Just when you thought Motorola couldn't ride the wave from its popular Razr any longer, the once-staid, now-cool company rolls out its line of Krzr handsets. Styled similar to the Razr but with a few important improvements, the Motorola Krzr K1m casts a slim and striking profile that's sure to send cell phone fashionistas into a tizzy. As with its predecessor, the style-focused form factor entails some usability sacrifices in the controls, but the Krzr K1m ranks as the one of the prettiest cell phones we've seen thus far. On the downside, performance had its high and low points, and the Krzr K1m's features set, which includes Bluetooth, a megapixel camera, and support for EV-DO networks, doesn't offer any changes over Verizon's Razr V3m. And in all seriousness, just where did Motorola get the silly name? The Krzr K1m is so hyped that Verizon Wireless and Sprint announced availability within a week of each other, yet Verizon's version is the first to go on sale. You can get it for as low as $199 with service. (There's also a GSM version of the phone, the Krzr K1).
While we don't hide the fact that we're growing tired of the thin-phone phenomenon, we'll admit readily that the Krzr is getting us excited about diet handsets all over again. To put it mildly, the Krzr K1m is very pretty, so pretty that it makes the Razr look like some circa-1980s car phone. While the Razr was a one-trick pony with its design--thin from the side, yes, but also boxy and plain from the front--the Krzr is beautiful all around. At 4.05 by 1.73 by 0.67 inches, it has a slightly thicker profile than the Razr while also being taller and thinner when measured across its front face. The dimensions make the Krzr much more comfortable to hold in the hand, and it feels better when cradled against your face. Also, at 3.6 ounces (a tad more than the Razr's 3.3 ounces), it enjoys a more solid construction and a sturdier hinge. It's still a bit hard, however, to feel such a small phone vibrate when it's in your pocket.
As Moto is quick to point out, the Krzr includes a plate of hardened reflective glass on its front face. Though that sounded a bit gimmicky when we first heard about it, the result is undeniably appealing with a sleek and sharp look. The dark gray color is nice as well, though we're partial to the blue face on the GSM Krzr K1. On the other hand, the K1m's darker hue attracts fewer smudges and fingerprints than the K1m. Motorola promises the glass will withstand cracking and scratches, but we didn't try to prove that wrong. Another highlight was the shiny chrome plating on the handset's bottom end.
The postage stamp external display is a bit small for the phone's size, but it shows an acceptable 65,536 colors. You can view the date, time, signal strength, battery life, and caller ID (where available), and you can use the display as a viewfinder for self-portraits. The display disappears entirely when the backlighting is off, but a flick of any exterior button will activate it again. Alternatively, you can change the backlighting time to always-on.
The camera lens lies above the display, though it's disappointing that yet again there's no flash. On the upside, however, one of the phone's more interesting design features sits just below the display near the bottom of the front flap. Here are three touch-sensitive buttons for controlling the music player. Fortunately they are lit and usable only when the player is on--a wise design decision, as it's impossible to activate the player accidentally--but they can be too sensitive when the player is on. We paused out music unintentionally a few times, which was annoying. Overall, however, we'd favor the Krzr's touch controls above those on the LG Chocolate.
Completing the outside of the phone is a voice-dialing button on the left spine and a volume rocker and speakerphone/smart key on the left spine. A covered mini USB port sits on the left spine as well, but it's worth noting that, because it's the port for both the headset and the charger, you can use only one accessory at a time. The Micro SD card slot is located somewhat inconveniently behind the battery cover. We're glad you don't have to remove the battery as well, but we'd prefer to find it on the outside of the handset.
The Krzr's internal display measures a roomy 1.9 inches (176x220 pixels) and supports 65,536 colors. The result is a rich and vibrant screen that displays most anything well. Even Verizon's clunky standardized menu interface, which few people are crazy about, looks good here. You can change the backlighting time and the brightness, but no other options are customizable.