Hollywood is rife with imitation and knock-offs; develop a successful film and the imitation cheap product will be available on DVD before you’ve decided on which combination of blue and orange you’ll use on the cinema foyer posters.
The practice is so rife there’s even a term for it; the mockbuster. The tech industry isn’t without its fair share of mockbusters as well.
Spend any time in the knock-off high tech markets that exist in many large cities and you’ll be awash in iPhone 5s, Galaxy S IVs and other hastily cloned products, although you don’t really need a sharp eye to work out that a smartphone on fire as it’s being sold to you might not be the real deal.
Then there’s the mockbuster products that the technology industry perpetrates upon itself.
That’s where a company gets what it thinks of as a hot brand, and rides it as hard as possible with “cheaper” versions of the hero product.
Samsung is notably guilty of this; once the first Galaxy Android phones were a hit, Samsung went to town with an . . . ahem . . . galaxy of phones that played off the brand value.
Motorola is trying to do the same thing with the Optus exclusive RAZR V, which follows up the relaunch last year of the RAZR brand.
Hey – remember when Motorola’s original RAZR phones were the amazeballs feature phone to own? If you do, so I’m told by some of the younger interns at the Digital Life labs, you’re officially old and uncool. Damn it.
Also, apparently, you’re totes not allowed to use the word “amazeballs” in an effort to look hip. Or “totes”, for that matter.
Motorola – or at least the bit of Motorola that makes phones, known to its friends as Motorola Mobility – is also in the curious position of being wholly owned by Google these days, and that makes a mid-range handset like the RAZR V even more of a curiosity.
Google is all about Jelly Beans and premium Nexus phones, but Motorola is yet to produce a Google-branded phone, and Jelly Bean is nowhere to be seen on the RAZR V.
RAZR phones were always kind of thin, and that’s the very first thing that you notice about the RAZR V.
Not that this is a slender slice of a phone, but that it isn’t.
Last year’s RAZR was a sleek 7.1 mm thin, but the cheaper RAZR V is a chunkier 8.4 mm thick. This isn’t a RAZR in one respect, unless you’ve got very chunky beard hair.
As such I expected I’d hate the RAZR V well before I got to grips with it, but this wasn’t so.
The thicker style makes it easier to handle; where the width of the original gave it sharper sides, the thicker RAZR V has a more comfortable heft.
Width aside, the style is much the same as last year’s RAZR, although this model comes with Android 4.0 out of the box. The older phone has only just been upgraded to Android 4.0. Cheaper handsets usually equate to cheaper internals, and the RAZR V’s 4GB of standard internal storage is just plain inadequate, although thankfully it’ll take a MicroSD card for expansion purposes.
In proper mockbuster fashion, there’s enough in the RAZR V that reminds you of the original as well.
Motorola’s addition to the Android world are “Smart Actions”, which are pre-defined settings and actions based on your location, calendar and time. It’s a similar kind of thing that Sony does with NFC tags and its Xperia phones, but without the lure of having shiny-but-easily-lost NFC discs.
The default actions are pretty clever and they’re not too hard to understand either.
It’s a sign of how quickly things shift in the mobile space that the dual core 1.2 GHz processor inside the budget V matches exactly the 2011 RAZR’s processor, and performs at the same level across any given Android benchmark you’d care to name.
Put it up against a star performer from 2012 and it’s still going to get wiped out; as an example the RAZR V’s Geekbench 2 score of 1084 sounds impressive until you run the same suite across a Galaxy S III, which gets 1499.
Still, with Ice Cream Sandwich on board and a relatively minimal set of Motorola apps, the RAZR V actually surprised me.
I was expecting the usual cheap and cheerful mockbuster of a phone that usually accompanies this kind of brand extension, and that’s not entirely what I got.
Sure, you’re not going to be able to whip the RAZR V out and impress folks with absolutely cutting edge performance either, but as a solid and basic workhorse it’s a pretty nice phone.
It’s like the difference between buying, say, an ultrabook – plenty of style but not entirely a workhorse machine – and an ordinary laptop PC. Only one of them gets invited to be set dressing for high-end Hollywood blockbusters . . . but the other one can and does get the job done.