Reviewed October 4, 2006 by Lisa Gade, Editor
Editor's Note: Verizon released the KRZR K1m, followed by Sprint, followed by the GSM Cingular KRZR K1
Looks are everything these days, and we have the long standing RAZR craze to thank for that. The RAZR in its various forms has sold 50 million copies and every manufacturer, including Motorola themselves hopes to replicate that success with the "next big thing". So far the likes of the SLVR, PEBL, LG Chocolate and other pretty faces haven't managed, though some have done well in their own right. The KRZR is Moto's most recent attempt to meld Jaguar tastes with slim-is-in hip good looks. The K1m is the CDMA version of the KRZR not to be confused with the blue GSM network KRZR K1 (not offered by any US carrier at the moment).
Actually the KRZR isn't impossibly thin, though it's certainly slim enough to look good and fit in most any pocket without requiring careful sit-downs. To give you an idea, the RAZR V3 is .54" thin and the KRZR is .67". But it is very narrow, unusually so. The RAZR is a wide beast, though nobody seemed to mind and the KRZR is so much narrower it almost doesn't look like a phone when closed. It might be a bit too narrow for big-fisted men, though women will likely find it fairly comfy.
The MOTOKRZR is about looks and doesn't have every bell and whistle under the sun. It's got a 1.3MP camera with no flash, a MicroSD (aka TransFlash) card slot for memory expansion, voice dialing, a speakerphone, Bluetooth and a music player. It's offered by Verizon in the US and supports EVDO for fast data and Verizon's V Cast service.
The finish is all smoke and mirrors: black, gray, sultry, at turns highly reflective like a mirror and at other angles looking more metallic. Moto calls it dark pearl gray. The lower section of the flip (actually a part of the keypad portion of the phone) is black metallic as are the sides of the outer flip. Between these black pearl metallic edges you'll find an inset black glass section which is home to the touch sensitive music player controls, external display and the small camera lens. The sides are contrasting light silver and the bottom curved surfaces are stippled like some high-end Euro personal appliance or perhaps a car's grille. The KRZR's loud, clear and generally excellent speaker lives under that grille.
Open the flip to reveal Motorola's signature flat metal keypad that looks oh so yummy though it's not the greatest for dialing by feel. Motorola has put fairly distinct ridges between the keys and the numbers are backlit in blue which helps somewhat. To aid in dialing, there's an option called "Talking Phone" which will speak the digits you dial and will also read off contacts' names in your address book as you scroll through them. Above the keypad you'll find the large, easy to operate d-pad, call send and end buttons, a camera button and clear / back button. To start the still camera, press the camera button quickly; to take videos press and hold the camera button until the camcorder launches.
The standard mini USB port is located on the phone's left side as is the volume up/down rocker and the speakerphone button (press to turn on, press again to turn off). The right side is nearly bare— one button that does double duty to launch voice dialing (press quickly) and voice recorder (press and hold).
In contrast, the KRZR's back is nearly pedestrian. It's dark gray with the Motorola and Verizon logos saving it from monotony. The battery lives under the door on the back and the MicroSD card slot is under the battery door beside the battery. There's a little rubber block in the MicroSD card slot area which helps keep the card in place— a seemingly odd and primitive design. It's not easy to get the card out, and we wonder how well the card will stay in place once the hard rubber wears down. You need not remove the battery to insert or remove a MicroSD card.
Good looks are nice, but the MOTOKRZR's raison d-etre is making calls, so how does it do? Very well! Voice quality is superb, in fact it's one of the best we've heard on Verizon. There's no syllable dropping, no garbling and no background noise on incoming or outgoing calls. Call volume is good and the speakerphone is loud and clear with minimal distortion at high volume. To switch to speakerphone, simply press the left side button. Once in speakerphone mode you can close the flip and continue the call (it won't hang up). The KRZR features Voice Signal's voice recognition software which as always works reliably. You need not record voice tags since Voice Signal uses true recognition and it supports a variety of commands besides voice dialing including Send (message), Lookup, Phone Status, and set volume. To start voice recognition press the button on the phone's right side (the clamshell must be open).
