Motorola RAZR V Review: Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before


The Motorola RAZR V3 was arguably the most popular flip/feature-phone in history. It was iconic. Thin, sexy, practical, stylish and affordable. Motorola sought to capitalise on the RAZR name by releasing the RAZR smartphone last year, and now we have the follow-up RAZR V. Is Motorola being shameless by branding this one as a RAZR, or is it a follow-up worthy of the name?

What Is It?

If you've seen the original RAZR smartphone, you won't be overly surprised by the RAZR V.

It's a 4.3-inch smartphone powered by a dual-core 1.2Ghz processor, 1GB of RAM with a screen resolution of 540 x 960 (at 256 pixels per inch). It sports an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera and the same Kevlar toughness from the last RAZR. It's also splash-proof and comes with new ColourBoost technology, meaning the screen will be prettier.

It's still thin and light, measuring in at 8.4mm at its thickest point and weighing only 125 grams.

Compare all this to the last RAZR smartphone, and not much has changed. The screen is a little smaller at 4.3-inches rather than the 4.5-inches we're used to and it runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich as opposed to Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread. Even the battery is the same at 1750mAh.

The only change worth celebrating is the fact that the RAZR V is lighter on your hip-pocket this time around, costing you $4 per month on the Optus $35 plan. That's a $20 saving on the original RAZR smartphone.

So on the surface, this thing looks pretty much the same, so why the new handset?

What's Good?

Much like the original RAZR smartphone, the RAZR V is still thin, light and nice to use. It still has the toughness and the splash-resistance that every smartphone should have.

The screen is lovely. Whatever ColourBoost is doing, it's working. It produces vibrant colours and beautiful, clear whites.

Despite the fact that the screen is smaller, the screen bezel on the RAZR is less intrusive than the original RAZR which ticked us off slightly last time.

The software is as-near-as-makes-no-difference, a stock version of Ice Cream Sandwich, making it great for Android purists. There's a bit of Optus-crapware to deal with on the handset, but it's easy enough to sidestep if you find it particularly objectionable.

The camera still takes a decent enough image, but like the last one it's still a bit washed out in places, so don't be fooled into thinking you can take it everywhere as an DSLR or even a compact camera replacement.

It's also worth reiterating that the lower price here is great. More bang for your phone-buying buck.

What's Bad?

There's nothing particularly offensive about the Motorola RAZR V.

Sure it's a little wide, perhaps too top-heavy and a bit too slippery in the hand, but there's nothing that's going to make you want to throw it out a window, under a bus or into the firey chasm of Mount Doom.

Motorola took what was good, tweaked it and rereleased it with the same name plus a letter to indicate new hardware. That's good, but it's also pretty disappointing at the same time.

First of all, Motorola RAZR users are still stuck with the older, crappier handset for the next 12 months of their contracts. and only now are they being upgraded to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich after 12 months of waiting.

The RAZR V is nowhere near good enough for older RAZR users to break their contract for the new device, and it's not going to draw enough eyes away from handsets like the HTC One series. The only thing it really has going for it is the pricing factor. $39 a month isn't a bad deal for a handset like this, but you have to wonder why Motorola and Optus didn't just agree to push Android 4.0 to the original RAZR smartphone while simultaneously lowering the price on the network?

Should You Buy One?

All in all, it's a bit of a disappointing affair. The handset itself is an iterative upgrade on an already good smartphone, but it's one we didn't need, especially considering the Motorola handsets we've seen our cousins in the US getting.

The RAZR MAXX with its all-day battery for example. That's something we could have definitely done with in Australia. Now we're starting down the barrel of another Motorola announcement: the Droid RAZR M 4G LTE. From the sounds of the specs being reported by Engadget (4.3-inch qHD 960×540 Super AMOLED Advanced display, dual-core Qualcomm MSM8960 Snapdragon S4 chip, 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage), it looks to be more of the same again.

The phone is good, the price is better, but why is Motorola in a holding pattern right now?