Though it's descended directly from the original Razr, Cingular's Razr V3, the Razr V3i is more similar in appearance to the Razr V3m for Verizon. Like the V3m, the V3i is slightly bigger than the V3 at 2.1 by 3.9 by 0.54 inches, and it weighs a tad more at 3.5 ounces. It also shares the V3m's dark gray coloring, which is more appealing than the V3's standard silver hue (the V3i also comes in dark blue, maroon, and violet). Features on the front flap are standard for much of the Razr line. There's a one-inch (96x80 pixels) external display supporting 65,000 colors, and a tiny camera lens at the top of the hinge. There's still no camera flash, but the external display acts as a self-portrait viewfinder. The external controls are the same as well, with the voice commands button on the right spine and the volume rocker and smart key/camera shutter on the left spine. Like with the V3m, Motorola was able to cram a Micro SD card slot into the V3i. We appreciate such an addition on a slim phone even if it means you have to remove the battery cover (but not the battery) to access it.
Fortunately, the V3i shows 262,000 colors on its 2.25-inch (176x220 pixels) main display. While the V3 supported the same number of hues, both the V3c and V3m reverted to 65,000 colors, a change we still don't understand. The color upgrade is welcome and graphics appear relatively sharp. We're not the biggest fans of the Motorola interface, but it looks better here than on many of the company's phones. In standard Razr fashion, the navigation controls and backlit keypad buttons are completely flat with the surface of the handset, but raised ridges between the individual rows make them more tactile than on the original V3. A five-way navigation toggle doubles as a shortcut to user-defined functions. There are also two soft keys, a dedicated menu button, shortcut controls for the camera and iTunes player, and the talk and end/power keys. And as is the case with other thin phones, the flat controls take some getting used to.
The 1,000-name phone book holds six phone numbers and an e-mail address in each entry; an additional 250 fit on the SIM card. You also get photo caller ID and a choice of 12 polyphonic ring tones (we were hoping for more). Basic features include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, a calculator, a datebook, voice commands and dialing, a speakerphone, an alarm clock, and instant messaging. Higher-end offerings run the gamut from POP3 and IMAP4 e-mail support to full Bluetooth.
The iTunes experience on the V3i is unchanged from the Rokr and Slvr and will be familiar to iPod devotees. The interface isn't particularly flashy but it's functional and user-friendly. Opening the player takes you straight to the music library, where you can organize songs by playlist, artist, album, and name. When playing music, the phone goes into standby mode while displaying onscreen soft controls and album art. Settings include shuffling of songs or albums, but it's disappointing the V3i doesn't offer an equalizer. Transferring between the cell phone and the music player is seamless, as music stops automatically when you receive a call. Hang up and press the dedicated iTunes key, and your song picks up again from the point you left off. There's also an airplane mode that lets you listen to your tunes in flight with the cell phone turned off.
As previously mentioned, the V3i retains the irritating iTunes restrictions found on its predecessors. You can download songs only through the included USB cable, and the V3i connects with only one computer at a time. There's no way to transfer iTunes music wirelessly, you can't listen to music through a Bluetooth headset, and you can't use iTunes tracks as ring tones. The strict 100-song storage limit hasn't changed either, and all songs must be saved on a Micro SD slot. The phone accepts cards up to 1GB in size, which is a good thing since the V3i comes with only 5MB of integrated memory.