Motorola is bringing back its iconic RAZR flip-phone

It was first released in 2004, and quickly became the must-have phone thanks to its innovative flip-open screen.

Now, Motorola is reviving its iconic RAZR phone, joining forces with British firm, Binatone, to create the Binatone Blade.

Like the RAZR, the Binatone Blade features a flip-open screen, but costs just £50 ($66) – significantly cheaper than the RAZR, which cost £450 ($600).

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Motorola is reviving its iconic RAZR phone, joining forces with British firm, Binatone, to create the Binatone Blade. Like the RAZR, the Binatone Blade features a flip-open screen, but costs just £50 ($66) ¿ significantly cheaper than the RAZR, which cost £450 ($600)

Motorola is reviving its iconic RAZR phone, joining forces with British firm, Binatone, to create the Binatone Blade. Like the RAZR, the Binatone Blade features a flip-open screen, but costs just £50 ($66) ¿ significantly cheaper than the RAZR, which cost £450 ($600)

Motorola is reviving its iconic RAZR phone, joining forces with British firm, Binatone, to create the Binatone Blade. Like the RAZR, the Binatone Blade features a flip-open screen, but costs just £50 ($66) – significantly cheaper than the RAZR, which cost £450 ($600)

BINATONE BLADE 

– Classic apps including alarm and calculator

– Games including Snake and Tetris

– MP3 player

– Support for dual sim cards 

– Internet access (unclear if 2G, 3G or 4G)

– Costs £50 ($66)

Binatone, a British telecommunications firm, has been licenced by Moto to create the Binatone Blade based on the Motorola RAZR.

The device is fairly basic, and while it features classic apps including an alarm and calculator, it does not feature social media apps like Facebook or Instagram.

It also has some retro games, including Snake and Tetris.

Other key fetaures include an MP3 player, support for dual-sim cards, and internet access – although it is unclear whether this is 2G, 3G or 4G.

The Motorola Razr was first released in 2004, and quickly became the must-have phone thanks to its innovative flip-open screen

The Motorola Razr was first released in 2004, and quickly became the must-have phone thanks to its innovative flip-open screen

The Motorola Razr was first released in 2004, and quickly became the must-have phone thanks to its innovative flip-open screen

A RECORD-BREAKING PHONE

Because of its striking appearance and thin profile, the Razr was initially marketed as an exclusive fashion phone, but it was not until a year later when the price was dropped it became a huge success, selling over 50 million units by July 2006.

Over the Razr’s four-year run, the V3 model sold more than 130 million units, becoming the best-selling flip-phone in the world to date. 

In terms of price, the Binatone Blade is significantly cheaper than its predecessor, and costs £50 ($66).

This puts it in direct competition with Nokia’s recently-revived 3310, which costs £41 ($54). 

Binatone sees the phone being used by people hoping to get away from social media. 

Speaking to Sun Online, Dino Lalvani, Binatone’s chairman said: ‘It’s a fact of life that most of us now carry two mobile phones.

‘Whether it’s a work/home split, a second phone for holidays and festivals or just a temporary device to give to the kids for sleep-overs, we just don’t have a single mobile anymore.

Over the Razr's four-year run, the V3 model sold more than 130 million units

Over the Razr's four-year run, the V3 model sold more than 130 million units

The Motorola Razr became the best-selling flip-phone in the world to date

The Motorola Razr became the best-selling flip-phone in the world to date

Because of its striking appearance and thin profile, the Razr was initially marketed as an exclusive fashion phone, but it was not until a year later when the price was dropped it became a huge success, selling over 50 million units by July 2006

The phone is in direct competition with Nokia's recently-revived 3310, which costs £41 ($54)

The phone is in direct competition with Nokia's recently-revived 3310, which costs £41 ($54)

The phone is in direct competition with Nokia’s recently-revived 3310, which costs £41 ($54)

‘We developed the Blade with this in mind, making sure it was a small, slim and light as possible, without compromising on battery life.’

