Four of the Five RAZR2s Reviewed (Verdict: What a Difference a Carrier Makes)

Moto_lady.JPGSascha Segan at PC Mag just worked his way through testing the AT&T, Sprint, Verizon Wireless and Alltel RAZR2 models. Though all RAZR2s have similar specs—"luxurious metal-and-glass design," 240-MHz processor, roughly 100 MB of memory, a 2-megapixel camera and "the biggest, most beautiful external screen you've ever seen on a flip phone"—each carrier treated this differently. We gave you a nice run-down of feature differences, but here's how the actual user experience differs from carrier to carrier: AT&T V9 • Best call quality thanks to CrystalTalk active sound-quality management during calls • Best web experience because of Opera browser • Free built-in e-mail • Worst battery life • No video sharing • No Napster/Yahoo! DRM music • A dedicated button for Cellular Video, a VOD service that "absolutely no one uses"

Sprint V9m • Obigo HTML web browser works well • Can view video on external screen • Start camera from external screen • No e-mail option

Verizon V9m • Start camera from external screen • Very good sound • Best for basic Windows Media users • WAP browsing (which sucks) • E-mail for extra pay

Alltel V9m • View text messages on external screen • Best for experts and iTunes lovers • WAP browsing (which sucks) • No e-mail option

T-Mobile V8 (which Segan did not review) • Linux-based OS • CrystalTalk active sound-quality management during calls

Bottom line: All this variation represents carrier control, not freedom of choice. Says Segan: "We're stuck with the mediocre choices picked by our carrier overlords for us—and if you want something different, no soup for you!" I hate to say I told you so, but I freakin' told you so. [PC Mag summary and individual reviews of each carrier's RAZR2]