The Motorola V3 RAZR was a huge hit around the globe. I was amazed at the success it had, and is still having with the subsequent RAZR-based handsets being released on both 2G and 3G networks. The main highlight of the original RAZR handset was the super-thin design that had not been reached by any other manufacturer.
For long users have been waiting for an alternative handset to the RAZR that didn’t have that clam-shell form factor. The SLVR L7 is the answer to this prayed, with the super-thin RAZR design that pushes everyone’s buttons in a standard “candy-bar” form factor.
The L7 comes with many of the features that the original RAZR came with as well as the advancements to some of the problems and issues faced in that handset.
* Note: Some websites list the Motorola L7 as the SLVR, the SLVR L7, or just the L7.
Definitely the most outstanding feature on the L7 is the super-slim design. The original RAZR was 14mm in length, and this handset trims down almost 3mm at only 11.5mm thin! And there were people who thought the RAZR was as thin as they could get….
The thinness of the SLVR L7 definitely has its advantages. One of the most noticeable is how easy it is to slide into your shirt or jeans pockets and actually fit their nicely. A lot of handsets (even thinner ones) feel uncomfortable in your pocket – the L7 is thin and flat on all surfaces so feels much more comfortable.
The quad-band GSM coverage is another great feature that has been brought along from the V3. You can take the L7 practically anywhere as is supports all of the major GSM bands: GSM 850, 900, 1800, and 1900MHz. The L7 is a true travelling partner and reduces the need to hire a handset for a particular area which uses a different GSM band to your regular handset.
Unfortunately the L7 has been giving the same minimal 5MB of internal memory just like its older sibling. Unlike the V3 though, the L7 does have external memory card support in the format of microSD cards. Even better is the fact that the sales package even includes a 128MB card! This is perfect for the L7 as it gives you enough room to upload music files, pictures, videos, and more without being too restricted.
USB and Bluetooth connectivity make the L7 very easy to sync with a PC and transfer files to/from the internal or external memory. A USB cable is included in the sales package and plugs into the miniUSB port on the right hand side of the handset. This port is also used for charging the battery. Bluetooth on the L7 is version 2.0 which supports some more advanced profiles than older versions.
The L7 is one of the thinnest handsets in the world at only 11.5mm. The other dimensions are definitely lower than your average, with the total measurements coming in at 49 x 113.5 x 11.5mm.
The 176 x 220 pixel consumes the most part of the front of the L7. The display is capable of 262,144 colours and almost fades away into the rest of the handset when not activated. The keypad below this is extremely tactile and easy to use. The buttons are not what you would usually expect, as they are very flat (to keep with the general ‘thin’ theme of the L7). The backlight is powered by bright blue LED’s.
One thing that got me a little confused when I first took the L7 out of the packaging was the lack of an interface port at the bottom of the handset. The only thing I could find was a mini-USB connector on the right hand side of the handset. When I opened the rest of the sales package up I found that all the accessories utilize this mini-USB port – the charger, the stereo headset, and of course the USB data-cable. I really liked this way of doing things for two reasons – 1; it’s different, and 2; it’s smaller than your usual interface connection.
The right hand side of the L7 also houses the microSD memory card slot (which is covered by a permanently attached rubber flap) and dedicated camera key. A small wrist/neck strap hole is can be found on the top corner of the right hand side.
Over on the left hand side you will find the volume up/down keys and the Push-To-Talk/Smart key. The version of the SLVR L7 I received didn’t support PTT, so pushing the smart key only opened up the camera viewfinder, just like the dedicated camera key. Other versions of the L7 support Push-To-Talk (along with some other features which I’ll explain a little later on).
Flip the L7 around and you will find the VGA camera lens at the top and the loudspeaker towards the bottom. The camera lens module is completely built into the handset, which means it’s practically impossible to get any dirt inside the lens. The back cover is very thin metal which is removed by pushing the button at the top of the handset and pulling the cover off. I really liked the little icons on the back of the handset (USB, Bluetooth, and microSD memory card) – although small they added a nice touch to the handset.
User Interface & display
The Motorola SLVR L7 has the run of the mill Motorola user interface that we’ve come to expect from any new release from Motorola. What ever happened to the new user interface that debuted in the Motorola A910? The user interface is nothing special but does what it’s designed to do.