The Binatone Blade is expected to be available in November.  

RISE OF THE RETRO PHONE 

A recent trend observed by MailOnline has seen classic 1990s models by Nokia, Ericsson and Motorola commanding four-figure sums on eBay and other resale sites.

While they may lack features, these retro phones are simple to use, have batteries that last the week and are practically indestructible compared to their smartphone equivalents.

‘Some people don’t blink at the prices, we have models at more than €1,000 (£810 or $1,360),’ said Djassem Haddad, who started the site vintagemobile.fr in 2009.

‘The high prices are due to the difficulty in finding those models, which were limited editions in their time.’

French online shop Lekki, which sells a range of vintage, revamped mobile phones, claims simplicity is the way forward.

‘Too many online social networks and an excess of email and applications, have made us slaves to technology in our everyday life,’ it said on its website.

‘We have two types of profiles: the 25 to 35 year-olds attracted by the retro and offbeat side of a telephone that is a little different, and those who are nostalgic for the phone that they used when they were younger,’ said Maxime Chanson, who founded Lekki in 2010.

‘Some use it to complement their smartphone, but others are going for the vintage, tired of the technology race between the phone makers.’ 

 

The Motorola RAZR flip phone is BACK and renamed the Binatone Blade

THE tech firm Binatone is preparing to release a new version of the iconic RAZR flip phone called the Blade – and we’ve managed to get our hands on a leaked prototype.

News of the Blade’s existence was first revealed last week when tech journalist and mobile phone entrepreneur Simon Rockman claimed to have bought an early version of the gadget from eBay.

 An official press shot of the BinaTone blade, which will be released in November

Binatone

An official press shot of the BinaTone blade, which will be released in November

He gave The Sun Online exclusive photos of his Blade as well as his thoughts on the retro-styled phone, which you can read later on in this article.

This morning, Binatone confirmed the existence of the Blade and described it as being inspired by phones we “loved nearly 20 years ago”.

The stripped back new phone is designed to be the antidote to gadgets like the iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S8.

Recent studies have suggested teens are beginning to get fed up with social media and are turning to brick phones to cut the cord and disconnect themselves from Facebook, Instagram and other all-pervasive networks.

 This image shows a prototype of the Blade on top of the old RAZR, Rockman claims

Simon Rockman

This image shows a prototype of the Blade on top of the old RAZR, Rockman claims
 You can see the new phone is thinner than the old one which inspired it
You can see the new phone is thinner than the old one which inspired it
 The RAZR flip phone was one of the most iconic handsets that's ever been released

Simon Rockman

The RAZR flip phone was one of the most iconic handsets that’s ever been released

The phone is actually made by a British company called Binatone which licenced the design from Motorola.

Simon Rockman claimed he was able to buy a prototype from eBay for just £22.95 – half the eventual street price of £49.99.

He believes it was put up for sale by a company or individual who was sent the prototype for testing.

Rockman worked at Motorola when the original was released in 2003, selling for more than £800.

It was built by a crack team of Motorola engineers who worked overtime in evenings and weekends in a top-secret facility and without managers knowing what they were up to, Rockman said.

Motorola teases new Android version of Razr handset
 The new Blade is aimed at people who want a simple phone without the bells and whistles of modern gadgets

Simon Rockman

The new Blade is aimed at people who want a simple phone without the bells and whistles of modern gadgets
 It's believed that some teenagers and young people are getting fed up of social media, so are turning to old-fashioned phones which make it more difficult to access Facebook or other services

Simon Rockman

It’s believed that some teenagers and young people are getting fed up of social media, so are turning to old-fashioned phones which make it more difficult to access Facebook or other services
 The Blade will come in three colours: red, black and rose gold

Simon Rockman

The Blade will come in three colours: red, black and rose gold

Various versions of the RAZR went on to sell over 100 million with everyone from Jeremy Clarkson to David Beckham being spotted with one.

