After three years of touting the Razr brand, Motorola has yet to give up on the thin phone that jumpstarted the skinny-handset trend. Motorola has come out with the second-generation set of the Razr, dubbed the Razr2. While we admit to feeling a little fatigue over the Razr, we have to admit we like this new Razr2 series. Stacked with a number of cool features like a 2-megapixel camera and full Bluetooth support, the Razr2 sets itself apart from the rest with a very eye-catching design. The brand-new chassis is made of steel and hardened glass, and there's a gorgeous external screen with haptic touch screen buttons on the bottom row. These buttons differ depending on which carrier the Razr2 is under.
The Razr2 V9 is AT&T's version of the Razr2, and it has all the same features plus a few that are tailor-made for AT&T. It has HSDPA support, which also lends itself to access to AT&T's broadband services like Cellular Video and AT&T Music. The bottom row of the external screen is also dedicated to music player controls, which is different from the Razr2s from Sprint and Verizon. There are a few issues with the design, like the lack of one-button access to the music player and certain hard-to-press keys, but we like its overall aesthetic. Add that to excellent performance, and you have a very impressive successor to the original Razr. The Motorola Razr2 V9 is available for $299 with a 2-year contract.
Like the other Razrs, the Motorola Razr2 V9 is certainly a design-focused phone. However, it is remarkably different from its predecessors, with a beautiful steel shell and a hardened glass exterior protecting its front face. It is also significantly wider, with a measurement of 2 inches wide, 4 inches long, and 0.5 inch deep. The overall feel is quite luxurious, thanks to its extra heft and sturdy construction. The hinge appears to be a solid piece of steel, adding to the feeling of durability.
The primary attraction of the Razr2 is its massive external screen, which is overlaid by the aforementioned glass exterior. Measuring about 2 inches diagonally, the display is simply stunning, and provides the phone with a distinct look that sets it apart from the other Razrs. The glass does attract a lot of smudges however, and its glossy surface makes it hard to see in bright sunlight. It supports around 262,000 colors, so photo caller ID is definitely supported. On standby mode, the date, time, signal, and battery strength are displayed, as well as background wallpaper. You can use the external screen as a camera viewfinder for self-portraits, and it displays caller ID as well.
Rounding out the phone's exterior are the skinny volume rocker and Smart key on the left spine, with a dedicated camera key on the right. The Smart key is used to lock or unlock the side keys, and when the music player is activated, it also opens up the music player menu. The volume rocker can then be used to scroll through the menu. A nice bonus is that these side keys also provide a vibrating feedback when pressed, which is a good thing because they are so skinny and hard to press. On top of the external screen is the camera lens, while the microSD card slot is located behind the battery cover. We found the cover incredibly difficult to remove, and would prefer it if the microSD card slot was located somewhere else.
Flip open the phone and you'll find a fabulous 2.2-inch diagonal internal display. Like the external screen, it also supports 262,000 colors, and images look great as a result. They were bright, vibrant, and saturated with color. The menu interface is fairly standard for AT&T, and it's easy to navigate through. Though you can adjust the backlight time, you can't adjust the brightness or font size.
The navigation array is located underneath the display and the Razr2 V9's huge hinge and consists of two soft keys, the familiar circular toggle with middle OK button, a dedicated Web browser key (which goes directly to AT&T's MediaNet portal), and a dedicated key for AT&T's Cellular Video service. The toggle also doubles as shortcuts to a new text message, the instant-messaging menu, the address book, and mobile e-mail. There are also the familiar Talk, Clear/Back, and End/Power keys. The keypad buttons underneath are set in a slightly curved design, which sets it apart from the other Razr2s. As with previous Razrs, the keypad and the navigation buttons are flush with the surface of the phone, making them a little difficult to dial. That said, the buttons have a little more snap when pressed. Thankfully though, the keys are very well-spaced, with large type, and have slightly raised numbers that provide a little bit of tactile definition.
Even when it comes to features, the Razr2s are quite similar with one another. However, there are slight differences that are specific to the different carriers. But first, the basics. The Razr2 V9 comes with an impressive 1,000-entry phone book with room in each entry for six different numbers and two e-mail addresses. You can save the callers to groups, pair them with a photo for caller ID, and assign 1 of 15 polyphonic ringtones. You can also set different vibrating patterns, plus use MP3s as ringtones. Other basic features include a vibrate mode, a calculator, an alarm clock, and a world clock. On the more advanced side, there's also text and multimedia messaging, a speakerphone, a voice recorder, voice command and dialing, instant messaging, e-mail, a wireless Web browser, and full-featured Bluetooth. The Razr2 V9 supports Bluetooth file transfer, plus stereo Bluetooth as well.
As a HSDPA phone, the Razr2 V9 is one of the fastest GSM Razrs out there, able to support download speeds of up to 1.8Mbps. Therefore, it's able to support AT&T's broadband services like Cellular Video and AT&T Music. The Cellular Video network gives AT&T users access to streaming video clips from channels like CNN, Comedy Central, and Cartoon Network. AT&T Music, on the other hand, acts as a kind of all-encompassing music portal for streaming music from XM Radio, plus you get access to all the major music subscription services like Napster, Yahoo Music, and even eMusic. The AT&T Music portal also includes a song-identifying service called MusicID, streaming music videos, a community of music lovers called MobiRadio, and the Billboard Music Channel. You can read more about AT&T's video and music services in our reviews.
The AT&T Music portal also includes a shortcut to the Razr2 V9's music player. The music player supports MP3s, AACs, and WMAs, plus has a repeat and shuffle mode, a spatial audio setting, and a bass boost setting. As we mentioned, when the music player is activated, the music player controls appear on the bottom row of the external screen. The music player interface is fairly generic, with the typical play/pause and track shuttle controls, and it displays the song title and artist name. Songs are organized by artist, album, genre, or composer. You can also create different playlists for your favorite songs.
There are a slew of personalization and customization options with the Razr2 V9. Along with a collection of cool wallpaper and screensavers, you can download more graphics and ringtones from the AT&T site via the MediaNet browser. Games on the phone include Bowling3D, Diner Dash, and demo versions of JewelQuest, Lumines, Midnight Pool, MiniGolfLasVegas, and Scrabble Blast. A few other applications are also included, like MobiTV, My-Cast 5 Weather forecast, and MySpace Mobile. You can purchase and download more games and applications via AT&T's MediaNet as well.
We tested the quad-band Motorola Razr2 V9 (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) in San Francisco using AT&T's service. We were very impressed with the overall call quality, with natural sounding voices and little to no static. There was a slight echo and audio could be a little bit better with speakerphone calls, but it wasn't that bad. Callers could hear us loud and clear, though they did say that they hear the occasional hiss and pop. We managed to pair our phone with the BlueAnt Z9 Bluetooth headset, and calls made with the Bluetooth headset sounded pretty good as well.
The HSDPA speed on the Razr2 V9 was quite impressive. This was definitely evident in its ability to stream video via AT&T's Cellular Video broadband service. It took us only a few seconds to load up a video, with very little buffering time at the beginning, and no rebuffering at all during the video playback. Video quality was a little blurry, but for a camera phone it's pretty good. Music quality was good, too. The phone's speakers sometimes resulted in a rather tinny and muffled sound, but the music quality was far improved when heard over a headset.
The Motorola Razr2 V9 has a rated battery life of 3.6 hours of talk time and 12 days of standby time. Our tested talk time went over by more than an hour, at around 4 hours and 59 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the Razr2 V9 has a digital SAR rating of 0.52 watts per kilogram.