Here's why the Motorola RAZR V3 was once the coolest phone in the world
So, how do you make an outstanding phone in 2004? With outstanding design, Motorola thought, and gave us what quickly became the hottest cell phone in the world – the Motorola RAZR V3.
Why was the Motorola RAZR V3 such a big deal?
To answer, we have to start by looking at the mobile landscape in 2004. Back then, smartphones were as rare as they were clunky. They were made for business people who needed to send emails on the go. Meanwhile, the typical mass-market cell phone was primarily used for talking and texting. Mobile data, while supported on many models, was slow, pricey, and of limited use.
No less importantly, a typical 2004 phone appeared as if it was made by engineers, not by designers. It was a chunky piece of grey plastic with a smallish screen and a numeric keypad below it. They were gadgets made to be used, not to be admired.
But the Motorola RAZR V3 was different.
And the Motorola RAZR V3 didn't only look great. It truly felt like a premium product. Unlike its plastic contemporaries, it was made of metals like aluminum and magnesium, while the external display was protected by a layer of glass. A spring-loaded mechanism aided the lid as it opened and closed. The chin at the bottom made the device easier to hold and operate. The speaker was loud and could play fancy MP3 ringtones. And the keypad, with its blue electroluminescent glow and unique design, was practically a piece of art inspired by tech.
But the Motorola RAZR V3 wasn't cheap. At launch, it was priced at $500 with a 2-year contract, meaning that you would mostly see one in the hands of the rich and famous. And in TV ads and on the covers of magazines, of course. On the other hand, that initial exclusivity and aura of luxury surrounding the V3 made it even more desirable in the months that followed. Motorola had succeeded in striking an emotional chord with consumers. It had made a phone that people didn't necessarily needed – but definitely wanted. As the RAZR V3's price fell down, units were shipping by the millions.
Okay, by now you're probably wondering what the Motorola RAZR V3 could actually do beyond drawing the envious looks of bystanders. In reality, the phone wasn't as advanced as some other phones at the time. On one hand, its 2.2-inch color screen with 176 by 220 pixels of resolution was pretty. It also offered conveniences like Bluetooth connectivity and support for Java applications. On the other hand, the battery was rather small, as you would expect, and even though the RAZR V3 could play video files and MP3s, the 7MB of built-in, non-expandable memory severely limited the device's multimedia capabilities. The camera offered 0.3MP of resolution at a time when 1MP cameras were already available on high-end competitors. Here's what image quality was like: