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MotoSummer 2004

Intro RAZR V3 MPx Series A780 A630 Comments  43  

The "RAZR" V3 is certainly the star of Motorola's new announcements. Like the V600 last year, the V3 is the new signature model in Motorola's lineup, designed to emphasize style and showcase the company's engineering talent.

The main selling point of this model is the "razor" thin profile. Using exotic materials and clever engineering, Motorola has managed to pack a complete, feature-rich phone into a package just 13.9 millimeters thick - half the thickness of most other clamshell models. And amazingly, they didn't skimp on features, adding a second color display and a camera. There is no thinner clamshell phone in world with these features.

The unique materials are much of what makes this design possible. Motorola seems to have taken a cue from Apple and its titanium laptops. In the V3, anodized aircraft-grade aluminum clads the exterior. Aluminum was chosen because it is much lighter than titanium, (the same reason Apple eventually switched to aluminum.) Plus it's easier to work with, and also recyclable (important in parts of Europe).

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Magnesium is the material you'll see when you open the V3. It was chosen over aluminum for being moldable (for tricky hinge parts, etc.). Since magnesium is a full 18 times stronger than plastic, the inner casing could be made paper-thin without sacrificing durability.

And finally, a nickel-plated copper-alloy is used for the unique keypad. This unusal metal was chosen for being flexible, and also because it allows the eye-catching "spun" finish that radiates from the direction pad.

But wait - that's not all! You have to wonder if one of the engineers had some kind of bad childhood experience with plastic, because they even managed to avoid it with the outer display and camera lens. Instead, a special hardened glass is used, that is thinner, more resistant to scratching, and allowed them to place the LCD closer to the surface, further reducing the overall thickness.

 

When I first saw the V3, I was very skeptical about the keypad. It did not look very ergonomic. However, I'm delighted to report that my fears were unfounded and it is, in fact, a truly excellent keypad in every way. The keys are easy to feel thanks to slightly raised rubber ridges in the spaces between the keys, and tactile feedback is perfect. And the cool-blue EL backlight provides perfectly even light in the dark.

Working our way around the rest of the phone, one seemingly odd design choice is the location of the side keys on the top half of the phone, next to the display. The reason is that there simply isn't room for them in the usual locations on the bottom half. The battery takes up absolutely every last millimeter of that part of the phone. It runs right to the very edges.

And a bit of trivia: when you press on the top part of the keypad, you're actually pressing directly on the battery - there's literally nothing between the keypad and the battery except a thin white film.

One nice little touch is that the up/down action of the side keys is automatically reversed when you close the phone, so up is always up. This is similar to Motorola's Bluetooth headsets, which automatically reverse volume keys when you switch ears, so that the top key always raises the volume.

Oh, and Motorola fanatics might notice that the "talk" and "end" keys are in the normal, industry-standard locations, instead of flipped like Motorola phones of the past. This is not a fluke or an exception. Motorola has finally, officially abandoned its flipped talk/end keys. All Motorola phones from this point forward will have this "normal" talk/end key arrangement.

So what features did they omit to make the V3 so thin? What's the trade-off? Well... nothing, really.

You do need a small adapter to connect a wired headset, (it only has a mini-USB connector,) but since it has Bluetooth, it's hard to get too upset about that.

Really, they compromised nothing. But that does mean one compromise for the customer: price. All that Motorola will say about the price at this point is that the V3 will definitely be more expensive than the V600. This is by no means a phone for those on a budget.

 

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