Well, it’s been over a week since I first downloaded the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich update for my DROID RAZR and I’m finally ready to give my complete feelings about it. Read on to find out everything!
I stated in my initial impressions that the update greatly improved the speed and performance of the device. I’m happy to say that after a week and a half this has yet to change. The overall speed and fluidity of the device is just as good as when I first updated. Scrolling is much smoother, pinch zooming is more fluid and natural, and the phone feels like a whole new machine. I have to say though, I came across some issues at first. The biggest issue of all was a strange bug with my microSD card. I was using a Samsung built 16GB microSD card in the phone but didn’t have anything stored on it as it hadn’t been compatible with the RAZR since I bought it (Note: I’m not sure if this was an incompatibility issue or the microSD had a problem. I’m fairly positive that it was just incompatible as it worked fine on my old Samsung Fascinate). As soon as I completed the update to Ice Cream Sandwich, I began to notice that every time the device was restarted, it would have all sorts of problems. First of all, it would freeze up as soon as it began to scan the microSD card. If it managed to unfreeze then the screen would turn black but the capacitative buttons would stay lit. The screen would still respond to touch but I couldn’t see anything which caused the problem of trying to figure out exactly where the power off button was on the screen. Resets wouldn’t help and I finally was able to pin down the problem to the microSD card. As soon as I popped it out, the phone began to work just fine. I’m not sure what’s wrong but it was a fairly serious bug that really should have been caught before the update was released. In any case, I sincerely hope that Motorola will find this problem and issue a fix for it.
With Ice Cream Sandwich being the major update that it is, it was bound to be packed to the gills with new features. I’ve given some of those features a spin and found some to be quite useful and others to be just gimmicks. One of the handiest features that I found was being able to access your notifications straight from the lockscreen. This is incredibly handy and I can’t tell you how many times a day that I use it. It may not be a big time saver, but it shaves off a few seconds of otherwise wasted time. And while we’re talking about the lockscreen, the new slide unlock screen is very nice. You can access the camera, phone, and text messaging apps straight from it as well as being able to unlock the phone. The only downside is that you can’t customize these to your preferences. For example, I don’t use the standard text messaging app for my texting needs so it’s a wasted shortcut for me. Not a huge thing, but an annoyance nonetheless. One of the more gimmicky new features is Face Unlock. The concept is that you simply look at the phone and it will unlock but I found it to be finnicky and much more trouble than it’s worth. It’s a cool feature to show off to your friends but be careful, there’s a good chance that you’ll probably just end up embarrassing yourself instead. One new thing that isn’t so useless is the built-in data tracker. You can now set caps and notifications for when you reach your data limit. I gave it a try and it seemed nice even though I personally won’t use it as I have unlimited data. For people on tiered data though, this could be a miracle for helping you to stay under your limit each month.
Look And Feel
Android 4.0 brings about a major UI overhaul from past versions and I have to say, it is one sexy operating system. The new text font, Roboto, is beautiful and makes everything look much more clean and sophisticated. The launcher bar is simple and attractive and the entire operating system now has a unified feel, something that past versions of Android lacked. But what really amazes me is the way that Motorola skinned the OS. It’s a far cry from the old MotoBLUR and MAP user interfaces that used to hang overhead like a looming omen of death. This version is light and airy. The only real changes come in with icons. The rest is almost completely stock and I’m just fine with that. It’s much better having a pretty stock interface rather than having an ugly manufacturer overlay. It gets my thumbs-up of approval. Good going, Motorola.
Rumors have been flying around of major battery issues for owners of the RAZR/RAZR MAXX. I haven’t experienced any of these and battery life has remained largely the same as prior to the update. That means that with light to moderate usage I can make it through the day pretty easily. From around 7:30 a.m. to 11:15 p.m. that is. With heavier use, I have to charge it around 5:00 or 6:00 p.m. Not the greatest but it works. Keep in mind that battery life will vary depending on your settings and types of connectivity so take this with several grains of salt.
If you have a DROID RAZR or RAZR MAXX then I can only urge you to download this update as soon as you can. It’s completely worth upgrading and as long as you’re not using a Samsung microSD card, you should be free of troubles. Motorola struck home with the update and the way that they pulled it off. And of course, Google deserves a lot of credit for the hard work that they put into making ICS great. At the end of the day, the update works better than expected and brings in some new functionality as well as improving on the old. This gains the DroidDog stamp of approval and is something that should be downloaded if you haven’t already done it.