Motorola Razr V3 Cell Phone Review
The thinnest and coolest looking phone
re-affirming its design leadership with the lovely Razr V3
This phone has proved
to be very popular indeed, but its popularity seems to be
primarily due to its looks rather than its functionality.
The Motorola Razr V3 cell phone
is both very distinctive and also very attractive.
Combining its classy and
stylish appearance with quadband GSM service, super-strength
Bluetooth, color displays on both sides of the flip, long
battery life, and a camera, it seems to have everything anyone
would want. But for high end road warriors, the phone
sadly omits some of the latest and greatest features.
Normal people will probably
find it more than satisfactory, and with the recent price drop
on Amazon - now offering the phone for free with new service
from either Cingular or T-mobile - the
phone is now very affordable.
be readily unlocked, and will then work with any GSM service,
anywhere in the world.
The Motorola Razr V3 - What you
Motorola Razr V3 is being sold in conjunction with service by
both Cingular and T-mobile, and is an extraordinarily popular
best seller for Motorola. They have sold over 12 million
V3 phones, with half that number occurring in the third quarter
of 2005 alone.
Although this phone used to be expensive
(but - great news - it can now be 'purchased' for free
both Cingular and T-mobile sell it in a
bare bones basic cardboard box, and with very little in the way
In contrast, some of the other companies that
sell the phone by itself, such as
Telestial (where I got mine)
supply the phone in a lovely brushed aluminium
case with viewing window in the top that slides open, and with a
more complete kit of accessories, including a regular headset
(the V3 supports either Bluetooth or regular headsets), belt
pouch, CD with connectivity software and USB cable for both data connections to a computer and
as an alternate method of charging the phone.
The Razr V3's capabilities and
The manual which comes with
the phone is surprisingly silent about the phone's technical
specifications, and some of the other reviews on the internet
quote incorrect data. I'm basing my facts and figures on
the material on Motorola's own site, except where it too is
The V3 measures 3.5" x 2.1"
x 0.55" when folded closed and weighs 3.4 ounces. This
makes it moderately - but not very - compact in terms of length
and breadth; its most notable feature being how thin it is.
The phone came with four
different manuals - a warranty brochure, a quick start guide, a
service guide, and the main user manual. Interestingly the
main user manual was very much shorter than the V600 manual - a
mere 104 pages compared to 268 for the V600.
The phone's external case is
predominantly made out of brushed aluminium, but there is a
small section at the bottom made out of plastic (although it
looks the same as the metal). The reason for the plastic
section is because this is where the antenna is located - if it
were covered in metal then the signal would be prevented from
It is nice to have a phone
that doesn't have a stub antenna on it, and Motorola seems to
have achieved this with no loss of sensitivity. My V3 and
V600 perform almost identically in terms of places where they'll
lose and gain signal. There doesn't seem to be any way to
plug in an external antenna.
The V3 can accept a wide
range of different types of downloadable ringtones, and has 24
voice polyphony to give great sound. It also has some
pre-loaded games and more games can be downloaded to the phone,
too, supporting the J2ME standard.
The Razr takes about the
same 22 seconds to power on as does the V600. Unlike most
phones, you don't need to push and hold the power on button for
a second or two to turn the phone on - the slightest tap will
turn the phone on.
Its internal phone book can
hold up to 1000 names and phone numbers, although the SIM is
limited to 'only' 250 contacts on the SIM. Motorola's
phone book/contact manager is more clunky and less elegant than
most other phone manufacturers - Motorola has tried to keep more
compatibility with the very limited features that the SIM itself
supports; this is helpful when copying numbers to or from the
SIM, but not so helpful if you're trying to set up a
sophisticated contact management system with multiple phone
numbers for each person in your phone book.
It has an excellent
speakerphone feature with good clear loud sound. The phone
is also reasonably loud when generating normal ring sounds,
although this depends a bit on the ring tone or tune that you
Carrying the phone
The phone has a
loop point to put a carry-loop on it, subtly located on one of
the two chrome hinges. However,
although very thin, the phone is larger than many other phones
in terms of its length and breadth and perhaps is too large to
dangle around your neck. I usually add a
neck strap to my phones, even if I then carry the phone in a
shirt pocket - I use the neck strap as a safety device so that
if the phone slips out of my pocket (something that happens to
an amazing number of people when, ahem, leaning over to flush a
toilet!) it won't then fall and go somewhere that I don't want
to have to reach into to retrieve it! The neck strap
also makes it harder for me to forget about the phone and leave
it behind somewhere (eg in a taxi). Here's an
online store that sells them for about $2 each.
investment and highly recommended.
But with the V3 I'm
currently using the
belt holder that came with it. However this is not without
its limitations. Twice I've had it catch on the side of my
seat when exiting the car; this has rotated the belt pouch so
that the opening is facing down and opened the flap, all without
me realizing it. A few steps out of the car, I then hear
the ugly clatter of my Razr V3 falling onto the concrete
pavement. It is a testament to the ruggedness of the phone
that it has now survived two such falls with only the slightest
I might instead put a neck
on the phone.
