After excitement turned to disappointment earlier, I decided to do a little bit of investigation with Verizon Wireless as to why Shannon and my RAZR phones will occasionally take pictures that are too large to send as picture messages or email attachments. And after a little bit of on-hold time, I’ve now had confirmed for me that there’s nothing that can be done about it, and that Verizon has no intention of making the decision that can actually fix the root problem. But first, let’s take a step back for a minute, and start from the beginning so as to better understand what’s going on.

Like all other digital cameras, there’s been major pressure on the manufacturers of camera phones to increase the quality and resolution of the cameras that are built into the devices. As a result, while we once had crappy, poorly-lit 320 by 240 images coming out of the phones, manufacturers quickly moved to VGA-caliber cameras (640 by 480), and then beyond, to megapixel-size images. (Hell, Samsung displayed a fairly ridiculous seven-megapixel camera phone last year.) So it’s fair to say that the cameras in phones sold by mobile phone carriers are getting better, and that the size of the image files that are being generated by these phones is steadily increasing as a result.

Now, like any other digital camera, the users of camera phones would ideally like to get those photos off of the camera. For one reason, the displays on most phones aren’t anywhere near the resolution of the cameras, and that means that in order to enjoy the higher resolution of the images, they need to be displayed on something other than the tiny display of the phone. (After all, it was just this past February that the first phone offering a 640 by 480 display was introduced — a phone which offers a camera that takes pictures at 16 times that resolution.) For another reason, people want to share their photos, and a photo which is trapped in the memory of a camera phone is the antithesis of a shared photo. Logically, camera phone manufacturers and wireless phone providers have thus given their users a variety of methods to get the photos off of the phone, methods which include sending them via some communications method like MMS or email, or allowing you to connect the camera phone directly to your computer via a cable or Bluetooth. In our story, here’s where the idiocy begins to creep into the mix.

Verizon Wireless sells camera phones to its customers, and also offers a service named Get it Now through which customers can download photos, ringtones, games, and whatnot to their phones. Most of Get it Now is a pay service; to download a single new wallpaper or ringtone to your phone, you pay somewhere between $2 and $7 to Verizon. Because of this, the company has opted to disable any method of directly connecting some of its phones to computers — such a connection would enable users to put their own images or ringtones onto the phone for free, something which would compete with Verizon’s pay service. In our case, the Verizon RAZR V3C has specifically been crippled, loaded with firmware which disables the Bluetooth protocol that would allow me to share files between the phone and my computer. For the most part, I couldn’t care less — I’m not someone who’s itching to create new ringtones and put them onto my phone. Alas, though, there’s a specific instance in which it becomes much more important to me that Verizon has decided to sell a crippled product.

As I mentioned above, the cameras in phones have been getting better, and with a 1.3 megapixel camera, the RAZR V3C is a testament to this. If you get a good sense of its optimal light conditions, the phone takes reasonable photos, and it’s usually not a problem for me to send them along to my Flickr account or via email to a friend or two. But on occasion (twice in the past 18 photos I’ve taken), the resulting photo file size will be larger than 300 Kb, which turns out to be the limit on Verizon’s network for sending or receiving multimedia files… and in these cases, because Verizon has opted to disable the phone’s ability to connect to computers and exchange files, there’s absolutely no way to get the photo off of the phone. (On the RAZR, you get an instant little dialog box that says “ATTACHMENT TOO BIG”, and that’s the end of that.) So, in the company’s quest to lock users into its own pay service for multimedia downloads, Verizon has created a case wherein there’s no way to upload certain images, images that are created via the ordinary use of the phone’s own camera.

So, I made a few phone calls this afternoon in an effort to see what could be done about all this. I spoke with a customer service woman at Verizon Wireless whose first response was to recommend that I stop taking pictures at the highest-resolution setting on the phone; she didn’t quite get why I wasn’t satisfied with that as an answer. She then promised to look into it and follow up with me, and an hour later called me back to place the blame squarely on Motorola (the makers of the RAZR V3C phone). One phone call to Motorola’s dedicated V3C support line (800-657-8909, for those who want that number) verified that the problem was Verizon’s own limit of 300 Kb on MMS and email attachments — and led to the Motorola tech expressing extreme exasperation that his company was willing to put its products in the hands of customers via a middleman (Verizon) who crippled those products before passing them on. My final call was back to Verizon, wherein a technical support agent verified the 300 Kb limit, and also verified that Verizon has no intention of opening up the Bluetooth file transfer protocols anytime soon. (He specifically made reference to the various internet discussion group threads surrounding the current firmware upgrade, and said that it does not give OBEX back to phones which have had it disabled.) He was sympathetic to the fact that I had photos on my phone that could not be sent anywhere but to the trash can, and promised me that he would submit my complaints via a “Voice of the Customer” process that’s internal to the support division of Verizon Wireless.

