The Motorola RAZR V3 was without a doubt one of the most outstanding mobile phones around when it was first launched in 2005. It was a slimline clamshell that didn’t conform to the design standards that most other handsets were following. Since the original RAZR V3’s release, Motorola have continually ‘updated’ the line with rehashed versions of the same device. Over the years the rehashed V3’s were updated to include 3G network support, better cameras, larger internal memory, and slightly new physical designs.
The RAZR2 line is the next step for the original RAZR line, and is the first major update to the line since its conception.
Let’s get down to business and see how (if at all!) the new RAZR2 V9 performs when compared to the older RAZR series of handsets.
When comparing side by side, the V9 has come leaps and bounds from the original V3. First of all, there are two 262,144 colour LCD displays, one of which is a touch-screen. The touch screen LCD is on the front of the handset, which among other things can be used as the viewfinder for the camera or to control the media player. The touch controls allow you to skip, pause, or play music tracks. The front LCD is 2.0” with a 240 x 320 pixel resolution.
On the inside the display is the same resolution and colour depth, but is 0.2” larger.
The V9 follows in the footsteps of the V3xx, supporting 3G networks on top of its 2G compatibility. 2G GSM 850, 900, 1800, and 1900MHz networks with EGDE and GPRS, and UMTS 850/1900MHz networks with HSDPA are compatible with the handset. The HSDPA support is capped at 3.6Mbit/s.
One of the major criticisms of the RAZR V3 was its lack of internal memory. Motorola increased the memory in several other RAZR’s, and have continued the trend with the V9 – it comes with 50MB of onboard shared memory and microSD support. V9’s sold in Australia come with 512MB microSD cards in the sales package. It is worthy to note that some of the rehashed versions of theV3 did include larger internal memory and/or memory card support.
A 2mpx digital camera is located on the front of the handset, a big step up from the measly VGA offering on the original V3. The camera has no flash or auto focus functionality, and is still quite limited in its functionality.
Many of the features found on the V9 have been included in previous rehashed RAZR models, but not necessarily all together.
The V9 looks very similar to the V9m, which both give off the familiar RAZR vibe. The handset has a stainless steel frame, with glass sections covering the 2mpx camera and the 2” LCD on the front of the handset. The front of the handset has a glossy finish, with the back covered in soft-touch paint which is pleasant to touch and will grip onto surfaces when put down.
The RAZR2 V9 is the only RAZR2 to be larger than the original RAZR V3. The other two models, the V8 and V9m, are thinner than the original but slightly heavier.
||98 x 53 x 13mm
||103 x 53 x 13.4mm
||103 x 53 x 11.9mm
On the left hand side of the handset is the volume up/down keys and the ‘smart key’, which has different functions depending on the state of the handset. The microUSB charging/data port is also on the left hand side of the V9. On the opposite side is the dedicated camera/shutter key. The bottom of the V9 is slanted outwards, with the microphone embedded on the front.
The back of the V9 houses the Motorola and Telstra logos, with the speakerphone towards the bottom. The battery cover takes up around ľ of the back of the handset, and is easily removed by sliding it upwards. The microSD slot can be found here, and thankfully can be accessed without having to remove the battery. The SIM card port is not located under the battery, but the battery must be removed for it to be access as per normal.
Opening the V9 up reveals the amazing 2.2” TFT LCD display and keypad. The keypad follows the same design as the original RAZR’s, but is reworked slightly to make space for additional keys. The Telstra version of the V9 has a dedicated Telstra key below the navigational pad, a dedicated video call button, two soft keys, pick-up and hang-up keys, and a cancel/return key. The keys themselves are quite large, but are quite slippery which can cause some distress when messaging.
The V9’s flip mechanism is a tad worrying. When the handset is closed it is sufficiently locked in to place and will not come free easily. However, when open, the flip does not lock in and can easily be closed with a flick of the wrist.
User interface & display
The RAZR2 V9 runs a slightly reworked version of its proprietary user interface, P2K. The V9 does not run the MontaVista Linux/Java operating system that some reviews are reporting. The handset is powered by an ARM11 processor, clocked at 500MHz. The V9 has dual TFT LCD’s at 240 x 320 pixels.
Motorola are infamously known for their slow user interfaces, which I must admit have been getting slightly faster in recent times. I’m happy to report that the V9 doesn’t lag in the slightest with most functions, and has a very quick response time to key presses. A good test of a handset’s lag is messaging quickly with the predictive text dictionary on – the V9 doesn’t pass all tests with flying colours.
The main menu of the V9 is a 12-icon grid. The icons are: Phone Book, Recent Calls, Messages, Tools, Telstra My Place, Games & Apps, Multimedia, Settings, WebAccess, Alarm Clock, Connection, and Aeroplane Mode. Some of the V9’s main features are strangely hidden in the UI, a key example being the music player. Multimedia would be my pick, but Motorola seem to think it comes under the Games & Apps section. The video player has no icon at all, and can only be launched by opening a video clip manually.
