The first Motorola Razr shines just as brightly

The phone that started the think phone craze is 15 years old, but as striking as ever. Take a look back the Motorola Razr V3 in all of its iconic forms.

Kent German
1 of 33 Angela Lang/CNET

15 years on: Still an icon

In the summer of 2004, Ed Zander, Motorola's then-CEO, introduced the ultra-thin Razr V3. Not since Motorola introduced the StarTac in 1996 did the company, or any manufacturer for that matter, sweep the world with such a hot and trend-setting mobile phone. The never-seen-before design drew long lines and sparked a thin phone revolution. I didn't quite anticipate the hype, but it changed the industry forever.

Now as the new foldable Razr opens to the world, the Razr V3 remains a striking example of industrial design and one of the most defining phones ever. Join me for a tour through the Razr V3 and its history.

Editor's note: This gallery was originally published on July 1, 2014 and has been updated.

2 of 33 Tyler Lizenby/CNET

A Razr rainbow

Motorola knew it had a hit with the Razr. It painted versions in almost every color and introduced subsequent upgrades that added features and tweaked the profile. Imitators followed and Moto carried the thin theme over to the Krzr, the candy-bar Slvr and the slider Rizr.

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Razr V3: the original silver model

The one that started it all, the original silver V3 was at first only available at Cingular (now AT&T) in the United States. Price with service? A princely $450 with service.

From the front it wasn't much of a looker, being angular and rather wide. About the size of a postage stamp, the external display supported 4,000 colors.

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Things got a bit better when you opened it. The shiny, minimalist interior was like no other phone we'd seen before.

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Thin was in

You had to catch the Razr's profile to really see its beauty. It measured just a half an inch thick and weighed only 3.3 ounces.

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The controversial chin

Not everyone loved the Razr's "chin" that protruded from the bottom of the phone. 

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Paul Pierce was one of the Razr's chief designers. 

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The Razr's keyboard was genius: Incredibly thin, but still comfortable to use. It felt weird and slippery at first, but you got used to it quickly. 

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The navigation toggle (that's what we called it back then) also did its job nicely. Dedicated keys opened the mobile browser and text messaging features.

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A volume rocker and a dedicated camera key were on the Razr's left spine. 

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Despite its trim stature, the metal skin made the Razr durable. The hinge was sturdy, as well: An important concern in the flip phone era.

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The 2.5-inch, 260,000-color display was wonderfully vivid and crisp. Before you laugh at that assessment, other phone displays at the time weren't nearly as nice.

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The V3 had just about every feature you needed at the time, but it was far from one of the year's powerhouse handsets. You got a VGA camera (without video recording, disappointingly), Bluetooth, MP3 file support, voice dialing and a speakerphone. 

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The battery's design, so amazingly thin for its time, was another innovation. It promised 7 hours of talk time and 12 days of standby time.

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Back in 2004, Mini-USB was the smallest charger port available.

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The ridged Motorola logo below the external display was a nice touch.

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Back in black

After that first silver model, a black version was the second color available. It had a smoother finish than its predecessor, but it shared the same features.

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A pink party

Pink was a popular Razr color -- so much so that were multiple shades of pink. 

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Made in magenta

One pink version, which was officially called magenta, landed at T-Mobile as the V3t.

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The magenta version made a wonderful contrast to the silver phone.

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A blue period

There also were several blue editions. This version had a dark hue with a shiny metal skin. Another model had a soft-touch material in a baby blue shade.

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Going grey

By 2005, the Razr V3 arrived at more US carriers and in other countries. The V3c was for CDMA operators like Verizon and Sprint and the V3i upped the camera resolution to 1.23-megapixels and added a microSD card slot.

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Fire red

Made for CDMA carriers, the V3m had an MP3 player that was compatible with iTunes. Battery life was longer, as well. If you preferred a darker red, you could opt for a color that was more maroon.

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A charitable Razr

The Product Red version was one of a series of products created to raise money for The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

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A Razr for the runway

You knew the Razr trend was getting ridiculous when this bright gold Dolce & Gabbana version appeared. It came in a bright gold box and included several accessories like a D&G logo phone dangle and a signature leather pouch. And on the campy side, it said "Dolce & Gabbana" when your turned it on. You could also get a gold version without Dolce's stamp.

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Miami Ink Razrs

Tattoo artist Ami James from TLC's Miami Ink created two versions of the V3t -- a pearl-gray model with a dragon tattoo and a magenta handset with a cherry blossom design. 

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Staying on trend

Purple phones were in fashion in the mid-aughts. Motorola followed through with Razrs in a couple of royally colored shades.

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Not easy being green

The green version was rare in the wild.

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Orange (if you could find it)

Orange (or maybe it was Pumpkin?) was another little-seen color.

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Razr V3x

Announced in 2005, the 3G-capable V3x had a slightly thicker design with a new keypad, a better display, two cameras (including one with a 2-megapixel resolution), a camera flash and a faster processor.

The V3xx, which followed the next year, looked just like the original V3, but had stereo Bluetooth, an Opera web browser and improved call quality.

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Razr Maxx

Debuting in 2006, the Razr Maxx Ve tweaked the design still further and added external music controls. It was 3G, as well, and shared the V3x's features. 

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Razr VE20

The VE20 born in 2007 was a CDMA version with a rounder design, a touch-capable external display, 3G and yet more features.

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The Razr2

The Razr2 arrived in 2008, just as the smartphone era was beginning. It had an ever sleeker design, GPS, a refined external display, and more memory capacity. After this model, the original Razr line more or less ended. As the iPhone began to take over following its 2007, it was cleat that Moto rode Razr wave longer than it should have.

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