On the data front, EVDO and Verizon's V Cast service work well on the phone with decent V Cast streaming video performance that's not quite as good as the LG Chocolate on Verizon. For those who wish to use the KRZR as a high speed wireless modem for a PC, the phone does support DUN (dial up networking). In the Dallas Forth Worth area we found the KRZR had good reception that's on par with other recent Verizon phones such as the LG VX8300 and Chocolate. It's not quite as good as the RAZR, but is pretty close and manages to hold a call even in our RF-challenged areas. The phone has separate signal meters for voice/1xRTT and EVDO.
Beyond voice and fashion, the Moto is meant to be a portable music player. The phone uses Verizon's player software with support for music downloads, playlists, play by genre, artist, album, shuffle and more. The touch sensitive controls on the outer flip control playback (pause/play, fast forward/rewind) but can't launch or quit the music player nor can it change playlists. Sadly, the phone comes with neither a stereo headset nor a Micro SD card which you'll need to listen to tunes. Verizon's $30 Music Essentials Kit is a wise buy if you wish to listen to music since it includes a stereo headset, USB cable and software CD to get music onto the phone and rip CDs. In contrast, they sell the headset alone for $30, so you get the idea.
The phone uses a standard mini USB cable which you can find at any consumer electronics store should you wish to sync Outlook data using Motorola Phone Tools (sold separately) or freeware products like BitPim. And you can copy already ripped music directly to a MicroSD card using your computer's card reader if you don't wish to purchase the Essentials kit. The phone can play MP3, WMA and AAC files (though we had some trouble with unprotected AAC files burned from CDs using iTunes). The KRZR uses a proprietary jack for charging, syncing and stereo music output but an adapter in the box allows you to use 2.5mm stereo headphones. So those of you who've already got the gear might not need Verizon's Essentials kit.
Music quality through the built in speaker is surprisingly good and quite loud. Along those lines, should you wish to watch V Cast video sans headphones, you'll be pleasantly surprised (though those around you might not be if you're in a public place). Music quality is of course much better through a set of stereo earbuds and the phone makes a decent MP3 player. The KRZR can take up to a 1 gig card, which means you can carry a decent amount of tunes with you (approx. 350). Some folks have reported success using 2 gig Micro SD cards. Video playback on Verizon's $15/month V Cast service looks good on the 1.9" 176 x 220 main color display which is bright and sharp though not an industry best. We did note loss of audio-video sync and some stuttering frames however.
You'll get to all this multimedia goodness by navigating the phone's very simple menus. Veteran Motorola users may be dismayed (or pleased) to see that Motorola's user interface has been replaced with Verizon's standard user interface, found on all Verizon feature phones these days. This means once you've learned one Verizon phone, you've learned them all, at least until Verizon decides to change their UI. Unfortunately, each phone's manual is also nearly identical as a result, so features specific to a given model are not well covered.
The KRZR has basic PIM applications; calendar, contacts and notes. It has a messaging application for MMS and SMS, an IM client that works with MSN, AIM and Yahoo instant messaging, a world clock, alarm clock and calculator. Contacts has fields for 2 email addresses, 5 phone numbers (2 mobile, work, home, fax), photo caller ID, ring tone and group assignment for each contact. The calendar supports repeating events, alarms, day, week and month views. And of course the MOTOKRZR has photo and video viewers so you can enjoy content you've taken with the camera.
The 1.3 megapixel camera is good compared to other 1.3MP camera phones with generally correct exposure and pleasant colors. The camera sometimes sets color balance incorrectly, so some photos show a purple or overly warm color cast and there is noticeable JPEG noise, but it's better than most (non-Nokia) smartphones and though as good as the 1.3MP LG phones on Verizon. The camera can take photos at a maximum resolution of 1280 x 1024 in JPEG format as well as lower resolutions for caller ID and MMS. It has a self-timer, multi-shot mode, brightness, contrast and white balance settings, color effects and you can turn off the shutter sound. If you close the flip, the outer LCD becomes your viewfinder which is handy for self-portraits.
