June 28th, 2007
There’s no denying it, love it or hate it, Motorola’s RAZR was a hit. If you don’t believe me go outside and chances are you’ll see someone using a RAZR of some sort.
Anyways it’s been a while since the RAZR came out and despite numerous revisions; v3, v3i, v3t, v3c, v3m, etc. it’s starting to get a little long in tooth. While the new versions sometimes improved on the original RAZR, they all look more or less the same.
That’s where the RAZR2 comes in. Sure it has a RAZRy profile but the RAZR2 is a totally new phone. It runs Motorola’s latest Linux/Java menu system, it’s thinner, has a humongous external display and just plain looks a lot more modern than the original RAZR.
For now the RAZR2 comes in two flavours; v8 and v9. The v8 can have around 450 to 1950MB of memory built-in while the v9 has HSDPA and an external memory card slot. If you can choose, the v9 is the one you want. I’ll be reviewing the v8 today.
Make sure you check out the gallery for some pictures.
At 118g, the v8 is no light weight. That said the extra heft is perfect for the v8. Compared to a RAZR, the v8 feels more valuable and substantial even though it’s quite a bit thinner.
If you found the 14mm RAZR to be too chubby for your pockets you’ll be happy to know that the v8 is a mere 12mm thick.
The thinness of the v8 means it fits great in your pocket but it does make it slightly difficult to open.
The keys feel like the RAZR’s they’re really flat but work well. I like how the v8′s navigation pad is noticeably bigger. The keys are not seperated vertically so sometimes it can be tricky to use them without looking.
The back is covered with rubberized paint while the front is plastic with some shiny paint on it.
You get a 2.2″ TFT display on the inside (same size as the RAZR). It has a resolution of 240×320 (pretty standard) and can display up to 262,000 colours. The outer display is a larger-than-the-average-external display that measures a whopping 2.0″ TFT display (RAZR has a puny 1.0″). It also has a resolution of 240×320 and can display up to 262,000 colours. The lower part of the display is touch sensitive. It’s not touch sensitive in that it can be used to enter text but it allows for some virtual buttons which you can press.
On the v8, the external display is used to control music playback when the phone is closed and camera self portraits. Also remember that having such a large external display looks really sweet. With the v9 I’m guessing you can use it for video conferencing too.
The RAZR and RAZR2 both have similar shapes but the RAZR2 lacks the RAZR’s bump at the bottom of the keypad. When I used to use a RAZR I would hold it around the bump since it was the only thick part of the phone. It made it easier to wrap my fingers around it when I was talking on it. The RAZR2 lacks this bump so I really couldn’t find an easy way to hold it since it’s so thin and wide. Another thing I found was if I gripped the RAZR2 tightly I would end up pressing the ‘end’ button which isn’t good if you’re in a call. The lack of the bump makes the RAZR2 look cool but it also makes it difficult to hold for extended periods of time. If you’re going to make a lot of long calls get a Bluetooth headset.
It wasn’t apparent to me at first but the RAZR2 has some nice finishing touches. Take a look at the gallery. First off, notice how the Motorola logo on front of the phone is surrounded by a sort of machined finish. The v3i has the same sort of finish but on the v8 the finish is behind a clear coat so that it won’t attract dust like on the v3i. Next notice my close up of the side buttons; they have the same sort of machined finish. The sides are surrounded by a dimpled look. Notice how the box has the same pattern on it. Finally look at a closed v8 sideways and notice the curve where the top part of the flip meets the bottom part. The packaging that holds the v8 has the same curve.
There is support for Bluetooth headsets, stereo headphones, micro USB headphones and a speakerphone.
The speakerphone’s maximum volume is about average (it’s not that useful in loud environments).
There’s a voice command button on the right side of the phone. It isn’t Voice Signal but it’s similar. You can use it to call phonebook entries, dial numbers, launch certain programs, change profiles, etc.
While the RAZR used a mini usb connector, the v8′s thin profile means it has to use a micro USB connector. The micro USB connector is used for wired headsets, charging and for connecting to computers. It is compatible with mini USB connectors if you have the appropriate adapter.
One of the main differences between the RAZR2 v8 and v9 are that the v8 lacks a memory card slot but can come with more internal memory. The v8 supports HSDPA and memory cards.
From this point on, most of my v8 review is lifted from my z6 review since they both run the same software. If you want to see pictures of the software check out the gallery from my z6 review.
Software wise, the v8 runs Motorola Linux/Java interface. It’s reminiscent of the RAZR’s menu but really it’s completely different inside.
The menu speed is pretty amazing, it’s incredibly responsive.