I guess this just highlights to me the reality of decisions that are made outside of their relevant contexts. Verizon Wireless chose to provide a revenue-generating multimedia download service, and then opted to protect that revenue generation by modifying the capabilities of its phones. In so doing, its methods of limiting the phones’ abilities has led to loss of functionality outside the scope of the multimedia download service — and made it impossible to work around that loss of functionality. And as an end-user of one of the affected phones, I now have to make choices that just don’t make any sense, like whether I want to take high-resolution photos that might not be usable on the Verizon network, or will settle for taking low-resolution photos that are able to be sent by my phone but look crappy as all hell. It’s just plain dumb.


That’s not good at all. Also, they don’t let users download ringtones from the web - we have to use their application from our phones. This means there’s a charge for browsing, plus the $2.99 for the ringtone. This is especially bad because the ringtones that came pre-loaded on my new phone are absolutely terrible. It’s a Samsung SCH a850 - not the best, sure, but not low-end either. I got better default ringtones from my cheapie Virgin Mobile phone I had a couple of years ago. I’m not sure if that’s Samsung, though, or Verizon. I’m inclined to think Verizon…

However, Verizon has the best coverage area, which is essential for my husband who sometimes works in out of the way places. Also, the plan rate is much, much better than Sprint’s (his previous carrier) - we’re getting two phone lines for about $15 more a month than he was paying for one. I’m reserving final judgement for when we get the first bill, but so far it seems we’ve traded some conveniences for better base features. I think.

• Posted by: minda25 on Apr 21, 2006, 12:19 AM

Well, how lovely. I have a brand-new LG8100 through Verizon Wireless, which also has a 1.3MP camera - mine comes with a flash and zoom and other nice little camera-like features. To learn that my picture-taking with it may be for naught really pushes my corporate greed buttons. I’m really peeved right now.

Thanks for bringing this to light, Jason. I surely wasn’t told about this 11 days ago when I grilled the Verizon salesdude about what I could and couldn’t do with my phone. Argh.

• Posted by: Dreama on Apr 21, 2006, 7:19 AM

“… and led to the Motorola tech expressing extreme exasperation that his company was willing to put its products in the hands of customers via a middleman (Verizon) who crippled those products before passing them on.”

Verizon doesn’t cripple anything. In other words, Verizon doesn’t modify each V3c after Motorola ships them out.

Motorola customizes the V3c, quite willingly, at Verizon’s request.

• Posted by: Walt on Apr 21, 2006, 8:17 AM

Alas, Walt, that’s not true; please don’t take your lack of understanding of how the phones and firmwares work, and use it to spread misinformation.

The Motorola V3C can support OBEX (the Bluetooth profile that allows phone-to-computer object sharing) just fine; that’s clear from the fact that I can take my phone and flash it with an alternative firmware (like the Verizon GATW_X_01.0F.02P firmware, or the Alltel firmware) and then be able to use OBEX without limit. But Verizon opted to remove this functionality from the current firmwares for the phone; in fact, it’s fairly clear from the public record that the fact that OBEX is enabled in the version .02 firmware was a mistake on Verizon’s part, and was quickly corrected with the release of the .03 firmware.

So, as I originally said, Motorola itself (at least via the tech I spoke with) isn’t pleased that other companies are crippling its products, products which are perfectly capable of doing the right thing all on their own.

• Posted by: Jason on Apr 21, 2006, 9:51 AM

I had many problems with Verizon’s front-line support - they had a little problem trying to charge me for a phone they never gave me and a few problems caused by some lies told by one of their salespeople. I got absolutely nowhere until I called the executive office at 866-673-9561 - everything was taken care of after about 30 minutes on the phone.

• Posted by: Chris Adams on Apr 24, 2006, 5:04 PM

I have the same problem. With my Razor phone I took all the wonderfully clear photos and cannot get them, or send them! :-(

• Posted by: Bonnie on Apr 27, 2006, 9:30 PM

This smells like class-action lawsuit for customer-fraud to me. Another low for Corporate America!

• Posted by: Al on Apr 27, 2006, 11:37 PM

If the phone was purchased through Verizon and advertised as having a 1.3 megapixel camera, you would have likely ground for a truth in advertising complaint. Check with your local ombudsman, consumer affairs office, or whatever local government office takes complaints on such issues (not the BBB). They usually are more than happy to write a pointed letter to the company in question, and if they have enough complaints, will start legal proceedings.

