Motorola RAZR2 V8 Preview
Motorola needed to do a redesign on the menu as the old Motorola UI is becoming very outdated. In the RAZR2 V8, JUIX interface is used, which is Motorola’s JAVA-Linux interface, also used in phones like ROKR Z6.
When customizing the home screen, you can change the themes, shortcut keys, clock style, and date. There are two themes loaded on the by default. The main menu is arranged in a 3 x 3 grid design. As of now, there are 8 menus and all the icons are animated. Motorola has managed to make the menu very vivid and the icons are easily distinguishable. All of the icons can be selected using the number pad instead of using the directional pad to cycle through the entire menu.
Most of the options fall right within their group but some do feel out of place. For example, there is an option to call the voicemail within the messaging menu. While a text is sent when a voicemail is received, one would not think to look within the messaging menu for the voicemail.
Another example of bad organizing is the location of the text settings. To access this menu, one has to go to main menu -> settings -> phone settings -> text entry. There is no need to busy such a menu so deep. Instead, this menu should be within the messaging menu.
The menu seems very sluggish at times, however. If a selection is made, it may take a second or two before the phone will process it and then enter the menu or carry out the command given to it. Again, keep in mind that RAZR2 we had is just a prototype and most probably the speed will be increased!
There is also a little bit of inconsistency with the buttons. The c key doubles as a back space. If a menu is accidentally selected, it can be pressed instead of the right soft key for back. However, if certain menus are entered, such as create a message, then this key will have no effect. Instead, you have to go through options and then select cancel. Holding the key will not exit the menu either. This should be much more consistent so that the user is not confused when trying to navigate through the menu.
At the top of the phonebook, there is a banner that states whether you are looking at the SIM card, phone, or SIM card and phone contacts. When adding a new contact, there are five menus to go through, contact information, mail information, picture, notifications, and notes. In the contact information, you input the first and last name by which the contacts are ordered. Next, you input the number and the type. The type can be mobile, home, work, fax, or other. A total of four numbers can be added and they have the same types of categories. Below that, there are two email addresses that can be added can be categorized as work, home, or other. The last contact information is the IM ID.
In the address field, you can add two addresses. There are separate fields for city, state, zip code, and country. You can set a category for the addresses which are home, work, or other.
When you assign a new picture, you have the choice to either take a new picture or you select one that was taken previously. Under custom notification, you can set a special ringtone and message tone and then you also have the option to make the contact a private contact.
The notes section has plenty of options that will let you add most, if not all, the information that you would like to have. There is notes, voice notes, company, title, manager’s name, assistant’s name, URL, nickname, spouse, children, birthday for which you can set an alarm, anniversary for which an alarm can also be set, and zodiac sign.
When looking through the contacts, all the names are displayed at the top with the number right below. To the right there is a small icon the lets you know if the contact is stored on the SIM car or the phone.
In the calendar, you can choose to view it by day, week or month. In the day view, you can set it to be separated either by hour or by task. Days of the week can be set to 5, 6, or 7. You can choose which day the week starts at to your own liking as well. The time at which the day starts and ends can be changed as well as the interval at which the day view is worked. This can be set to ½ hour, 1 hour, 2 hours, or 3 hours. Incase you do not have the time to clean out your calendar, there is an option to have them deleted at after a certain time. This can be set to 1, 2, 4, or 8 weeks, or never at all.
When adding a new event, there are four menus to select: General information, notes, attendees, and repeat. Under general, there is the option to select the type, the subject, location, if this is an all day event, the start and end time, start and end date, alarm, and alarm style. Under notes, there is a field to be able to add anything special that needs to be reminded of later on or just random notes. The field is very long so there is little worry of running out of space. Next, is the attendees field which looks very similar to the notes field. Below the field, there are two options that are show time as and sensitivity. Under show time as, free, tentative, busy, or out of the office can be selected. Under sensitivity, normal, personal, private, or confidential can be selected. the final menu is repeat. By default, this menu is set to off but can be change to daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly.
