Motorola DROID RAZR vs Samsung Galaxy S II

Introduction and Design

For the umpteenth time it’s going to be tough as nails to choose a smartphone this holiday season, since the companies again saved their most potent gunpowder for the last quarter.

The excellent Motorola DROID RAZR is guilty as charged, since it appears in the busiest shopping month of the year, and that’s why we are pitting it against another Android gem – the Samsung Galaxy S II - in order to ease your choice. Read on for the help file...

For the purpose of this comparison, we are using the Motorola DROID RAZR in its GSM variant. It is identical to the one available on Verizon, except featuring different radio.


The Motorola DROID RAZR and the Galaxy S II leave a very similar impression when held – that of thin and feathery handsets, which go barely noticed in your pocket despite the generous 4.3” display.

The Galaxy S II is lighter and less unpretentious with its all-plastic chassis, whereas the  RAZR throws in a Kevlar back and steel frame, which add to the weight, but somehow don’t contribute to a premium feeling - Kevlar actually feels like lino to the touch,. The RAZR is slightly wider than the Galaxy S II or other 4.3” handsets, due to a thick bezel, and will beuncomfortable for some to operate with one hand.

The RAZR is unbelievably thin, though, with a 0.28” (7.1mm) profile, except for the about 0.41” (10.6mm) camera part at the top. It’s undeniably a great design achievement by Motorola. Not that the Galaxy S II is fat with its 0.33” (8.49mm) for the most part, and 0.39” (9.91mm) at the thickest.

Another feature that sets the two apart is the display technology – we have the Super AMOLED Plus on the Galaxy S II with a standard RGB matrix and 480x800 resolution, and the qHD Super AMOLED Advanced in the RAZR with 540x960 pixels, achieved via the PenTile arrangement.

The 218ppi pixel density on the Galaxy S II is not as high as the 256ppi one on the RAZR, but it is achieved with a standard RGB matrix and does the job, whereas the PenTile pixel arrangement of the RAZR’s screen is visible when you look up close, despite the qHD resolution. That’s only if you examine the display closer, though.

The AMOLED colors are more saturated, even gaudy in the case of the RAZR, whereas the Galaxy S II is toned down in comparison, but both have the typical for Super AMOLED cold colors that make white seem blueish. Samsung's handset has a brighter display, that also seems slightly less reflective outside, and these help with outdoor visibility.

The volume rocker on the Samsung Galaxy S II is more comfortable to find and press, compared to the one on the RAZR, which is too short and flush with the right side. The microUSB port sits at the bottom on Samsung's handset and doubles as an MHL connector for mirroring the display. The RAZR has all the ports stuffed at the top at its widest part, and sports the more standard microHDMI port for TV connectivity.

Motorola DROID RAZR 360 Degrees View:

Samsung Galaxy S II 360 Degrees View:

Interface and Functionality:

The interfaces are not created equal – TouchWiz 4.0 came a long way from its initial cartoonish looks, and is more refined and comprehensive than the Motorola DROID RAZR's interface, which doesn’t go into Android as deep. Still, HTC would laugh at the interface efforts of those two with its complex Sense UI.

Both phones offer features like transitional animations and a variety of resizable widgets. Icons, buttons and other interface elements are more rounded in TouchWiz 4.0, and fairly rectangular with Motorola's UI.

The Galaxy S II responsiveness with the Exynos processor and ARM Mali-400 GPU is very snappy, while the RAZR sports a TI OMAP 4430 dual-core chip and the oldie but goodie PowerVR SGX540 GPU. Quadrant scores seem to synthetically put the Galaxy S II ahead - – about 3000 vs 2500 – but more things are at play when determining performance than benchmarks.

The RAZR has the upper hand with 4GB of ROM for installing apps, while both handsets sport 1GB of RAM.

Typing on the two phones is very easy with the excellent on-screen keyboards. The Samsung Galaxy S II has slightly larger space between keys, making it easier to type, though.


The Motorola DROID RAZR leaves us scratching our head at times with the wide-ranging quality of its default apps. In the Gallery, for instance, you can’t interact with the stacks of your pics or videos right away, but have to choose an option among unwieldy-looking buttons first. Also, trying to zoom in a picture moves it as shutter blinds compared to the fluid movement in the Galaxy S II, but you can rotate it around with your fingers.

On the other hand, it offers a good set of preinstalled apps, like Smart Actions, which is like action macros you can run or record for you handset, and MOTOPRINT for wireless printing. The Samsung Galaxy S II also offers quite a few useful apps, and some are beautifully integrated like the photo editor in the Gallery.

