In the long line of Motorola Razrs, only a couple models have dared to look different form the others. The GSM Razr V3x took a slightly different twist on the famous form factor by adding a camera flash and redesigning the interior while the Razr Maxx introduced sorely needed external music controls. Yet neither handset made it to a U.S. carrier, so we were excited to see Verizon Wireless pick up the Motorola Razr Maxx Ve. Yes, it's another Razr (Confidential to Moto: we need something new!), but the feature set is plentiful, performance is mostly good, and we like the design improvements. On the whole, it's a solid effort that's on par with Cingular's Razr V3xx and we're glad to see a CDMA carrier get some Motorola love. You can get it for $249 with service--or cheaper if you buy it online. To find ringtones and accessories for this phone, plus advice and tips on how to use it, check out our cell phones ringtones, accessories, and help page.
It's clear from the outset that the Razr Maxx Ve is different from most of its Razr family members. While it's roughly the same size (3.9x2.1x0.6 inches) as Verizon's Motorola Razr V3c, it's a tad heavier (4.1 ounces vs. 3.5 ounces). You barely notice the extra weight, but the sturdier hinge gives the Razr Maxx Ve a slightly more durable feel in the hand. What's more, the bottom end has a more tapered design than that of previous Razrs. That makes the phone slip into a pocket or bag that much easier.
Instead of the usual brushed-metal exterior, the Razr Maxx Ve features a glossy glass sheet that overlays the external display. Though it gives the phone a sleeker, more futuristic look, it attracts fingerprints and smudges by the dozens and can be hard to keep clean. Still, we like the basic black color scheme and the vibrant external display. At 1.7 inches, it's larger and more vibrant than the externals screen on other Razrs, even though it has the same 65,000-color resolution. The display shows all the necessary information including the date, time, battery life, signal strength, and photo caller ID; and it acts as a viewfinder for the self-portraits shots. Unfortunately, neither the short backlighting time nor the small text size can be changed.
Just below the display are the external music controls. They're very welcome additions to the Razr line as they offer instant access to the music player when the phone is closed. Activating the player by accident is difficult, since the controls are usable only when the external display is lit (if it's dark, just flip one of the side controls). It's important that you lock them during music play. Otherwise, a simple swipe across them while music is playing can interrupt your song unintentionally.
Above the display is the camera lens and flash. The latter is another long overdue feature on the Razr. A volume rocker and the Moto speakerphone/smart key sits on the left spine, just above the Mini-USB charger port, while the voice-recording/commands button is located on the right spine. A speaker rests on the rear face, which isn't the most convenient location. We'd much prefer all speakers to face the front of the phone instead of directing sound away form you. On the other hand, the MicroSD card slot is in a better location than we were expecting. Though you have to remove the battery cover, you don't have to take out the battery as well.
Motorola is always flip-flopping with its display resolution, even on devices in the same family. Though some models, such as GSM Razr V3xx have 262,000-color screens, other handsets such as the Razr Maxx Ve stop at a 65,000-color resolution. Such discrepancies have never made sense to us, but Moto must have its reasons. But for what it's worth, the Razr Maxx Ve's display is pretty decent all things considered. At 2.2 inches, it takes full advantage of the phone's size, and it's quite bright and vivid. Colors and graphics are sharp, but be warned: It features the clunky Verizon menu interface. You can't change the font size, but the brightness and backlighting time are customizable.
Set into the oversize hinge just below the display is a unique control that focuses the camera and takes a photo. We've never seen anything like it, and while it was useful, we wonder why Moto felt the need to make a dedicated control. The navigation array will be very familiar to Razr fans. A circular toggle with a central OK button doubles as shortcut to four user-defined functions. There are also two soft keys, a camera shortcut, a Clear button and the Talk and End/Power controls. They keypad buttons sit just below and feature a bright backlighting and relatively large text. As with all thin phones, the navigation and keypad buttons are flush with the surface of the handset. Fortunately, tactile ridges between the individual buttons ridges gives them definition.
The Motorola Razr Maxx Ve has a 1,000-contact phone book with room in each entry for five phone numbers and two e-mail addresses. You can save callers to groups and pair them with a photo and one of 12 polyphonic ring tones. Other features include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, a calculator, a calendar, an alarm clock, a notepad, and a world clock. A speakerphone is also on board, as well as voice commands and dialing, a voice recorder, instant messaging, and e-mail.
Verizon doesn't have a generous reputation when it comes to Bluetooth but the Razr Maxx Ve actually makes good use of the feature. Available profiles include headset, hands-free calling, dial-up networking, stereo headset, and file transfer and object push for user-generated images and video. It's not totally liberated, but it is respectable when compared to phones such as the Motorola Slvr L7c, which excludes stereo headset and object exchange profiles. If you don't have a stereo Bluetooth headset available, you can use a wired headset to listen to your tunes. The Razr Maxx doesn't include one in the box, but it does come with an adapter for connecting your own 2.5mm headset to the mini-USB port.