To set the alarm, you can either go to it through the options on the home screen or through the office tools menu. Once opened, you have three options: 30 minutes, 1 hour, or a specific time. A maximum of three alarms can be setup on the phone. When the alarm is set, you are directed to a new alarm. For the ring tone, you can select and preloaded one or you can record a new one. For repeat, you can select just once, everyday, weekends, weekdays, or custom which lets you select the days that you want it to go off on. Snooze time is set to minutes and can be set anywhere from 1 to 99 minutes in 1 minute intervals. Alarm volume goes up to 7 and is very loud to wake the person up. The rest of the features will be discussed later so they will be skipped for now.
When create new message is selected, the menu leads to the new message. At the very top, there is a banner stating that you are creating a new message. Just below the banner, there is a second banner that informs the user which text mode is used, whether the text is upper case or lower case, and the number of characters within the SMS. The option for predictive text is automatically enabled. By default settings, this system will learn your words and, when typing, will offer completions to the word. Pressing up and down on the directional pad will cycle through all of the possible words. To accept the word, the right direction pad is pressed. Pressing the center of the directional pad or continuing typing will discard the completions for the word. The # key will cycle through types of text methods, the * key will add a space, and the 0 key will cycle between lower case, all upper case, and first letter only upper case.
As stated earlier, the RAZR2 V8 is a quad-band GSM/EDGE phone. If you are looking for a 3G version, then look more towards the V9 instead of the V8. For those that use Bluetooth headphones, you will be pleased to hear that this phone is equipped with A2DP.
As this is still a prototype, there is no software for synchronization bundled with the phone. To see whether Motorola will come out with a new version or just update their current version to support the RAZR2, we will have to wait for its release.
The RAZR2 V8 is equipped with Opera 8.50 for internet surfing. Since this is not 3G phone, surfing speed is average. The page will be shrunken down so that all the scrolling that needs to be done will only be up and down, not left and right. The images are very clear and sharp. Due to the size of the screen, viewing large pages can be a little challenging but once used for a bit, this will be very simple to do.
The RAZR2 V8 is equipped with a 2MP camera. The camera has no autofocus and tends to capture photos rather quickly. The quality is still low for a 2MP camera. There is haze and fringing found throughout the photos. The maximum resolution for photos is 1200 x 1600. The other resolutions that can be chosen are 240 x 320, 480 x 640, and 1024 x 1280. Settings for picture quality (compression) are limited to good, better, and best. There is no option to increase exposure, set the ISO, or white balance as of now. Also, with the lack of flash, there is very little chance of using this in the dark.
Here are a few sample shots from the prototype. We hope the quality will be improved in the commercially available units.
The camcorder is accessed through the camera options by selecting video mode. The resolution can either be set to 128 x 96 or 176 x 144. So small videos are usable only for MMS messages and are useless on a computer. Video length is set to either MMS short, MMS long, or maximum. Files are saved in a 3GP format. The controls are very similar to the camera so users should have few if no problems using the camcorder.
The RAZR2 has very big shows to fill with the success of the RAZR. One has to wonder if Motorola is a little too conservative with the styling of the phone however. Just looking at the RAZR2, you can see many similarities between the two. With the market overflowing with many slim phones of all form factors, the RAZR2 will have a much harder time getting to the top especially with average quality camera and interface speed compared to the competition. Once the RAZR2 V8 comes out, only time will tell whether Motorola has produced a successful RAZR replacement or not.
Expect our full review when final, commercial samples are released.
1. John (unregistered)
Great design, nothing more. Buggy software, slow menus, UI customisation is limited comparing to earlier motorola models, camera is not soo good, no 3G, no external memory, weak battery. Useless huge external screen because of touch screen limited function (works with player only). Not able to customise side buttons anymore. I've been using Motorola phones for years (V50, V66, T720, V525, V3) and now with v8 I'm quite dissapointed with new (Linux) software. I think this is the last Motorola phone I have.