The SLVR L7 has a 176 x 220 pixel TFT LCD with 262,144 colours. A small section at the top of the display is left for icons like reception, battery level, Bluetooth, and so forth. A small section at the bottom of the display is reserved for text labels of the soft keys. The 176 x 220 pixel resolution is almost the standard for mobile phones these days and is perfect for the SLVR L7.
The handset’s user interface is operated by three soft keys and a 5-way navigational pad. For the most part the user interface is very easy to use, but the placement of some functions is a little questionable. The user interface is quite lagged too, but I’ve come to expect this from any Motorola handset!
The user interface can be themed to some extent and you can download themes from the Motorola website. Some themes do come pre-installed on the handset.
Making and receiving calls
Bluetooth headsets, wired headsets, and the regular earpiece can be used to conduct calls on the SLVR L7. The sales package even comes with a Bluetooth headset – Motorola are one of the only manufacturers to do this. A wired headset also comes in the sales package so straight from the get-go you’re completely set!
The phonebook on the L7 is multi-entry and also has a field for a photo of the contact. The handset has two dedicated call buttons, the green pick up and the red hang up keys either side of the navigational pad. If you hover over a number (or contact) anywhere in the user interface you can just hit the green call button to initiate a call with the number/contact. The red hang-up button is pretty self explanatory.
Thanks to the quad-band GSM compatibility on the L7 you can conduct calls almost anywhere in the world. The handset will automatically switch between bands depending on what gives the best reception where you are located.
The Motorola SLVR L7 has the usual set of messaging features – SMS/EMS, MMS, and e-mail. As with every Motorola handset the iTap predictive text is included. If you’ve used T9 predictive text before iTap is only slightly different, but the idea behind the technology is the same at T9 predictive text.
Wireless Instant Messaging via the IM Wireless Village service is also included.
The Messaging functionality on the SLVR L7 is relatively easy to use; there are several different folders which house your drafts, sent messages, inbox, templates, and other assorted messages. E-mail is available via a separate application which is launched from the regular messaging menu.
The only issue I had with messaging on the L7 (and it’s the same issue with almost every Motorola handset I review) was the iTap predictive text lag. A little bit of lag usually can be overcome, but Motorola’s are known for having an unacceptable level of messaging lag.
For local connectivity the L7 has Bluetooth v2.0 and USB. The L7 has only one OTA protocols supported, GPRS Class 10. A USB data-cable is supplied in the SLVR’s sales package, along with a CD full of software required to get setup for file transfers and synchronizations between a PC and the L7.
A WAP 2.0 browser is preinstalled on the L7 to browse WAP sites, download media for your phone: ring tones, wall papers, animated pictures, and so forth. WAP has really taken off all over the world & a wide range of information is available in the press of a couple of buttons. GPRS Class 10 supports speeds of up to ~49kbp/s and is also used for things like MMS and e-mail messaging.
Connecting via Bluetooth to another device was a little troublesome for me. There is a special Bluetooth menu accessible from the main menu. At first I was trying to pair my PC and the L7 together, and I couldn’t find any option on the L7 to search for Bluetooth devices. In the end I made the L7 discoverable for 30 seconds and got my PC to do the searching. After some researching I found that to discover a device from the L7 you must select the option that says “Search for a headset” (even if the device you want to connect to isn’t a Bluetooth headset). In my opinion it would have been much easier if the option just said “Search for Devices”.
A great thing about super-thin handsets is that because size has been a major issue in the construction, the handsets are always very solid and feel “full” when in your hand. The L7 is of top-notch build quality, and is even filled with glass for rigidity! Even the back battery cover, which is thin, is still very strong. The material looks like anodized aluminum, but unfortunately I couldn’t find any information from Motorola to support this. As I’ll go on to mention in the appropriate section the back of the SLVR L7 is very easy to scratch.
The battery fits into the handset hassle free, as does the SIM card. The backing plate is super-easy to remove, just push the button at the top of the handset and push the plate down. When replacing it the plate clicks back into place and runs smooth with the rest of the handset.
The battery life estimates as stated by Motorola are amazing for such a thin handset. With an 820mAh lithium-ion battery pack Motorola estimate around 380 minutes of talk time and 420 hours of standby time.
While I was testing the L7 the battery life was close to these estimations when not using power-hungry applications like the video recorder and Java games. The only thing I don’t like about Motorola phones’ user interface is their representation of battery life. Their little battery indicator only has 3 or 4 bars which doesn’t really give you a good indication of how much battery life you have left.