Here’s what Rockman, who now runs a telecoms firm called Fuss Free Phones, had to say about the Binatone Blade: “With the basic look of the RAZR, the Blade is more of a tribute act than a faithful follow-up.

“It’s bargain priced and this means it hasn’t got the quality feel of the original.

“The new phone is plastic where the original was metal. It doesn’t shut with the same satisfying snap.

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STRIPPED BACK: The retro features of the Binatone Blade

  • Backlit keypad
  • Phonebook for 100 contacts
  • Bluetooth
  • Alarm function
  • Different Ringtones / Vibration
  • LED Torch
  • Battery Li-ion > 600 mAh
  • Micro USB charger input
  • USB Headset Connection
  • FM radio
  • Vibration

“Where the 2003 phone had a difficult-to-make laser etched keypad the Binatone Blade has standard keys printed in a 1970s typeface.

“The new phone is a lot lighter at 67g to the Razr’s 96g, which makes it feel cheap.

“The Blade does capture the thinness of the phone, which was designed by Chris Arnholt, who was once described by the RAZR project leader as a ‘quiet, humble genius’.

“The new phone doesn’t have the front screen which was added to later models of the RAZR.

“But what you get instead is a phone which is a tenth of the price of the original, has a music player, two SIM cards so that you can have two phone numbers and much better software.”


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The announcement of the Blade comes after Nokia released a rebooted version of the 3310,cheap and cheerful version of the much-loved classic gadget which costs just £49.99.

Dino Lalvani, Binatone’s chairman said: “It’s a fact of life that most of us now carry two mobile phones.

“Whether it’s a work/home split, a second phone for holidays and festivals or just a temporary device to give to the kids for sleepovers, we just don’t have a single mobile anymore.

“We developed the Blade with this in mind, making sure it was a small, slim and light as possible, without compromising on battery life.

“Our designers really went to town and those of us old enough to remember will definitely see a resemblance to some of the iconic phones we loved nearly 20 years ago, which in consumer electronics is a lifetime.”

Motorola RAZR flip phone is BACK in a new form – as teens turn to ‘brick’ phones to escape social media

Retro phones are experiencing something of a comeback this year.

BlackBerry has returned from the dead and Nokia has re-released the classic 3310 .

Now another hit device from yesteryear has been reborn, albeit under a new name.

The Binatone Blade is instantly recognisable as the classic Motorola RAZR flip phone – the British company having been licenced by Moto to resurrect the design in 2017.

Fans of the original will find a lot to like here. For starters; there’s no social media apps to suck up your time and your battery life.

Instead, you’re treated to classic applications like “Alarm”, “Stopwatch”, “Calculator” and “Unit conversion”.

Thankfully there are a few games on board – including Snake and Tetris.

The Binatone Blade will browse the internet, doubles up as an MP3 player and supports dual-SIMs, a micro SIM and a mini SIM.

The new Binatone Blade phone

The original Motorola RAZR

But it’s clear how the company is positioning the gadget – which will launch in the next few months and cost less than £50. It’s a stylish alternative to the Nokia 3310 that came out in March. It’s also positioned firmly as a secondary phone for taking to festivals or on holiday with you.

And there’s evidence to suggest that many teenagers might be willing to swap a smartphone for a “dumb” one.

A recent poll of 5,000 pupils at independent and state schools in England revealed that 63% wouldn’t care if social media didn’t exist.

Even more, 71%, said they take temporary “digital detoxes” to escape the onslaught of updates, notifications and reminders.

The research, conducted for Digital Awareness UK on behalf of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC) found that over half of respondents (57%) had received abusive messages online.


“We see them walking around with this tech almost attached to them – but they are now saying they are open to things like digital detoxing to allow them to take a break from technology,” Charlotte Robertson, co-founder of Digital Awareness UK, told MailOnline .

“They are starting to acknowledge that it is impacting their health and wellbeing in ways that they hadn’t recognised before.

“This time last year it wasn’t the case at all, but now they are saying they are using their brick phones at the weekend.

