After the astronomical success of the original RAZR V3 handset, Motorola have been pumping out RAZR-like handsets in many different shapes and sizes. The KRZR K1 follows the styling of the original RAZR but is instead narrower than the V3. It isn’t quite as thin as the V3, but does come close at only 16mm.
The KRZR is available in some areas under the K1m model number. Although similar to the K1, the K1m is compatible with the CDMA 850/1900MHz networks. The K1m also has touch sensitive buttons on the front of the handset, and several other enhancements. Elements of this K1 review will apply to the K1m, but some elements may differ.
Now let’s get into the gory details!
The KRZR K1 doesn’t bring any brand new features to the market, but does include all of the features we come to expect from any mid-range handset. The styling of the K1 is definitely one of the major marketing points, with features coming later. At only 16mm thin and 42 mm wide, the KRZR is the perfect buddy for any tight pocket or tiny hand bag! The handset only weighs around 103 grams, too.
Similar features to the V3 RAZR can be found on the K1, such as the quad-band GSM network coverage. For the travelling consumer coverage on all four 2G GSM networks (850, 900, 1800, and 1900MHz) is a necessity. The K1 automatically switches between network bands without any user interaction. EDGE and GPRS over the air data protocols are supported for wireless data transfer.
The main LCD on the K1 is smaller than its RAZR brothers, at only 176 x 220 pixels. It supports 262,144 colours. On the front of the K1 is a CSTN LCD 65,436 colour display at 96 x 80 pixels. There are two LED indicators on either side of the external LCD for battery charging and Bluetooth status.
The KRZR is based on the design of the ever popular RAZR line of handsets. The KRZR is however narrower than the RAZR handsets, and slightly thicker. The design of the KRZR K1 is definitely one of the main selling points – and I must admit the handset is very attractive.
Measuring just 103 x 42 x 16mm and weighing just over 100 grams there were times I forgot I had the handset in my pocket. 42mm is not exactly the narrowest handset on the market, but one must remember that the K1 is a clam shell handset. Candy bar handsets are often thinner than 42mm but clam shells never usually come close. The original RAZR V3 was 53mm thick, so the K1 has been cut down by a full 10mm.
The K1 sports a glossy glass finish on the front, with soft touch metal on the back. I received the blue KRZR K1 for review, but a black model is available on selected Vodafone plans. There are three buttons on the left hand side of the handset, volume up/down controls and the voice recording button. The right hand side has the lone camera shutter key, which can be held down to start the viewfinder application. The miniUSB connector is also on the right – it’s covered by a hard plastic cover that is permanently attached to the handset. This is the only interface port on the handset and is used for charging & data connections.
Overall, the K1 gets four out of a possible five stars in this section. The glass finish looks amazing but is prone to fingerprints, and for those who want their handset looking the best at all times it’s probably best to keep the KRZR in the little bag that comes in the sales package.
User interface & display
Same old, same old! The KRZR K1 runs the same Motorola operating system we’ve been using for years with little change. Unfortunately the K1’s user interface is very slow, especially when messaging or quickly browsing through the menus.
The main menu is a 3 x 3 grid by default, but can be changed to a list if preferred. The icons can also be reordered for accessibility through the settings menu. The way the menu system is laid out makes it easy to find the required function or setting with ease. The 5-way navigational key will be the first point of call for any interaction with the K1. The soft keys are mostly used for additional functionality or exiting programs. Pressing the red hang up button at any time will jump back to the home screen. “Home keys” are four shortcut icons that can be placed on the home screen to link to almost any function available on the K1. Each icon shortcut matches to one of the four navigational buttons. The clock on the home screen can be displayed as digital or analogue format.
To customise the K1’s look and feel users can apply skins which contain colour schemes, wallpapers, and screensavers. Three skins were pre-installed on my test unit: Cobalt, Alkali, and Glow. More can be downloaded via WAP sites or transferred to the K1 via a computer.
A 176 x 220 pixel TFT LCD with 262,144 colour support is the main display, with a secondary 96 x 80 pixel CSTN display (also 262,144 colours) on the front of the handset. The front LCD displays the time & date, battery level, reception level, GPRS status, and status messages like low battery or new messages. The small LCD can also be used as a viewfinder for the 2mpx camera.
