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Verizon Wireless Razzle review: Verizon Wireless Razzle



Verizon Wireless Razzle

The Good

The Verizon Wireless Razzle has a smart and functional swivel design with both QWERTY keyboard and music player controls. We like the ergonomics of the tilted keyboard and the multimedia features, and the price is reasonable.

The Bad

The Verizon Wireless Razzle doesn't offer over-the-air song downloads, and some of the navigation controls feel a bit cramped. For a music phone, we're disappointed it only has a 2.5mm headset jack. Its photo quality wasn't that great either.

The Bottom Line

Despite a few missteps, the Verizon Wireless Razzle's unique design makes it one of the better midrange phones in Verizon's lineup.

Though we sometimes question the outcome, we do like it when cell phone manufacturers take a different approach to designing a phone so it stands out from the rest. The Verizon Wireless Razzle is certainly one such phone, straddling the line between a messaging phone and a music phone with its unique swivel design; there's a QWERTY keyboard on one side and a music player on the other. Yet, it doesn't truly fulfill the promise of a music phone since it doesn't have a 3.5mm headset jack and doesn't offer over-the-air song downloads. Still, you do get a lot of other features and we quite like the design overall. The lack of EV-DO may be a downer, but that does bring the price of the Razzle down to $19.95 with a two-year agreement with Verizon Wireless. The Verizon Wireless Razzle is manufactured by Pantech, and is distributed, developed, and marketed by PCD.

The Verizon Wireless Razzle has a simple yet attractive design. It is rectangular all around, but the curved edges and smooth matte black finish give it a streamlined look that also feels comfortable in the hand. Measuring 4.5 inches long by 2.4 inches wide by 0.5 inch thick and weighing 3.8 ounces, the Razzle is slim and quite lightweight.

The Razzle's 2.2-inch display is really quite bright and vibrant, thanks to the 262,000 colors and its 220x176-pixel resolution. It shows off the subtle shades and colors of images, and text looks sharp and easy to read. You can adjust the backlight time, the menu layout and position of the menu icons, the size of both the dial and menu fonts, and the clock format on the home screen.

When you press the task bar key on the right side of the phone, a task bar menu tray shows up at the bottom of the screen. The task bar menu gives you quick access to the dialing interface, the Recent Calls list, the Messaging menu, VZW services, the My Music menu, the My Pictures menu, the Contacts list, and a list of all the phone's tools.

Underneath the display is the navigation array, which consists of two soft keys, the Send key, and the End/Power key on the outer edges, and the speakerphone key, Clear key and circular toggle with center OK key in the middle. The up, left, and down directional keys on the toggle can be mapped to any user-defined shortcut, while the right key leads to a My Shortcuts pop-up menu that lists up to four more user-defined shortcuts. Even though the keys are a bit flat, there was enough delineation between them so they were easy to press. We did think the up and down direction on the toggle was a bit more difficult to press however, because there isn't a lot of surface area to press down on.

The Verizon Wireless Razzle's swiveling lower half has a QWERTY keyboard on one side.

The lower half of the Razzle is where things get interesting. The whole thing actually swivels around 180 degrees to reveal either a full QWERTY keyboard on one side or the music player controls on the other. The swivel mechanism feels solid, and we like it when each side snaps satisfyingly into place. Interestingly, when you swivel the QWERTY keyboard to the front, the keyboard area of the phone is tilted upward. This provides slightly better ergonomics for typing out text. Also, the angle of the tilted keyboard fits nicely with the curve of our face when we hold the phone to the ear.

The Verizon Wireless Razzle has a tilted keyboard when the QWERTY keyboard is facing the front of the phone.

The keyboard itself is quite roomy. Though the keys are small, they're all raised above the surface so we can easily feel our way around when dialing or texting. The number keypad is highlighted in green. Also on the keyboard is a dedicated messaging key that starts a new text message when pressed. The Space key doubles as a Quick Note shortcut as well.

The Verizon Wireless Razzle swivels around to reveal music player controls and stereo speakers on the other side.

The music player control side consists of the previous track, play/pause, and advance track keys arranged in a semicircle. Underneath them is a shortcut key to the music player. Flanking either side of the controls are two stereo speakers. A good thing to note is that the music player keys can't be used when they're not facing the front of the phone, and the QWERTY keyboard can't be used when it's not in front either.

