Motorola Droid Razr: New Smartphone Revives Old Name

PHOTO: Motorola RAZR introduces the new DROID RAZR which uses the Android operating system.
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In its day, the Motorola Razr was the cellphone to have. It was sleek. It was cool. It was thin -- very thin. It looked like a DeLorean that fit in your pocket. From 2003 to 2007 it was by far the best-selling cellphone in America.

Then came Apple with its iPhone, and since then Motorola has struggled in the cellular business. The original Razr was overrun by more recent smartphones, which browse the Web, send texts and emails, tell you where you are, and, in the case of the iPhone 4S with its Siri "virtual assistant," talk back to you.

Now Motorola is back with a new Razr, trying to recapture the magic of the original. The new phone is sleek. It's cool. It's thin. And it's a smartphone, running on the Android software marketed so successfully by Google -- which, as you may recall, announced in August it was buying Motorola Mobility.

Will it succeed? You, as a consumer, will be the final judge, of course. Early reviews are positive.

"Yes, it's another Android phone," writes Kevin Kelleher of Fortune, "but it's one that incorporates the sleek design elements in the hardware that made Motorola's Razr line of clamshell phones the last iconic phone before the rise of the smartphone."

But plaudits don't necessarily sell phones, as Kelleher agrees. "So it's just as easy to say Google will regret buying Motorola as it is to say it will look back on the deal as a shrewd move," he writes."

Others have their doubts.

"It's a solid Android device, but it's not going to be that blockbuster that the original Razr was," said Roger Entner of Recon Analytics.

"The huge difference the original had was its thinness," said Entner. "It's just that everyone else has it now too."

The smartphone marketplace, which changes quickly, has just changed dramatically. The new iPhone, Apple said, sold more than 4 million units in its first weekend, and is by far the top-selling handset. Android phones are more widely sold in the U.S. than phones with Apple's operating system -- but Android is spread among many brands.

Apple is also fearless about advertising the iPhone. Entner said it's spent more than $100 million a year on ads, compared to about $30 million for any other brand.

The Razr certainly won't make or break Motorola or its giant new owners at Google. But if you're in the market for a new smartphone, will you be attracted by the Razr of past years? The battle begins when the new Razr rolls out, probably on Nov. 10.

"The Motorola Razr is even made with Kevlar fiber," says its promotional material, "because a phone this arresting deserves protection."

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