Most operation of the V9’s user interface is via the 5-way navigational keypad and the C/back key. There are two soft keys, but their functions are usually for accessing advanced features, or can be achieved by pushing the centre button of the navigational pad.
For the Telstra Next G V9 version, there is a unique key on the V9, which is located below the navigational pad. It only works when pressed from the idle screen, and opens the Telstra My Place menu, providing quick access to the BigPond website, FOXTEL, Yellow Pages search, BigPond Music, BigPond e-mail, 1234 info service, BigBlog & Photos, Whereis.com.au maps, Downloads, and My Account. Most options launch a specific page in the web browser.
The external LCD is a 2” TFT LCD at 240 x 320 pixels and supporting 262,144 colours. Internally is virtually the same LCD, except 2.2”. The front LCD is a hybrid touch screen, with a small section at the bottom responsive to touches. The only functions that I could find with touch-compatibility were the Media Finder and BigPond Music Player. None the less, the LCD’s are bright, crisp, and have a large viewing area perfect for imaging and web access.
Skins (themes) are supported by the V9, with two pre-installed: Alkali and Indium. Different backgrounds cannot be set for the individual LCD’s, each shares the single image selected. Screensavers are supported, and you can select a graphic, picture, or Java screen saver. The screen saver is not displayed on the external LCD, only the internal one when the time-out occurs. The external LCD displays the clock as a screensaver.
Making and receiving calls
The V9 supports calling via the earpiece, speakerphone, a wired headset or Bluetooth headset. Video calling is supported on compatible 3G networks, with voice calling available on all 2G and 3G networks. Motorola have included their CrystalTalk technology on the V9, a proprietary noise-cancelling feature.
The Telstra version of the RAZR2 V9 has dedicated pick-up and hang-up buttons as well as a dedicated video call button. Entering a number at the idle screen and pressing the green pick-up button will start a voice call, and hitting the video call button will initiate a video call. Opening the handset when a call is coming through will pick-up the call by default, but this can be disabled if so desired. Caller ID (and photo, if attached to the contact) will be displayed on the external LCD when a call comes through.
There is no camera on the inside of the handset for video calling, but the 2mpx camera can be used. This gives the other party on the video call a “see what I see” view, but closing the V9 during a video call will put the video call window on the external LCD for face-to-face video calling.
The CrystalTalk functionality of the V9 delivers impressive call quality in noisy environments by reducing background noise. Finally, a phone that can be used in a busy crowd! Volume controls are located on the left hand side of the handset for easy adjustment. I found that the earpiece volume was sufficient, but the volume of the loudspeaker is a tad low.
Support for SMS/EMS, MMS, and e-mail messaging is included in the RAZR2 V9. The messaging application keeps all SMS/EMS and MMS messages together, with e-mail accounts kept separate from other areas of messaging.
The V9 comes with an English iTap dictionary for predictive text input, with no other languages supported. There is no lag while messaging, which is a change from most Motorola handsets that use the same operating system as the V9. The keypad is not extremely tactile, so messaging can sometimes be tedious when fingers slide off the keypad. There are also no external distinctions between the three buttons in a single row, and I often found myself hitting the wrong key if I wasn’t paying attention to my fingers.
SMS/EMS and MMS messages start off with the same composition window. By default, messages are sent via SMS – to convert to MMS you must open the options menu and select “Change to MMS.” The MMS interface is not a wizard, and all items must be added (bar text, it can be inserted at any time) by accessing the options menu.
SMTP, POP3, and IMAP4 e-mail servers are supported out-of-the-box. Push e-mail is not supported, but this functionality could be added by way of a Java application. The V9 has automatic configuration settings for several major e-mail providers, including Gmail, AOL, AIM, and Yahoo.
The RAZR2 comes with support for 2G and 3G networks, Bluetooth, and USB connectivity. The handset’s sales package includes a USB data-cable and CD with software for synchronizing and transferring data to the handset over Bluetooth or USB.
GSM 850, 900, 1800, and 1900MHz 2G bands can be used by the V9 for network access. If 3G coverage is available, the V9 can alternatively communicate with UMTS 850 or 1900MHz networks. GRPS and EDGE data protocols are used for packet data access on 2G networks, with HSDPA offered for 3G networks. HSDPA on the V9 is capped at 3.6Mbit/s, which should be sufficient for most users.
Bluetooth profiles supported by the V9 are: Headset, Hands free, Dial-up Networking, OBEX File Transfer, OBEX Object Push, A2DP, Audio Video Remote Control Target, Bluetooth Printing, and Bluetooth Imaging. I was able to achieve speeds of around 70kbp/s while transferring files to and from my Macbook (integrated Bluetooth 2.0).
Motorola have changed the usual multifunction miniUSB port on the V9 to the smaller microUSB format. This means that old chargers, data-cables, and headsets will not connect to the V9. The USB Mass Storage Device profile is supported by the V9, meaning you do not need to install software or drivers to access the V9’s external memory card. Printing via USB is also supported with compatible printers. Connecting the V9 via USB will charge the handset while you transfer data.