Two color screens
It has two color screens.
A small external screen on the outside of the flip measures just
over ¾" by just under ¾" and has a resolution of 96 x 80 pixels, and can display up to
4096 different color shades. This external screen can show
you who is calling without needing to open up the phone, but
most of the time it effectively shows you nothing at all - when
the phone is in standby mode with the screen powered down, you
see nothing on the screen.
One effective use of the
external screen is to use it as a viewfinder if you're taking a
picture of yourself. It shows you the picture the camera
is about to capture, so you can accurately see if your head will
be cut off or not.
The inside screen, visible
only when the flip is opened, is much larger than on the
V300-600 series of phones (measuring 1 3/8" x 1 3/4"), but has the same
pixel resolution as their earlier phones of 176 x 220 pixels. This screen shows up
to 262,000 color shades (compared to 'only' 65,000 on the
The screens both show a
puzzling array of little icons along the top to indicate things
like if you have any messages, if GPRS is functioning, whether
Bluetooth is enabled, signal strength, battery life, ring or
vibrate setting, and probably other things, too. Perhaps
because I change phones regularly these days, I find it harder
and harder to remember what each of the various different icons
mean, and wish the industry would settle on a standard set of
icons across all phones.
The camera appears to be
identical in function and quality as the V600 camera (sample
pictures here). It has a resolution of 640 x 480
pixels, and offers an electronic zoom function that you're best
advised to never use. Pictures are stored in the phone's
5MB internal memory.
Unfortunately there is no
removable memory card in the phone. There is also no
infra-red port, which could be a suitable alternate means of
file transfer. To transfer pictures from the phone
to anywhere else you have a choice of three methods, with
varying degrees of cost and complexity :
Connect the phone to a
computer and transfer the files if you have the Motorola
data connectivity software
Send the pictures by MMS or
email (this will probably incur a fee from the wireless
service you use)
Send the pictures by
Bluetooth to some other Bluetooth device nearby
The lack of easy and free
ways of transferring pictures makes this part of the phone of
less value than it otherwise could be. And the camera's
low resolution and quality is inappropriate for an otherwise
'state of the art' phone.
The camera on my unit will not take
video clips, although the phone will play back short MPEG4 video
files. More recent units have been upgraded to allow for
the capture of short video clips.
The phone has a Java enabled
micro-browser so can access some but not all websites. It
can also be configured to receive and send email. It
offers WAP 2.0 compatibility.
These functions probably
will require you spending more money a month with your wireless
The phone can be used as a
modem to connect a computer to the internet, either via regular
dialup service, which connects at a very slow speed (9600 baud)
and costs you airtime, or via instant-on Class 10 (2U4D) GPRS
which doesn't cost you any airtime but which is probably a
separately charged extra service.
In GPRS use you can expect
usually faster connections (15k - 20k baud) than in regular
dialup, but both GPRS and regular dialup have more latency than
if using a wired phone and regular modem, meaning that your
effective communication speed is lower than a regular wired
dialup connection showing the same baud rate.
A disappointment of the V3
is that it doesn't support any of the new higher speed types of
wireless internet service, unlike its close relative, the V551,
which supports EDGE internet at speeds in excess of 100k.
The phone supports Bluetooth
connections to headsets and hands-free units and has quite a
good range. Most phones and other devices use the
Bluetooth Class 2 specification which has a designed range of 10
meters (33 feet), but for some strange reason, Motorola built
the V3 to a Class 1 specification which has a 100m/330ft range.
This is not as good as it
might seem on paper. Firstly, the extra range means extra
battery drain. Secondly, you'll only get this extra range
when communicating with another Class 1 device, of which there
are very few.
Thirdly, Bluetooth's limited
range doubles as a de facto security feature. By
increasing the range ten-fold, you're increasing your exposure
to other devices which might simply cause interference, or which
might cause active security problems.
Fourthly, there are times
when you actually don't want increased range. In my case,
I use my phone with my lovely
hands-free kit in my car. With other Bluetooth phones,
the phone automatically switches over to the Parrot when it gets
in range (ie, when I'm in the car) and switches back when it
goes out of range (ie when I leave the car). With the V3,
it stays connected to the CK3000 even when I'm some distance
from the car (if the Parrot CK3000 remains switched on) and this
can be unhelpful rather than helpful.
Strangely, I couldn't get
the Bluetooth in my Motorola V3 to see the Bluetooth in my
When using the phone with a
headset, I generally use a regular wired headset rather than a
Bluetooth headset - much as I want to like them, I tend to find
Bluetooth headsets too much bother to be truly convenient.
Unfortunately, to use the phone with a regular headset, you are
limited to only those headsets with a mini-USB plug on them.
