Just when you think you've seen enough slim cell phones, Motorola pulls another trim handset out of its sleeve with the new Motorola Slvr L2 for Cingular. Similar in size and shape to Cingular's Slvr L7 and L6, the L2 offers the same trendy, thin profile that returned Motorola to cell phone glory after the debut of the Razr V3 a year and a half ago. On the features side, Cingular is positioning the L2 as the lower-end alternative to the other Slvrs in its stable. Although it has Bluetooth, a speakerphone, and world phone support, it comes with none of the higher-end entertainment and memory features found in its predecessors. And more interestingly, aside from a few BlackBerrys, it's one of the few Bluetooth-equipped mobiles on the market without a digital camera. That's good news for professionals who want a stylish cell phone with work-friendly features but who are prohibited from carrying a camera phone into their workplace. Costing $116 with a two-year contract or $206 without, the Motorola Slvr L2 carries a fair price tag for what it offers. At the moment, it's available solely through Cingular's B2B sales.
As with all of Motorola's stylecentric phones, the Slvr L2's main draw is its eye-catching design. At less than 0.5 inch thick, the compact, lightweight (4.4 by 1.9 by 0.4 inches; 3.3 ounces) L2 casts the same thin profile that's won the other Slvr handsets such acclaim. Adorned in basic silver, its display takes many cues from the Slvr L6. At 1.75 inches diagonally (128x160 pixels) and with support for 65,000 colors, the display is serviceable for most functions, but it appears slightly washed out and pales in comparison with 262,000-color screens. As with the L6, you can change the backlighting time and the brightness, but you can't alter the contrast or the font size. Also, be warned that the glossy display smudges easily. The L2 is comfortable to carry, but flip-phone lovers may find the flat design somewhat awkward.
The navigation controls and the keypad buttons are similar to those on the L6, but Motorola makes some slight but important improvements to the L2 that earn it a few more points in our book. Both the navigation array and the keypad controls are slightly raised above the surface of the phone, allowing for a more tactile and user-friendly feel. The five-way toggle is easier to grasp, and we like that instead of activating the Web browser, the OK button opens the menu. You also get two soft keys, a dedicated menu button, and the traditional Talk and End/power keys. The last two controls are quite large, but the black soft keys blend in with the display border. While there's still no dedicated Back button, the toggle can act as a shortcut to four user-defined functions.
As mentioned previously, we liked that the keypad buttons are raised above the surface of the phone. We had fewer misdials, and thanks to the bright backlighting, we could dial in dim conditions easily. On the downside, however, the keys are no bigger than the already tiny keys on the L6, and they have an equally cheap plastic feel to them. We weren't comfortable banging out long text messages on this phone. On the right spine is a voice-dialing control, while the right spine has a single volume control. Unlike a volume rocker, which lets you turn the volume both up and down, this button only increased the volume. As a result, you must go all the way up before it cycles back to the lowest level. It's a curious and frustrating arrangement, and we can't imagine why Motorola opted for it.