I found the menu sounds to be pretty interesting; I actually left them on instead of turning them off immediately like I usually do. When you use the external virtual buttons the phone will shake gently – it’s really cool.
I love the new interface. It’s so much better than the one from the original RAZR.
Phone Related Features:
The phonebook is pretty straight forward. It’s split into entries; each entry can have multiple bits of information. Types of information are sorted into tabs which is similar to newer Sony Ericsson phones. You can search the phonebook by typing part of the entry’s name. Pretty standard stuff.
You can remote sync the v8 with an exchange server (I didn’t try this but there’s an option for it).
I noticed that you can quickly change the v8′s profile by pressing either side mounted volume buttons. This is a nice change from older Motorola phones where pressing up will cause the phone to ring. When you press a volume button the phone will shake lightly. Now that’s great tactile response!
You get a mini USB connector hidden behind a port cover on the right side. There are 4 different USB modes; Media Synchronization, Memory card, modem and USB printing.
When the v8 is in Media Synchronization mode you can sync media files to it using Windows Media Player. Memory card mode is also known as Mass Storage Mode. You can transfer files to the v8 without needing special drivers in this mode. I clocked the v8 at a respectable 820 Kb/s.
There is an email app that is separate from the messaging one. The email app supports IMAP4 and POP3. It works well and is pretty fast. You can still read messages while the v8 is grabbing your email.
Browsing duties are handled by Opera Mini. If you’ve never used Opera Mini on a ‘regular’ (non-smart) phone let me say it totally kicks ass. Opera Mini uses a proxy server. Basically means that when you request a page, the request gets sent to another computer, that computer downloads the page, reformats it and shrinks the images and then sends it to your phone. This way pages load up faster plus it requires less data to transmit.
I liked the history as well as the support for multiple browser windows. You can have Opera resize webpages so that you can view them without having to scroll horizontally or as they would be rendered on your computer.
Opera is pretty speedy when it comes to scrolling through webpages. I just wish there was a page up/down button.
There’s a 2 megapixel camera. Resolution is ok though the colour isn’t as vibrant as they could be. It’s very ‘camera phone’ looking.
The camcorder app can only record videos with resolutions of up to 176 x 144.
The mp3 player is alright. You can sort your music by artist/album/genre/composer. There’s a playlist feature. You also get some audio processing options like a spatializer function plus you can adjust the bass settings or use the bass boost.
There’s a dedicated music player key + a background play feature. You can use A2DP Stereo Bluetooth Headphones to listen to music. The music player supports AVRCP so you can control it using A2DP headphones.
You can operate the music player when the phone is closed via the virtual buttons on the external display.
Unfortunately you can’t use the external display to watch videos. Hopefully this will change in the production version.
The basic organizer apps are included; Calendar, Alarm Clock, World Clock, Calculator, Task List, Notes and Voice recorder.
The alarm clock has been changed so that it’s a lot more intuitive to use. You can now see the current time when you’re setting the alarm. I was a little disappointed to see that you still have to set an alarm as ‘on’ even after you set its time.
The Calendar and Notes apps can synchronize with Outlook on your PC using Mobile Phone Tools.
There’s a file manager which you can use to browse the contents of the phone’s file system.
The v8 I’m testing is a preproduction unit. As such there are still some issues that need to be ironed out like tuning for the RF part of the phone. I’ll comment more on my impressions of the v8′s RF and update this review with an overall score later.
I found the v8 uncomfortable to use because the ear piece didn’t feel right pressed against my ear. To the v8′s credit the earpiece does have a long sweet spot. The microphone is located to the right of the 6 so it’s easy to accidentally cover it when you’re holding the v8.
Visually the v8 has a lot of wow factor to it. It’s shiny, has a huge external display plus it’s really thin. However, the extreme thinness is a double edge sword; it looks cool but makes the phone hard to hold.
Feature wise the v8 is fairly up to date. You get most of the features you’d expect with the exception of a memory card slot and HSPDA. Both of these features can be found on the v9.
|Ratings (out of 5)|
|Phone Related Features||4|
|Ease of Use||2.5|
|Degree of Customizability||4|
|Overall (not an average)||?|
|*Please note these ratings are temporal and are really only valid for the date they were assigned. A phone which receives a rating of 5 a year ago will probably get a lower rating today.|
- Fast USB transfers
- Screens are large and looks great
- External playback buttons are useful
- Phone will fit in any pocket
- No HSDPA
- No dedicated buttons to control music playback
- Too thin to hold for long periods of time
Entry Filed under: Phones