Toward the business end of last year, we put the KRZR K1 through our usual stringent tests and deemed it rather wanting.
Now the K3 has arrived -- and that's "3" as in "3.5G". In addition to an HSDPA network upgrade, the successor to the K1 offers 50MB of internal memory (up from 18), a curvier keypad and a larger external display.
The K3 follows the K1's narrow form factor -- the measurements for each phone are identical at 42mm by 103mm by 16mm.
On the outside of the clamshell is a 60x120-pixel display that trumps the K1's 96x96-pixel version. It's also located toward the bottom of the phone, whereas the K1's teeny screen was plonked smack-bang in the middle.
Above the display is a 2-megapixel camera designed for daytime -- there's no flash function or glowing light. The whole surface of the outer shell is coated in a glossy finish, which unfortunately tends to act as a smudge showcase.
The K3 can be flipped open with flair using a single thumb. The movement is not as springy as a slider phone, but it's smoother and less awkward than wider clamshell models such as Nokia's N76. The hinge is solid and hardy, but looks oddly utilitarian in light of the RAZR 2's sexy silver version.
Motorola is really digging on the flat, razor-cut keypad look these days, and this model is no exception. There is one subtle change from the K1 though: the number keys have been nudged into a faint, smile-shaped curve instead of the standard blocky grid formation. It does look more modern, but the effect on usability is negligible.
A VGA camera lurks at the bottom-right corner of the display, ready to capture your mug during video calls.
Beyond the flash-free camera, the K3 serves up Bluetooth -- including the A2DP variety -- a speakerphone, and some basic games.
Internal storage space has been bumped up to 50MB, with support for up to 2GB of extra room through an optional microSD card.
As with most other Moto models that have lately appeared on the scene, there is also a focus on multimedia. Music files can be dragged and dropped from PC to phone via Windows Explorer (or Finder, for the Mac users), but there is also the ability to sync playlists automatically using Windows Media Player 11. A basic music player app on the phone allows songs to play in the background while you get on with other tasks.
We found the circular selection key a little too small; thumb presses need to be precise to avoid accidentally hitting the navigation or cancel buttons.
The camera did a satisfactory job, but you'll need to have a steady hand to avoid blurry photos. It's also not much use at night unless you happen to be under the floodlights at the local footy stadium.
We liked the larger external display, but it was scarcely visible in the sunlight when in idle mode -- a bit annoying if you like to have the odd quick glance at your phone to check the time.
The volume range for the speaker begins at a high level and gets very loud, which is good for handsfree calls and even better for annoying train passengers with Top 40 music. We were surprised by the clarity and lack of distortion at the highest volume levels.
The speed of the interface has been raised since the laggy days of the K1, but menu icons are still a bit daggy and look dated compared to the slick graphics on the screens of other manufacturers' phones.
Call quality was very good, with the speakerphone performing particularly well. No cause for complaint with battery life either; the phone powered on for three to four days between charges.