The Motorola KRZR K1m's attractive style may infatuate you, but looks can't sustain you forever or keep you connected, for that matter.
Motorola's latest design for Sprint is undoubtedly the carrier's slickest-looking phone, but Sprint's other options either work better, cost less, or both.
Sprint's KRZR is even easier on the eyes than Verizon's K1m. All black, with a red circle around the camera lens and occasional silver accents, it looks expensive, James Bond-ish — the kind of thing you'd pick up in a jewelry store or a high-end London menswear shop. So far, so good.
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On the outside of the flip, there's a bright-enough color screen and three touch-sensitive buttons. The shiny face of the phone is a fingerprint magnet, but that's the price you pay for a glossy finish.
There are unlabeled (and thus confusing) volume, voice-dial, and camera buttons on the handset's side.
Because it's so long (4.1 by 1.7 by 0.7 inches, 3.6 ounces), the KRZR feels very comfortable when placed against the head, and because it's so narrow, it's even easier to hold than the RAZR.
The KRZR flips open to show, essentially, a slightly miniaturized RAZR screen and keypad. The RAZR's 2.2-inch screen is shrunk down here to 1.9 inches, but the KRZR screen maintains the same brightness and 176-by-220 resolution.
The keys, which on the RAZR are trapezoids tapering from 21mm to 11mm wide, are rectangles of a universal 11mm (0.4 inch).
Motorola and Sprint made a few improvements to the typical Motorola interface. The most noticeable is an "events" alert that pops up at the bottom of your home screen if you have voice-mail or text messages, giving you the details.
They've also touched up the address book; the display now defaults to one name per contact even if the contact has multiple numbers.
Sound and reception are both good; reception is just a touch behind the Sanyo 8400. The speakerphone is fine, if not thunderingly loud, and does a good job of canceling out background noise.
Battery life is also good for such a small phone, and the device worked with Plantronics and Jabra mono Bluetooth headsets — but not with a Plantronics stereo headset. Voice dialing comes courtesy of the excellent speaker-independent VoiceSignal suite.
Since this is Sprint, not Verizon, the KRZR will run Java applications. It comes with the TeleNav driving-directions app, and I loaded Opera Mini 3.0 and Melodeo Mobilcast into the 16MB of onboard memory without a problem.
JBenchmark (Java benchmark test) results were decent if not great. The phone also works as an EV-DO modem over Bluetooth for your laptop and can transfer files to and from PCs and Macs using Bluetooth.
In addition, it supports the standard Sprint Music and video services, playing streaming video and radio (albeit with blocky video) and MP3/and AAC files. Music sounds a bit hollow through the mono speaker, but in my view it's loud enough.
Accolades aside, there are a whole bunch of little things wrong with the KRZR that add up to a somewhat annoying experience.
The user interface felt gummy and sluggish at times. None of the buttons — music or camera — work when the flip is closed, unless you started the music player with the flip open beforehand.
My 2-gigabyte microSD card didn't work in the phone (a 1GB card worked just fine), and on top of this, the card slot is located, annoyingly, under the back cover.
Sprint's video service played with a distracting bright-yellow border around it. There's no stereo Bluetooth, and the phone doesn't ship with a headset or adapter (though you can use any RAZR headset.)
The outside screen doesn't work for photo caller ID or as a photo viewfinder, and pictures shot with the 1.3-megapixel camera tend to be blurry and hazy.
The 176-by-144, 15-frame-per-second videos taken with the video camera mode aren't objectionable, but that's the best I can say about them.
Finally, the Motorola KRZR K1m's performance is simply overshadowed by other great Sprint phones. Both the Sanyo 8400 and Sanyo M1 do pretty much everything better than the KRZR.
You may still be seduced by the KRZR's looks — and it is beautiful. As long as you remember that looks aren't everything, you won't be disappointed.
As for me, I'm taking the Sanyo M1 out for a night on the town instead.
BOTTOM LINE: The best-looking Sprint phone isn't Sprint's best phone, so we're lukewarm on the KRZR.
PROS: Absolutely gorgeous. Excellent battery life. Good voice quality. Can download photos with Bluetooth.
CONS: Gummy user interface. No stereo Bluetooth. Other Sprint phones get you more for your money.
COMPANY: Motorola Inc.
Price: $199.99 Direct
Service Provider: Sprint PCS
Screen Size: 1.9 inches
Web Browser: No
Bands: 850, 1900
High-Speed Data: 1xRTT, EVDO
Special Features: Music
EDITOR RATING: Three out of five stars
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