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MOTO2006

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Aug 4, 2006, 2:02 PM   by Eric Lin

Hands-on reports from Motorola events in Cape Town and NYC. Hands-on with the new KRZR, RIZR, FONE, i880, xx, maxx, and W375.

Part 1

Hello Moto 

We traveled a long way - literally half way around the world - to bring you a hands on with Mototola's newest phone designs. The American manufacturer held the global launch for its new designer phones in Cape Town, South Africa.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

Motorola's chief designer, Jim Wicks unveiled the phones formerly code named Canary and Capri. Though filings with the FCC called them the K1 and Z3, they are now officially called the KRZR and RIZR. Although not much has changed since we got our hands on the RIZR a month ago, there were a few interesting surprises.

Both phones run the same software except for a minor change in the camera viewfinder - as we showed you, the RIZR runs a full-screen viewfinder in landscape mode, while the KRZR has a near full screen viewfinder, with all the same features, but in portrait mode. We will refrain from discussing the software much since we covered that pretty thoroughly earlier.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

However it is worth noting that Motorola has switched its navigation system to match almost all other manufacturers'. Enter/Forward type functions are now on the left soft key while No/Back operations are done by the right. Not only does this match what other manufacturers do, but it now matches the send/end buttons, where green is on the left and red is on the right. This will be a small hassle for long time Motorola users, but it will be a big improvement for users new to the brand.

This change had not been implemented on the RIZR prototype we previewed before. It has been fully implemented everywhere in the OS except in the music player, where we suspect it was missed since that is a Java add-on and not part of the core OS.

KRZR 

The KRZR (yes, pronounced "crazer") will initially come in three varieties: a quad-band GSM model, an American CDMA model and an Asian CDMA model for Korea and China. The difference between the three is not merely radios. The GSM model has a 176 x 220 screen and a 2 Megapixel camera. The American CDMA model has a 176 x 220 screen and a 1.3 Megapixel camera. The Asian CDMA model has a QVGA screen and 2 Megapixel camera. Both CDMA models also feature external media playback controls that are resistive sensors hidden beneath the face (like on the Chocolate).

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

Although the KRZR certainly has its roots in Motorola's iconic RAZR, the two phones look and feel very different, even though they share the same underlying technology that was breakthrough in the RAZR. Motorola has made an effort to make the KRZR feel more like it was designed for humans than robots and it shows. It was also designed to look less like a piece of technology and more like a piece of jewelry or art.

Although the KRZR has a nice unified look, each face of the phone is a different material which serves a different purpose. The back is the soft touch finish of the PEBL or V300, which makes it comfortable to hold and easy to grip. The front is a single piece of glass with a vacuum metalized finish which gives it the jewel-like appearance and allows the external display (and media controls on the CDMA models). The keypad is also new. It is still flat like on the RAZR, but a new technology called electroforatic deposition makes it feel soft to the touch, almost rubberized. This keypad is so touchable, it's difficult to stop playing with it.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

The KRZR is narrower than the RAZR or even the RIZR and this narrow profile makes the phone much easier to hold - you can really wrap your hand around it. In fact, with the new narrow shape, and the soft touch back and all the other improvements that make the KRZR more of a human friendly phone, it's difficult not to keep touching or playing with it. Even if you're just inspecting the details of the construction and finishes, you find the phone is always is your hand.

The KRZR is definitely the looker of the two phones and will be sold as the higher end model of the two. The CDMA model is expected in the US around the end of Q3, while the GSM model is not expected here until the end of the year or early next year. It should be available outside the US in early fall, around the same time as the CDMA model.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

The Asian model is the most lust-worthy of them all. It's not that is has more shiny surfaces than the other KRZRs with its glossy sides. The Asian KRZR features the best of all models. It share the 2 Megapixel camera with the GSM model, the external media controls with the US CDMA model and adds a crisp QVGA screen. It's hard not to be jealous of the feature packed phone our Asian friends are getting.

Motorola is making efforts to protect the KRZR from being copied as prevalently as the RAZR. They have patented a larger number of technologies used to create the unique finishes of the phone. They have also been much more protective of these phones during development.

RIZR 

The RIZR was only announced in a GSM model. Like the GSM KRZR, it is quad-band with EDGE and a 2 Megapixel camera.

The RIZR we used earlier was close enough to the final that most of what we said still holds true, but there have been a few physical changes. First, the spring action of the slide has been fine tuned. It no longer takes much effort to open the phone, yet it opens solidly. It is equally easy to close it.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

There was also a surprise on the back of the slide. When you slide the RIZR open, a pattern is revealed. Currently there is only one pattern, no matter what the color or network of the RIZR. However Motorola is calling these patterns tattoos and seems to be pushing for a broader variety on future RIZRs. They will be making two additional patterns available on the matching H800 Bluetooth headset (which also features a spring-loaded slide). Like previous Motorola design phones, the RIZR and the matching headset will come in a variety of colors.