The camera can take videos at 176 x 144 resolution in H2.63 format and you can set video length to short, medium, "fit to video message" or long (limited only by the amount of space on your memory card). The KRZR can save photos to a memory card if present.
Sample photos taken at maximum resolution and unedited other than resizing to fit this page.
The KRZR has a Bluetooth 1.2 radio with good profile support (gone are the days of crippled Bluetooth on Verizon phones). It has hands-free, headset, serial port, DUN (dial-up networking) and object push for vcards and images (no other file transfer supported). We had no trouble transferring images taken with the camera to a Mac Pro and a Windows PC. Should you wish to use the phone as a high speed modem for a notebook over Bluetooth or cable, you will need to add that feature to your calling plan and pay an additional monthly charge ($59.99 for unlimited data). We tested the phone with a variety of Bluetooth headsets and it worked well with good range and sound quality.
Battery life is good, even with Bluetooth on and the KRZR generally outlasts the RAZR V3 thanks to its generous 880 mAh Lithium Ion battery (200 mAh more than the RAZR V3). Motorola claims just over 3 hours talk time but the phone did better in our tests, approaching 5 hours. If you're addicted to V Cast videos, be warned that the KRZR, like all Verizon phones, will drop battery faster if you watch a good deal of streaming video.
It's hard to get better looking than the MOTOKRZR; the phone will turn heads (at least until everyone has one) and it looks like a $500 fashion accessory. Fortunately, it sells for a good deal less than that, though the price is a bit high for the phone's features. Then again, the ever so fashionable Nokia 8801 will set you back even further, so the KRZR might look like a bargain in some circles. But this is more than a fashion accessory, and thankfully the KRZR performs well at its primary job: making and receiving calls. Call quality is excellent, among the best in Verizon's current offerings and the phone has good ergonomics and is easy to use, though broad-handed men might find it a tad too narrow. The music player is good, though not earth-shattering but it makes a nice way to carry around a few hundred tunes if you get a MicroSD card to store them and a set of stereo headphones. Given the KRZR's music prowess and price, we are disappointed Verizon didn't include a stereo headset in the box.
Pro: Obvious great looks, small, slim and light. Good call quality and reception, music player and nifty outside touch controls. Very easy to use most phone features thanks to simple user interface and well-placed controls.
Con: Those nifty external touch controls are too easy to activate (only happens if music player is currently running though). A bit pricey for what you get. Fans of Motorola's user interface may lament the dumbed-down Verizon user interface.
List Price: $249 with 2 year contract ($199 including online discount).
Display:K1m, Verizon and Sprint versions: 1.9" 176 x 220 pixel TFT 65k color inner LCD. 1.1" CSTN (passive matrix) color outer display, 96 x 80 resolution with 65k colors. KRZR K1 for Cingular has a 262k color inner display.
Battery:880 mAh Lithium
Ion rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable.
KRZR K1m for Verizon and Sprint claimed talk time of 250 minutes (3 hours) and claimed standby of 440 hours (18 days). KRZR K1 for Cingular claimed talk time 6 hours and 14 days standby.
Performance:Undisclosed CU, approximately 18 megs internal memory.
x 1.73 x .67 inches. Weight: 3.6 ounces.
Phone:K1m, Verizon and Sprint versions: CDMA dual band 800/1900MHz with EVDO and 1xRTT for data. KRZR K1, Cingular version: quad band GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz with EDGE for data.
Camera:1.3MP with 4x digital zoom. Can take still shots in JPEG format and video in H.263/MPEG4 format.
in speaker, mic and 2.5mm standard stereo headphone
jack (requires included adapter). Voice Recorder and music player included with support for MP3, AAC and WMA files.
Networking: Bluetooth 1.2. Headset, Hands-free, Serial Port and Dial Up Networking, Object Push for vcard and image transfer only. It does not support all Bluetooth object transfer (OBEX) profiles.
Software:Verizon user interface, with basic PIM applications (contacts, calendar, notes), calculator, world clock, music player, video player (for V Cast playback and playback of videos taken with the camera), image viewer.
MicroSD (TransFlash) memory card slot under back cover. Accepts up to 1 gig cards.