First Impressions: Ice Cream Sandwich On The DROID RAZR

Since last Friday, owners of the Motorola DROID RAZR and RAZR MAXX have been watching their devices like a hawk hoping that the long awaited Ice Cream Sandwich update would roll out to their device. Motorola and Verizon finally gave the green light to the mass public rollout today and since about 2:00 p.m. this afternoon, I’ve been testing the update and am ready to give you my initial thoughts.

Performance

This thing is fast. And when I say fast, I mean that it’s a speed demon. Seriously, this thing no longer has slowdowns. Everything runs smooth and fluid without a hitch. Apps open quickly, touch responsiveness is snappy, scrolling is smooth, and the phone just runs well. One thing to note though is that many RAZR owners have been reporting large amounts of lag after they install the update. I found that a simple reboot of the device fixed this issue so if you experience this, just give your device a quick restart and see if it helps.

Design

Ice Cream Sandwich is a huge leap forward in design from the old Gingerbread with Motorola overlay software. The new design is seamless and flows well throughout the operating system and apps that utilize the Holo theme blend right in with the beautiful and simplistic design. Everything has a nice polished look to it and yet still functions with all the features that are needed. A big thumbs-up has to go to Motorola for keeping the experience mostly stock. Some of the built-in applications are slightly tweaked and you get the usual amount of bloatware, but most of it is quite stock besides changed icons. Good job, Moto. This is a huge advance from previous versions of Blur and MAP.

Functionality

While past versions of Motorola’s software have been functional, this latest upgrade adds some nice new features such as a much improved lockscreen that allows you to toggle volume and choose to either unlock the screen, open the camera, open the dialer, or open text messaging. Unfortunately, you can’t customize which apps to have there which is a bit of a downside but isn’t too bad. Also, you can check your notifications straight from the lockscreen which is a nice bonus. Next up is the camera which adds in a new panorama mode, time lapse video, and the ability to snap photos while recording video. Pretty snazzy if I may say so myself. After that comes the new multitasking menu which is easier to use and navigate than past implementations. Simply hold down the home button and you get your nice list of apps that can be easily swiped away to close. The new notification menu brings new functionality by allowing you to swipe away notifications to dismiss them along with giving you a shortcut to the settings. And finally, the data tracker. This is a great feature for people who are on a tiered data plan or one of Verizon’s new shared plans and need to set a limit for themselves. I can’t say from firsthand experience how functional this will be to you seeing as everyone’s data needs are different and I personally have unlimited data but it’s a great thing to have if you need to set caps or warnings for yourself.

Other Things

There’s lots of nice features to come with this latest update, much too many to list but I’ll list off some notable ones. You can now use your phone as a global device so it will work overseas on other carriers, you can have access to ICS only apps such as Chrome for Android, you can enjoy the new People app, and you can take advantage of numerous other features that come with it. Stay tuned for my full review in the coming days as I’ll have had a chance to travel with the device and see how it performs and how battery life holds up. In the meantime, if you have a DROID RAZR or RAZR MAXX then head over into the About Phone section of your Settings and check for the update!

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