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Preview: Motorola RAZRi and LG Optimus G

  • New phones not yet slated for Aussie release
  • Other new Motorola handsets exclusive to Telstra
  • Intended to compete with Samsung Galaxy, HTC One and iPhone 5
Written by Adam Wajnberg
19/09/2012

RAZRi?!? Like a razor – in your eye! WOW that’s a stupid name.

Ok, let’s step back a bit. In a month full of big releases, Motorola and LG stuck up their hand and reminded everyone that they too are, in fact, major technology companies with lots of hardworking, clever engineers. Will it be enough?

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Dodo has the original Motorola Android RAZR for just $540 – call 1300 136 793

 

First of all, let’s make it clear that these handsets are not set for release in Australia any time this year. The Optimus G has been tentatively slated for release in early 2013 here in Oz, while the RAZRi hasn’t been set yet- a lot might depend on the success of the new Motorola releases that have landed in Telstra’s exclusive lap.

Australians are particularly savvy smartphone consumers. Much of that is due to the relatively low barriers of entry- the absolute top handsets are available for $0 on  relatively affordable contracts. More than 50% of Australians own a smartphone now, with over 80% of those being top-flight handsets from Apple, Samsung and HTC. As a group we’re demanding, and becoming increasingly intolerant of budget handsets.

Likewise, Australians might be growing intolerant of ‘shiny black rectangles’ with little to differentiate them from the more popular shiny black rectangles that their friends own and have recommended. The exception might be Nokia- not only are their shiny rectangles set to debut in a wider range of colours, but Nokia also have a long and happy relationship with the Australian consumer.

Not so Motorola and LG. Both have had massive success in the past, especially Motorola with their original flip-phone RAZR. But in the smartphone era both have fizzled. Motorola’s worldwide rep plummeted enough for them to be bought out by Google last year (just their phone section, Motorola Mobility) while LG retains healthy market share in South Korea, and a massive parent company to keep it going.

In the period leading up to Christmas, we will have Samsung releasing a new Galaxy Note; HTC will have their own ‘phablet’ phone on board (possibly named the One X5), Lumia will have its Windows Phone Lumia line and Apple have already sold 2 million units of the iPhone 5 – a unit that will debut later this week. To call the market crowded is an overstatement. The period after Christmas will be slow. Is it worth Motorola and LG’s time to release these in Oz at all? Let’s have a look.

Motorola RAZRi

                  motorola razr i

 

Motorola has coalesced around its RAZR brand as its flagship, following suit from Samsung (Galaxy), HTC (One), Nokia (Lumia) and LG (Optimus) in choosing a definitive brand to match Apple’s iPhone. And while that in itself is a good move, Motorola seem to have missed the point: it now has 7 ‘RAZR’ phones, completely negating the point of having one phone to rule them all. Even Samsung is learning from this error – it has about 15 different ‘Galaxy’ phones, but it seems to be narrowing it down to the Galaxy S line (all rounder) and the Galaxy Note (crazypants).

Click here for the best deals on 'all rounder' Samsung Galaxy S3

Click here for the best deals on 'crazypants' Samsung Galaxy Note

Back to Motorola. After announcing two new RAZRs to debut with Telstra later this year (the RAZR HD and RAZR M) Motorola have now introduced the RAZRi. What makes it different? Actually, plenty.

The RAZRi boasts proper advancements in hardware, with a monstrous 2 GHz Intel CPU. How powerful is that? It’s close to the 2.5GHz that most desktop PCs run at these days, let alone desktops. And being an Intel processor, we’re talking PC type hardware here- this isn’t a scaled down processor to handle mobile tasks only. This is a proper computing powerhouse.

Which is great, but who cares when this is otherwise just another Android phone? And one that isn’t even running the latest iteration of Android, 4.1 Jelly Bean? Besides the beefy processor, the phone boasts an all Gorilla Glass 2 front with no bezel, Kevlar backing, waterproofing and other bells and whistles that Motorola have (to their credit) made their own. And those are not small things – but every other RAZR boasts these specs. They haven’t used the main differentiator – the Intel processor – to make the most obvious innovation- make this a PC! Build clever software to make this an easy stand-in for your PC, with the means to hook up a keyboard and connect to a monitor.

 

        mac minipc mac mini

When will we have a mobile to replace computers like this?

Most PC manufacturers have a model or two in their lineup of a PC that’s just the computer, relying on a customer’s existing peripherals to make the complete package. Apple does this with its Mac Mini line, which is the cheapest way to get a Mac – by leaving the keyboard, mouse and monitor BYO. With mobiles getting more and more powerful, this is where this type of setup can beat even tablets and laptops for portability – your mobile as a PC, able to switch between Desktop and Mobile modes. The technology isn’t quite there yet, but the pieces are there – if Motorola were to take a tentative step into that space, then there’d be a reason to buy this phone. But it does little beyond adding the latest and greatest specs to an overcrowded platform – high powered Android phones.

Also, the name is just awful. And it has LTE/4G. But mostly, the name is awful.

LG Optimus G

 

              lg optimus g

LG seems determined to have its day in the sun when it comes to mobile. It looked set to leap ahead of rivals in 2006 with its Viewty, Chocolate and Prada phones – high spec touchscreen phones with elegant design that put Nokia and Sony Ericsson to shame. Then came the iPhone, and LG has staggered ever since.

The Optimus line is adequate, but still comes behind Samsung and HTC, hovering in the same no-mans land as Motorola and Sony. The Optimus L7 is currently on offer through iPrimus – but it’s not cheap enough or good enough compared to the competition to warrant much attention.

This week’s Optimus G was set to be the handset that would drag LG out of the doldrums, and it’s not a bad effort at all.

Power – 1.5 GHZ CPU, Quad Core Snapdragon processor
Radio – 4G/LTE, plus the usual NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, 3G, etc.
Display – big 4.7 inch IPS display
Memory – 32GB, non expandable (boo)
Camera  8 MP back, 1.3MP front

And boom goes the dynamite. The Korean release will have a 13MP camera; the Australian release just 8MP. And for that alone you can probably move along – LG has excellent camera tech going for it. Even though megapixels aren’t everything, and the difference between 8MP and 13MP isn’t going to mean a hill of jelly beans to the average user (oh, it also won’t have Android Jelly Bean until next year), it’s one of the few differentiators that this has over more popular phones from Samsung and HTC. Otherwise, it’s just another powerful Android phone. Albeit a very stylish one.

Last minute thing – it has some fancy new multi tasking abilities. So there’s that.

No word on pricing, even for other markets, but if these every do hit Aussie shores expect them to be expensive for a week before quickly being relegated to the $0/month on $60 plans from the major carriers.

Conclusion

Can be easily avoided if we see them at all. Every month it gets clearer and clearer that Sony, Motorola and LG will probably have to find other things to do soon, and wait until the next big thing in mobile tech comes along to find a relevant foothold. Nokia is avoiding this distinction by tying themselves to Windows Phone.

Also, there’s RIM, the makers of the BlackBerry, who would also probably be worthy of scorn on their latest device – IF THEY HAD A LATEST DEVICE.

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