GHz technically beats out the 1.2GHz of both RAZR and the Nexus.
    Camera: The 2MP front camera is also “slightly above the competition”, to be fair.

    No offense, I just like for fact-based comparisons to be presented fairly/consistently. (I appreciate the shout-out for HTC Sense, though; I’m admittedly a huge fan.)

    On a personal note: I can’t figure out what would possess anyone to buy the RAZR, unless they realllly care about its size. The processor falls behind the Rezound, it won’t have ICS like the Nexus, and its display lags behind both (at only qHD). (Not to mention I don’t know anyone who is actively a fan of MotoBlur — not necessarily because it’s bad, but just because it’s nothing special.) Yeah, I’m sure it will still be a good phone, but its only advantage seems like such a minor thing. And at the same price point as the Nexus and Rezound, that just wouldn’t be worth it to me. Am I missing something?

    • @d82a3a6fdf57fb0b34806843d3ed8d3a:disqus Yes you’re right- I’ll update some of those. The Rezound does bring more CPU and res on the camera and display. You bring up some good points regarding RAZR… got me thinking on that!

      • Dylan Jackson

        You can’t compare processors based on clock rate alone…  that’s like saying a 3 GHz pentium 4 processor beats out a 2.7 GHz i7.  First of all, the RAZR uses TI’s OMAP 4430, which tops out at 1.2 GHz… but the Nexus has the OMAP 4460, which is spec’d from 1.2-1.5 GHz, meaning that it will be set to 1.2 GHz out of the box, but it could be clocked to 1.5 GHz after rooting (or a future ICS or firmware update?) and still remain within standard operating parameters.

        Regarding the camera… at typical screen resolutions, 8 Mpx and 5 Mpx are not hugely different.  Sure, you could blow up an 8 Mpx picture more, but sensor quality is important to take into consideration.  A high quality sensor at a lower resolution (not to mention the zero-shutter lag in the Nexus) can often be preferable.  Besides, we don’t use smartphone cameras to take professional photos; we want to quickly capture a good image.

        Also, there’s no mention of GPUs anywhere.  I know the Nexus uses a SGX540, and the Rezound uses an Adreno 220.  I can’t cite performance metrics for those, but depending on how you intend to use the phone, its GPU could be a much more important performance metric than the processor.

        Also, the one big advantage of the RAZR is the physical build.  It has a steel chassis and kevlar backing.  Kevlar aside (don’t know how much that helps), the steel chassis is pretty significant for people who are prone to dropping their phone.  Aside from being the thinnest, it’s also probably the most robust.  I’m sorry, but I’ve got to disagree with a lot of what KristinL said.

        • KristinL

          For what it’s worth, I agree with you: there’s more to processors than GHz and more to cameras than MPs. Obviously, these phones are all technological front-runners, and all very capable. But with all of them yet to be released, we talk about what little information we have, and as the discussion goes on and on, it comes down to nitpicking, looking for slight edges. We can’t help but compare the numbers we’re given, even if it really just means looking at tiny margins under a biiiiig magnifying glass, haha.

        • KristinL

          Oops, forgot to add:

          Interesting point on the RAZR’s build. I feel like it’s a fairly non-traditional selling point (just like the Toughbook seemed pretty niche to me), but I know a few (accident-prone) people who could certainly be swayed by that.

      • KristinL

        Clinton: Appreciate the updates (and the name-drops)! You’re a wonderfully gracious blog host! :)

        • @d82a3a6fdf57fb0b34806843d3ed8d3a:disqus Muchos Gracias!

    • I agree wholeheartedly KristinL.  Everything but about being a huge fan of Sense..  I don’t like any of the overlays on Android although initially, I thought Sense was better that stock Android.  now I just think they all cause way more problems than they solve.  Mostly, the overlays delay the upgrades to the next version of Android. 

      Having been a Galaxy holder and been burned severely by Samsung, I swore them off forever after the mess that was the Fascinate.  So, needless to say, I was super disappointed that the Nexus is again a Samsung.  HTC makes great handsets and they are nice to look at.  Their attention to detail is the closest thing to Apple.

      Finally, Moto handsets are just all ugly as hell IMO.  I don’t know what it is about how they design things, but they always seem awkward to hold.  HTCs usually fit nicely in your hand.  Again, just my opinion, but I like this phone a lot.  Sadly, I bought the iPhone 4S because I told myself I would only buy a Nexus brand Android handset from now on and I also swore off Samsung with no new HTC Nexus in sight…

      This phone would be PERFECT in pure stock ICS IMHO and I would have rather had this than the iPhone, again, if it were stock ICS.

    • KRIEG

      I totally agree with you. I think the ranking should Definitely be 1: Google Nexus (only because ICS) 2: HTC Rezound 3:Razr. Razr – by the end of the two yr contract -you are going to want to trash it even more than the Original Droid due to technology advancement. 

