You should never press the forbidden internet button on the original Razr
The first phone I owned was a Motorola Razr. The buttons on the Razr are some of the best ever for a mobile device. The keyboard is laser etched onto a glittering aluminum foil, and when pressed, it lights up in a brilliant blue glow that look at as the future of science fiction.
But there was a button I was afraid to press. In all my years of owning a Razr, I can’t say I’ve tapped it more than once or twice, and never on purpose: the internet button.
Located on the upper left side of the keyboard, the internet button was adorned with a blue globe and would open the Razr’s built-in internet browser. The problem, of course, was that during the heady days of 2007 when I got my first cell phone, I didn’t pay for the data. Which meant pushing the button was a recipe for getting paid the dreaded overrun fees.
Now would AT&T actually charge me (and by extension my family’s shared cell phone plan) hundreds of dollars for the crime of using precious kilobytes of data to accidentally load the rudimentary mobile site? from Google? Honestly, I have no idea. But with things like SMS and call minutes already heavily regulated by the carrier, resulting in high fees for overruns, I wasn’t taking any chances.
Unfortunately, the basic design of the Razr meant that these intentions were often moot. The internet button was too much conveniently located, placed right next to the green “answer call button” and directly next to the directional pad. It was far too easy to just tap by accident, launching into the rudimentary web browser and its looming costs. My memories of the internet button are those of accidental brushes, followed by a frantic smashing of hang-up or menu buttons in a desperate attempt to get out before using data.
The Razr’s internet button was ambitious. It’s hard to remember now, when the Razr is considered the ultimate expression of the all-round phone. It was the last peak of the era before smartphones took over, with iPhone and Android phones making their debut a few years later. At the time he came out in 2004, it costs $ 500 with a two-year contract; the same price as the “entry-level” model the original iPhone would charge when it debuted in 2007.
The Razr was a luxury phone ripped from the future, so it had to offer features such as email and the Internet, even if the cellular and technological infrastructure that we had at the time was not ready for the ambitions of the Razr.
Looking back to 2021, where devices connected to the Internet are table stakes and having cellular data on a smartphone is a given, where even devices that aim to avoid “smartphone” status offer some sort of mobile data, it almost sounds funny. But during Razr’s heyday in the early 2000s, the sluggish 2G internet offered by the flip phone was cutting edge – and it took a heavy toll on the data plans of anyone who dared to back it up.
Motorola seemed to finally realize that the internet and email – despite its best intentions – weren’t the main draws of the Razr either. And later versions of the device (like the V3m) would ditch those buttons altogether in favor of a dedicated camera shortcut and a clear button, neither of which costs money to use.
And Motorola may have had the last word: When the company resurrected the Razr brand in 2020, it added an Easter egg that allowed users to mimic the original neon-colored interface of the 2004 flip phone. And on it was an internet button that, when pressed, would open Google Chrome – with all of the LTE and Wi-Fi perks we have today.