Here's why the Motorola RAZR V3 was once the coolest phone in the world

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Here's why the Motorola RAZR V3 was once the coolest phone in the world
The year is 2004. Netflix is making millions by mailing DVDs, every teenager is on MySpace, and the iPod Classic is the hottest media player money can buy. Mobile tech was simpler back then. We had no iPhones or Android phones. In fact, downloadable ringtones and wallpapers were pretty much the most advanced feature the average cell phone could offer.

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.


The V3 was the very first phone launched under the RAZR brand. It was one of the hottest phones of its time, and by the time it was discontinued 4 years later, it had sold over 130 million units. Its maker made a pretty penny, while Motorola's competitors got to see how much of an impact product design could have on consumers. 

But why was the Motorola RAZR V3 such a big deal in 2004? Why were people paying top dollar to own one? And why is Motorola now resurrecting the RAZR V3 in the form of a foldable Android smartphone?


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. 

At the time of its release, it was the thinnest phone in the world. Sure, a thickness of 0.54 inches would impress no one today – an iPhone 11 is just 0.33 inches thick – but next to other phones of that era, the RAZR V3 looked like it came from another planet.



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:



The foldable Motorola RAZR 2019 is coming. But why?


On November 13, Motorola is expected to announce a foldable Android phone of its own – a phone with design inspired by the iconic Motorola RAZR V3. On the surface, it seems that the company is preparing a rival to the Samsung Galaxy Fold, but while that's not entirely false, it's not a statement painting a full picture of what's going on. 

You see, the foldable Motorola RAZR 2019 is going to be an Android phone of a completely new form factor. While the Galaxy Fold unfolds to become a tablet-like device, the RAZR is going to be a standard-sized phone that folds in half, thus fitting easily in any pocket. It will be the first phone of its kind – although we know that Samsung's working on a similar phone already.

Will the Motorola RAZR 2019 be a smashing hit? At $1500 a piece, I doubt it. But I have a feeling that Motorola isn't launching this phone to make money. The brand is in a state where it desperately needs a way to remind people that it still exists – and that it can still make cool stuff. Perhaps Moto is trying to replicate the V3's success formula here – not a bad idea in a day when practically every new phone looks the same as the one next to it. But in 2019, it will take more than nostalgia for Motorola's plan to work.

Related phones

RAZR V3
  • Display 2.2" 176 x 220 pixels
  • Camera 0.3 MP VGA
  • Storage 0.0055 GB
  • Battery 680 mAh(6.50h talk time)

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16 Comments

1. Vancetastic

Posts: 1761; Member since: May 17, 2017

I still have two of them. Coolest looking phone ever, and it's not even close.

2. CDexterWard

Posts: 112; Member since: Feb 05, 2018

I had (actually still have) the LG knockoff / version of this, the VX8700 on Verizon that came out a few years later. You could clearly see the the same design language, however the LG was a much more gorgeous phone imo (brushed stainless and mirrored glass). I really do think the razr style was one of the pinnacles of phone design, and I’d love a reboot 4g/5g version to slip into the pocket for a night out or camping. Just not a $1500 fragile folding-screen model, although I welcome the push for new tech.

3. ahmadkun

Posts: 664; Member since: May 02, 2016

I remember when my sister got that phone.. everyone in the family was impressed

4. Vogue1985 unregistered

I thinks its still one of the most beautiful phones ever made. Top 3,I'd rate it number 1,it wasn't not the power phone, but the customization, the dual screen,the small size,the surprisingly good battery life for such a small battery lol. The quality build,it was built to last,Aluminum everything, scratch resistant,I am so much,but it was s tu I'll a VERY simple phone compared to Nokia that had it all,the camera,mega storage etc. Lol

5. Charlie2k

Posts: 159; Member since: Jan 11, 2016

Is this how the logic is behind the iphone? Clearly not the coolest phone, by any standard, except that it is mainstream. Let me remind you that 2 years before the Motorola was released ALOT of people had the Sony Ericsson P800.. Which had more features and capabilities than the 2015 iPhone. Which is remarkable. https://www.gsmarena.com/sony_ericsson_p800-pictures-326.php

8. mackan84

Posts: 631; Member since: Feb 13, 2014

P800 ($650 in 2002) was what a iPhone 11 Pro Max 512gb is today. Unreachable to many and unnecessary to many. I’ll give my vote to mainstream, besides Razr was awesome!

12. Charlie2k

Posts: 159; Member since: Jan 11, 2016

Uhm no. The value of $650 in 2004 is $930 today in 2019. Which is less than iPhone 11 Pro 64GB.

9. Vancetastic

Posts: 1761; Member since: May 17, 2017

"I hate iPhones!!". Did I get that right?

10. mackan84

Posts: 631; Member since: Feb 13, 2014

If that charlie2k is a fellow Swede of mine. He most definitely hate Apple and iPhones and he has done it for a lot of years, I think I remember him being Windows mobile fan back then when ms still was in the game. No clue which smartphone he uses these days, but it sure isn’t a iPhone.

16. Vancetastic

Posts: 1761; Member since: May 17, 2017

I just don't get the obsession and hate for an object that you have no obligation to own.

18. Nostromo79

Posts: 171; Member since: Jun 22, 2016

Something to do with reinforcing one's own view of things.

6. thxultra

Posts: 472; Member since: Oct 16, 2014

I remember Bluetooth being a huge feature on this phone. That and the duel color screens hahah. How times have changed. Was a great phone at the time. Texting was crazy had to use tap talk or what ever it was called that learned the shortcuts to make words :)

7. monoke

Posts: 1197; Member since: Mar 14, 2015

My buddy had this phone while I had the Nokia N95. He thought he was cool, along with everybody else that had it. I showed all the geeky stuff the N95 could do over this phone. He said "meh. Too fat." LOL!. Those were the good ole days.

11. TadTrickle

Posts: 107; Member since: Apr 08, 2019

They were out before 2004. I guess a different version. Bc i knew someone that had one. Im talking around 1999 2000ish Maybe V1 or V2

15. Nostromo79

Posts: 171; Member since: Jun 22, 2016

I still have mine in pristine condition though it's been mislaid for the past year. I wanted a RAZR in 2004 but I chose a Palm Treo 650 for business use. I had the Treo with Sprint and when, as I had perceived, their service dropped-off the table I went with Verizon and my fiancée and I got RAZRs as a welcoming gift. Oddly enough, of all the phones I have had over the past 19.5 years the RAZR holds the record of longevity at 31 months of flawless service. Even my storied Palm Treo 650 lasted just 23 months.

20. tokuzumi

Posts: 1961; Member since: Aug 27, 2009

When I was dating my wife, she had a Razr. I was on Nextel at the time (which had just been bought by Sprint), so no Razr love for me since I was still on the push to talk side of the house. Then by the time I switched from Nextel to Sprint, I started my smartphone addiction with the Palm Treo 700wx. While $500 for a flip phone would seem ludicrous today, flip phones were really good quality back in the early 2000s. Metal was used in the construction and the hinges had this really satisfying click when you opened and closed them.
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