Internet and Connectivity:

The two smartphones have excellent browsers, as we'd expect from their dual-core processors, with the more fluid navigation packed with the Galaxy S II, which offers slightly smoother scrolling and panning. Both sport very good Adobe Flash support and have large screen real estate to enjoy your websites. The RAZR has the less functional browser interface – you can’t view snapshots of your open tabs, for example, like on the Galaxy S II, as they are merely presented as a list.

The Galaxy S II sports a 21Mbps 4G HSDPA radio, and the Motorola DROID RAZR has a Qualcomm MDM6600 GSM/CDMA dual-baseband , whose HSPA+ mode goes up to  14.4Mbps download speeds, provided that your carrier supports them at all.


Both phones have 8MP camera modules capable of 1080p HD video, while the Samsung Galaxy S II has a more sophisticated camera UI, with plenty of shooting modes, scenes and effects you can apply to your photos and videos, and time between pictures is also very short. The Motorola DROID RAZR offers some adjustments and scene modes, including Panorama, but the experience is more cumbersome, and shot-to-shot times are about six seconds compared to four with the Galaxy S II at the same scene.

The Galaxy S II's photos exhibit very good characteristics in terms of sharpness and captured detail, but the colors are a tad colder than reality, and not as likeable with the default settings. The RAZR pales in comparison, with its noisy photos that are lacking sharpness and contrast. The RAZR has trouble focusing in low-light situations, and its photos turn out grainy and soft.

Both handsets shoot 1080p video with 30fps, which runs smooth, but we would rank it again in favor of the Galaxy S II, beating the soft, blander RAZR clips. Despite its colder tones, video from the Samsung Galaxy S II just looks better on the screen, since its details and sharpness are superior to footage from the RAZR. Motorola's phone does a good job a noise suppression when you are talking, while the Galaxy S II has cleaner and stronger audio capture overall while filming.

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Motorola DROID RAZR Sample Video:

Samsung Galaxy S II Sample Video:

Motorola DROID RAZR Indoor Sample Video:

Samsung Galaxy S II Indoor Sample Video:


Music playback from the handsets is very good, and the players support all the basic functions we’ve come to expect from high-end handsets, like categorizing by album, artist, song or playlists.

In terms of eye-candy the Samsung Galaxy S II uses more colors, transparencies and transitional animation, while the RAZR offers an album art carousel in landscape mode.

As far as functionality goes, the RAZR's player is powered by TuneWiki, which retrieves the lyrics of the currently played song, and also gives you the full biography and discography of an artist, including their upcoming shows straight from the player's interface.

Samsung's phone provides mock surround sound in headset mode, which works pretty well, and it can also apply a number of sound modes like Concert Hall and equalizer presets of your choosing to the tunes. The Motorola DROID RAZR has different sound profiles, too, and they work with the loudspeaker, which is pretty potent, offering strong volume and clearer sound than the Galaxy S II one.

The Samsung Galaxy S II grabs the prize in video playback compared to the RAZR, though, as it supports DivX/Xvid codecs by default.


The Motorola DROID RAZR takes the crown here with its excellent call quality – a clear and strong sound both in the earpiece and on the receiving end through the noise-canceling microphones is something in the best traditions of one of the first cell phone companies.

The Galaxy S II also provides for a very good calling experience, with clearly defined voices in the earpiece, and discerning microphones, but the ear-speaker is not as powerful.

Battery life is rated as longer on the Motorola DROID RAZR – 9 hours and 20 minutes of talk time in 3G mode - which is becoming a staple for Moto’s handsets with the power-sipping TI OMAP processor family. Samsung Galaxy S II is also very good at power management – we got 62 hours of standby combined with normal usage from the handset during our review.


You can’t go wrong with any of these two Android powerhouses, as they both offer top class specifications, with large and vivid Super AMOLED displays and capable dual-core processors packed in slim bodies.

The Samsung Galaxy S II is a tad narrower than the RAZR, which makes it more comfortable to operate for some. It is able to capture very good pictures and video with the 8MP camera module, and has the DivX/Xvid video codecs hardwired.

The Motorola DROID RAZR, on the other hand, is extremely thin, but rigid with its metal frame and unique with the Kevlar-woven back. It sports excellent call quality with its distinct and strong earpiece, and uncompromising microphones, but the pictures and video from its own 8MP camera are lacking in comparison with the Galaxy S II.

The handsets are running in a comparable price range, so the choice could very well boil down to personal preferences involving the designs and interfaces.

Motorola DROID RAZR vs Samsung Galaxy S II:

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