capsule review

Motorola Razr V3c

At a Glance
  • Motorola Black Razr V3 GSM Quadband Phone (Unlocked)

    PCWorld Rating

    A striking design makes the Razr V3c the supermodel of cell phones; too bad its battery performance is also lightweight.

Motorola Razr V3c
Photograph: Chris Manners

Motorola's Razr is one of the few cell phones that all nationwide wireless operators support--but I can see why they do: This standard cell phone looks great, offers high-speed Web browsing, and has a vibrant screen. It's not perfect, however. I encountered poor battery life and inconsistent call quality, plus I got lackluster photos from its camera.

I tested the Razr V3c from Verizon Wireless ($200--as of April 7, 2006--with a two-year agreement), which improves on the original V3 in a couple of ways. First, it comes with a 1.3-megapixel camera. Second, it supports the almost-broadband-level EvDO network, which means faster page loads when you're using the Internet browser.

Of course, the carrier must also support EvDO. My test unit supported Verizon's 3G (third-generation) service and performed well in informal download tests. It streamed music and snippets of video from Verizon's VCast service with scarcely a hitch. The video clips streamed fairly smoothly. The phone does need a minute or two to buffer the data before playing it on screen. And naturally, when the network signal was weak, the downloads took a little longer.

Call quality was fine, but there's room for improvement. Some phone conversations were marred by a hint of noise, making it a hard to hear the speaker at the other end, or vice versa. The speakerphone had adequate volume and worked okay. Unfortunately, the phone's talk-time battery life gave out after only 3 hours, 52 minutes in lab tests.

The V3c's camera is noticeably better than the V3's. In addition to supporting a higher resolution, the V3c provides basic image editing tools such as crop, rotate, add clip art, add text, remove red-eye, and warp. It captured reasonably bright snapshots, but some images looked a little blurry and dull.

Like the original V3: the V3c is a thin, clamshell handset with a metal casing that makes it feel solid. Considering its slim size, it is comfortable to use, thanks in part to the slightly angled upper half, though some users may find the Razr wide compared to other clamshell phones.

The unit has a small external screen and a colorful internal LCD, and it sports an etched keypad with blue backlight. A flat, four-way navigation key includes an enter button in the center. The V3c's keypad differs slightly from the V3's: The V3c comes with a clear key (which works like a backspace key) and a shortcut key for Verizon's VCast, but it lacks a hotkey for the phone menu in the center directly below the screen.

With broadband-like data connections, easy-to-use control buttons, and a striking design, the V3c makes a worthy upgrade. But Motorola still needs to improve the camera, battery life, and call quality.

Grace Aquino

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    A striking design makes the Razr V3c the supermodel of cell phones; too bad its battery performance is also lightweight.

    Pros

    • Great-looking phone has a vibrant LCD
    • Offers high-speed Web access

    Cons

    • Poor talk-time battery life
    • Call quality is inconsistent
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