Currently, in the United States, there are two ways to get the Razr. One is to sign up with Cingular Wireless and drop $500 (much cheaper at sites like Amazon and Buy) for it, with a contract, or get it ďunlocked,Ē with no contract, which can cost you as much as $750. As my contract with T-Mobile was over, I decided to go for the cheaper route.
I ordered the Razr and a Cingular rate plan for $340 after a $50 rebate from Buy.com. I received the phone the next week, and first opening box gave me quite a shocker. There is really not much you can think when initially seeing the Razr, other then ďsexy.Ē But more on that later.
In the box along with the phone, Cingular doesnít include much. I found a manual and a charger, nothing else. It also came in a boring Cingular box, while if you order it directly from Motorola, you get a fancy metal tin. I was disappointed here, Cingular! I just dropped a whole bunch of money on a cell phone, I could have at least gotten a USB cable, or even a Bluetooth headset!
Okay, straight-up, this is the best-designed phone I have ever seen. It really is absolutely stunning to look at. But, lets go through the design, shall we?
The first thing you notice about the Razr is obviously the thickness, or should I say, lack of thickness. The phone is just 14mm thick, and holds the record for being the thinnest cell phone on the market. Unfortunately, itís width makes up for the thinness, as it 53mm wide, which does initially look somewhat awkward. However, this is accustomed to.
On the front of the phone, you find two noticeable things, one being the color external LCD, and the other being the camera. The LCD is capable of displaying 4,096 colors, and gives you basic information, such as the time, signal strength, and battery life. If you have a picture attached to someone in your address book, the picture will show up on the external LCD when that person calls. The camera is much less impressive, however. Itís just a VGA camera, and with 1.3MP phones on the market, and 2MP models coming soon, VGA just doesnít stand out. That said, it is just a camera phone, and was never intended to replace a normal camera.
The left side of the phone has a number of things, one being the charger/mini-USB port. Thatís right, this phone has a mini-USB port right on the phone, so you can charge it while it is connected to the computer via USB, or you can charge it via the included AC adaptor. While Cingular did not include a USB cable, I found that my Sony digital camera cable fit the mini-USB port, and worked when connected to my iMac G5 without issues.
Also on the left side youíll find three buttons. These are, strangely, on the LCD part of the phone, not on the actual base, which does feel somewhat awkward. I assume this was done to keep the thickness down. Anyway, the top two buttons control the volume of the phone, and the bottom button does two different things. When the phone is closed, holding down the button activates the camera on the external LCD, and pressing it again takes a picture. When the phone is open, the button is used as a shortcut key.
On the right side, youíll find a single button which is used for voice command/voice dialing. On the bottom, things are much less exciting. Youíll see the speakerphone speaker, as well as the battery cover. Taking off the cover reveals (surprise) the battery, as well as the SIM card.
Opening up the phone is where things get interesting. This reveals the phoneís giant 262,000 color LCD screen, which looks absolutely outstanding, and by all means looks better then my previous Motorola v80 screen. It is really no comparison. However, it only displays 64,000 colors, but more on that later. Just below the screen is the keypad, which is actually chemically etched into metal, to keep the phone thin. It looks and feels incredible, but it may take some getting used to, as it does feel different then any other phone. People who Iíve shown the phone to actually thought it was a touch-pad; however, it is not. You do need to press down on the keys to input numbers/letters. Besides the standard 10 numbers, and # and * keys, youíll find quite a few buttons. To begin with, youíll notice that Motorola finally has the start/end keys laid out correctly. It has been a long-standing complaint that Motorola puts these two keys opposite to other cell phone manufacturers, and Motorola has finally corrected this. Just above this are the internet and messages shortcuts, which do come in handy. Right above that is the navigational buttons, and the selection buttons. The keypad does get very dirty, however, and does require cleaning often if you like keeping your phone looking new.
It is worth noting that this phone is made with aircraft-grade aluminum. Iím not sure if the aircraft-grade part is just a bunch of propaganda, but it sure is fun to tell your friends.
Like Iíve been saying, the design of the V3 Razr is unparalleled to any other phone Iíve seen, and if you do see something that rivals itís design, I ask you to send me a quick e-mail about it.
Any design complaints with the the V3? For one thing, itís a big too wide for my taste. I suppose this was necessary to hold the internal antenna, the keypad, etc. in such a thin unit, but it still is bothersome. Another thing that irks me is the fact that there is no headphone port. I am thinking they took it out because it has Bluetooth, and to avoid the ugly little headphone port, but I donít have a Bluetooth headset, and I would have liked to use my current headset. Other then those two minimal issues, the V3 is virtually flawless design-wise.
