It's incredible to think that the Motorola Razr V3, one of the most important mobile phones ever to be produced, came out in 2004, particularly when you keep in mind that it's still selling well.
After many ups and downs and a series of average handsets, Motorola has finally produced a Razr worthy of its name -- the Motorola Razr 2 V8. It's thinner, it's shinier and it packs more features.
The V8 will be available on several network operators for free on a monthly contract.
If you've owned the Motorola Razr V3, the first thing you'll notice about Razr 2 V8 is how shiny it is. We're told the case is made up of stainless steel, chrome and chemically hardened glass, but it feels like plastic to us. It certainly feels a little less solid than the original.
In a quick straw-poll, not everyone here was taken by the glossy finish that shimmers in almost every light, but it will appeal to you if you like phones such as the LG Shine.
One of the most impressive updates is the large external screen that measures a whopping 31mm wide by 40mm tall, which is larger than the main screen on most phones, let alone the external screen. It's a touchscreen, too, but more on that later.
The V8 is a little taller than the V3, but also a little thinner, measuring a pocket-friendly 12mm deep. Fortunately it's just as wide as the original, so you still get that reassuring grip when you hold it.
Open up the V8 and you're presented with a large, bright colour screen and a good-sized, easy-to-use keypad that doesn't have the obstructive lip at the bottom that's common to many slider phones. The keypad design is flat and in-keeping with all the previous Razr keypads.
Due to the V8's slim chassis, the buttons on the side of our engineering sample felt a little fiddly to press and the V8's hinge didn't seem to lock very well when opened -- it produced a creaking sound when pushed back slightly by your ear during calls.
The V8's Linux-based interface is a huge improvement from the cumbersome and annoying Motorola interfaces of old. It really is like using a phone made by another manufacturer altogether. The icons are cute and well laid-out, and everything is much easier to use than usual. Texting, taking photos and playing tunes are all straightforward processes, and you can control the MP3 player without opening the phone.
It's all thanks to the touch-sensitive external screen, which vibrates slightly when touched to let you know that a key has been pressed. It works well, giving a similar level of tactile feedback as you get when pressing mechanical keys.
The other feature you can access via the external screen is the ability to read text messages, which is very useful if you don't want to open the clamshell, although it can be slightly awkward to unlock the external screen in order to read a text message.
Memory-wise, there's the option of either 512MB or a generous 2GB of on-board memory, but unfortunately no option to expand via a memory card slot. There's also, annoyingly, no way to set the phone to ring and vibrate at the same time, and no 3G, so no high-speed Web browsing.
Audio quality during calls was very good and there was no noticeable distortion or muffling. The loudspeaker also performed well, as did listening to music using the Motorola S9 stereo Bluetooth headphones.
The picture quality from the 2-megapixel camera was, as expected, not fantastic, and there weren't that many settings options to choose from. The pictures are not as good as those from a Sony Ericsson K810i or Samsung G600.
Battery life was acceptable -- we only had to recharge it after two days of moderate use. The quoted battery life is up to approximately 500 minutes' talk time and 280 hours' standby time.
The Motorola Razr 2 V8 is definitely a step in the right direction and will make many Razr fans very happy. It's a shame there's no 3G, no memory card slot and that the camera isn't better, but the V8 is still the best Razr since the original.
If you are looking for a stylish phone with more features, it's worth checking out the Samsung U700 for its slim design, 3.2-megapixel camera and HSDPA, or the Nokia N95, which comes with a 5-megapixel camera, Wi-Fi, HSDPA and GPS.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Kate Macefield