Saturday, November 24, 2007

Mobile Review: Motorola MOTORAZR2 V8

The Motorola MOTORAZR2 platform is the latest iteration in its slim fashion RAZR portfolio. Here is a review of the V8 variant of it. It isn't mine but I had a couple of days of chance familiarising with it.

The RAZR2 V8 is a very sleek and thin phone and has a fantastic 2" external QVGA screen. On the inside you will find a slightly larger (but still smallish) 2.2" QVGA screen with good brightness and outdoor visibility. At 117g it is heavy for a phone this small, but take that as a compliment. The weight gives it a luxurious solid feel. This isn't surprising as Motorola has given the V8 a stainless steel body with glass. You will not be wanting to drop this because this thing only looks lovely when it is scratch-free. Unfortunately the glossy look means that it is a fingerprint magnet. On the back is the battery compartment. Yes slim phones can have removable battery Steve.

The V8 runs on a modified Linux kernal with a much improved MotoMAGX UI (The RAZR2 V9 on the other hand runs on an archaic version of close-source Moto OS). The UI is powered by two soft keys, a d-pad and back button. It is extremely quick (thanks to the 500Mhz ARM11 processor) though it lacks the fluidity and the ease-of-use of Nokia's feature phone OS Series 40. There are no native applications (yet) but it does support Java applications (memory heap is 2MB). Text messages can be viewed via the external screen and you can even reply using pre-set messages. Texting by the way, is a much improved experience over previous Motorola though I still prefer Nokia's T9 solution.

The V8 when plugged-in is USB Mass Storage and MTP compliant. You can sync via Windows Media Player 11 or just drag and drop your music folders onto the rather insulting 512MB flash memory. It is very simple and works out of the box with no software needed. The music player supports MP3, WMA, AAC, AAC+, Real Audio and WAV formats. Music can be controlled via the partially touch sensitive external screen. You will be glad to know that the V8's Bluetooth 2 EDR+ also supports A2DP and AVRCP profiles so you can enjoy your music wirelessly. There is also an external speaker (with surprisingly good fidelity and volume) to annoy your fellow train passengers with.

The web browser is fully HTML compliant with CSS and Javascript support and is powered by Opera 8.50. Personally I would recommend downloading Opera Mobile 4 for web surfing via EDGE (slow). Themes also happens to be fully configurable and editable on the V8 which is a nice touch. What isn't nice though are the lack of Nokia-like phone profiles. You can select from a pre-set of 'Ring', 'Ring and Vibrate', 'Vibrate then Ring', 'Vibrate' and 'Silent' and nothing else. For shame Motorola. Phone quality is excellent and on-par with any high-end mobile phones as was the reception.

One other important bit that Motorola finally got right is the out-of-box ability to sync. The calendar and contacts can be synced over-the-air via Motorola's SyncML compatible software (cleverly named MotoSync). So are your Microsoft ActiveSync Exchange powered e-mail accounts. Finally Outlook users will appreciate that the V8's PIM suite is fully sync'able via the bundled AvanQuest software (Vista/XP compatible). Even if you don't use Outlook then you can still edit the PIMs via the included software. You can even type SMS on your PC. It just works and even more reliable than Microsoft's ActiveSync efforts, I have to admit. Speaking of PIM applications I am sure some of you will find it a relief that the V8 supports multiple fields such as addresses in its Contact program. Finally.

The V8, like the Iphone, is severely crippled. Just why did Motorola decide to omit an expansion slot to supplement the pitiful 512MB on-board flash is beyond me. The usefulness of the multimedia softwares are therefore extremely limited by the lack of supporting hardware, such as the crap 2 Megapixel sans-autofocus camera. The V8 had a massive potential to be a great phone but with Nokia releasing plenty of desirable feature phones and N-series multimedia smartphones, and Sony Ericsson churning out excellent Walkman phones, it just doesn't make the cut. Thanks to Motorola's management what we have here is a decent but average (albeit nice looking) flip phone that doesn't have the same impact as the original RAZR or StarTAC did. Also note that I am not calling this a smartphone because Motorola has yet to release a SDK for their new Linux based OS (hurry up already).

Fortunately, unlike the Iphone, the V8 is available for £0 (also known as free) on a £20 per month 12-month O2 contract. So you will be saving at least £660 for something that is as functional (phone wise and then some) and you can spend part of the savings on a much more useful digital audio player like this fantastic 8GB Sony A818.


pompoy said...

I noticed that you have both Nokia symbian and Pocket PC phone. How does it compare going to a none smartfone?

Jon said...

Pretty good. It is quick and more stable. But the lack of native third party applications is frustrating. The ability to sync with the PC is a huge plus.

lolitta said...

No microSD slot means no buy. Shame on you Motorola. at least give it a respectable memory amount like 4gb or more.

Heather said...

Just stopping by while looking for reviews on this phone as I was really interested in buying it, and I love your review the V8 pretty much sounds like everything I'd hoped for! Tanks!

r4i said...

Fast Internet speed, clear and crisp in phone calls, sleek design, gr8 colour, can see the time on the outside screen all the time, very big screen, fantastic sound with the music player..