Motorola RAZR2 V9 review

May 25th, 2008

The Motorola V3 was one of the best selling mobile phones in history. By 2006, Motorola had sold over 50 Million units of the V3 and its variants. It was a breakthrough in mobile phone design due to its ultra slim, sleek and minimalistic approach to what a handset should be. This industry leading accomplishment in space saving technology has proven a massive success with consumers and has made the V3 one of the most popular phone models ever.

When Howard first handed me the phone, I was very surprised by how the phone was weighted. It has the presence of a luxury watch.

The battery door of the V9 has a rubber paint finish and is very soft and smooth to sight and touch, yet it also provides a good grip. The phone itself has a very nice finish to it with a very rich and luxurious shine. The sides of the phone are textured so you don’t have to be afraid of the phone slipping out of your hand. First impressions are very important and the V9 knows this, it is very luxurious, sublime and poised. When you look at it, it demands your attention; it demands to be taken seriously.

When you first lay eyes on the V9 you can’t help but notice the large external screen coming in just shy of 2.0”. Flip it open and you’re welcomed by a nicely-sized 2.2” internal screen. The V9 is equipped with a 3G WCDMA/HSDPA chip allowing for high-speed connectivity which allows for high data speeds and lower latency which is a welcomed feature to those who would like to use the Video Calling feature.

Speaking of Video Calling, a 2.0 Megapixel Camera is planted onto the V9 and sports a modest 8x Digital Zoom.

As expected from modern phones, the V9 also has a Bluetooth (with EDR 2+) connectivity; the neat thing about Bluetooth connectivity in the V9 is that it supports A2DP thus allowing for users to listen to music through a Bluetooth headset.

Going back to how the phone looks and feel; flipping open the phone is a very familiar sight to the V9’s older brother (the V3). The V9 has a very similar keyboard to the first RAZR. Flat and made out of a thin sheet of metal. In the past I’ve heard and read mixed reviews about the keys on the V3 and I actually lean on the negative side as I sort of dislike the keys.

They’re very flat and do not provide me with enough tactile response or feedback that I prefer and receive from other keypads. It’s lacking that certain “click” factor when I press the buttons. The worst of the buttons is the ‘up’ button the navigation pad. It seems to have less travel than the other 3 direction buttons. The centre directional pad has a very strange texture which reminds me of the bottom of a non-stick cooking skillet. Having said that, the keypad is engraved with numbers and symbols, making it some-what easy for those with impaired vision to make phone calls. A word of advice, driving and texting does not count as being vision impaired and taking advantage of the engraved keypad is HIGHLY DISCOURAGED when using this phone or any other phones for that matter.

Five external keys are embedded onto the phone with 3 on the left side and 2 on the right. They function as volume adjustment keys; one functions as a shutter button when the camera feature is activated, two function as ringer-style switchers, and one functions as an external key lock toggle. Anyways, you can read all of that in the manual.

At the time when I was taking notes down to write this review I had a very busy week. I had a lot of errands around Toronto and the GTA. I had to drop off my defective camera over at Mississauga, geek-lunch in downtown Toronto, going around and about at the Northern part of Toronto and into Richmond Hill. I was either on public transportation or in the case of the Northern areas of the GTA, I was driving. It was a very hectic week but it was also the perfect week to test the phone’s reception performance. Overall and as has been my experience with Motorola phones, the V9’s reception is great and I had no problems with it.

Perhaps the most notable network connectivity performance out of the V9 is its 3G connectivity. It’s strong and it’s seamless when it comes to hopping from one cell broadcast tower to another. It’s marvelous and it out performs most of the Smartphones I have. I remember a few particular instances where the HTC TyTN II would lose its 3G connectivity when I walked or drove past certain areas in Toronto.

While we’re on the subject of 3G, I have to mention one thing that stuck out as a major negative: it really impacts the battery life of the V9. I’m only able to get about 3/4 day’s worth of battery life with the 3G turned on which includes a mildly long conversation (2 to 3 hrs) followed by a continued long conversation over SMS.

