As one of three carriers to land the new Motorola Razr2 V9m, Verizon Wireless is hardly unique for including the new phone in its lineup. Yet the carrier took advantage of Motorola's push for carrier customization by offering an exclusive color scheme and altering some of the phone's controls. The result is an attractive phone with brilliant call quality, but Verizon's lackluster menu interface is a bit deterrent to the phone's multimedia features. As such, Verizon's V9m doesn't quite measure up to Sprint's comparable model (we've yet to test Alltel's V9m). Verizon's Razr2 is $299 with service, $50 more than Sprint's handset.
Beyond the color change, which we'll get to in a minute, Verizon's V9m is nearly identical to the other V9ms. At 4.05x2.08x0.46 inches, it's thinner than the original Razr V3, but its increased heft (4.1 ounces) gives it a sturdier feel. It also has a streamlined, sexy look with a flattened internal antenna. On the other hand, while Sprint's Razr2 is a simple dark gray, the Verizon phone's Espresso (read: brown) hue is a tad more striking. For more on the V9m's design, see our review of the Sprint phone.
Verizon's V9m also shows the Razr2's lovely externals display, which measures two inches with a 65,000-color resolution. Considering that's equal to the internal displays on many midrange phones, it's a treat to view despite the lack of customization options. As for the onscreen touch controls, Verizon chose to feature shortcuts for the camera, the music player, and voice dialing. While the first two controls are certainly useful, the latter is unnecessary since you can also activate voice dialing and commands with the button on the right spine. We much prefer the arrangement on the Sprint phone, which allows you to watch streaming video on the external display, or on AT&T's GSM Razr2 V9, which lets you browse through the recent calls list.
Like the rest of the Razr2 models, the onscreen controls feature the same tactile feedback, which is something we've come to love. Yet it's disappointing that, unlike the Sprint V9m, we didn't get the same tactile feedback on the external controls. It's not totally necessary, but still nice to have, just the same. The volume rocker and the Motorola smart key on the left spine and the aforementioned voice-dialing key are rather thin and can be difficult to find when the phone is up to your ear. Completing the exterior of the phone, the Micro USB/charger port sits on the left spine, the camera lens is just above the display, and the MicroSD card slot rests behind the battery.
Much of the interior of the phone is the same. Again, we don't get why the 2.2-inch display supports just 65,000 colors compared with the V9's 262,000-color display. It's not unusable by any means; in fact, it's perfectly fine for most uses, but we expect better on a multimedia phone.
The real problem lies with Verizon's standardized menu structure. We've railed about it many times, but bear with us as we're going to do so again here. Besides the menu's dreary, text-heavy design it's also impossible to find many things. Why put the camera under the Get it Now menu? It just doesn't make sense. You can adjust the backlighting, the time, and the brightness on the display, but you can't change the text size.
The navigation array and keypad buttons are unchanged from Sprint's V9m, save for a small edit to the navigation array. Both have a circular toggle with a central OK button, two soft keys, a clear button, and the talk and end/power keys. But instead of a speakerphone shortcut, Verizon gives you dedicated controls for the camera/camcorder.