After selling more than 100 million units of the seminal and stylish RAZR and its variants on the same theme, Motorola has finally put out a sequel. Thankfully, they decide to name it the RAZR2 and not continue in the annoying ROKR, RIZR, KRZR theme. The RAZR V3 was the ultimate ‘King of Thin’ when it was launched in 2004, and though other emaciated phones such as the Samsung U700 and the LG Shine may have usurped its throne, it still sells in significant numbers.

Razor this: The updated RAZR

The RAZR2 is “sleeker, stronger, smarter", just like it says on the box it came in, and looks simply fantastic. Though Motorola has kept the original RAZR template, it has managed shave a further 2mm off for a pocket-friendly, 12mm silhouette for the sequel. The RAZR2 is a big, luxurious slab of eye candy that has been hewn out of quality stainless steel, aluminium, magnesium and chemically-hardened glass. Well, that’s what they told me at the mandatory and rather long tech briefing; but the phone certainly looks classy in its glossy, pearl grey armour and has a reassuring heft to it. A huge 2-inch screen, by far the best external screen ever to be placed on a flip phone, dominates the front. In fact, at 320 by 240 pixels and 65,000 colours, it’s better than the main screen on most phones.

An unobtrusive, 2-megapixel camera sits above the screen and buttons on the sides control volume, activate the excellent voice dialling system and launch the music player and the camera. You can also read and reply to messages without opening the phone, using the sidekeys and pre-loaded phrases as well as have the phone announce messages sent to you. I like the fact that the phone emits a ticklish pulse when you press any of these controls. Below the volume buttons is a micro USB port, for charging, PC connectivity and headsets.

Open up the phone (more points if you can open it with a nonchalant one-handed flick of a thumb) and you are looking at a generously laid-out menu icons and an easy-to-use keypad. A gently swelling lip has replaced the ugly hump at the bottom of the keypad that used to house the antenna in the old RAZR. Thankfully, Motorola’s vexatious UI is vastly improved on the RAZR2 by the new Linux-Java-based interface and it is easy and intuitive to navigate, text messages, play tunes or use the camera. The keypad features a dedicated key for the music player and the quality of audio piped through the supplied headphones is quite good. The speaker output is loud and well-rounded, which may not endear you to your neighbours while waiting at an airport lounge, so it’s a good idea to hook up a quality Bluetooth stereo headset as the RAZR2 supports A2DP stereo profile.

Most vexing is the absence of an expandable memory slot. The first of the RAZR2 phones to be launched here features a 512MB helping of internal memory but, with no card slot, you’re restricted to about 125 good-quality MP3 tracks. A 2GB RAZR2 model is to be launched very soon and that might be a spoiler for the base model RAZR 2, as most people would definitely want more memory considering the amount of multimedia content that fills up our phones so easily and so quickly.

It’s a breeze to hook up to the Internet in a few clicks with the Motorola Setup app though the built-in Opera browser crashed rather inelegantly a few times. What I did like was the ability to store and back-up my contacts and important messages online after registering at I still haven’t got around to using the MusicID app but it sounds promising. Over GPRS with MusicID activated, you can sample a bit of music that you want to identify and the app will analyze the file from an online database and display the artist and song title if a match is found. Quite cool.

There’s no denying that the RAZR2 is a very good voice phone. Motorola is quite proud of its CrystalTalk technology and it works very well—the CrystalTalk software basically adjusts call volume to counter ambient noise. At a recent party I was able to talk and hear quite well amid the noisy bonhomie.

The fixed focus camera on the RAZR2 is decidedly ho-hum and has yet to breach the 2-megapixel barrier. The video mode captures 320 by 240 videos at 15 frames per second, of average quality. For a phone with many talents, the battery life of the RAZR2 falls woefully short and I had to plug in the charger inevitably at the end of the day.

The bottom line? RAZR2 packs in the ‘wow’ factor—missing in the recent and rather stolid Motorola line-up—galvanizing the iconic series to a new level. And purists will be pleased to learn there are no plans (yet) to stop selling the original RAZR.

The Motorola 512GB RAZR2 model is available for 20,500. I would wait to see at what price the 2GB version will be launched, never mind the sexy ad featuring a man and woman seductively duelling with their RAZR 2 phones in the subway that makes me want to rush out and get one for me and one for the wife.

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