So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Motorola RAZR V3i
- Design and Looks, Build quality, iTunes Capabilities, Memory Slot
- Not enough significant improvements, Keypad Issues, Internal and External Screens, iTap Messaging System
The RAZR V3i just doesn't offer any awe inspiring improvements to justify a higher rating. It's still a very solid handset, but in terms of an upgrade, it's not worth an entire new model.
Price$ 800.00 (AUD)
It seems that Motorola's RAZR V3 will never go away. The hugely popular device garnered a lot of attention when it was first released, and there is no doubt it is a spectacular piece design. Motorola is capitalising on the handset's enormous success by releasing an updated version, aptly dubbed the RAZR V3i.
The RAZR V3i retains the original design and shape which made it so popular, but the other improvements, or lack thereof, leave a lot to be desired. The mystic purple colour scheme (which Motorola has dubbed Graphite) does look good and the Motorola logo on the front of the handset now doubles as a blue light. But apart from these changes, the V3's design remains largely intact. While this is certainly nothing to complain about we would have liked to see some effort made to improve upon it.
Flipped open, the V3i greets you with the same excellent looking but extremely frustrating flat keypad. These keys are very uncomfortable and require a firm press to activate: messaging with this phone can be a tiresome process. This was one of the main issues with the original RAZR V3 and it's disappointing to see it hasn't been corrected. We're all for stylish good looks, but when usability is compromised it becomes an issue.
The internal and external screens were lacklustre, with many competitor's phones offering better display colour, brightness and sharpness. Both displays are also fingerprint magnets; so much so that Motorola includes a cloth pad to clean them.
The two significant improvements Motorola has made with the V3i are iTunes support and an upgraded digital camera. The original RAZR did include an MP3 player, but Motorola has now gone a step further and implemented the iTunes software first seen on the ROKR E1 handset. The iTunes software is fairly intuitive but those expecting an "iPod Phone" will be disappointed. The lack of an equaliser is a notable omission and, as was the case with the ROKR E1, only 100 songs can be stored on the handset.
We had no problems connecting the V3i to our PC: it was recognised almost immediately. Transferring songs from iTunes is a pretty slow process compared to the normal iPod experience. On average it takes about 45 seconds to transfer a song onto the phone using a USB 2.0 connection. Motorola has failed to include a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, so you'll need to use the included headphones. Thankfully they are fairly good quality, though not outstanding. Overall, the V3i's music support is marginally better than that of the average MP3 phone, but there is still plenty of room for improvement.
The second feature that has been upgraded is the digital camera. Where the original V3 had a paltry VGA offering, Motorola has included a 1.2 megapixel camera on the V3i. It's definitely a big improvement, however when you consider Motorola's 3G counterpart the RAZR V3x includes a 2 megapixel camera, the upgrade leaves you wanting more.
The camera itself is average and the pictures we uploaded were somewhat disappointing. Obviously it doesn't compare to the recent 2 megapixel offerings but it also falls behind some other models with the same resolution. However, the V3i does support some pretty nifty features such as being able to use the front screen for portrait snaps and a respectable 8x digital zoom.
The V3i's 12MB of built-in memory is surprisingly small, although a microSD card slot (otherwise known as TransFlash) is located next to the battery. You have to remove the battery cover to access the memory slot, but fortunately you don't have to remove the battery as well.
Other features include GPRS, WAP, Java support as well as Bluetooth and USB connectivity. Motorola has packed a number of accessories into the sales package of the V3i including a leather pouch, USB cable, stereo Headphones with hands free capabilities, a belt clip, lanyard strap and convenient screen cleaner. The V3i supports standard SMS, MMS and email messaging, but these are frustrating thanks to Motorola's insistence on using their iTap input system. Unlike the T9 method, the iTap predictive text input relies on a different process to input unknown words and this can become tiresome.
Battery life however is one of this phone's strong points. The V3i lasts two to three days with average use. Of course, using the iTunes player will drain battery life significantly, but we were pretty pleased with the results achieved during testing. The V3i is rated at 6.6 hours of talk time and 310 hours of standby time.
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