Motorola revives the Razr as a folding Android smartphone

The Razr is back, but now it is an Android smartphone that can be folded in two. Motorola has officially announced its many rumors (and many leaked) modern spin on the iconic flip phone. The 2019 Razr retains the same overall form factor, but replaces the T9 keyboard and small LCD screen with a 6.2-inch foldable plastic OLED panel and Android 9 Pie. It costs $ 1,499 when it arrives in January 2020.

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The new Razr is a fundamentally different view of the foldable phones we've seen so far: instead of turning a modern phone into a smaller tablet, it turns a conventional smartphone into something much smaller and more pocketable.


This is not the first time that Motorola is trying to bring back the iconic RAZR branding. There was a whole line of fairly generic Droid RAZR phones a few years ago when Motorola took the name hoping to remind customers of its former glory. (You may remember that Motorola has styled the old RAZR logo in all capital letters. For this new model, Motorola does the opposite with the lowercase & # 39; razr & # 39; 39; Use Razr & # 39; to refer to the new model.)

But the new Razr is much more than just a well-known brand name. This is a true heir to the original flip phone, with a design strongly inspired by its predecessor from 2004, up to the large curved chin at the bottom (which now also houses a more modern fingerprint sensor and a USB-C charging port) .

But it's not just a modern return in the hope of making money with nostalgia, as we've seen recently from the resurrections of HMD with classic Nokia hardware. It is Motorola 's attempt to build a modern flagship telephone that it has not tried to make in years.

The core of the telephone is of course the display. It is a 6.2-inch 21: 9 plastic OLED panel that is folded in half along the horizontal axis. Expanded it is not dramatically larger than any other modern phone, and the extra height is something that the Android interface and apps adapt much better than a tablet size. The screen has a notch at the top for a speaker and camera and a curved edge at the bottom, which takes some getting used to, but after a minute or two you hardly notice it.

There is also a second, 2.7-inch glass-covered OLED display on the outside that Motorola calls the Quick View display. It can display notifications, music controls and even a selfie camera mode to take advantage of the better main camera. Motorola also works with Google to seamlessly switch apps from the front display to the main screen.

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There are of course concerns about the durability of the foldable screen here, especially after Samsung Galaxy Fold issues, but Motorola says it "has full confidence in the durability of the Flex View screen" and claims that its research shows that "it will It takes a patented coating to make the panel "abrasion resistant", and it also has an internal nanocoating for splash resistance. (However, don't take it swimming.) Motorola says the entire display is made with a single cut, with the edges completely enclosed by the stainless steel frame to prevent dirt from getting in. The company also notes its years of experience with plastic OLED panels (dating back to 2011), with the comment: "We don't go outside and say, "Consumers should be careful how they use the phone."



Part of that trust has to do with the hinge that Motorola has made with Lenovo. It uses a complicated mechanism of multiple hinges and sliding plates to fold the phone in and out. More importantly, it really seems to live up to the promises of Motorola: the device unfolds into a completely flat panel, with no visible or tangible folds, and it folds up completely. (It is actually exactly the same thickness as the original RAZR.) If you hold the folded Razr against the sun, you see a crack of daylight shine through, but otherwise the gap is barely perceptible. It is very impressive and the current high-water mark in the still young folding market.


How does it feel to use the new Razr? The answer is great. It has been years since there has been a truly viable high-end flip phone, and it's easy to forget how nice that flip phone experience is. Picking up the new Razr brings you back immediately.

However, it is a bit difficult to get used to folding it with one hand. I have larger hands than most and it is still a bit of a juggling to make it fold just right. Opening is easier (although it takes a lot of maneuvering to get a thumb between the two screens, which I think is proof of how flat it folds). Once you have partially broken it open, you can just fold it open completely with your thumb, just like you always did with your original RAZR.


However, the hinge is also a bit stiff, so you can't just swing it open with one hand – closing with one hand also requires a little more finger deformation to start the closing action. Closing it with your other hand is just more practical.

Even with these comments, the entire opening and closing mechanism is that extremely satisfactory to do, with sharp snaps in both directions. Closing the phone to hang up during a call is a special pleasure – there really is no better way to end a call than the classic flip phone and it's great to see Motorola keep it alive here. The hardware also feels great, with solid stainless steel and glass on the outside and a beautifully textured back that is nice and grippy – essential to keep it from falling while folding open and closed. (However, it is a fingerprint magnet).

The design is also not just a novelty. The foldable design solves many problems with most smartphones today. Do you think that telephones are too large? The Razr can be folded and fits in almost any pocket. Are you worried about scratching your screen? The Razr & # 39; s are protected at all times. Reports too distracting? Grab them on the more limited display at the front instead of falling into a rabbit hole on the internet.


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On the other hand, that Razr design is so essential to the experience here that Motorola makes many concessions in other areas. The processor is a Snapdragon 710 – not a bad chipset, but it is also not a flagship 855. The company says the decision for the weaker processor here is to optimize the battery life and heat: to get a battery from a day and the thin design, it had to go with a slower chip. The faint 16-megapixel camera is a similar decision. Motorola simply couldn't fit into a larger or better camera module while maintaining the design it had.

Those compromises are hard to swallow if you take into account the price of the Razr. At $ 1500 it is also the cheapest foldable phones on the market and dramatically more expensive than any flagship from Apple, Samsung or Google. That's a lot of money to spend on a single phone, much less one that is sent with specifications for the medium distance. Preorders start on December 26, but the phone itself will not be sent until January (although no exact dates have been announced for either). Finally, the phone is only sold for now at Verizon in the US – Motorola had nothing to say about an unlocked version.


After a few hours with the Motorola Razr 2019, I am still not sure if it will be one good telephone, at least not in the conventional sense. It is too expensive, with specifications that are too weak for the price, especially when compared to the wealth of more powerful phones with better cameras and available hardware. And the foldable display technology is too untested to be truly reliable, even with Motorola guarantees.

But I am still very enthusiastic about the Razr and the fact that it exists. It is a telephone that looks and feels like the future of telephones. We will have to spend much more time with the device to see if Motorola manages to keep the landing on its first attempt, but if nothing else it is a daring idea that pushes the concept of what a smartphone looks like. And that is exciting to see.

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