      Hardware wise – The Rezound has the edge. And with ICS update right around the corner – once the Rezound is updated it may blow the Nexus Prime out of the water. 

      My wife and I currently have Incredibles. Absoulutely love that phone but we are ready for the upgrades! I am so much on the fence between Nexus Prime and HTC Rezound that I am getting her the Rezound and myself the Prime ;)  I like the screen size better on the Prime. 

      Over all – these phones are night and day to what is currently on the market for Verizon. And by June of next year – with the Quad Core tech expanding – it is going to be really hard to stick with a 2 year contract ;) 

    • Pguerr

      Maybe because the Droid RAZR has a Super AMOLED screen that is waaay better than that of HTC Rezound (Super LCD)..

      Battery life ANYONE?

      1780Mah (RAZR)  >>>>>>>>>  1620 Mah (Rezound)


      • KristinL

        Sorry, should have put that response up here, I just saw the other comment first. But like I said, the RAZR’s screen still doesn’t top the Nexus’s (also Super AMOLED and better resolution), which continues the trend of not going beyond either the Rezound or the Nexus in specs.

        And HTC’s battery life, in addition to 4G battery life in general, is notorious, I know. But the Rezound will at least offer an extended battery (though of course the trade-off is increasing the phone’s thickness), whereas the RAZR’s battery isn’t even removable. Not to mention the Rezound will be Wireless Charging-capable (it’s on HTC’s press fact sheet; not sure why it wasn’t mentioned at the launch event).

    • Cjohnsonatl76

      YES!!! Actually you’re missing a lot! The display is advanced super amoled, the battery is bigger than the rebound and will give it 12.5 hrs talk time, has HDMI output, the build quality including water splash exterior AND interior, and the accessories are going to be awesome like remote control when hdmi is connected to your television, and so much more!

      • KristinL

        Cjohnsonatl76: Thanks, that’s a pretty respectable list.

        I understand why everyone likes the super AMOLED (its deep black really is beautiful), but personally, I would take 720p resolution first, or just go with the Nexus and get the best of both worlds. 
        There’s clearly something to be said for construction, as durability and splash-proof interior/exterior both seem not only desirable, but uncommon. It’s a little more qualitative, but yeah, I’d count that as an area where the RAZR has an edge (no pun intended).

        While I give the battery it’s due, I still think the option of an extended battery for the Rezound renders it slightly less important. And the 12.5 hr figure sounds like it must be 3G talk time, so I’m sure it will clock in a little shorter once you throw in your everyday 4G data use. Still, kudos to them for a good battery.HDMI out is a little bigger, and I was surprised to realize the Rezound doesn’t have it. (It apparently has MHL instead, which I have no experience with, considering I still have the Droid Eris, haha).I will give you accessories, though. Motorola is a big name, and the RAZR will definitely get a lot of accessory love. The abundance of iPhone accessories almost converted me a year or two back, so I agree there’s power there. It remains to be seen just what kind of attention it will get accessory-wise that the Rezound/Nexus won’t, though, so I think that may be more of convert-people-later-in-the-game power.

  • NickB

    Like you, I’m an original Motorola Droid honorpatiently waiting to upgrade. All three phones have beefed up specs but the real deal breaker will be battery life. It’s well known that LTE radios and big, high-res screens will suck the life out of these smartphones. I agree that the Nexus is the frontrunner for my money but I’ll have to wait until I hear more on how long these phones last under a normal day’s use.

  • Trevor Nisja

    HTC Rezound has the best screen, unless you like Pentile’s jaggyness.  That takes the cake for me.

    • Matt Gleason

      LCD backlit = crappy display outdoors.  You’ll be using two hands, one to shadow the screen and the other to use your phone.

  • Ninja38

    What is it about the Nexus that everyone is going crazy about? Not launching with ICS isn’t the same as being a ‘Gingerbread’ phone; you’ll have the same OS as basically anyone else that doesn’t immediately run out and buy a Nexus. Until Q1, that is, when this entire tier of phones will have ICS pushed out to them.

    Otherwise, the Rezound is equal or superior to the Razr in just about every category, and ditto for the Nexus unless, again, you’re really going nuts about an OS that you haven’t used yet. The Nexus is gigantic though, I guess that’s sweet.

    • NickB

      The Nexus screen is gigantic. The physical dimensions of the phone are very close to the RAZR. The RAZR is ~1.5mm thinner.

      I would like to see the dimensions of the Rezound, including the weight.

  • Ninja38

    As far as the Rezound having ‘no distinguishing features’ other than HTC Sense, it’s one of only 2 US phones to have Beats audio. I think it seems pretty unlikely that you’ll really ‘never use’ your phone’s audio software, but whatever. I imagine that most people do. Having $150 earbuds come with the phone is also something of an added value. 