On the left side of the phone are the charger jack and the volume rocker, while the right side is home to a camera key and the screen lock key. The screen lock key also doubles as the aforementioned task bar menu key. The microSD card slot is located on the lower half of the Razzle, to the right of the QWERTY keyboard. On the top is a 2.5mm headset jack, which is a bit of a disappointment with a phone that has a music player. The camera lens and self-portrait mirror is on the back of the phone.

The Verizon Wireless Razzle has a 1,000-entry phonebook, with room in each entry for five phone numbers, two e-mail addresses, an instant-messaging screen name, and a street address. You can then organize your contacts by caller groups, add a photo for caller ID, or one of 27 ringtones and alert tones. You can also choose not to have a ringtone at all. There's a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, a calculator, a tip calculator, a calendar, an alarm clock, a stop watch, a world clock, a notepad, and an e-diary where you can jot down your daily thoughts. You also get voice commands, USB mass storage, stereo Bluetooth, GPS with VZ Navigator's turn-by-turn direction service, plus a wireless Web browser.

It's no surprise that the Razzle comes with lots of messaging features, like text and multimedia messaging, instant messaging (AIM, Windows Live, and Yahoo), mobile e-mail, plus mobile Web e-mail. Mobile e-mail is a downloadable application from Verizon that lets you receive your e-mail directly to your phone's in-box. However, the mobile e-mail services will cost you $5 a month. Mobile Web e-mail, on the other hand, simply opens up the mobile Web browser and gives you quick access to e-mail services from Windows Live, AOL Mail, Yahoo Mail, and Verizon.net.

The music player on the Razzle has a clean and simple interface, with the songs divided into artists, albums, and genres. You can also create and edit playlists on the fly, set a song on repeat or shuffle, or add one of six "sound effects" (Normal, Rock, Jazz, Classic, Pop, and Bass). The interface itself is quite generic, with the album art and song title in the middle and the player controls along the bottom. You can send the music to the background so that you can multitask in other parts of the phone with the music still on. There's also a Music-Only mode that turns off the phone's cellular radio so you can listen to your songs in flight.

An important thing to note is that the Razzle does not have EV-DO, and therefore it does not have access to V Cast Music with Rhapsody on the phone. That means you can't download songs over-the-air. However, if you have a desktop PC version of the software, you can still sync your songs to the phone via a USB cable. You can also just drag and drop songs to the phone if you like. The Razzle can support up to 16GB of removable memory in case you want to store songs that way.

The Verizon Wireless Razzle has a 1.3-megapixel camera lens and a self-portrait mirror on the back.

The 1.3-megapixel camera on the Razzle can take pictures in four resolutions (1,280x960, 640x480, 320x240, and 160x120 pixels) in either portrait or landscape mode. Camera settings include a self-timer, brightness, six white balance presets, four color effects, and three shutter sounds plus a silent option. Photo quality was mediocre overall. Colors looked rather dull and overcast, and images weren't sharp enough to our liking. There is no built-in camcorder.

The Verizon Wireless Razzle takes mediocre photos.

You can personalize the Verizon Wireless Razzle with a variety of wallpaper and display themes. You can use your own images as graphics, or you can download more of them from the Verizon store online via the wireless Web browser. The same goes for sounds and alert tones. You can also download games and applications to the Razzle.

We tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1,900MHz, 1XRTT) Verizon Wireless Razzle in San Francisco using Verizon Wireless's network. Call quality was quite good overall. On our end, we heard our callers without any issue. Their voices sounded natural, and there was hardly any static or background noise.

Callers reported similar call quality. They did encounter a bit more fuzziness in the voice quality, but it was loud and clear most of the time. They also said there was some background noise at times. This was more evident when we were in a moving vehicle or when we were speaking in a noisy restaurant.

Speakerphone calls was a bit more disappointing. Though we could hear each other clearly, callers said we sounded very quiet and we often had to either speak up or put the mic closer to our mouth. As for us, we could hear them without too many problems, though the speakers did make their voices sound harsher.

As for audio playback, the stereo speakers were okay but nothing great. There was certainly plenty of volume, but we missed the thumping of the bass and songs sounded flat overall. We would recommend a stereo headset for the best listening experience.

The Verizon Wireless Razzle has a rated battery life of 4.77 hours talk time and 15.25 days standby time. We were pleased with the tested talk time of 6 hours and 10 minutes. According to the FCC, it has a digital SAR of 1.3 watts per kilogram.


Verizon Wireless Razzle

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 8