March 18th 2014 11:32 am

Heads up! A newer version of this product has been announced and will be released in November, 2015!

final rating

reviewed on
this review has been viewed 7559 times

Criteria Comments Rating
  • Reception and call quality People hear me, even with lots of background noise, and I hear them, since this phone can get amazingly loud. The reception is amazing - no issues there. great!
  • Display Deep blacks, vivid colors, and 1080p make this a wonderful display (not to mention the 5 in screen is great). great!
  • Battery life Actually sort of surprised at how good the battery is, coming from the RAZR maxx. BEWARE: Verizon disables the super-power energy saver mode. great!
  • Camera Don't expect to take shots from super far away or to zoom in. However, every other shot you would take is really pretty, and the built in effects are nice. good
  • Ease of use The sense gestures on this are really great - the phone is tall, so some might have trouble reaching the power button, a double tap turns the screen on. Great! great!
  • Design and form factor There really isn't a phone out there that's 'prettier.' Maybe last years model? Sort of a toss up. The speakers are amazing, and the metal is beautiful. great!
  • Portability (size / weight) Fits well in my pocket, even for the height of this phone. Heavy in the sense that it feel 'premium.' great!
  • Media support Android supports everything, technically, being open source. Even if it wasn't, there is definitely an app that plays what you want. MX Player? great!
  • Durability The phone is more prone to scratch damage than actually 'breaking,' since its metal. Buy a case though, since the screen actually sits above the phone body. good
  • Ecosystem (apps, accessories, etc.) Android has the most apps of any ecosystem, and the native google support can't be beat (google now, gmail, docs, etc) great!
Detailed review
This review isn't going to go into as much detail as the review Engadget did, but is more just a few thoughts I have as an owner who's used it for a couple of weeks. Furthermore, this 'review' isn't going to be comparing the phone against it's predecessor (though some shots at its competitors might be made). I want to address what a lot of people think of as a 'bad' camera, and also a couple of other points that many reviews have left out.

Lets start with the quality of this phone. I read the review on Engadget before I made my purchase, and one thought that really stuck out at me was that the brushed finish on the metal was really nice. So nice in fact, that the phone was slippery. I can not stress enough how true this is. Yes, the phone looks fantastic. However, if you're trying to use it with one hand in the car, you're probably going to drop it. The sides are really skinny, and the back doesn't do much to help you grip it. For that reason, I recommend buying a case for this phone. Not only that, the finish is very prone to light scuffing. I've had mine for two weeks, and there's already a (hardly noticeable) scratch in one of the corners. Also, the glass of the screen literally sticks up off the body of the phone. Not sure how great that is at resisting breaks (maybe you drop it on the side or something?) but that might be one more reason to get a case. I don't own a case for it yet, but it is definitely on my agenda.

Second, the camera. It's not a terrible camera. It is only 4 MP (UP for you fanboys) but it definitely is capable of taking a pretty picture. Don't count on it to replace your fancy 300 dollar mirrorless 24x zoom point and shoot or your 1000 dollar dslr on a tripod. The camera was (presumably) designed for people who use their phones for snapchat, facebook, and other such applications. The shutter speed is amazing. Every time I press the 'shoot' button, I take like 10 pictures (of which the phone lets me pick the best), but again, that's after pressing the button once (I need to work on my ability to tap it seems).

Some people might call the effects on the camera gimmicky. For the most part, I would agree. However, the implementation of these gimmicks has been really well done, and for what they are, they look really nice. Personally, I've been using the depth of field option quite a bit to give my pictures a little more pizazz. It's interesting, but not something everyone is going to use or care about. The camera isn't great, but it isn't terrible, and it really should be up to you whether or not you need that in a phone. For me, I hardly ever use the camera except for documentation purposes, in which case I'm just making notes, so zooming isn't really necessary (zooming being the one downfall of this camera).

Lastly, I just want to talk about the speakers. This is probably the most original thing about the phone, and probably one of the biggest reasons to buy this phone. You hear EVERYTHING. When you call someone, you will never ask them to repeat themselves because your phone had a reception issue, or because your phone's tiny speaker behind your phone's tiny grill couldn't accurately decode the signal. If your friends are at a concert for example, where it is very loud, you will be able to tell what song the band is playing over all the noise in the crowd (speaking from experience).

Boomsound, while that sounds gimmicky too, is actually really nice. I use my phone a lot in the car to play music. I play that music over an audio cassette tape that has a headphone jack attached. The sound quality is incredible, especially when compared to my old phone. Futhermore, if you like games, the sound that comes out of these little speakers really adds something to the experience. I like racing games, so actually hearing the cars revving up and what not at frequencies within the human ears normal range (not the high pitched noise phones with smaller (read: average) speakers use) is quite nice.

Really, its a nice phone. No HDMI out (sort of a bummer), so if you want to play things on your TV, you need to have chromecast or an SD card reader. I would really recommend this to anyone who loves android but wants what iPhone has had every year: a premium experience. Another comment I might add: the best reason to buy this over the S5 or the G3 is the build quality, the speakers, and sense. I didn't talk a lot about sense, mostly because Engadget did a great job covering that, but sense is really nice. Some people may not like blinkfeed, which is fine, but every other feature is really something. It is incredibly light, but if you hate sense, there's always the google play version of the phone (I've also heard that you can switch between the two via root). The metal on this is really stunning. People will want to touch it, so be prepared to wipe it clean now and again.