Review: Motorola Razr2 V9

It’s almost been four years since the first of the Razr phones and now we’re finally getting a sequel. And for once, it’s a sequel that leaves you with a much more satisfying taste in your mouth than the original.

Sequels are strange. Very rarely do you find a sequel you like. Sure, there are a few good exceptions but rarely does the next generation of something great turn out to be as brilliantly conceived as the original.

First released in early 2004, the original Motorola Razr could probably be seen as one of the more inspirational phone designs. Following on from their Motorola’s StarTAC phones seen very early in the cell phone life at Motorola, the Razr series took the clamshell and put it on a diet. The Razr series stood for thin, stylish, and metal phones. Complete with laser etched keypads and an aluminium finish, you knew these phones meant business. They’ve been so popular that the Razr have been recognised as the “iPod” of the phone world, meaning it’s a device that can be recognised because of its distinctive style.

Now almost four years later we’re seeing a sequel. And for once, it’s a sequel that leaves you with a much more satisfying taste in your mouth than the original.

What should be said from the get go is that the Razr isn’t a complete redesign. What Motorola look like they’ve done is simplify and fix. They’ve taken the original Razr’s look of simplicity and made it work just that much more. Then they’ve gone through and fixed many of the problems that the original Razr suffered from.

First is the design: while the original Razr had a sort of protruding lip on the bottom side of the clamshell, this has been removed. What follows is something that feels very natural although does require both hands to use.

When you open it up, you’re treated to the next iteration of the laser etched interface. Let me ust say that Motorola have definitely gotten it right with this one. Most of the keys have just the right amount of tactile feedback with the top two soft-keys having less but still responding well.

As well as removing the lip, Motorola have also made the top screen bigger and better, even going so far as to making parts of it touch sensitive. Like listening to music? Now you can use the top screen’s touch sensitivity to pause, play, and go back and forth through your tracks.

Call quality is excellent with the voices sounding crisp and clear and the 2 megapixel camera does a decent job of taking pictures. I’m a little bit surprised that Motorola didn’t opt for more megapixels in the V9, to be honest. While not as flimsy as the Razr V3’s 640×480 camera that stayed in the series for so long, I expected a little more. It’s not altogether surprising as 2 megapixel is all that’s really needed in a phone in the first place.

With features like HSDPA, quad-band, a MicroSD slot and 45mb of included memory, it feels like Motorola have gone to great lengths to make a slim & stylish phone that goes all out for the user experience. They’ve even got the phone feeling sturdy with it’s stainless steel frame, heavier glass, and good weight (125 grams).

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There are a few quirks, however. For instance, for all the style it has, it’s still a big phone. While it’s not all that big when the clamshell is closed, it becomes huge when held to the ear. This isn’t likely to be a big deal for most people, but it is something to be aware of. Further to this, the Razr2 is what I would call a two-handed phone. This means you really need to use two hands to open the clamshell. It doesn’t have the quick-flip sort of action that you can pull off with one hand and if you try it, you’ll likely accidentally throw your shiny phone into whatever is in front of you.

The handset volume could also be a lot louder. You’re allowed a maximum volume of “7”. Whatever “7” means, that’s your limit. I’d prefer it if they had a “10” in there. I – like a lot of other people – typically associate “10” with the end of a volume limit (unless you’re in a Spinal Tap sort of a mood) and “7” just doesn’t cut it for me.

The battery is an area I’m not too sure of. Provided you don’t happen to play any games or use the multimedia functionality, it should be fine. You’ll probably manage a few days if you talk and sms in a regular sitting, but don’t expect it to last days and days like many other phones on the market.

The last niggle is one of the mp3 playback. Out of the box, the Razr2 comes with a headset sporting earbuds. Now it should be said that I am an anti-earbud sort of guy so it should be no surprise that I don’t think very highly of a phone as well designed as this coming with an earbud only solution out of the box.

Come on Motorola! Where’s the hands-free kit with the 3.5mm headphone jack so I can plug whatever headphones, earbuds, or canalphones I want into it? It wouldn’t have been that hard and would’ve made it less of a chore, especially if I accidentally killed the earbuds.

All that said and done, the phone is still excellent. If you’re a stickler for having a phone that’s as stylish as you are, it would be very hard to look past the Razr V9. In a world that’s become accustomed to treating the predecessor like it’s the legend, you might be seen as holding the new king. From the stylish design to the great features to the box it comes in – and it comes with a pretty special box – the Razr2 is the sequel that lives up to expectations and beyond.

Should you buy it?: Worth buying if you’ve always liked the laser-cut sexiness that only the Razr phones can provide.

Product: Motorola Razr2 V9

Vendor: Motorola

RRP: $829

Website: Motorola Razr2 V9

Reviewed by Leigh D. Stark