Cracking Open Motorola: StarTAC, XOOM, and DVR teardowns

As Google makes plans to buy Motorola Mobility, TechRepublic cracks open old and new Motorola tech, including the classic StarTAC flip phone.

On Monday, Google announced plans to buy Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion. Once complete, the deal will let Google compete directly with Apple to provide customers a complete mobile solution (hardware, operating system, and apps). Google will also acquire Motorola Mobility's extensive patent library, which will help it defend Android from legal challenges.

I've owned several Motorola phones and pagers over the years, and have always liked them. Larry Page, Google CEO, also appears to be a long-time fan of the handset maker. Page wrote in a post outlining the acquisition:

"Its [Motorola's] many industry milestones include the introduction of the world's first portable cell phone nearly 30 years ago, and the StarTAC-the smallest and lightest phone on earth at time of launch. ... I have loved my Motorola phones from the StarTAC era up to the current DROIDs."

To celebrate Motorola's accomplishments, here's a look back at some of their classic devices and latest tech. Note: I've compiled just a few photos from each gallery in this blog post. To view the complete cracking open gallery for each device, click the gallery title.

Cracking Open the classic Motorola StarTAC flip phone

Next page: Cracking Open the Motorola Advisor Gold pager (1997)


Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...


I still use the StarTac ST7868W on Verizon no less! I can read the display in bright daylight.Try that with your phone. It's not blinding bright in the dark either. I like it!


After the first one that couldn't hold a call long enough to finish due to its inadequate antennae I resolved never to get another but a long time later, 10yrs later & shortly after Android was released at 2.1, I bought a Moto Milestone 2.01, the original, but again was disappointed by firstly the battery life & secondly the inability to upgrade it beyond 2.1 no matter what I did.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler moderator

It's too early to tell if the Google's planned purchase of Motorola Mobility will be a success. Acquiring Motorola Mobility's extensive patent library will help shield Android from legal challenges and it gives Google an integrated hardware/software solution, which has worked out pretty well for Apple. But entering the handset manufacturing business also puts Google in direct competition with Android licensees, like Samsung and HTC. Google has a lot of decisions to make in the coming months. And, one of those decisions will be whether to keep the Motorola brand. Larry Page, Google CEO, said that Motorola would operate as an independent company, but one wonders for how long? Will the Google "G" eventually replace the Motorola "M" on Droid phones and XOOM tablets? Will Motorola Solutions, the other half what was Motorola, push for Google to drop the Motorola brand? What do you think?


In the short term the Motorola brand will survive but then there is the question of whose brand has the most leverage in the market of mobile devices. As time goes by I think you will see co-branding and then eventually Google only. As for the Android licensees their days are numbered as licensees as Google seeks to get the best mileage from Android development and compete with Apple. And I would be surprised if Samsung, HTC and the like aren't already seeking a different OS after this announcement.

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