(h800)
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The RIZR's keypad is wider than that of the KRZR, making it slightly easier to dial and text. However the RIZR's does not have the same soft rubber feel as the KRZR. The rest of the RIZR is covered in the soft touch finish made popular by the PEBL. The RIZR does have quite the same tactilely addictive addictive qualities but it fits in the hand very nicely and was very comfortable to use.

Because it doesn't have all the new finishes found on the KRZR, the RIZR looks much more plain, and will be sold as the lower end of the two phones. It too is not expected on American networks until late this year or early next.

Together 

Both models don't just share software, but many hardware features as well. They each have a Transflash slot behind the battery door, which unlike our prototype, is capable of reading a full 2 GB card. (It is possible this has not been enabled on the American CDMA version, but we could not get official confirmation either way).

Both models have Bluetooth including the A2DP stereo profile. Motorola just released the O ROKR headset / sunglasses for sale during the Cape Town event and additional models that have been announced like the HS805 DJ-style headset are due out soon.

The two models are not just similar in function, but also in form. Although the KRZR is slightly narrower, the two are the same height and the same thickness.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

Motorola announced two traditional Bluetooth headsets to match the new phones. The H601 matches the KRZR with shiny colors and a small profile. The H800 is larger and matches the RIZR's colors as well as offers similar "tattoo" patterns. Both headsets and new phones feature new easy pair software that will reduce the number of steps required to get them working together.

More to come

South Africa was an interesting choice for the launch of high-end phones and Bluetooth headsets. There is a growing design-conscious community there, but it is vastly outnumbered by people who literally forgo buying new clothing or other comforts in order to buy a phone. Journalists from around the world - with a strong emphasis on emerging markets - were on hand as were we supposed to be shown the next big thing for the "next billion" phone users - a term mentioned quite often in Motorola's presentation. This would have been a good fit for such a venue, although it's not clear how these high-end phones fit with that theme.

Part 2

FONE 

by Rich Brome
August 4, 2006


Even though it's strictly an entry-level phone, the MOTOFONE is ground-breaking in a number of ways.

 

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The FONE is our first glimpse of Motorola's new SCPL (scalpel) platform. For the most part, that means more to Motorola engineers than to consumers. Hardware platforms like SCPL are generally more about the way chips are wired than specific features. While the FONE is very entry-level in terms of features, future SCPL phones will reach the very top end.

There are a couple of nice SCPL traits that are apparent in the FONE, however. One is the extremely thin profile. SCPL is designed to push Motorola's emphasis on thin phones even further. At only 9mm, the FONE is Motorola's thinnest phone yet.

The other neat SCPL feature is the dual antennas. On most phones with internal antennas, if you place your hand over the hidden antenna part, your reception degrades - sometimes dramatically. But the FONE has an antenna at each end, so even if you cover the top antenna with your hand, the lower antenna has you covered.

Another neat FONE feature is the new, unique type of display (which is not necessarily something we'll see in most other SCPL phones.) Motorola calls it "ClearVision", and the technology behind it is called Electrophoretic Display (EPD), or more commonly, "e-paper".

E-paper displays have a number of unique properties. First, it is very thin. Instead of being set behind a window, this display is practically part of the surface of the phone. It's also highly reflective. When part of the display is white, it's really white - almost like paper - making it white and bright enough that it doesn't need a backlight to be seen in all but complete darkness.

The display also has the unique ability to completely invert from black-on-white to white-on-black - all the way to the very edge. Motorola has adopted this as an easy to tell when the FONE is in standby mode. Yet another unique trait is that the display does not need to be rectangular (since it does not need a sheet of glass like LCDs) and Motorola has used that ability to wrap the signal and battery meter parts of the display around the speaker.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

The UI (user interface) on the FONE is very unique. Because the display isn't the usual matrix type with pixels, the "menu" is a set of fixed icons across the bottom. There are two lines of alphanumeric characters in the center, but it's only six letters wide, and the way some letters are formed can be hard to read.

The new UI is designed to be as easy as possible for first-time phone users. In doing that, Motorola has created a UI completely and totally different from any other phone on the market. It's so different that most existing cell phone users will probably find it confusing. I tried my darnedest to navigate the menus, but just couldn't figure it out. I didn't have much time with it, though, and also it was too noisy for me to hear the voice prompts that are supposed to explain things along the way.

Our buddy Michael at MobileBurn seemed to have better luck figuring out how to use it. Check out some more shots of the UI in action here.

