The MOTOKRZR K1 is Motorola's long-awaited size-crunching update of its iconic RAZR phone, one of the undisputed trend-setting mobiles of the last few years.
Launched as an iconic style phone back in 2004, the RAZR was a marvellous feat of engineering; it was much thinner than the phones that we were used to, and used good old-fashioned metallic material in innovative ways.
But launched at a luxury price, this phone was less than state-of-the-art in other ways, with a relatively standard issue features rundown - and few would have guessed that the RAZR would progress from cult clamshell to mass-market appeal.
The RAZR family of phones continues to sell well - and has spawned a new wave of handsets that put form before function. It has given a new cachet to the Motorola brand, and has led to other enticingly fashioned Motorola handsets with names, such as the PEBL and SLVR.
The latest in the lineage is the MOTOKRZR, designed to have the same appeal as the RAZR but in a shape that will make a new audience fall in love with it. While the RAZR was very thin, it was as a consequence also wider than most clamshells around.
The MOTOKRZR bucks the squash-it-as-flat-as-you-can trend - and is actually a little thicker than its predecessor. At 16mm thick it is plenty thin enough, however - and the couple extra millimetres of girth are more than made up by the fact that this is over a centimetre narrower than the original RAZR.
It's a neat package, made more alluring by a 'Cosmic' blue finish and a glasslike frontage that semi-conceals the external information panel and the camera. The main drawback, however, is the weight. It tips the scales at a surprising 103g - which we reckon is a touch much for a non-3G phone that is trying to attract users because of its petite lines.
The glassy exterior means that you can see the time on the clock, and other key indicators, even when the backlight has switched itself off. But it is not a particularly large screen or high quality one - the passive display's main party trick being to provide a low-resolution viewfi nder when taking pictures of yourself with the phone's clamshell closed.
Inside the clamshell, the display is a good quality TFT-technology affair - although with a 176x220-pixel count is probably the bare minimum that you would want for watching movies that had been shot by the onboard camcorder. Thankfully there is an option for blowing up the 15 frame-per-second 352x288-pixel footage to fi ll the whole screen area in widescreen mode.
The onboard camera could be a key attraction of this phone. With some two million imaging pixels at its disposal, it offers six times the resolution of that available with the original RAZR V3. On paper at least, if you use the best settings you can get images that can be blown up to 8x6-inch prints using photo paper in your home inkjet printer.
The camera produces reasonable results in good light - and when a decent distance from the subject. However, its fi xed focus system means that close-ups are blurred, and there is not fl ash facility for throwing light into shadowy party pictures. The flat glass shell of the phone also means that the lens's view could be more likely to be blurred with greasy fi ngerprints than with most cameraphones.
There are some creative controls,which can be accessed without the need to delve into menus, using the joypad alone. But the best of these is the digital zoom - the 8x range is available even when using the least compression and highest resolution.
The camera does this by effectively just using the central pixels - producing a smaller image fi le, which does not offer such enlargement possibilities. However, it does mean that you can crop into distant detail without any fuss or problems.
At the wide-angle setting, the images can eat up as much as 400KB of memory - so the reasonably generous 20MB of integral storage may not last you long. Fortunately, the phone allows you to expand memory using microSD flash cards. To change these you do have to remove the back cover of the phone but thankfully removing the battery and rebooting the device is not necessary.
These memory chips offer a maximum memory expansion of one gigabyte per card - and these are practically a prerequisite for those that want to use the MOTOKRZR as an MP3 player with any seriousness.
The sound quality of the tracks that we auditioned the facility on was pleasing enough through the speaker located at the back of the phone - although this way of listening provides little punch to the music (as you might expect).
The earbuds we had available gave a rather flat response, but the good news is that the MOTOKRZR offers the latest stereo Bluetooth support, so that you can use a wireless stereo headset to listen to your sounds in style. There's also a flight mode, so that you can use the entertainment facilities (should the airline allow) without worrying about the cellular part of the phone interfering with cockpit navigation equipment.
Our early engineering sample of the MOTOKRZR, which was set-up to optimise access to American network Cingular's services, came with two Java games loaded onborad, a rather nice looking version of wallbreaker and a mind-taxing soduku puzzler.
We tested the quad-band phone on the Vodafone network and were pleased with its overall battery life. We managed to get the phone to keep running for some 92 hours, during which we made around 30 minutes of calls.
Voice quality from our sample was not as good, however, with reception being accompanied by a rather annoying echo at times.
Although this is a pleasant enough handset, it is hard to believe it will set the market on fire in the same way as the original RAZR did.
For a start, it seems a bit expensive compared to rival handsets, being launched at around £260 SIM-free, so could well end up even costing contract users some money. At this sort of price level, the phone fails to deliver all you'd expect in terms of both performance and specifi cation - and it is hard to believe that there is quite enough design desirability to make up for this. Chris George