Patience, tested.

Android Dilemma: Droid RAZR Maxx, Galaxy Nexus, or Quad-Core?

After the honeymoon phase wears off, I suspect many Nexus pioneers will be pining for the quad-cores that’ll appear right around the corner.

Clinton Stark
01.25.2012 | View Comments
Verizon Wireless Android

Motorola Droid RAZR Maxx - best Android available? (Photo: The Verge)

Tomorrow, the beefed up Droid RAZR Maxx hits Verizon stores ($299, two-year contract). I’ll just come out and say it: Maxx is the best Android phone on the market.

Maxx (and the original RAZR) is beautifully designed, includes all the latest whiz-bang (though Beats would’ve been sweet), and – best of all – it has real, honest-to-goodness battery life.

What about Galaxy Nexus and ICS?!

Samsung Galaxy Nexus Review

Samsung Galaxy Nexus: Impresses, but far from a game changer.

Sure, Samsung’s Nexus is a decent smartphone. Not blow away. Not game changing. By any stretch of the imagination (Review: Samsung Galaxy Nexus – A refined, but not perfect, Android).

After the honeymoon phase wears off, I suspect many Nexus pioneers will be pining for the quad-cores that’ll appear right around the corner. Plus, the battery life is abysmal as many have reported; though it seems equal numbers rave about it (really!). Here’s what I wrote on the conflicting situation:

Googling “battery life nexus” will get you pages worth of two types of articles: (1) those that tell you how to get a full day out of your Nexus (popular suggestions across the web: shut off wi-fi, turn off bluetooth, kill all the background apps, turn off the phone, etc.); and (2) those that are ranting, raving and crying in their beer (like me, as much as I’d prefer not to).

Getting ICS first is a tempting proposition, granted. Some how, some way I was able to park my ambitions at the door, and hang on to trusty OG Droid just a few months longer (and, man, updating apps on that thing is as slow as can be). At the end of the day Gingerbread (Android 2.3) still does everything ICS can, albeit without the flare and (Mr) Roboto aesthetics. I can still place widgets to my heart’s content. Gmail works just fine. As does News360, Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, Calendar, Google Music (awesome), Nav, etc. I do want ICS (and I’m anxious to get the update for my Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1). But in the end I decided to pass on the Nexus, and wait for something better to come along.

Two things are likely to happen next month in the Android smartphone market.

1. Quad-cores finally arrive.

Here they come: HTC Edge, Samsung Galaxy S III, LG X3

I’m not normally one for speeds and feeds (see iPad vs. Honeycomb Android tablets for why user experience trumps all), but in the case of these nextgen Android phones I’m bullish on NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 which the company claims is up to 5x faster. Here’s why: I think we’re on the verge of a massive influx of wildly vivid, immersive, real-time, video-centric apps. Ones we’ve never imagined. They’ll blow our minds. And they’ll require lots of processing power. Think your dual-core Android is fast enough now? Check back with me in 12 months or so; I’m guessing you’ll be begging for more CPU (and possibly a different election outcome…).

2. Battery life is finally tackled by vendors.

Credit Motorola for starting the trend. I expect to see beefier batteries and emphasis on power saving in the coming months. Features are great. But most of us need to get through a workday without doing the charger dance.

Android Dilemma: Droid RAZR Maxx, Galaxy Nexus or Quad-Core?

If you’re in the market for an Android who’d you rather?

For those who can’t wait I’d again suggest the Motorola RAZR Maxx. It will get ICS soon enough, and you get most of the beautiful design we saw in the original RAZR (though you won’t be able to lay claim to owning the thinnest smartphone on the market). Those that don’t appreciate the Nexus softkeys will like that RAZR has the classic Android capacitive buttons many know and love.

For those with patience, possibly one of the thousands like me still waiting to upgrade their OG Droid, I’d say wait to see what’s around the corner at Mobile World Congress in February. Sure there’s always something new around the corner. However, processing jumps – such as the quad-cores – only come every 12 months, give or take. My suggestion: ride that wave.

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Photo Credit: The Verge
Clinton Stark
Clint is based in Silicon Valley and co-founded Stark Insider. A new media venture, the goal was to fill the increasing gap in arts and food & wine coverage. This site has consumed his every fiber. Yet, he still has time to talk Android, praise Pebble, and shoot videos. More: Clint's story...
  • firzen_net

    I do agree that The MAXX is the best phone on the market right now. But the question is, is it a good phone to have in the long run?  We all know how atrocious the updates for Motorola is, and the locked bootloader is bothersome as well.

    But then, I don’t want to get a Galaxy Nexus either because of all the terrible things I’ve heard, along with all the great things of course.

    • http://www.starkinsider.com Clinton Stark

      Right- neither seem ideal. That’s why I’m waiting. Though my patience is wearing thin. OG Droid has been great phone, but it is really, really slowing down. If I plan to use Nav, I need to get it all set 10-15 min before hand. Wait, wait, wait… 

      • Atmancloud

        I have the galaxy nexus and love it its smooth and its what i need for everyday. I learned how to get 11 hours on this bad boy. And yes its with some video, podcasting,downloading,etc ics has better tools to handle tasks. For games im getting vita and for productivity im getting the ultrathin amd notebooks.