None of this is necessarily a bad thing, because this phone is aimed mostly at first-time phone users in developing markets. Motorola claims their testing has shown that the new UI makes perfect sense to such users.

The FONE will be available in two versions: the FONE F3 for GSM networks, and the FONE F3c for CDMA networks.

i880 

Motorola has been showing off glimpses of a few forthcoming iDEN phones recently. The most exciting is the i880, which will set a new standard as the most feature-packed iDEN phone yet.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

Features of this baby include a 2 megapixel camera with video capture, microSD memory card slot, MP3 player with external controls, stereo speakers, and Bluetooth.

The overall feel of the device is excellent, including a thin profile and great keys. I do wish the 4-way keys were joined into a true d-pad; the four separated direction keys aren't the best, although I've seen worse.

MVNO Boost Mobile will get its own version: the i885:

 

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Usually the Boost version of an iDEN phone has a more "wild" design, but in this case it might be the opposite. To me, the i880 has a more crazy, over-the-top design, and the i885 design seems slightly more conservative. They're both unique, though, and both a bit "sci-fi" looking.

Look for the i880 to hit shelves around the end of October, and the i885 soon after.

HSDPA 

Last week, Motorola announced a pair of new 3G phones: the MOTORAZR V3xx and MOTORAZR V3maxx:

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

Officially, these are only announced for Europe as HSDPA phones, although various comments from Motorola executives have hinted at one or both of these designs eventually coming to the U.S. in some way.

When we first saw the V3xx, we assumed it was the same exact size as the original RAZR V3 and V3i. In reality, the V3xx is slightly longer, to accommodate the extra HSDPA circuitry. It's still just as thin, though.

The V3xx and V3maxx are roughly similar in size. The V3maxx is the one with the new (and quite striking) design. The white vertical strips on the front light up blue, although in the final version they will disappear into the black face when not lit. The maxx also has touch-sensitive media keys on the front, just like the new KRZR K1m.

W375 

The W375 is a new, entry-level clamshell GSM phone:

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

Instead of a full external display, the W375 has a column of fixed indicator lights on the outside in the shape of icons. A little envelope lights up to show when you have a new message, etc. (Unfortunately, the lights weren't activated yet on the early prototype we tried.)

What's really interesting about the W375 is the clear RAZR / KRZR influence on the design. In many ways, the W375 is an entry-level version of the KRZR K1. The overall shape, curves, hinge design, keypad design... is all just like the KRZR, but simplified and made much more affordable.

A W370 is also in the works, which will be the same exact phone, just without a camera. The W370 is expected to come to the U.S. in early 2007.

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Comments

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Subject Author Date
Moto copying LG?!?! Who would have thought.... industryspy Jul 24, 2006, 10:50 PM
For those in the wireless industry... burger_with_fries81 Aug 4, 2006, 9:25 PM
Availability of H601 Bluetooth headset in US Shorty Dec 4, 2006, 3:45 PM
NokiaNokia Djanifer9512 Aug 5, 2006, 8:54 AM
This phone is garbage!!! NokiaNokia Jul 25, 2006, 12:40 AM
oh, motorola Atavist Arise Jul 27, 2006, 9:17 PM
cdma version have verizon ui?? mr_tetsuo Jul 27, 2006, 2:04 AM
  • yes by eric Lin   Jul 27, 2006, 4:17 PM
    • Re: yes by ceric20   Oct 1, 2006, 12:34 PM
Rich: aprout Aug 7, 2006, 9:55 AM
Dammit!!! burger_with_fries81 Jul 26, 2006, 10:55 PM
OMG Finally!!! AwpdsR Aug 4, 2006, 6:53 PM
Peace Corps FONE / Working Assets (Sprint MVNO) Gertie Knock-Off Aug 4, 2006, 4:14 PM
Which Networks will carry these phones? bg1256 Aug 4, 2006, 10:25 AM
3G on GSM KRZR? prepyjuan Jul 24, 2006, 7:56 PM
With the KRZR you forgot to mention... Sam K Jul 25, 2006, 10:02 AM
Will this phone work on Sprint's U.S. Network? Sailbuoy Jul 28, 2006, 11:32 AM
When is the Rizr coming out S9D3 Jul 30, 2006, 5:47 PM
Airline? tuolumne Jul 24, 2006, 11:09 PM
Colors? fierce17 Jul 24, 2006, 11:23 PM
Dimensions mobilewizardjohn Jul 26, 2006, 10:08 AM
  • RIZR by eric Lin   Jul 26, 2006, 2:54 PM
    • Re: RIZR by mobilewizardjohn   Jul 26, 2006, 4:05 PM
Verizon?? cjenkins505 Jul 24, 2006, 7:27 PM
 
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