Review: Motorola RAZR VE20

No one knows how to polish a turd like Motorola. For proof, look no further than its latest iteration of the storied RAZR family, the VE20. While you wouldn’t know it by glancing at the handset, it’s actually been four years since the V3 began seducing phone fashionistas who didn’t mind trading a middling feature set for style. Since then, of course, Motorola has unleashed a great flood of RAZRs onto the market, each an attempt at correcting one of myriad chromosomal deficiencies that plagued the original and its progeny.

With the VE20, the floundering handset maker more or less continues this MO, adding yet another hasty paint job to what is essentially the same tired old handset.

Indeed, the first thing you’ll notice about the VE20 is its uncanny similarity to the original RAZR. Yup, four years later and we still have a 2.2-inch inner screen — which, even on a flip phone, looks pitifully small these days — a lackluster camera, and pretty much the same design scheme.

The actual useful features on the phone, be it Sprint’s streaming TV and radio channels, or the GPS navigation suite, are in one way or another crippled or greatly diminished on the handset due to poor implementation or design or both. In some cases, the VE20 even takes a bold step backward. Gone, for example, is Motorola’s music player, which wasn’t all that great to begin with. Instead, we get Sprint’s Music Store, which is inexplicably even worse. Similarly, internet browsing remains laughable on the VE20 and half the time Sprint’s various services ended up crashing on us.

It’s a shame, really. While Motorola’s recent troubles have been well documented, this would in fact be an ideal time to reinvent the one brand that helped lead the company to success, however fleeting. Instead, Motorola seems content dragging the RAZR through the gutter and slowly draining what little life force remains in the series.

For now, the VE20 serves as yet another embarrassing reminder of how far the rest of the industry has progressed since 2004 — and how Motorola has become a company content just to spin its wheels. -Bryan Gardiner

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