Motorola + iTunes, take 2 = SLVR L7

Slvr-MedThe Motorola SLVR, already on sale in Europe for several months, has been released in the US (and re-released in Europe) as the SLVR L7. This handset marks Motorola's 2nd attempt at the much-anticipated iTunes phone (complete with obligatory slick webpage). The new phone borrows the trendy metallic RAZR keypad that we all love to hate but marries it with a sleek and slim 11.5mm thick candybar form factor. The result is admittedly impressive, but maintain many of the same drawbacks as Moto's original iTunes phone including the truly yawn-inspiring 100 song limit and lowly VGA (0.3 megapixel) camera. To make matters even worse the handset's slimline looks forced Moto to replace the dedicated headphone jack with a mini-USB socket plus adaptor solution, and drop the ROKR's stereo speakers.

The phone's other features are fairly similar to its predecessors: Bluetooth 2.0, 17 day standby time, 6 hours talk time, 102g weight, quad-band, EDGE high-speed data, push-to-talk, speakerphone, 176 × 220 resolution 262K colour LCD, audio and video playback, VGA camera with 4x digital zoom, video recording and microSD memory card slot. There is also an L6 version which is slightly thinner (10.9mm) but minus the memory card slot.

SLVR sideThe rationale behind some of Motorola's decisions here are murky, to say the least. Given that the ROKR E2, the successor to the original iTunes phone, dropped iTunes (and the Apple-imposed 100 song limit) many observers expected Apple and Moto to quietly part ways. By bringing iTunes back into the fold Motorola are either being incredibly wishy-washy or trying to have their cake and eat it as well. Perhaps the E2 without iTunes didn't make as big a splash as Moto were expecting. Or perhaps the company is deliberately diversifying in order to satisfy both the label-conscious non-technical iTunes lover and the technogeek who will put up with a crap MP3 player interface simply to store thousands of songs on his phone.

On the other hand it could simply be that contractual obligations have forced this release - analysts estimate that Moto have sold around 84,000 ROKRs, compared to tens of millions of RAZRs.

                                         

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