Review by Patrick Avenell

“The RAZR is not waterproof,” was the final missive delivered by a Motorola spokesperson last night at the relaunch of the famous handset sub-brand. Apart from this caveat, the self-styled pioneers of mobile phone technology were overwhelmingly positive about the new device to carry this cut-through moniker.

Before Steve Jobs returned to energise Apple, or Samsung had been heard of outside Korea — even before Nokia had released its truly game changing 5110 — Motorola was the driving force in cellular communication. In 1994, when mobile phones were the reserve of the elite, Motorola's early flip phone model was featured heavily in the tech thriller Disclosure. Much as the careers of Demi Moore and Michael Douglas have stalled, so too has Motorola, but unlike these two venerable actors, there is a RAZR-ssance to save this stalwart.

No longer a chic flip phone for early Naughties hipsters, the new RAZR is an elegant slate handset with an impossibly large Super AMOLED screen to go with its “impossibly thin” width. Although the sheer length of the touchscreen (96mm by my ruler) is somewhat ungainly, it does provide a sublime viewing experience on the qHD (960×540) display.

Further enhancing the experience is the removal of much of the bloatware that made MotoBlur virtually unusable on the Atrix. A lot of unnecessary widgets still clutter the homescreen, but a simple longpress and upward flick immediately deposits the social media feeds and Optus Zoo icon to nether regions.

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Improvements to Motorola’s overlay of Android 2.3.5 (Gingerbread) include a vastly superior MP3 player, with more auto-playlists (recently added and most played), and the automatic downloading of album artwork and lyrics. I particularly enjoyed the scrolling lyrics while listening to Foster The People’s US #3 hit Pumped Up Kicks: I finally worked out what he’s singing.

Also great is horizontal scrolling within the app library. The size of the phone makes sideways movement much more ergonomic than up and down, demonstrating that Motorola is indeed listening to the feedback coming from the Android user community.

The rear camera is 8MP with flash. Creative filters include black and white, negative, sepia, solarise and red/green/blue tints. Scene options include portrait, landscape, sport, night, sunset and macro. Below is an example of the solarise effect on a local business on a gloomy Friday in Sydney.

There’s also a 1.3MP front camera and video recording in Full HD (1080p).

Around the 7.1mm handset users will find Micro USB and HDMI ports (top); the lock/unlock/power key and volume up/down (right) and a hatch containing micro SIM and micro SD card slots (left). You can’t take the back off to access the battery, so manual replacement is impossible without voiding your warranty. That said, Motorola is offering a 24-month guarantee on the battery, which is advertised as having 10 hours talk and 13.5 days standby capabilities.

Despite all this goodness, the feature that most captivated those trialling the RAZR was what happens when you lock it. Rather than just dimming the screen to nothingness, the RAZR switches off with a flash of horizontal light, mimicking an old CRT TV. No doubt a nod to the incredible advances Motorola has made since Michael Douglas used the world’s first electronic voicemail to entrap Demi Moore.

Pricing for the RAZR, which is exclusive to Optus until the end of 2012, was released prior to launch. Users can choose either the $59 cap plan or the $79 cap plan, which comes with several bundled accessories.

Motorola RAZR Key Specifications (as supplied by Motorola)

-Handset dimensions: 69mm wide x 131mm long x7.1mm thick.
-Weight: 127 grams.
-1.2GHz dual core processor with 1GB RAM
-16GB memory, expandable via micro SD.
-Display: 4.3-inch qHD (960×540) Super AMOLED.

The new Motorola RAZR.