The main LCD on the K1 is perfect in direct sunlight and bright enough to be easily read in complete darkness. The size of the text cannot be adjusted but I found it to be perfect for my needs. Six lines of text can be displayed at any one time with the bottom soft key bar and top status bar displayed.
My main reason for giving this element of the K1 only 2 ˝ stars was because of the lag in the operating system. In this day and age most people use their phones to accomplish small tasks quickly – send of an SMS message, find a phone number, and so forth. These tasks become tedious when the operating system is slow.
Making and receiving calls
This section of the KRZR K1 was very impressive. Many users may not be aware of a lot of the additional functionality the K1 has available without reading the manual. The K1 is quad-band GSM compatible for worldwide coverage.
The clam shell K1 will automatically answer a call when you open the handset. The LCD display on the front of the handset will display the caller ID (if available), and photo (if stored in the phone book memory).The automatic answer can be turned off through the settings menu if desired. To end a call the K1 can be closed, or the red hang up button pushed.
The K1 has a really handy feature called ‘delay answer’, which when activated will answer the incoming call and play a pre-recorded message that says something along the lines of “Please hold, your call will be answered shortly.” This is perfect for when you need to answer a call before it goes to voicemail, but need to step out of the room or find a quiet spot. This feature can be enabled in the settings menu where the hold message will be recorded. To answer with the delay message open the handset and press the delay key. By turning on delayed answer the automatic answer mode is turned off.
Another cool feature on the K1 is the ability to record phone conversations. By pushing the left soft key (below the volume keys), the record will automatically start. To end the recording push the button again or simply hang up. The recording is stored in the phone memory and is of high quality.
The integrated loudspeaker has adequate volume, as does the earpiece. The sales package contains a miniUSB wired stereo headset and a Motorola H700 Bluetooth headset which resembles a mini KRZR. Bluetooth call quality was excellent.
500 contacts can be stored in the KRZR K1’s phone book, with multiple fields available for each contact for information such as address, additional phone number, e-mail, and so forth. SIM contacts can be read without having to transfer them to the phone memory, however only the name and number can be stored on the SIM card.
Supporting SMS/EMS, MMS, and e-mail messaging, the K1 has your usual messaging functionality. The integrated 2mpx digital camera makes a handy companion for MMS messages, where you can capture a new image direct from the message composition menu. The e-mail application on the KRZR only supports POP3 and IMAP4 e-mail servers.
One of the main reasons I’m only giving this section of the K1 two and a half stars is that the messaging interface is very slow – perhaps the slowest I’ve ever experienced on a mobile phone. I’m quite a quick typist, and use T9 predictive text to make things that little bit faster. The K1 would lag around five to six words behind me, which meant I had to wait for the phone to catch up before I could go back and check for mistakes. The sound after each key press can’t be turned off and that definitely gets on your nerves after a few messages. Motorola handsets are usually quite slow messaging devices, but the K1’s lag was beyond a joke!
Aside from the lag, the message composition window is very well put together. When selecting ‘New Message’, the handset asks which message type: message, new voice message, or new e-mail. The first option is used for both SMS and MMS messages, the handset automatically decides based on any attachments to the message which type it is going to be.
Files that can be included in MMS messages include pictures, voice notes, sounds, videos, text templates, and contact info. The K1 also offers full customization of page timing. MMS messages are limited to 300KB.
One criticism of the K1’s message composition window I have is that when typing an SMS message the character count does not indicate how many SMS messages will be linked together for the one message. Some people don’t know that one SMS is 160 characters long, and may find themselves sending longer messages because they weren’t aware they were going over the limit. The only way to determine how many pages you have used is when the message is sent and it displays “x pages” and a preview of the message.
Like the K1’s older sister, the RAZR, quad-band GSM compatibility is supported for world-wide 2G connectivity. EDGE and GPRS over the air protocols are also supported, and for short range connectivity the K1 has Bluetooth 2.0. The handset also has a mini-USB port for connecting to a PC with the included data-cable and Phone Tools software.