I decided to call up a good friend of mine on his land-line and use him as a test subject. I was surprised by how brilliant, clear, and un-filtered the incoming sound quality was. But it doesn’t end there, when I asked several people how I sounded through the V9 some said I sounded crystal clear! It possesses the sound-quality of a land-line phone. Both the incoming and outgoing sound are processed in such a way that eliminates unwanted noise pitches allowing your communication with the other person to remain clear, crisp and very pleasant, which remains a rare result even in this day and age. It’s all thanks to the new technology called the Crystal Talk that Motorola has developed. But it’s not all cute kittens and puppies as turning on the speaker phone yields nothing but at best very average results. Most of the time it’s terrible and the person comes out sounding like a rocker with strep throat.

When comparing image results between camera phones and a real point and shoot camera, the photos that come out from most mobile phones’ cameras are never really quality photos. They’re more like noisy artifacts that contain some bits of shapes and sometimes the faces of people. The V9 is not an exception to that. The photos that come out of the V9’s camera are decent for a camera phone but nothing overly impressive in comparison to real cameras.

I was pleasantly surprised that Motorola has a new music player for the v9 (I haven’t seen it before on a Synergy phone anyways). It’s under the ‘Media Finder’ program. From the Media Finder program you can also view your pictures, videos, listen to ringtones and change wallpapers. You can control the music player from the external display along with the standby display. There are 3 touch buttons on the bottom of the external display.

Perhaps the best thing about the v9 is that it comes with Opera Mini. Opera mini is a fantastic solution for a device with the v9′s form factor and limitations. You can use it to browse full websites with ease.

I’m an OS X user and at the time of writing I’m running OS X 10.5.2 which has iSync 3.0 (build: 568.0). The kindest thing I can say about the connectivity to my Macs (I have a Mac Pro, and a Macbook Pro) is it’s not quite finished. But the blame is on Apple for neglecting iSync and not providing the much needed update for newer or more recent phones. However, I’m not about let some big iFruit company prevent me from syncing my calendar, contacts, and files with the V9.

I decided to write up a small iSync plug-in for the V9. I looked up on Google for how to write my own plug-in for the V9. It’s pretty time consuming and troublesome but in the end I did manage to get my syncing done, well… sort of. Now, I’m not sure if I botched some code or if it’s a limitation in iSync but I am unable to sync my calendar or perform a file transfer through Bluetooth. The only syncing that I can confirm to be working is contact syncing. So, if you’re a Mac OS X user, you’ve been warned but you might have better luck than I do.

Like most Rogers phones the v9 ships with some Rogers customizations. They’re not that great; probably the worst thing is their Vision software. While I don’t mind how Rogers prices Vision having a Vision app is a step down from using the apps that are integrated into the v9 (such as the music player).

When I first found out that the v9 was a Synergy phone I’ll be honest; I was pretty disappointed because I think it’s inferior to their newer Linux Java OS. I happen to also have a loaner RAZR2 V8 that’s running the most recent Linux and JAVA OS and indeed, it’s much more robust and faster. That said Synergy on the v9 isn’t that bad. The gave it a decent music player, Opera Mini plus the interface is blazingly fast. The text entry is still slightly unintuitive (if you’re not used to a Motorola phone).

The hardware is pretty good, it lives up to its predecessor and surpasses it.

Jason Bourne

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Entry Filed under: Phones,Reviews,Site News

4 Comments Add your own

    Marissa  |  June 4th, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    I like the color and fashionable design of Motorola but its battery life is not good enough.

    Joe  |  June 5th, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    i’m only getting about 110 minutes of talk time on the average
    everything else on this phone is great

    Smarty  |  June 12th, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    You people complain about the battery life…how about limiting your talking and text more.

    Ted  |  September 28th, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    Just wondering if you have any new info on connectivity to MacBook pro. I want to load a firmware update to the RAZR2 V9, but my Mac doesn’t see the phone when tethered.

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