Motorola chose not to offer a standard type headset plug for
this phone, thereby greatly restricting your choice of
Battery Life and Related Issues
Reviews commonly seem to
quote battery life of as much as 200 hours of standby time or
three hours of talk time. Another source (Amazon) claims
6.67 hours of talk time or 250 hours of standby time.
Motorola itself says
Talk Time : Up to 200 to 430 minutes
Standby Time : Up to 180 to 290 hours
Standard Battery : 680 mAh Li-ion
Motorola's reference to a
680 mAh battery is rather surprising. Although I'd assumed
that Motorola's own website would be the best source of official
data, the fact is I have never seen a 680 mAh battery. Out
of perhaps 50 V3s that I've inspected, all have had a 710 mAh
battery. Some other reviewers have even referred to a 750
mAh battery, but I've never seen one of those, either.
I tested my phone, and after
129 hours of standby and 76 minutes of airtime, the phone gave
its first low battery beep warning. The beeping lasted 6.5
hours before the phone finally died completely, representing
135.5 hours of standby and 1.25 hours of talk time.
This result is consistent
with the first claim - if an hour of talk time is the same as
66.7 hours of standby, then in standby hour-equivalents, my
experience represented 218 hours total. If Amazon's
figures are used as a measure, then an hour of talk time is the
same as 37.5 hrs of standby time and my experience represents
182 hours total life, substantially shorter than their 250 hour
Battery life is very
dependent on the signal strength of the areas you are in.
GSM phones intelligently vary their signal power depending on if
you're in an area of good coverage or bad coverage, so the
better your coverage, the longer your battery life.
Coverage in my area seems to be average.
Battery life slightly
reduces every time you charge the battery. You can
probably get as many as 500 charges out of the battery before
its life has dropped to half that of a new battery.
The phone shows its battery
life by a little battery icon on the screen with three bars
inside it. All three bars means a fully charged battery,
and no bars means an almost dead battery. Unfortunately,
this is not a very accurate measure. Several times I've
left home in the morning with the phone showing two of its three
bars, and after moderate usage during the day have had a battery
crisis prior to returning home again that evening. This is
deceptive - two bars should imply two thirds full but plainly
means much less than one third charge remaining.
Charging the phone with the
plug-in wall charger takes 2 - 2.5 hours. This is much faster and more convenient than the time it takes to charge
my Motorola V600. The supplied charger is a multi-voltage
charger that works everywhere in the world (but you will need
appropriate plug adapters).
A very clever and convenient
feature of the phone is that it can charge itself from a USB
connection's built-in power source. Simply use the USB
cable to plug into any USB hub and the phone starts charging
This USB port is the only
connector on the phone, which does triple duty as a data port, a
headset port, and a charging port. There may be times when
you want to use it for two different purposes at the same time
and won't be able to.
The phone is very
attractive, and in some respects (eg quad-band and color) full
featured. So what are the limitations that you might encounter and be frustrated by?
It has no removable memory
card. It has just over 5MB of internal memory that is
shared between the phone book, ring tunes, pictures and
video clips, and downloaded files and programs. This
can quickly fill to overflowing. In contrast, I have a
removable 128MB memory card in my 'old' Nokia 3650 (released
in mid 2003) so it never runs out of capacity.
A basic fixed focus low
resolution camera - 0.3 megapixels, inadequate these days
when other cameras offer 1 MP and some offer 2MP
No video recording
A closed proprietary
operating system (albeit with a Java overlay) that limits
the range of third party applications that can be added to
Reasonably large in terms of
length and breadth, although definitely very thin
Basic and clutzy phone
Proprietary iTap rather than
industry standard T9 text entry meaning you have to learn a
whole new interface for efficient text messaging
No IR port and data
connectivity is usually sold as an extra rather than as an
No high speed data capability
such as EDGE
Can't add an external antenna
How best to buy a Motorola Razr
The Motorola Razr V3 has
already proven to be very successful and very popular.
Initially selling for about $500 when first released, the price
recently dropped down to a new low of $0 - ie free - when signing up for
new Cingular or T-mobile service, and if
purchased through Amazon. At
this price, it is a definitely good value phone.
But what if you already have
service? If your current contract's
minimum period has been completed, there is a clever way you can
qualify for the Amazon deal. Simply buy the phone from
Amazon and, to start with, treat it as a second phone.
Then, once it has been activated and working, simply cancel your
present service and (here's the clever part) have your
old number transferred to your new service, assuming you want to
keep your present number.
Of course, if you are
switching from any other carrier, this becomes even
easier, and you can have your number transfer to your new
service in the same way.
This phone has been a
runaway success for Motorola - so much so that they're
introducing a range of similar looking phones with similar four
letter names (eg, the Pebl V6 and the Slvr V8).
The phone could be more
fully featured than it is, but for most users, it is
sufficiently fully featured to satisfy all normal needs.
If you'd like a great
looking phone with good performance, and now at a very
affordable price, and if you're in an area where there is
good GSM service, then this would be a great choice.
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20 May 2005, last update
17 Apr 2019
You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.