Motorola might not be what it used to be at this moment. But it’s always been part of change, of revolution, of bringing you something new. The company brought us the world’s first mobile phone – the 8000x in 1983. It then brought us MicroTAC in 1989, which brought phones from the size of bricks to handheld devices. Over the next few years, the company saw a bit of a slump as the market moved towards GSM phones and Nokia gained ground. Then in the glorious year of 2003, Motorola announced the V3.
It was on shelves and in our hands by 2004. Between then and 2006, Motorola sold more than 50 million units of the device, making the V3 the world’s bestselling clamshell device of all time. Over its four-year run in the market, the V3 sold over 130 million units.
Before we get into how the V3 changed the way we look at mobile phones, let’s look at the specs. The device came with a silver magnesium and aluminium feather-light (95g) body and measured 98x53x13.99mm. It had two displays, one 96×80 pixel colour display on the outside and a 2.2-inch 176×220 LCD colour screen on the inside. The keyboard was a very big part of the marketing and advertising as it was a laser etched, backlit keypad with a D-pad and six other buttons. Other specs included a VGA camera, which could be used while the phone was shut and snapped what we now call selfies, video recording, MP4 video playback and MP3 ringtones. The battery was 680mAh and provided 250 hours of standby time and up to seven hours of talk time, which was pretty good for that time. The device also came with Bluetooth, IMAP and WAP 2.0 internet.
The V3 was initially brought about as a fashion-themed device but rapidly became a rage, especially after it’s price dropped. It was also the beginning of our obsession with the thinness of a device. Until the V3, no one really questioned the aesthetics of a phone, which is why most brands – especially Nokia – experimented with shapes, sizes and colours to no end. It was this obsession with aesthetics that was Motorola’s rise as well as downfall in the coming years.
Motorola followed up the standard Silver V3 with a range of colours, leading to the extremely popular Fuchsia. This later moved on to a Dolce & Gabana special edition phone, which was the beginning of luxury devices. Motorola strung along this formula for a long time, extending a heavily overdue time of death for the series. This continued well into the introduction of iOS and Android.
The Motorola V3 was a mobile phone in every sense of the word. It was compact, lightweight, kept you in touch with everything (on a limited level) and just felt great in the hand. These reasons and the fact that Motorola holds a very soft spot in my heart is why I would call the V3 one of the best mobile phones of all time. Did you own one of these beauties? Do let us know. Which one did you have? and more importantly, which colour?
Here’s one of Motorola’s first commercials for the device.