Motorola Slvr L7
After the phenomenal success of the , slim is definitely in. The trendy phone was the top-selling mobile in 2005, and it spawned both a long-awaited successor for Verizon, the Razr V3c, and a near-identical imitator, the . But don't think Motorola is content with just one good year. The company is now aiming at a total cell phone design revolution with the new candy bar version of the Razr, the Motorola Slvr L7. Resembling an open Razr that has been hammered flat, the Slvr L7's sexy profile speaks for itself, but its brains and brawn don't quite measure up to its beauty. The Slvr L7 has a VGA camera, the integrated memory is low, and there's no support for EDGE. Also, though the Slvr sports , as found on the ho-hum , it's held to the same annoying restrictions found on the previous handset. Available exclusively through Cingular, the Motorola Slvr L7 is well priced at $199. Although the design of the original iTunes phone (the ) was decidedly dull, the Motorola Slvr L7 sports a form factor that's just the opposite. Stylish and amazingly thin, the Slvr L7 sports a soothing black and dark-gray color scheme that should please even the most ardent slave to fashion. At 1.9 by 4.5 by 0.45 inches, it's just a hair slimmer than the , but the candy bar design makes it nominally taller. Also, at 3.4 ounces (compared with the 2.5-ounce Razr), the Slvr L7 is easily portable, but it feels more solidly built than its sibling. The trim form factor does have one drawback, however. It can be difficult to get a good grip on the Slvr L7, which makes it somewhat awkward to hold against your ear for long periods of time.
The Motorola Slvr L7's 262,000-color, 176x122-pixel display measures 1.8 inches diagonally, making it large enough for the phone's size. It's great for scrolling through the menus, viewing photos, and playing games, yet it does disappear in direct light. Be warned that it also catches finger smudges easily.
The navigation toggles below the Motorola Slvr L7's display are adequately sized but sparse in number, with just two soft keys, a five-way toggle, a menu control, and dedicated Talk and End buttons. Unlike with the Razr, there are no shortcuts for the camera or Web browser next to the toggle, nor is there a dedicated Back button--an annoying omission. The toggle can be set as a shortcut to four user-defined functions, but it would have been nice to have more options. What's more, there's no dedicated iTunes button, as there was on the Rokr. Instead, one of the soft keys serves this function but only when you're in standby mode.
Since the toggle and all other navigation controls are set flush with the surface of the Motorola Slvr L7, using them did take some practice. Our finger slipped around a few times, but we got the hang of it eventually. The small, blue-backlit keypad buttons also took acclimation. Closely similar to the Razr family in that they resemble a single flat touch pad, they lack the Motorola Razr V3c's textured lines separating the individual rows. The numbers are raised ever so slightly, but it's not enough to dial by feel. What's more, not only are the keys slippery, but there's also no satisfying click when pressing a button. So if you're thinking of buying the Slvr L7, you may want to give it a test-drive first.
On the back of the Motorola Slvr L7, you'll find the camera lens (sans a flash or a self-portrait mirror), as well as the single speaker for music and speakerphone calls. The lack of stereo speakers on a music phone is puzzling, and its placement on the handset's rear face means you'll want to place the phone facedown for best results when using the speaker; however, be careful not to scratch the display. On the left spine are a volume rocker and a camera button. Unlike with many other camera phones, the latter control opens the camera menu rather than activating the camera itself. On the right spine, you'll find a voice-dialing control, as well as the USB port for the included headset and cable needed to load music on the phone. By utilizing the included adapter, you can use your own 3.5mm headset if you wish. Farther down is the TransFlash card slot--an especially welcome addition to such a slim phone--and a 512MB card is included.Motorola was clear that the Slvr L7 is a "design first" phone. Granted, the design alone should win the Slvr many fans, but we're not letting Motorola off the hook so easily. In fact, the feature set doesn't complement the Slvr L7's flashy form factor, and it left us a bit disappointed overall. But before we get to the show offerings, first things first. The phone book holds 1,000 contacts, each of which can take six phone numbers, an e-mail address, a postal address, and a birthdate; the SIM card holds an additional 250 names. You can assign contacts to caller groups, pair them with a picture for photo caller ID, or assign them a ring tone from the phone's small collection--just 7 polyphonic and 10 monophonic tones. Other features include a vibrate mode, voice dialing, a calculator, a datebook, an alarm clock, text and multimedia messaging, PC syncing, and a WAP 2.0 wireless Web browser. Like the , the Slvr L7 comes with Bluetooth and a speakerphone, but these extras quickly lose their luster. The Bluetooth functionality is limited to voice calls, and you can activate the speakerphone only after you've made a call. Another downside is you still don't get an FM radio--a strange omission for a music phone.
The iTunes experience on the Motorola Slvr L7 is nearly identical to that of the Rokr. iPod owners will instantly recognize the overall interface. Opening the player takes you straight to the music library, where you can organize songs by playlist, artist, album, and name. When playing music, the phone goes into standby mode while displaying onscreen soft controls and album art. Settings include shuffling of songs or albums, as well as repeating one or all but no equalizers. Transferring between the cell phone and the music player is seamless, as music automatically stops when you receive a call. Hang up and press the dedicated iTunes key, and your song picks up again from the point you left off. There's also an airplane mode that lets you listen to your tunes in flight with the cell phone turned off.
The Motorola Slvr L7 is the second iTunes phone, so we were hoping we wouldn't see any of the irritating limitations found on the Rokr. Yet to our disappointment, they're still here. You can download songs only through the included USB cable. There's no way to transfer iTunes music wirelessly, you can't listen to music through a Bluetooth headset, and you can't use iTunes tracks as ring tones. The strict 100-song storage limit hasn't changed either, and all songs must be saved on the TransFlash card, assuming you haven't filled it up with a lot of other data. And forget the idea of storing more music on the phone's skimpy 5MB of integrated memory--it just isn't possible. So in other words, don't get too excited about circumventing the inadequate 100-song cap. Like the Rokr, the Slvr L7 also connects with only one computer at a time. When we tried connecting to a second computer, the Slvr L7, like the Rokr E1, erased all our previously loaded songs.