• Posted by: Bill on Apr 28, 2006, 9:33 AM

The class action lawsuit thing probably isn’t going to go anywhere. I remember a discussion a few years ago about trying one for the same reason, but I don’t recall anyone following up. One reason is that the standard cell phone contract mandates arbitration for disputes.

I am curious about one thing: can you not use a USB cable to upload to your computer? The RAZR does have that capability, but does Verizon disable that too?

• Posted by: hh on Apr 28, 2006, 5:34 PM

Yep, Verizon disables that too — you have to hack the phone (using what are called “seem edits”) to re-enable it, and by no means is it supported. It’s just shitty.

• Posted by: Jason on Apr 28, 2006, 10:58 PM

Glad I found this site. I was not aware of the file size limits. I have been talking to Verizon about upgrading our phones and would like one with a 1.3MP camera. I don’t care about changing ring tones etc. but do what to get photos off of the phone. Guess I will have to go with a camera with removable SD memory. Will have to buy a reader to attached to our computer but at least we will get the full resolution from the camera.

• Posted by: Kevin on May 2, 2006, 10:51 AM
…and led to the Motorola tech expressing extreme exasperation that his company was willing to put its products in the hands of customers via a middleman (Verizon) who crippled those products before passing them on.
The Motorola V3C can support OBEX (the Bluetooth profile that allows phone-to-computer object sharing) just fine; that’s clear from the fact that I can take my phone and flash it with an alternative firmware (like the Verizon GATW_X_01.0F.02P firmware, or the Alltel firmware) and then be able to use OBEX without limit. But Verizon opted to remove this functionality from the current firmwares for the phone; in fact, it’s fairly clear from the public record that the fact that OBEX is enabled in the version .02 firmware was a mistake on Verizon’s part, and was quickly corrected with the release of the .03 firmware.

I have a bit of an insider understanding about how cell phone providers and manufacturers decide which phones to carry and which features to add or take away from them. In this particular case, Verizon may be the original culprit in demanding that the Razr or any other phones that work on their network not have the capability to transfer multimedia via direct connect computer connection. However, Motorola agreed to Verizon’s demands instead of denying the wireless company access to what has turned out to be a very lucrative and popular phone. If you take a look at, you’ll see that the motorola phone tools software section specifically states: “if you are a Verizon customer, all multimedia and internet connection features in this software will be disabled due to carrier request. Please contact your service provider for further information.” This suggests that motorola is actively accomodating Verizon’s “request.”

I am not saying that Motorola is as guilty as Verizon for this issue but it is clear to me that Motorola has the power to stop verizon from crippling its products but chooses not to. This could be because it sees its relationship with the largest wireless provider in North America as more valuable than the ability of its end users to fully take advantage of the technology and innovation that they have invested so much in creating.

My point is, going through the complaint process with both companies is appropriate because Motorola can put pressure on Verizon due to the fact that its advertising and brand recognition in the wireless phone market is substantial enough that Verizon might want to stay on Motorola’s good side just as Motorola wants to stay on good terms with Verizon.

• Posted by: Anonymous industry insider on May 4, 2006, 12:49 PM

Thanks for posting this. Very informative. It has cost Verizon at least one more potential customer.

I’ve been considering switching carriers, googling around, ended up here. Mac-Phone connectivity is important to me. Verizon was the frontrunner in my search but I just can’t deal with this kind of nonsense.

• Posted by: Patrick Calahan on May 7, 2006, 8:07 PM

I love and hate Verizon at the same time. I’m a current Verizon customer with a V710. I love Verizon’s network, but I hate the fact that they cripple their phones. I’m still thinking about upgrading to a V3C, pretty much anything I get will be a step up from the V710. Hopefully, my new V3C will have OBEX enabled.

• Posted by: Steve Sizemore on May 11, 2006, 3:45 PM

I’m not sure why you’d think you’ll get OBEX, Steve — it’s pretty clear that Verizon will never ever re-enable it on the RAZR. The only VW customers who have OBEX on their RAZR phones are the ones who are willing to hack on an old firmware first, and that’s just using a loophole that’s almost certain to be closed.

• Posted by: Jason on May 11, 2006, 3:53 PM

I had recently re-enabled my service with Verizon due to the fact T-Mobile converage was real bad in my area. What caused me to cancel
my service the 1st. time was the fact that
Verizon had disabled OBEX for all their
current phones, which I was not informed at
the time of the purchase. When I had complained
about this problem to the local Verizon sales
person, she had stated it was not Verizon’s problem but Motorolas’ for disabling this function. When I was passed on to Verizon
tech support, I was told there was no way
I can upload and download my phone parameters
via OBEX or USB. I got angry and canceled
my service with Verizon. I went with T-mobile
for one day using their Razr which had allowed
for OBEX and USB data tranfers, but the coverage
was real bad that I had ended up returning to
Verizon using CDMA RAZR phones. However, I was
still determined to find Verizon Razr v3c hacks
via google for the fix. Well, there are hacks
out there that work to resolve the problem.
You have to download a few items like P2k Seem
and change one setting to enable OBEX and USB
for the phone. Once this process is completed,
you can use the Motorola Phone Tools to upload
or download your contacts, pictures, ring tones
to your computer with no problem.

