Do You Really Think Your iPhone Is Cooler Than My RAZR?

Remember how cool and covetable Motorola’s RAZR V3 seemed when it was released in 2004? Here was a stylish, ultra-slim (if not quite razor-thin) cell phone that looked great, took photos, and fit in your rear jeans pocket. It also initially cost $600 with a wireless service agreement ($800 without), making it wildly inaccessible to most consumers.

As soon as prices came down, in 2006, I dumped my old wireless provider and signed up with a new one that was offering the RAZR at a deep discount. It was everything I had dreamed of. The problem was that everyone else seemed to have the same dream. Soon the RAZR was ubiquitous. The streets of New York City were clogged with people yakking into slender black clamshells. Tony Soprano ordered mob hits on a silver RAZR. Even my mom got one.

But now that the iPhone has become the phone fetish object of the moment, I find myself increasingly fond of my old, unfashionable RAZR. Sure, it’s got a distracting layer of dust trapped under the screen, and the enamel has recently started peeling. I can’t use it for Google Maps or iTunes or photo slideshows. The call volume could be a little louder. But it gets the job done—and, for my money, it is actually more appealing as a design object than the iPhone.

Back in January, Gizmodo pointed out the similarities between some of Dieter Rams’s 1960s designs for Braun and Jonathan Ive’s recent Apple products. There are, indeed, some startling parallels. But the RAZR’s rectangular shape and unadorned good looks (when closed) strike me as more Teutonic and, indeed, more Rams-ian than the gadgety iPhone. Sometimes I wonder if Motorola’s designers weren’t paying homage to an earlier breed of electric razor.


Images of Braun shavers from plutonium*’s Flickr photostream

And Braun isn’t the only iconic design company that Motorola seems to be referencing (wittingly or not). Does anyone else think the telecom company’s logo looks suspiciously similar to that of furniture giant Herman Miller?

Categories: Products