When the iPhone was just a twinkle in the eyes of Apple founder Steve Jobs, Motorola briefly ruled the mobile phone universe from 2004.
The iconic sleek, chunky RAZR phones were glued to the hands of celebs from Paris Hilton to Jennifer Garner to Avril Lavigne in their early 2000s heyday.
Apple briefly teamed up with Motorola to produce an “iTunes phone” called ROKR, before the launch of the iPhone, which basically sank phones like the RAZR in the years following its launch.
Since then there have been a series of failed attempts to revive the brand (with many models including the original phone’s iconic slimline design and ‘chin’ on the underside), but this summer the RAZR returns as a foldable phone, the defiantly chin-free RAZR Plus.
It folds out to a monstrous 6.9-inch screen
The second screen can be used to reply to emails or messages (Photo: Rob Waugh)
The phone folds tightly and is the thinnest clamshell available (Photo: Rob Waugh)
The 3.6in, 144Hz ‘second’ screen is breathtakingly beautiful (though it’s a bit of a fingerprint magnet, so you’ll want to keep a cloth handy).
It also offers a ‘wow’ factor in spades – and it’s much larger than the RAZR’s original 2.2-inch screen (or even the original iPhone’s screen).
The best part is that you can run full apps on it, receive notifications, and tap to check information like the weather (as well as see the time, of course).
For example, you can quickly answer an e-mail or text message without opening the huge 6.9-inch screen of the phone.
Rivals like Samsung’s Z Flip 4 require you to unfold the phone if you really want to do anything, and the external screen is considerably smaller (although Samsung is rumored to release a larger-screen model this year).
You can also use the external screen in ‘mirror mode’ to check your hair or (for some reason) to apply ice effects and broken glass to your face.
If you take pictures of friends, they can see themselves on the second screen (it sounds pointless, but in an age where most phones are pretty much the same boring black plate, it’s actually exciting).
Unlike many of today’s foldables, it really feels like there’s a point to it: “We’re doing it because we can.”
During testing, I found myself using the external screen more and more.
Motorola updated the hinge on last year’s model, and it’s seriously impressive – and, true to the RAZR brand, it’s seriously thin.
When folded, it’s 15mm thick and unfolded 7mm (to put that into context, the original RAZR was 10mm thick, an unheard-of skinny level at the time).
RAZR Plus compared to Sony’s new Xperia 1 V and the iPhone Plus (Photo: Rob Waugh)
Thanks to a number of new features, you can use the second screen as a viewfinder or mirror
Helpful, it never feels like it could break (photo; Rob Waugh)
The RAZR 40 Plus is the thinnest clamshell out there when fully folded (although it’s worth noting that it’s not completely waterproof, just splash-proof).
In hand, it harkens back to the days when Paris Hilton was the biggest source of gossip in the world and you could put your phone in your pocket without a fight.
When unfolded the screen is HUGE (it’s 6.9in, even bigger than the massive Galaxy S23 Ultra) and feels very tall (it’s like Sony’s fantastic Xperia handsets in that, and while thin there’s plenty of room ).
Under the hood is the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1, backed by 8GB of RAM, and it’s perfectly fast.
The version of Android isn’t too cluttered with unnecessary bloatware, there are a few Motorola apps, but it’s mostly clean.
The camera itself is good rather than great, falling behind category heavyweights like Google’s AI-assisted Pixel 7 Pro – but frankly the difference is pretty marginal.
In terms of battery, the 3800 mAh battery here is pretty decent, lasting a full day in our test (and that involved showing the camera functions to several people).
If you’re scrolling through this review wondering where there’s going to be a “but,” there’s one catch here: the price.
At $1,099, this is definitely moving into serious premium territory here (Google’s Pixel 7 Pro is $899).
But if you’re the kind of techie who’s been tempted by a foldable phone before, but never quite figured out why, then this is the handset that offers an answer: it’s foldable, but not just for folding.