“It’s suddenly just a cool thing to do. It’s about going out and having the security that you can contact someone if you need them, and being able to feel safe and connected but without the pressure to be responsive all the time.”


Thankfully, the likes of the new Nokia 3310 and Binatone Blade will give us a chance to take a breather from all the online noise created by modern smartphones.

And, if you fancy a longer trip down memory lane, here are 10 old-timey phones that got us all buzzing in years gone by.

1/ IBM Simon (1994)


Believe it or not, this was the first smartphone and 50,000 of the chunky model were sold.

It could send emails, had software apps and could link to a fax. But it cost £700, only worked in the US and had an hour’s battery life.

2/ Samsung Galaxy S2 (2011)

Slim and powerful, this phone was more like an iPhone than anything before it.

With a simple design and known for being super-fast, it sold well and remains popular on the second-hand market.

3/ Ericsson R380 (2000)

Released in 2000, this was the first device marketed as a smartphone.

It was just as small and light as a regular mobile phone and featured a flip that, when open, featured a nearly full touchscreen.

4/ Mobira Senator (1982)

This huge thing, weighing 22lb, was intended for use as a car phone.

The Senator was Nokia’s first phone, before the company became known by its household name.

5/ iPhone 2G (2007)


The first smartphone designed by Apple, unveiled by the late Steve Jobs.

They incorporated the iPod design and added a camera, email, phone abilities and web browser. But the vital new feature was apps.

6/ Motorola DynaTAC 8000X (1973-83)


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In 1973, engineer Marty Cooper called a pal at a rival firm to say he was using a mobile.

Ten years later, Motorola’s first commercial cellular phone went on sale for £2,300, weighing 1.75lb.

Michael Douglas used one in Wall Street and one sold on eBay for £1,000 recently.

7/ Nokia 1100 (2003)

Not as well known as the 3310 but it is the best-selling mobile of all time, shifting 250 million units.

When the one-billionth Nokia was sold in Nigeria in 2005, it was, unsurprisingly, a 1100 – the best-selling electrical gadget in history.

8/ Blackberry 6230 (2003)

This propelled Blackberry from the business market to the consumer market.

It allowed you to check and respond to emails on the go, weighed a light 136g and its battery could handle up to five hours’ talk time on a charge.

9/ Motorola StarTAC (1996)


The first flip-style mobile. Unlike other phones, it was sleek, stylish and the firm said it was the lightest in the world.

It was the first to offer a vibrate mode and launched at £1,400 in the UK.

10/ Philips C12 (1999)

This had a screw-on aerial and stored up to 10 messages at a time. It also had the “puppy power” tone.

A myth said if you turned it off as soon as you sent a message, you didn’t pay – which may well explain its popularity.

The inside story of how the Motorola Razr was made


Motorola Razr
The Motorola
Razr.


YouTube/PhoneDog


No-one forecast the success of The Motorola Razr. It was a phone
which should never have been born. It broke all the rules within
the company and yet went on to define the company.

I worked at Motorola as the creative experience director. My job
was understanding people and technology then marrying the two.
For a time I worked in The Discovery Team, looking at new
business opportunities and is in part how I came to set
up Fuss Free Phones
, a mobile phone network for seniors.
I can take absolutely zero credit for Razr. But I was around, in
meetings and hanging out with the people who made it happen.

The company had a religion: process. Everything had to happen to
defined milestones and goals. Nothing moved without opportunities
defined and risks assessed. Process was more important than
engineering, products or even marketing. Although marketing ran
it close.

Under the rules of Process, known as M-Gates, any new product had
to demonstrate the ability to hit key objectives. Motorola had
the ability to make about fifty new products a year, including
refreshes and regional versions, that meant about 30 core
products. Bear in mind that the world was very divided by
technology, principally with Europe doing GSM and America being
CDMA.

