Review: Motorola maxx Ve
The ghosts of RAZR's past are definitely visible in the basic design of the Ve. As with previous generations, it is slim and uses sharp, angular lines to stand out from the crowd. It is just a hair thicker, longer, and heavier than its closest relative, the V3m. There are a few notable differences, though.
The front of the Ve hosts a larger exterior display, which is set into a highly glossy black frame. The effect of the flat panel on the front is one of smoky glass, and it actually prevents the exterior screen from being as visible as it should be, given its size. There are also three illuminated media keys set into the glass. These are touch-capacitance buttons that allow you to access the basic media player functions. Unlike the upcoming RAZR 2, these keys do not provide any feedback when they are pressed. Your fingers will find no haptics buzzing here. The lack of any feedback often led to frustration in using these keys. The front panel also houses the camera and large flash. The smudge factor is high, and because the camera's cover is flush with the rest of the front panel, it is all too easy for the lens to be obscured by fingerprints.
The rest of the Ve is covered in a black soft-touch paint job. It feels smooth, yet slightly tacky and provides for plenty of grip when holding the phone. The volume rocker and function key on the left side of the phone are easily found and used, as they provide good feedback. The USB port is also located on the left side of the phone. There are no headphone jacks on the Ve, so you'll have to use the Bluetooth functionality.
It may seem like a small point, but we thought we'd mention that removing the back cover of the Ve borders on impossible. The user manual shows clearly where to press the back hatch and then slide it down, but getting the clasp to release is a chore at best. We resorted to breaking out Mr. Buck Knife to place focused pressure in the right spot. This is only worth mentioning because the microSD card slot is located under the battery hatch. Thankfully it is not under the battery itself, which means you can leave the phone on while swapping out the storage card.
When open, the Ve looks less unique. The screen is the same size as the V3m's and the keypad looks identical. They keypad is made from a bronze alloy, but it feels like plastic. There are white lines separating the keys from one another. These lines feel like they are thin beads of paint, but according to Motorola are silicon rubber covered in film. The overall effect is, unfortunately, cheap. This is confirmed when you pass your thumb over the keypad and beginning hitting the buttons. The keypad feels cheap and plastic-y in the worst way. The buttons all work, and provide adequate feedback, but the response is just grating to your fingers. Passing them over the silicon separating each key is simply unpleasant.
This also effects use of the D-pad. Depending on how you use your thumb to use the D-pad it can be tricky. Because the D-pad is somewhat narrow, I found that I had to angle my thumb and use my thumbnail to get the best/most accurate results when navigating with the D-pad. All the function buttons and send/end keys are where they should be and work as expected.
The hinge houses a narrow button that is only used to focus the camera. When the Ve is open, the focus button is located directly above the D-pad. It is worth pointing out that having this button is a nice step, but reaching it with your thumb is a stretch. It is just far enough above the D-pad that if the phone is positioned high in your hand, it is difficult for your thumb to reach up and press the focus button.
Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.