With so many competing electronic products, it's difficult to choose the best. Besides, what should the criteria be? Visual design, technical performance, financial impact, or something else entirely? Or how about all of the above?
Introduced late in 2004, Motorola's RAZR V3 cell phone qualifies on all fronts. It smashed records for cell-phone sales in 2005. Its record 6.5 million units in the third quarter and over 12 million total sales to date boosted Motorola's overall handset sales to 38.7 million units in that quarter.
In turn, this performance increased Motorola's cell-phone market share by 5.5% to 19%, giving the company a lock on second place behind leader Nokia. Overall, handset sales helped Motorola achieve a 26% increase in sales of $9.42 billion for the quarter. Quarterly earnings from continuing operations grew to $0.69 per share. How's that for a "best" contribution?
BEST MEANS DESIGN
The RAZR's physical design catapults it to the top of the heap thanks to, first off, its state-of-the-art clamshell phone package. The external case is made from anodized aircraft-grade aluminum, while the internal housing is magnesium. And, it is the thinnest cell phone on the planet, with an overall closed thinness of 13.9 mm.
The keypad is chemically etched nickel-plated copper alloy with cool blue electroluminescent back lighting. The camera lens and external display are made from chemically hardened glass because of the design's required thinness. Add to that a vivid 2.2-in. color display, and the RAZR V3 is irresistible.
EVERYONE SEEMS TO WANT IT
The RAZR is the fruit borne from just over a year's work by three design teams comprising dozens of engineers and designers. Their goal was to develop one of the most eye-catching handsets ever. The design had to be a flip phone with the thinnest profile possible, and that goal produced some leading-edge design decisions.
For example, it required all internal electronic components to be on a single plane, unlike the usual stacked components in a typical clamshell design. Another challenge was the hinge. After four tries, the team finally came up with a hinge that fit in with the aesthetics demanded by the design.
One of the best outcomes of the design was the antenna. Invariably, flip phones have visible antenna protrusions or an extendable whip antenna. Instead, five engineers working together devised an internal antenna layout that fit the svelte packaging, while providing greatly improved performance over previous designs.
This standard GSM/GPRS phone covers the four GSM bands of 850/ 900/1800/1900 MHz, so it operates in the U.S., Europe, and many areas in Asia. Most of the ICs were developed by Freescale Semiconductor, spun off from Motorola last year. The quad band antenna is fully internal.
The RAZR also has most of the advanced features wanted in an upscale phone. Besides the 2.2-in., 176- by 220-pixel, 64k-color, thinfilm-transistor internal display, it also has an external display of 96 by 80 pixels with 4k colors. A 3D graphics engine features MPEG4 video clip playback. And, a 2-Mpixel VGA camera with 4x zoom is standard.
Audio comes via a 22-kHz polyphonic speaker with MIDI and MP3 ringtones. Speakerphone operation is standard. Built-in Bluetooth wireless technology provides wireless headset connectivity as well as a link to a Bluetoothenabled laptop for Internet access without Wi-Fi.
Advanced messaging options include MMS, Wireless Village Instant Messaging, POP3, SMTP, and IMAP4 e-mail compatibility. Java MIDP 2.0 enables downloadable or embedded applications. Internet access is possible when available locally. The GPRS capability supplies 48-kbit/s download capability on average, depending on the carrier and the local environment.
THE NEW RAZRs
Motorola recently announced the latest versions of the RAZR. The slinky RAZR Black resembles the original V3 aluminum model, but it comes in jet black. A magenta model also is available. Recently, pink and ice blue models were introduced for the Hollywood "it" girls who demand attention-grabbing colors. Special colors like ash silver and cosmic blue can be purchased through specific carriers.
A more recent addition to the line is the RAZR V3i. This enhanced version of the original V3 has a new spun aluminum housing. It's loaded with all the latest audio and video multimedia features, like a 1.23-Mpixel camera with x8 zoom, video capture, and a fullscreen viewfinder. Photos taken with the camera can be shared via e-mail or Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS). Alternatively, users can store the photo on a removable, hot-swappable MicroSD memory card or print the photo directly from the phone. Audio features include Motorola's Digital Audio Music Player with airplane mode and iTunes music software. And, it supports a mini-USB stereo headset.
This is a true multimedia phone. It uses Motorola's SCREEN3 technology solution, featuring zero-click access to news, sports, entertainment, and other program content. It has rich pre-loaded or downloaded J2ME games, screensavers, wallpaper, and MP3 ring tones. Also, it has its own browser and messaging keys. Bluetooth Class 1 technology is built in.
RAZR, up to now a GSM/ GPRS-only phone, now comes in two CDMA flavors. First is the CDMA RAZR with EV-DO (evolution, data optimized), which is a high-speed data version of Qualcomm's cdma2000 technology. Supported by Verizon and Sprint/Nextel, EV-DO is becoming widely available across the U.S. It can achieve data download speeds in the 400- to 700-kbit/s range, making audio, video, photos, and other multimedia functions work much faster. This model also has many of the same features of the V3i, including the 1.23-Mpixel camera.
The V3x is Motorola's 3G/UMTS RAZR model. This CDMA phone specifically targets areas of Asia and Europe where wideband CDMA of the UMTS 3GPP 3G standard is implemented. While the general features are similar to the original RAZR, the V3x includes a 2-Mpixel camera with real-time, two-way video calling, as well as still and moving image capture. Other features include Bluetooth that supports Motorola's stereo headset and an externally accessible Transflash/Micro SD memory card.
Motorola isn't done either, with more RAZR models soon to hit the market.
THE ENVELOPE, PLEASE
The RAZR phone has won an amazing number of prestigious awards:
- CES 2005 Best of Innovations Award
- 2005 GSM Association Award
- Andrew Seybold's Outlook for Mobility Innovation Award
- Wireless Week Excellence Award
- SID 2005 Display of the Year Award
- PC World's 2005 World Class Award
- Laptop's 2005 Mobile Innovation Award
- CNET Editor's Choice Award
- Most Innovative Product in the UK Award from Mobile News Awards 2005
- Asian MobileNews Award Phone of the Year