So making what all the 800 mobile phone networks in the world
wanted was a stretch. Battles had to be picked and only phones
which demonstrated significant margin would make it onto the road
map. That meant a minimum volume of 3 million phones. I sat
in on the meetings of the committee which made the decisions to
progress products and Razor (with the “o”) was proposed with a
volume of 800,000 units. It should have failed the M-gate
process. It was worse than that, not only was the volume too low,
it was very hard to make. The antenna was an engineering
challenge and the external screen would have to be monochrome if
it wasn’t going to bulge out. It relied on the strength of the
glass screen for structural integrity. The etched keypad could
only be made by one supplier and in limited quantities. It came
into the portfolio meeting with no operator commitment, without
meeting any consumer or carrier segmentation guidelines and at a
crazy price point of $1,000 (£776). I later found out that even
the volume projection was a lie, the team building Razor
estimated 300,000 units. Under the Motorola process it should
have been kicked into touch at that first portfolio meeting.

That it didn’t is a tribute to the vision of two men: Geoffrey
Frost and Rodger Jellicoe. Frost was the marketing man who
powered the decisions to make Razor, Jellicoe was Motorola’s
phone design guru, with MicroTac and StarTac under his belt. He’d
seen the concept model of the phone of the future produced by the
super cool team in Consumer eXperience Design, or CXD. Motorola
didn’t have anything as mundane as design department or drawing
office.

The exclusive photographs here show the concept model. This is
the first time they have been published, I took them at an event
held in Kalamazoo to look at the future of the mobile industry.
Quite why I was allowed to take pictures at a secret off-site
workshop I’m not sure.


Motorola Razr concept model
The original Motorola Razr concept
model.

Simon
Rockman


Razor wasn’t so much a design for a phone but a beacon for the
new design language. There were to be two main languages, the
sharp angular chamfered edges of Razor and the smooth sinuous
shape of Pebble. Razor was a boys phone and Pebble was for girls.

Jellicoe wanted to make the Razr, but that wasn’t possible. It
was a difficult technical challenge and that meant lots of
engineering manpower. Budget only came with projects which had
sign off through the M-Gates process. But he built it anyway. It
was a skunk works, done off the grid with his team devoting
evenings and weekends, with some of the costs of making
prototypes and testing hidden in other projects as Jellicoe’s
boss, Tracy Koziol, providing aircover. The work was done on a
need to know basis. The name Razor was a code-name given to
reflect how thin it was. Codenames which define the product are
pretty poor for keeping something secret. Indeed during the time
Razor was being made we instituted a process of using the names
of islands for GSM phones and cities for CDMA phones. But the
rules were different for Razor.


Motorola Razr concept
The Motorola Razr concept model.
Simon Rockman

The forcefulness of Frost was what saw it through the gruelling
process of development. He argued that it would serve as a halo
product, much as the V70 (codenamed Hummingbird) had before it.
To do this it only had to exist. Perhaps it didn’t need to do
800,000 units or even 8,000. Just 800 would be enough to get them
into the hands of the right celebs. Particularly through the
goodie bags handed out at the Oscars. The number 800,000 however
was chosen politically because that was break-even, it’s what the
V70 had done and Frost could claim it was a marketing campaign
which washed its face.

Others argued that the resources deployed on a vanity project
could be better spent on something which would do the volume and
make money, but Frost wasn’t just the CMO of the Motorola handset
division, but of the parent corporation, making him more equal
than the other VPs. He also had the deep trust of Ron Garriques
the president. As much as the regional chiefs might have said,
“well my region won’t take it,” it had the political firepower to
get made.


Motorola Razr concept
A side view of the Motorola Razr concept
model.

Simon
Rockman


Building a new phone is a significant engineering task, with
constraints on mechanical design such as the hinge and how well
it wears, on flexing, drop testing and a test where a ball
bearing is dropped onto the screen from height. The electronics
have to be able to cope with getting a radio signal out past the
hands of people holding it in all kinds of odd positions, and a
metal clamshell phone presents special issues. The cable running
through the hinge has to cope without wearing, cramming and
earpiece and microphone — both of which have moving parts — into
a small space has performance issues and back then mobile
networks were very fussy about approval.