The A2DP profile has been included with the K1, which provides high quality streaming stereo sound over a Bluetooth connection for devices like wireless headphones. Other profiles supported by the K1 are generic access, hands free, headset, dial-up networking, object push, file transfer, generic object exchange, basic imaging (sending/receiving images), and basic printing. The K1 does not have an infrared port.
The miniUSB port on the right hand side of the K1 is used for all wired connections to the handset. In the sales package you will find a miniUSB data-cable, and a CD containing the Motorola Phone Tools software. Motorola Phone Tools is very easy to install and supports both Bluetooth and USB connections with the K1. The software has many features which allow you to compose messages on your computer, connect to the internet via the K1, transfer files to/from the internal memory or memory card, synchronize data, make calls through your computer, and more. When the K1 is connected via USB it will charge as well as communicate with your computer.
EGDE and GPRS over a compatible GSM network can achieve speeds of up to 236kbps and 48kbps respectively. A WAP 2.0 compliant browser provides access to the mobile internet where a wealth of information and downloads for the K1 can be found.
The K1 comes with several Java applications pre-installed. BACK-UP saves a copy of your contacts to Motorola’s servers, preventing you from losing your phone book if the handset is broken. Cricket is a simple game of the popular sport, while the Digital Music Player application is an alternative to the built-in media player. The application scans the internal and external memory for compatible audio files and displays them in a chronological list. The player supports play lists and can sort audio files by title, album, artist, and genre. The K1 help application is just as the name suggests, and the last application is Platinum Sodoku.
The KRZR K1 comes with a built-in media player for audio and video playback. Full screen playback is supported for both streaming & locally stored video, and ID3 tags can be read when playing back an MP3 file. Other supported audio file formats are MIDI, AAC, and AAC+. The image viewer on the K1 can display images full screen for better viewing.
I installed JBenchmark 1.0, 2.0, and 3D on the Motorola KRZR K1. Using the Motorola Phone Tools software I transferred the .jar and .jad files for each application to the memory card, then browsed to the ‘Games & Applications’ menu and selected ‘Install new application’.
All three applications installed without hassles, but the JBenchmark 3.0 application would not run, instead displaying a text box which read “Application Error.” The JBenchmark figures for version 1.0 and 2.0 weren’t anything to give praise for, especially the JBenchmark 2.0 test results, which reflect MIDP 2.0 application performance.
The KRZR comes with basic PIM functionality: a calendar (date book), calculator, alarm clock, and multi-field phone book. The handset is capable of synchronization via the Phone Tools software that comes with the handset. The Phone Tools software creates an additional taskbar in Microsoft Outlook which can be used for one-click synchronization of items in the calendar and entries in the phone book.
The calendar application is quite advanced, supporting a wide range of event types and additional details. A repeat function can be used to automatically fill days in the calendar with repeating events. Currency conversion is available with the calculator application.
A 700mAh lithium-ion battery pack gives life to the Motorola KRZR K1, with an approximate battery life of 350 minutes talk time and 300 hours standby time. I found that with average usage (mostly SMS/MMS messages, a few short phone calls and some camera usage) I’d only be able to use the K1 for about 3-4 days without having to recharge.
The handy thing is that the battery is re-charged when connected via USB to a computer, killing two birds with one stone. On the left hand side of the LCD display on the front of the K1 is a battery charging LED which lights up green when charging. It’s a little difficult to tell how much the battery is charged though, as the battery indicator always flashes orange with one bar when recharging. There is a battery life meter in the settings menu which can display accurate information, though.
I was a little less than impressed with the build quality of the KRZR – it seems that by making the handset thinner, Motorola have been thrown some structural components out the window. When opening and closing the handset I noticed immediately that the top flip does not ‘lock’ into place at either position. The closed position feels a lot more secure than the open mode, which just feels flimsy.
The plastic over the internal display is very thin and when touched even with the slightest amount of force it makes contact with the LCD display causing the blur of colours most people will be familiar with when using an LCD monitor.
The battery cover is made of thin metal (like the RAZR), and very easily slides off and on. The microSD memory card can be removed without turning off the phone and removing the battery, while the SIM card is in its usual spot under the battery.