The display also allowed some flexibility with the design. It’s basically “a sticker applied to a circuit board,” Colorado says, which made it possible to limit the phone’s thickness to nine millimeters. That helped it achieve the same “slim and sleek” factor that has made its Razr line so successful, Reith says. And the display can be cut to shape, allowing designers to produce a distinctive curve at the top edge of the screen. Although E Ink technology can be used to make high-resolution megapixel displays, Motorola opted for a less expensive version using simple electronics that produce segmented numbers and fixed-shape icons like those on a wristwatch. This makes for a simple display–perhaps too simple for places such as the United States, where consumers are used to color screens, Reith says. But the screen is not buried beneath a pane of glass or limited to a clunky rectilinear shape. Not using glass also makes the phone more durable.
Motorola has incorporated several other features designed to make the phone simple to use. The characters on the screen are large and easy to see. To make it usable for those who cannot read, the phone has no text-based menus–just icons, along with voice prompts in the customer’s native language. The phone also features two separate antennas, which improves call quality in two ways: it ensures that at least one antenna isn’t blocked by the user’s hand, and it helps the phone pick up signals that are weak or scattered by buildings.
The company is already designing a successor; it could have features such a built-in LED flashlight, which would be useful in areas with unreliable electricity. But for these markets, don’t look for cameras, Internet access, or video-download capability in the near future.
Though the phone offers a sleek design, it will still face stiff competition from Nokia, which continues to offer new, inexpensive phones. And will it appear in the United States? For that to happen, Reith says, Motorola will have to find a willing service provider or agree to sell its product alongside no-name brands at drugstores.