Motorola's original RAZR V3 caused quite a stir. It looked like nothing we'd seen before and proved hugely successful, despite a low feature spec. Not a company to sit on its laurels, some of the design elements of the RAZR have appeared in subsequent handsets, such as those in the candybar SLVR and the clamshell PEBL.
The RAZR line too has seen new entrants, with the original RAZR becoming available in new colours, and the RAZR V3x adding 3G support to the mix. Now the original RAZR itself has had an update, in the shape of the V3i.
The ultra-thin clamshell design that made the original RAZR such a gobsmacking phone has lost none of its lustre with this updated version. It's still a pleasure to flip the handset open and behold its thin number pad section and even thinner screen section.
If we have a grumble about the physical dimensions it has to be that the RAZR V3i is slightly wider than most other handsets. If Motorola could have just lost a quarter of the width this time around we'd have been utterly bowled over.
There's a pinky-purple lustre to the outer casing that's officially termed graphite. In the centre of the outer casing is a front screen that measures a tiny 19 x 16mm. You might expect it to be larger given its huge black surround. This is prone to gathering greasy fingermarks, which is annoying as their smears detract from the generally smooth, clean-shaven looks of the outer casing.
You can't take calls without opening the clam, but the front screen tells you who is trying to get through, and then opening it up connects you. To end the call when you're done, you just flip the clam shut. Except, irritatingly, if you are using the hands-free speaker, when closing the flip doesn't end the call. You need to do that manually. Honestly.
The teeny lens for the 1.23-megapixel camera sits on the front casing too. A long, thin lozenge of a shiny silver button sits on the right edge of the casing. You can use this to make voice recordings, but only when the clamshell is open.
A twin to this lozenge sits on the left edge, and this one lets you change the device volume by rocking it when the clamshell is opened. When it is closed, pressing this button calls up a Ring Styles notification on the front screen, and you use a smaller button beneath the rocker to switch between styles.
The rocker, incidentally, doubles as a camera zoom control when the flip is closed, and the front screen doubles as a viewfinder for taking self portraits. There's another small shortcut that launches the camera and acts as the shutter when the flip is open or closed.
The left edge contains one further important gizmo -- a multi-purpose mini USB connector for power charger, connector cable to a PC, and headphones.
When you open the RAZR V3i up, its large 262K-colour screen dominates the lid section. There's been no update to the 176 x 220 pixels of the original RAZR, which is a shame, but both displays keep the old spec, and at least the inner one is clear and bright.