Price (RRP): $850
Reviewer: David Flynn
After years of producing solid yet stolid mobiles, Motorola hit the design jackpot in 2005 with a slim sharp-looking silver phone suitably christened the RAZR. But because nothing in the mobile market stays fresh for long, Motorola has cannily reworked the RAZR into the KRZR (pronounced ‘Krazer’): a stylish phone with fashion-minded female buyers in its cross-hairs.
With its more compact shape and eye-catching mirrored glass coating, finished in metallic blue, this clamshell cutie finesses the RAZR’s successful formula with changes that are primarily (and quite literally) cosmetic.
There’s no doubt that the KRAZR is a ‘look at me’ phone. Not that it’s so gauche as to shout across the room – it’s far too classy and subtle for that. But Motorola’s designers clearly knew what they were doing when they bent the rules of convention by making the KRZR slightly taller, thicker and heavier than the RAZR. Where they more than made up for those few extra millimetres and grams is in the phone’s vertical width, which is almost 1 cm less than the RAZR.
These relatively small numbers seem academic until you clap eyes on the KRZR – it’s somehow an undoubtedly more feminine design, yet with enough unisex appeal to grab the guys. The effect is magnified when you slip it into your hand, where the KRZR sits far more comfortably than the RAZR by virtue of its decreased width and improved weight balance. Nor is it any accident that its dimensions allow the KRZR to nestle in the smallest of clutch purses.
We’re less certain about the ability of the high-shine metallic gloss coating to withstand scratches while floating around inside that bag, which could be why Motorola includes a soft black fabric carry pouch. The surface is certainly prone to smudging from fingerprints, although this is a common failing of most gloss-finish fashion phones.
At the same time, Motorola has made some improvements to the phone’s basic design. The clamshell lid snaps open and closed on its sturdy hinge with a solid confidence not unlike a well-built car door, whereas the same mechanism on the RAZR was a little light and ‘bouncy’.
The keypad is almost identical to the RAZR, just slimmed and downsized, with the keys beneath the pressed metal overlay separated by straight lines instead of the RAZR’s sharp cyber-influenced curves and waves.
Like the keyboard, the smaller screen is dictated by the phone’s reduced footprint. It’s still quite vibrant, and while having an identical spec to the RAZR’s display, it looks sharper, and because everything is condensed into a reduced space. The bad news? Dive below the large colourful icons of the main screen and the KRZR is still lumbered with Motorola’s relatively slow and cumbersome interface, which typically demands more clicks and menu steps than the more user-friendly menu systems of Nokia and Sony-Ericsson.
A capable MP3 player with playlist and repeat modes sends music through the mini-USB port to the supplied headphones (with hands-free mic) or over the air via Bluetooth to the bundled H700 headset. This compact earpiece unit is a generous inclusion and, as you’d expect, effortlessly paired with the KRZR and performed without a hitch.
Songs are stored on a microSD memory card, which sits inside the phone’s rear cover but not under the battery – a welcome change from the annoying norm.
The bundled 128MB card is enough for two hours of tunes, and comes with an adaptor that lets you drop it into the SD slot of your notebook or USB memory card reader for cueing up new songs and offloading snaps taken with the 2MP digital camera.
As a phone, the KRZR does all you’d expect and indeed want – our calls were clear, with plenty of volume at both ends, and even the voice commands that can dial address book entries or any new number proved quite accurate.
The miniature speaker hidden behind the rear panel punches well above its weight, especially for MP3 playback. But don’t expect big things from the 2 megapixel camera. Despite its seemingly high resolution, with no flash or nightlight and an overly-ambitious 8x digital zoom, this is more of a convenience feature for happy snaps during the day or over dinner at well-lit restaurants. Further more, we found that using the camera to capture short video clips was barely worth the effort.
The KRZR also upgrades its PC connection to USB 2.0 (from the RAZR’s USB 1.1) for faster PC-to-phone data transfer.
Battery life is slightly higher than the RAZR, thanks to a slightly larger cell, and is now rated at 6 hours of talk time and up to 300 hours on standby.
The KRZR is equal parts style and substance, with only a few weak points and a lack of any real steps forward in the mobile phone arena. But noÂ one is going to buy the KRZR for technology leadership – with the KRZR it’s pretty much all about the look and the lifestyle, and everything else is secondary.