      • Atmancloud

        I have the galaxy nexus and love it its smooth and its what i need for everyday. I learned how to get 11 hours on this bad boy. And yes its with some video, podcasting,downloading,etc ics has better tools to handle tasks. For games im getting vita and for productivity im getting the ultrathin amd notebooks.

    • Trob6969

      What makes the razr maxx the “best” on the market? Is it because of the lengthy charge of the battery (that CAN’T be removed) or is it its thinness (that’s contradicted by its w-i-d-e-n-e-s-s)? And how can it be the best when it doesn’t have 720p TRUE hd screen resolution OR a 1.5ghz dual-core processor?…hmmmm…

      • David Hood

        Because if you take two average users, away from electrical plugs, after 10-12 hours, The person with the Razr maxx will still  have a smart phone, while the Galaxy Nexus is now nothing more than a paper weight. Do I wish it had an HD 720p screen? Yea, does my screen still look great and have good resolution absolutely. The charge holds long enough, why would you need to remove the battery? It can all ready be reset in case of a lock-up. Kevlar, Gorilla Glass plus nano particle coatings for the electrical parts that protect from moisture, versus the feel of cheap plastic? BTW, who ever told you the the processor runs at 1.5Ghz, look it up, Samsung underclocks it at 1.2ghz and it still has a battery life that sucks. Plus the speaker volume is subpar. CNET and PC Magazine, two of the best and most professional reviewers have named the Razr Maxx the best Android phone on the market. Hey, don’t forget, it’s probably time to plug in your phone, before it becomes a paper weight again.

  • 82racin

    im still rocking the OG DROID! (got it rooted to its full potential). im so glad i didnt upgrade to the droid razr because now they have the maxx! maybe ill wait a few more months and see whats next!

    • Trob6969

      I see you’re in the same perpetual dilemma i was in for quite a while. You have to realize that WHENEVER a ‘great’ smartphone comes out there will ALWAYS be an even better one on the horizon, ALWAYS. so waiting to see what’s next before you buy your next phone will lead to you never getting your next phone! What i did to break myself out of that ridiculous cycle was make a list of features that my next phone must have then wait for the first reputable manufacturer to meet my expectations. I then research various reviews on the phone, and if there’s no defects, i buy it.

  • Niceacappella

    I’m planning on getting the Maxx tomorrow to replace my Incredible. I’m guessing it’ll be a few months before quad core phones are released.

    • http://www.starkinsider.com Clinton Stark

      Good decision!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jarrod-Bush/1226567639 Jarrod Bush

    Locked Bootloader…slow updates….MotoBlur…I’ll stick with my GNex. And honestly, how many cores does a phone processor need?

  • Cjphil01

    I went with the gnex myself.  Couple of reasons.  Being the first to get the newest software upgrade is my primary one, coming from an htc droid eris, and a samsung continuum, which only 1 of those had a software upgrade, ever, I was tired of feeling left behind.  I knew the development community for this phone would be insane (which it is), and second, the fast shutter speed on the camera.  I don’t care how good your megapixels are, having a 1 year old and trying to capture a picture of him with your typical smartphone camera is pretty impossible, with as much moving as they do.  I don’t regret my decision.  

    • http://www.starkinsider.com Clinton Stark

      Agreed, sounds like the right call. One of the best reasons to get a Nexus is the special treatment it receives by Google when it comes to updates. I just wish it had better battery. Maybe a Gnex Maxx?! :)

  • Anonymous

    if u upgrade every ten months this also wont be an issue

  • Anonymous

    And today Motorola announces a developer version of the Droid Razr.

    Why not create an unlocked Droid Razr with a massive battery (and drop the stupid MAXX moniker) to begin with?

    What a douchebag move on Motorola’s part

  • http://www.facebook.com/willyboxc Wilson Gilley

    I took my OG motorola to verizon today since LTE just went hot in my market.. and wanted the droid razr maxx… they were sold out.. went with the galaxy nexus, have to sad i am going to have to pay a restocking fee and return it.. i like ICS.. the SPEAKER on it is AWFUL.. how come they can make such a good speaker on the OG droid.. and nothing else compares after it?? I miss the camera button… I hope phone designers get it together! :( 

    • http://www.starkinsider.com Clinton Stark

      Same here. Speaker was weak sauce on Nexus. Unfortunately a joke compared to OG Droid. I use the speaker a lot – conference calls, Nav, voicemails. This, along with battery life, were 2 big strikes against GNexus, as much as I like ICS.

      • Skeeterrock72

        I am with a Razr Maxx. I am on the 4th day and still have 70% battery life. I was lucky and Verizon swapped the troubled Bionic for the Maxx. I have no issues at all. I have learned that if you turn the 3g and 4g off your battery life increases. That is with any phone and now I check emails when I get a chance. Maxx is a home run from Moto and the quads will have to compete with this phone. I am set for a longtime. Hoping to get 4 years out of this phone.