    Also, it has the HD screen with the highest pixel density of any phone on the market. So, if you’re planning on streaming movies/audio on your 4G phone, having the best specs in those categories should probably matter.

    • Pguerr

      Not sure why no one mentioned that the Droid RAZR has a Super AMOLED screen that blows both the display of Nexus and Rezound displays away!.

      How about that for major differences!
      Add to the fact that the battery on the Droid RAZR (1780Mah) tops the competition. Do your homework people!

      • KristinL

        Correct me if I’m mistaken, but I’m fairly certain the Nexus’s 720p, true HD screen is also Super AMOLED.

      • Tom

        HOMEWORK! You should do yours Pguerr!

        The Droid RAZR’s Super AMOLED screen has a resolution of 540×960 stretched across a 4.3″ display. Both the Nexus and Rezound have full 720p displays which comes in at 720×1280. That’s almost twice as many pixels and the Rezound having the tightest pixel count. You telling folks to do their homework before doing your own seems backasswards.

        Whats say you?

        • Tom

          Did I mention the HTC Rezound is the only phone on the market to have finally beat out the iPhone 330ppi Retina Display. Its tops out at 342 pixels per inch!

          • Matt Gleason

            Yeah but it’s a backlit LCD display.  So, it’s going to suck in outdoors.

      • brandon holley

        The razr has a sAMOLED advanced screen and the nexus has a sAMOLED plus screen specifically targeted for HD displays. Your arguement is invalid.

        • Matt Gleason

          GN is NOT Super Amoled PLUS.  It is just Super Amoled.  FYI.  The larger display will likely also consume more battery.  I think 4.3″ screen is the proverbial “sweet spot” IMO.

      • mc_365

        It wasn’t mentioned because the Nexus has a Super AMOLED+ HD screen.
        The Rezound has Super LCD HD screen.
        The Razr screen is Super AMOLED “Sq HD”, which is less resolution the both the competitors.

        The battery spsecs are less important as its all speculation, until you use the phone and see how long it last.  7 hours vs 6 would make no difference to me except, I could put an extended battery or swap spare on the rezound cant do that on the Razr

      • EJ

        Good luck removing that RAZR battery. Hope it doesn’t wear out on you and you have to send in for replacement. And, Rezound has higher resolution screen than RAZR and even iphone 4s, so the “Razr” is dull.


    I think most OG Droid users would go for the Nexus or the Razr depending on what floats your boat (G Nexus for me!).  The Rezound is really targeted at people who are heavily into music and/or entertainment and is more of a niche play on HTC’s part.  The Razr and GNex are both high end business level phones that can entertain.  The Rezound is more aimed at entertaining and doing the other stuff secondarily.  Either way, three exceptional offerings, all types of Android fans win!  Better than some of the other options out there – Do you want black or white?  You know what I am talking about!

  • 72Monkeys

    my first android was a HTC, as was my second…and my third. Sense is more intuitive and less brash than stock…imo, that is. anyway, Sense is reason enough for me to stick with HTC. (although I have to agree that a phone made by an American company has an appeal of it’s own.)

  • Anonymous

    Actually, even though the processor in the HTC Rezound is clocked to 1.5 Ghz, it uses the Cortex a8 core, so the 1.2 Ghz Cortex a9 OMAP in the G-Nex is actually better, so no offense KristenL, but you’re wrong

  • Bigcap3

    I have the Razr and Moto has put some cool features that have not been mentioned. Smart actions is more useful then a gimmick face unlock system that does not even work. Moto cast is a great application too. .Lastly, moto has alot better call reception then samsung devices. So don’t sleep on the razr. I still will check out the nexus when it launches but the Razr has been a great phone so far.

  • USB 3G

    Oh nice, thanks for share!

  • Pkopalek

    A lot of important information is missing here, imo.

    1) the rezound does voice and data simultaneously. Until both go over 4g (years away), this is a relevant advantage of the rezound (like the thunder bolt)
    2) ergonomics is important in a phone. My other samsung android
    phones were marginally comfortable to hold, at best, and Motorola droids feel like garbage can lids. The square edges and corners look cool but no one will prefer holding that for two years. The rezound is easier to hold than my (smaller) fascinate. Feels better in the hand.

    • Pkopalek

      We should also note that as the rezound and razr have gingerbread, their performance will probably increase once they have an operating system actually able to address multiple processor cores (ics).

      No regrets on the rezound here except wishing that slcd was as visible in broad daylight as samoled (should be the standard. No one should be using slcd, IMO)

      • EJ

        Rezound display is better in sunlight if you increase screen brightness. I had no problem once I did that.

  • Dragon

    Choice is pretty clear to me, iPhone.

    • Anonymous

      and that’s why you are spending time reading and commenting on articles purely and clearly about Android.

      Android has become bigger, better and sweeter than the iPhone was or will ever be, this is a fact you fanboys have to accept and live with.