• Posted by: Ben on May 16, 2006, 11:27 AM

I just got my razor and took important pics of containers shipping overseas to send to recipient before I could be paid. After much time on the phone with Verizon and Motorola, I was told to go to - go to pixplace - sign up - send the pics there from the phone- send them to my e-mail from there-the e-mail just contained a link back to look at the pics. I discovered that while looking at the pics from there was a save option in the upper left corner of the pic - I saved them to my pc and now I have them. Of course, all of this cost me extra $ - but I really needed the pics!!!!! It’s back to the camera for me!

• Posted by: B.P. Davis on May 18, 2006, 7:37 PM

Verizon shouldn’t be able to get away with this. I think bad publicity regarding their greed should encourage them to allow a software upgrade that restores the phone’s functions. I seriously want to start a movement and make a lot of noise about this, to enlighten people about the issue, cost them customers and force them to relent. Who’s with me?

• Posted by: Eric on Jun 1, 2006, 11:44 PM

After trying for a long time to get picture and sound files to/from my new Verizon Razr (and I actually bought two!), I finally wrote to the feedback page on, expressing my displeasure, and requesting that they change their policy. Two days later, the USB connection to both phones allowed me access to folders which had been locked! I am using Bitpim v0.9, and I can now transfer picture files in and out of the phone, as well as the contact list and calender. I can also see the audio files in the /motorola/shared/audio folder (which I couldn’t even open before), using the Bitpim Filesystem view, but can’t actually copy these files (they must still be trying to sell their idiotic $1.99 song downloads…). I tested Bluetooth, which doesn’t work, but at least I can use the USB connection to transfer pictures. I can also now open the motorola/system folder, so I can change the turn-on turn-off ads to something I want… Did they actually listen???

• Posted by: RL on Jun 2, 2006, 6:05 PM

Well I sent some free ringtones to my Samsung a950 using the pix/flix email address and a free web based ringtone uploader and it worked for about a month. This morning I noticed that those ringtones no longer work and have a byte size of 0.0k. Is it possible that Verizon sabataged my efforts to bypass their Get It Now BS? Did they actually delete my ringtones or is this a glitch with the phone? Are they even allowed to delete my ringtones because I thought a lot of 3rd parties offer pay per year services for subscribers of any provider… so I would think it’s within the customers legal right to utilize different means of getting ringtones and games and whatnot….

• Posted by: AnotherAngryVerizonCustomer on Jun 6, 2006, 9:28 AM

As a Verizon Wireless Authorized Agent AND a photo lab owner this issue is discussed with every customer that mentions the importance of the camera in a cell phone to us. The second post that ‘fumes’ over just buying an LG VX8100 and finding out that they can’t get images off that phone is NOT true. The LG VX8100 can use a memory card, a miniSD card. That card is a ‘sawed off’ SD card that comes with an adapter for using it anywhere a standard SD card can be used. You can transfer images that are already in the phone to the card. There are limitations on getting music into the phone, using that music as a ringtone, etc. A Music Essentials kit is the safest way to insure music loaded into the phone will work.
Yes, Verizon very actively protects their ‘Got You Now’ partners.
So, while Verizon gets high marks for their network and coverage they really limit much of what could be a better experience for customers with media files.

• Posted by: Cam Phone Guy on Jun 9, 2006, 5:02 AM

This is crap. I just got a RAZR and am very disappointed that I can’t use the phone to its full capability.

I have resisted using my old Samsung 650 for any multimedia and internet activity because I resist mindlessly being niggled a buck at a time.

I guess I’ll have to resist some more. Too bad there are a bunch of lemmings out there who are all too willing to hit “OK” without reading the terms of the service.

I like Verizon’s service and have no complaints with their access or use-ability. As a matter of fact the coverage is great! I have been through Sprint, Att Wireless and several others and never had the coverage that Verizon offers but I won’t let them dip into my pocket to supply a service that I can very easily give to myself with the proper tools. This is the same as telling me I’m too stupid to do it myself. If the device can do the job,leave it to the user to figure it out. This is protectionism of the worst kind.

Verizon will get the same “Value” from me whether I use their “premium” products or not. To bad for them that they had to give me the “RAZR” for free to find that out.

• Posted by: Giluxis on Jun 12, 2006, 10:57 PM
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