Android smartphone smackdown: Droid Razr vs. Galaxy Nexus

Motorola and Samsung yesterday debuted two devices that mark the next generation of Android phones.

Both the Motorola Droid Razr and the Galaxy Nexus feature dual-core processors, LTE connectivity and cameras capable of shooting 1080p HD video. But they also have key differences that make them unique on the ever-competitive smartphone market. In this article we'll break down the devices' internal and external specifications as well as the differences in the mobile platforms loaded onto each one.

FIRST LOOK: The Motorola Droid Razr

External design and display screen: The Droid Razr is now the thinnest smartphone on the market at just 7.1mm thick, or more than 2mm thinner than the iPhone 4S. It also features a 4.3-inch display screen made from Corning Gorilla Glass and a sturdy frame made from laser-cut Kevlar fiber. Any way you slice it, the Droid Razr's design is state-of-the-art. The Galaxy Nexus aims to be bigger, as it is 8.84mm thick and features a 4.65-inch HD display screen with edge-to-edge 720p resolution.

Both devices have cameras that can shoot video at 1080p, but the Razr's 8-megapixel camera has a stronger standstill resolution than the Galaxy's 5-megapixel camera. Of course, the Galaxy also has the ability to shoot panoramic photographs with the help of the new Android 4.0 ("Ice Cream Sandwich") operating system, so that makes the comparison a bit of a push.

Although both have terrific designs, we're going to give the edge to the Razr because, let's face it, how often do you get to boast that your smartphone is made from Kevlar?

Internal specs and connectivity: Both devices have cutting-edge dual-core 1.2GHz processors and 1GB of RAM, meaning you should expect them to be very fast when it comes to multitasking. As far as batteries go, both are fairly comparable with the Razr's 1780 mAh battery slightly edging out the Galaxy's 1750 mAh battery. Both devices have LTE connectivity, although the Droid Razr is an exclusive to Verizon while the Galaxy Nexus is expected to be available on multiple carriers. As such, the Galaxy also has HSPA+ connectivity for carriers that either haven't got LTE up and running yet or that only offer LTE in limited markets.

Software and operating system: Now this is where the differences between the two devices really become apparent. The Galaxy Nexus is the first device to come loaded with the Android 4.0 ("Ice Cream Sandwich") platform that Google hopes will unify the Android experience on smartphones and tablets alike. As you might expect, this new operating system comes with nifty new features including a lock screen that can unlock using facial recognition software; Android Beam, a new technology that lets users send contact information, directions, Web pages and more though near-field communications technology by tapping their phones together; and integration with the Google+ social network that lets users host online video chats among their circles of friends.

While the Droid Razr runs on the older Android 3.2 ("Gingerbread") platform, Motorola has made sure to preload goodies of its own onto the device to differentiate it from past Droid models. The most notable is MotoCast, an application that creates a private cloud for data stored on your personal computer and makes it available for use on your smartphone. So if you want to access your favorite workout playlist without wasting storage space, you can simply stream it from your personal cloud right to your device. The other key apps are Smart Action, which provides multiple ways to conserve battery power, such as automatically shutting down your GPS and Bluetooth connections once it's connected to your home Wi-Fi network, and the Webtop application that integrates your device into your laptop dock and makes the phone essentially serve as a mini PC.

The bottom line: You can't go wrong with either of these devices. They both have top-notch hardware, the fastest mobile connectivity available and unique features and applications that set them apart from other big-name smartphones. Any other manufacturer contemplating releasing an Android phone in the near future should know that these devices are the new standards they'll have to meet.

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