Smartphones and the iPhone in particular has changed a lot about
the market. The skills to miniaturise are now less rare and where
once engineers who worried about on-network performance ruled
supreme, now the marketing departments will force through
decisions to take badly behaving phones and let the network
engineers clear up the mess afterwards. It wasn’t long before
Razor that networks insisted on a pull-up antenna. So this
revolutionary thin phone had to perform every bit as well as a
tried and tested design.

Perhaps it’s not a change for the better but can you imagine how
few phones would be on the market if the networks and shops
refused to take any where you could not drop a ball bearing onto
the screen from a couple of meters?

Razor was kept as a dark project, there were very few plans
shared with operators (who bought 80% of phones at the time) or a
consolidated launch plan. It was just one of the more interesting
things on the roadmap and it was launched as Razor. It was only
when someone popped up with a prior claim to the name that the
“O” was dropped and Razr was born.

Pretty soon we knew we had a hit. There was a buzz inside the
business and intense jealousy of anyone who could get their hands
on one. The corporate president Mike Zafirovski kept snaffling
stock destined for customers to give to his powerful Chicago
aristocratic friends.


Motorola Pebl
The
Motorola Pebl.


Amazon


Pebble, which had been a parallel project, started to become a
lot less sexy. Like Razr the name came from its shape. It
was assigned the codename Virgin, as in the Virgin Islands, but
the head of engineering complained that her engineers thought it
sounded a bit rude and kept giggling. Then someone looked at a
map, found an island called Pebble and we gave up the codename
fight.

As a sidenote, the success of Razr led to a strategy of four big
hits a year, the Icons, and we convened the Icon accelerator
committee to oversee this. The first Icon was Razr, then Pebl and
the two to follow would have been Retro and Tattoo. Retro was are
re-visit of the classic Motorola StarTac and Tattoo had a huge
roller for the hinge and stickers to allow the youth consumer to
customise it. A CDMA version of the Retro stumbled into the
Korean market, Tattoo floundered on our software incompetence.
Beyond Razr was GD2, which came to the market as Aura.


Motorola Razr pink
The
pink Motorola Razr.


Amazon


The scale of the hit of Razr is hard to comprehend. Charles
Dunstone of Carphone Warehouse ordered a quarter of a million in
pink. We thought he was mad, this was a third of the global
projected sales. He wanted this crazy volume of the “boys” phone
to sell to girls in the UK. We gave him exclusivity on the pink
colour. When he sold 3 million we bought the non-UK rights back.

The forecast of under a million units was so far wrong. In
various guises it went on to sell more than 100 million phones.

Two things conspired to ensure that the success of Razr was never
repeated. One was software. While Motorola had the best
electronic, electrical, and mechanical engineers in the world the
software management was appalling and so no smart programmer
would want to work for the company.

This was allied to the second problems which was the politics of
process. Constant consensus, research, and getting everyone on
board meant that far more effort was expended in deciding than it
was in doing. Once the Razr team had emerged from their skunk
works protected by Koziol and Frost they were expected to play by
the broken rules. Aura, which should have been months behind Razr
was over three years behind. It was perhaps the most beautiful 2G
phone ever made, shading Vertus for fit and finish, and it was
born into a 3G world.

Motorola’s solution to management, and particularly software
management, was to bring in the consultants McKinsey and to adopt
the Six Sigma process. Both proved highly ignorant of what it
took to make a phone, massive diversions from actually doing the
work and were ultimately responsible for the demise of the
company. When I worked for Motorola there were 80,000 people in
the phone business. Today, under Lenovo, there are 800. No-one
forecast that.

Simon Rockman founded What Mobile Magazine before going to
work for Motorola, Sony Ericsson, and the GSMA. He now runs Fuss
Free Phones, a personal mobile network for older and less tech
savvy users.