Motorola RAZR V3x
- Crisp internal screen, External screen, Quality keypad, Redesigned keypad, Good list of features
- Battery life, Graphical menu could be improved, iTap text input
It may not be as razor thin as its predecessor, but the RAZR V3x brings to the table a good set of features in a stylish package.
Price$ 799.00 (AUD)
Motorola redefined the mobile phone world with the launch of the original RAZR V3. Sporting a razor thin design (hence the name), the RAZR V3 helped put Motorola on the map and its popularity is still evident today. Hence the release of a 3G version of this unit - the RAZR V3x. While it doesn't completely live up to its cousins' billing (largely due to the amount of hype surrounding its release) it is still an admirable offering in the 3G market.
Lets get one thing straight first - the V3x is nowhere near as thin as the original RAZR. Flipped open, it is also quite bulky, but still relatively compact for a 3G handset. At 20mm thick it's still an attractive design, although we are one of the many who will no doubt be disappointed with the decision to stray from the metal finish to a rubberized design. The original RAZR attracted many onlookers due to its business like metal finish. The new version looks more like a protected species, which will suit those who tend to drop their phones (we've all done it!).
Flipped open, the V3x reveals a pretty crisp TFT internal screen, which measures 2.2 inches in diameter. It's definitely improved from the original RAZR screen and is noticeably more bright and clear - particularly when displaying photos or video clips. A 96x80 pixel external screen that displays battery life, reception indicator, time, date and profile also ensures that the V3x is well covered for a flip phone.
We've been critical of Motorola in the past - particularly for difficult to grasp user interfaces and uncomfortable keypads. But this time, we think they've got both right with the V3x. The keypad is similar to the RAZR, but wider buttons and a more tactile response ensure those long SMSs are more than comfortable. While there may be an overload of buttons, with a 5-way navigational pad surrounded by two selection buttons, Browser, Dialled calls, Answer/End Call and Clear keys, this doesn't really have a negative effect on the user experience. Unlike some other handsets we've reviewed, each button has a significant overall impact on usage, so we can't fault them here.
Motorola has also impressed us with an overhaul of their out of date menu system, although we are of the opinion that more work could have gone into this. Graphically, the grid menu leaves much to be desired. This is not to say that the menu system is bad by any sense, just that the graphics could have been much more polished. The animated menu items are pixelated and don't look crisp or clear. However, this is a fairly trivial matter and most will find the menu and user interface a refreshing change from Motorola's previous efforts.
The V3x also includes a 2.0 megapixel camera, although there is still no autofocus function like the one seen on the popular Sony Ericsson models. The camera itself isn't too shabby though and the pictures we took were decent for a camera phone - in particular the colour reproduction was quite good. There isn't much in the way of settings though, with only a poor quality light and a 5 or 10 second timer notable options. Video recording wasn't anything to write home about either, but this is generally expected.
Where Motorola has fallen down is again in SMS messaging; their iTap input system, rather than the standard T9 method seen on most other handsets is frustrating, and will take many plenty of time to get used to. For those who have been brought up on a diet of text messaging on their Nokia or Sony Ericsson handset, this spells bad news from the beginning. We can't understand why Motorola don't just use the standard input system, rather than trying to differentiate themselves from the pack with a system that quite clearly isn't up to scratch.
Of course, the V3x is equipped with an MP3 player (which also supports MP3, AAC+, WMV, WMA and Real video/audio files) and a stereo headset is included in the package. Surprisingly, the sound quality was fairly good for a phone - while it won't blow you away it is more than bearable, which is a lot more than we can say for plenty of other handsets which include headphones. Other features include 64MB of built in memory with a slot for a microSD (TransFlash) card underneath the battery, SMS, MMS and e-mail messaging, Bluetooth, WAP Browser as well as polyphonic and digital music ringtones. Perhaps the biggest letdown of the V3x is its battery life - during testing we struggled to get two days out of the handset, and this was without pushing it to its limits in terms of usage. The multimedia functions that it provides are all well and good, but if the battery life is compromised, which we feel it has been, then this is a significant disadvantage.
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