The JBenchmark 1.0 and 2.0 scores are impressive, however the JBenchmark 3D scores leave a little to be desired.
The RAZR2 V9 comes packed with Telstra’s own multimedia applications, including the BigPond-branded Java music player. The handset supports Java MIDP 2.0 applications, and comes with several pre-installed.
The BigPond Music Player is located in the Games & Apps section of the main menu, along with all the other Java applications. Version 1.22.6 was installed on the V9 I received for review. Audio formats including AMR-NB, XMF, MP3, AAC, AAC+, AAC Enhanced, and MIDI are supported by the player.
Repeat and shuffle functions are supported by the BigPond Music Player. There is unfortunately no equalizer function. As the application is Java, you cannot access other features of the V9 while it is being used. However, when a call comes through, this will halt the application. If you close the V9 when the Music Player is active, it will display on the external 2” touch-LCD display. From here you can touch the screen to skip forward, backwards, or pause/play a track.
Pressing the multifunction key on the left hand side of the handset when it is closed will launch the Media Finder application. From here, you can browse audio files stored on the V9 and play them without needing to open the handset. However, because Media Finder is not the BigPond Music Player, any DRM-protected files or files downloaded from online music stores cannot be played back.
The music player has direct links to the BigPond Music Shop, where full-length tracks can be downloaded directly to the handset. BigPond also offer a Dual Download service on some tracks, which allows you to download the track to your computer as well as your phone – for the one price. Most single tracks at the BigPond Music Shop are $2.99 AUD. The BigPond Music Player handles downloads of tracks purchased from the store
Strangely, the V9’s video player is completely hidden from the main menu. The only way to watch videos stores on the handset’s memory is to use the Media Finder application and select the video you wish to wash. The video player will then launch. Full screen video playback is supported, and if you have a Bluetooth headset the audio can be routed there rather than the speakerphone. Bass boost and spatial audio functionality is also available, but is disabled by default.
MPEG4 and 3GPP formats are supported by the video player. Streaming video is also supported, therefore providing support for Mobile FOXTEL over the Next-G network.
Using the JBenchmark Java testing suite, the RAZR2 V9 scored the following:
||HQ: 403; LQ: 427
Bowling3D and Scrabble Blast are the only two Java games pre-installed on the V9. Additional games can be downloaded from the web and transferred from a computer, or you can access Telstra’s own game depository, which sells games for around $7.00 AUD each.
The V9’s PIM applications are scattered across the main menu. The alarm clock function has its own main menu item, but most other applications (calendar, calculator, and world clock) can be found under the Tools main menu.
Multiple alarms can be configured on the V9, each with their own name, time, alert, and volume. The V9’s calendar is quite advanced, allowing you to enter events including personal appointments, meetings, birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, national holidays, breakfast/lunch/dinner, and parties. The calendar can also be configured to turn the handset on when an event occurs.
Motorola have pre-installed a backup application, appropriately named BACKUP, which is powered by Tarsin. The BACKUP application allows you to backup your phonebook, which is then encrypted on the Motorola BACKUP server. Your backups can be accessed from both the handset and the BACKUP website at
An application named RMC is also pre-installed on the V9, but this time by Telstra. RMC launches the web browser and opens the Mobile FOXTEL page for quick access to channels.
The Downloads application, also pre-installed by Telstra, allows you to preview and purchase the most popular tones, pictures, games, music videos, tones, and trailers quickly and easily. On opening the application the handset will download the latest popularity data, which is usually updated weekly.
Under the V9’s connectivity menu is the MOTOSYNC menu. From here you can configure the handset to synchronize data with compatible Microsoft Exchange (ActiveSync) servers or Motorola’s own synchronize application that can be found on the CD-rom in the sales package.
The build quality of the V9 is impressive for the most part, although I did have some problems with the hinge mechanism. The handset slams shut when closed (perhaps a little too forcefully) but does not ‘click’ into place sufficiently when opened. A light flick of the wrist when the V9 is open is enough to close the handset.
It is interesting to note that the RAZR2 V9m, which is almost identical to the V9, does not have the same hinge troubles.
The V9’s battery cover is easily removed by sliding it upwards, providing access to the battery, SIM, and microSD card. The microSD card can be accessed without having to remove the battery, but the battery must be removed to access the SIM.
A 920mAh lithium-ion battery pack powers the RAZR2 V9. Motorola expect only 3.4 hours of talk time and 260 hours of standby time from a single charge of the battery pack. There are no separate battery estimates for just GSM or just UMTS standby/talk time, so the Motorola figures could just be averages of the two.
In testing I could achieve around ~3 hours talk time in between using the V9 for SMS, MMS, and web browsing. This isn’t anything amazing, but if you’re paranoid about the battery running out during the day it might be comforting to know that the handset can be charged via the microUSB port when connected to a laptop or desktop computer.