Features and Function
For the $500 price of this phone, I expected more then what the V3 Razr offered. While it does have the expected things, like Bluetooth and a camera, it would have been nice to see something unique, making it worth the extravagant price. I know other phones that actually have cheaper MSRPís have things such as video recording, and expandable memory.
This leads to the next problem; the memory, just 5MB, is not upgradeable. Most Nokia phones, and even some Sony Ericssons offer expandability through memory card, while the V3 does not. While this isnít a huge deal, it may annoy some who take lots of pictures on their phone, or have a lot of applications/games. A slot to insert a small SD card would be greatest appreciated in the next revision.
How about a run-through of the features it does have. Obviously, it has Bluetooth, which is becoming more and more common on cell phones these days. Bluetooth support seems to be pretty good, although donít expect to use iSync with the phone on OS X, as Motorola phones do not support iSync. The phone can connect with OS X to upload/download photos and music, but thats the limit for Mac users. I have not been able to test Bluetooth support with a Windows system. I have also used the phone with an X-Micro headset, and that was flawless.
The camera is another nice feature to have, although donít expect, like all other camera phones, to be able to print your photos, as this phone uses a VGA camera, which takes just a 640x480 image. The image quality is fine for the phone screen, but it looks less then favorable on a computer monitor.
The UI (user interface) of any cell phone should be considered a big priority, as it is what you use to interact with it. Having a weak user interface could drive you crazy when trying to do simple things, such as changing your ringtone. Unfortunately, this is one of those phones. While it is not as bad as that, the Motorola UI is considered the worst in the business by virtually everyone, and Motorola really needs to improve it.
Speaking of the UI, it only supports 64,000 colors. So even though the screen is capable of 262,000 colors, youíll only see 64,000. Stupid, right?
The phone book on the phone, a primary feature for virtually all users, is also less then favorable. The main problem? The simple fact that you cannot associate more then one phone number with one contact, making your phone book list longer then needed. You need to add a new contact for each person, which is just so illogical, and Motorola needs to fix this. While it is nice to be able to see the picture of the person while scrolling through the phone book, this huge shortcoming really brings down the quality and usability of the phone book.
The phone has such features such as a datebook and calculator, which is nice to have. It also has an alarm clock, which I actually use for my morning ďwake-up call.Ē Cingular loads up the phone with AIM, which works pretty nice, provided you can type quickly.
SMS is also pretty decent, as it offers all the features youíd expect from it. It does not use T9 for text entry, but iTAP, which is different, but definitely not a shortcoming. MMS is similar to SMS, as it has no noticeable problems.
The phone can playback videos (though I am unsure of which formats) and MP3ís, which is pretty cool. Of course, remember that you have just 5MB of memory, so just one song will probably take up most of your memory, leaving you little room for pictures and applications. You can also set your ringtone as an MP3, which is really cool, though I still havenít decided on a song to use.
The phone also has a great sounding speakerphone, which really does come in handy.
I donít really want to go too in-depth on the software on the phone, as that wasnít my intention of this review. The bottom-line, regarding the user interface, is that Motorola has much to improve. Software-wise, Motorola is doing okay, as there are no serious shortcomings they need to worry about. New features would be nice, though.
Battery Life and Voice Quality
Iíve been able to get about a week of standby time on this phone, which is pretty good. Though, this number does drastically drop when Bluetooth is constantly on. Talk time varies, but I would say 4 hours is a good estimate.
I dropped the phone once, and I havenít found any dents or scratches from that drop, but still, the phone does not seem like it is very durable, and I would take some caution when handling it.
Voice quality, like other Motorola phones I have had the opportunity of using, is excellent. Speakerphone quality is excellent as well.
This phone gives probably one of the best examples of form over function. The price of this phone is solely because of its razor thin design, and nothing else. While it does have some nice features, phones that you can get for free with a new contract probably can compete.
$500 for a phone is a bit outrageous. And although you may get this phone for cheaper online, walking into a Cingular store and buying this phone sill set you down $500. You can do quite a bit for $500.
There are a few things to consider, though. Memory is limited, and isnít expandable, and the features are nothing to be wowed by. The phone is a bit wide, and the screen only supports 64,000 colors. The camera is just VGA, and the UI is horrible. If these issues are a big deal to you, then there are better phones out there that can be had for much less. However, you have to factor in the shocking and stunning design of the V3 Razr. There is no denying the fact that this is a sleek phone, and there is a premium to pay for it. If you feel that the design is worth the extra cash, then purchase it, by all means. Itís a great phone to have, even with the shortcomings. You simply need to decide whether function or form is more important.
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