As expected, Motorola’s bringing back its iconic Razr brand. The new Motorola Razr borrows some design cues from the company’s classic flip phones — it’s a slim phone that folds in half to take up less space in your pocket. But when you unfold the new phone you see a single large 6.2 inch foldable pOLED display rather than a small screen and a number pad.

It’s a very different approach to folding phones than rivals Samsung, Huawei, and Royole have taken — instead of a phone that unfolds to become a tablet, it’s a phone the folds up to save space.

One thing it has in common with other modern foldables? A high price tag — the new Motorola Razr is expected to sell for $1500 when it hits the streets in January, 2020.

The phone goes up for pre-order in the US on December 26th — but it’ll be a Verizon exclusive. The phone is also heading to Europe, Canada, Latin America, Asia, and Australia in the coming months.

With a $1500 price tag, the new Motorola Razr is about 50-percent more expensive than non-folding flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S10+ or iPhone 11 Pro. But not only does the Razr use new display technology and a sleek new design, but it also has a second 2.7 inch external display that lets you see notifications and other info when the phone is folded.

The primary 6.2 inch screen is a 2142 x 876 pixel plastic OLED display with a 21:9 aspect ratio. There’s a notch in the top and a rather large, chunky chin at the bottom — because that sits flush with the top of the phone when the screen is folded.

Motorola’s second screen is an 2.7 inch, 800 x 600 pixel OLED display that Motorola calls the Quick View display. You can see notifications, updates, and responded to them using touch or voice. For example, you can swipe to dismiss notifications or reply to text messages with your voice.

You can also control music playback from the Quick View screen, interact with Google Assistant, make mobile payments using NFC and Google Pay, and even use the phone’s primary camera to snap selfies while the screen is folded.

Speaking of the camera, it’s a 16MP shooter with electric image stabilization, laser autofocus and dual pixel autofocus. There’s also a 5MP front-facing camera that you can use for selfies when the phone is unfolded.

There’s a single speaker on the bottom of the phone, but four microphones. And the phone is powered by a 2,510 mAh battery which charges via a 15 watt USB Type-C charger.

Now… here’s the weird thing. Despite the phone’s $1500 price tag, it features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 processor, which is an upper mid-range chip rather than the Snapdragon 800-series processor you’d expect to find from a modern flagship.

Motorola says the decision to use a 700-series chip enabled the company to extend battery life and manage heat… while still using a relatively small battery. And honestly, a Snapdragon 710 chip will likely offer pretty good all-around performance. But it does feel strange to ask people to spend that much money on a phone that doesn’t feature one of the fastest processors available.

Other features include 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, Android 9 Pie software, 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0, a fingerprint reader, and a set of Razr earbuds and a headset adapter cable included in the box. The phone uses an eSIM to connect to mobile networks.

Things you don’t get include 5G support, a microSD card reader, or a headphone jack,. The Razr also doesn’t have an IP rating for water resistance, but Motorola says it’s “splash-proof with water resistant nanocoating.”

Perhaps most importantly, early review suggest that it feels sturdier than the Samsung Galaxy Fold, and doesn’t seem to have a hinge with obvious points where dust could sneak in and get embedded under the screen — a problem which had a negative impact on the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Fold.

There is apparently a bit of a gap between the edge of the plastic OLED display and the bezel though, so it remains to be seen just how dust-resistant the phone is. And there is a crease in the display at the point where it folds — although you’ll probably notice it more at some angles than others.

We won’t know for certain how well the Razr holds up under daily use until people actually start to use it daily. But a number of tech websites have posted hands-on impressions following an event in Los Angeles yesterday evening, and so far things look pretty good… for the folks willing to pay $1500 on a modern flip phone with a mid-range processor.

One thing we do know? Apparently there’s a Retro Razr mode that adds a fake crease and turns the bottom portion of the display into a pseudo-T9 input pad for folks that want to emulate a piece of 2004 tech on their new $1500 smartphones.

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12 Comments

  1. Very impressive…but will it be durable and what about software support? Still Moto has made everything else look lame but I would not buy a first gen product…but is on my radar for the future.

    1. Yeah, the thing I’m most excited about here is the prospect that this could be a normal form factor for future smartphones. I wouldn’t mind a large-screen phone that’s still pocketable. And the Quick View display could actually be super helpful for combating the urge to constantly unlock my phone to view notifications… which is usually followed by the urge to check my RSS feeds, social media, etc… Sure, a smartwatch does the same thing, but I haven’t worn a wristwatch in 20+ years and I’d rather not use two devices when one will do the trick.

      We just need to knock about $1000 off the price. πŸ™‚

      1. I agree, this device is $1,000 too expensive. For $500 it is fine.
        And I also agree that having more options and form-factors is generally a good thing.

        Though I disagree about the engineering.
        When a device is folded, you’re halving the landscape/length distance but the portrait/width distance remains the same. And it’s this width that plays a crucial role in terms of fitting in your hand and in your pocket. A 11:9 device is no more portable than a 21:9 device (ie Razr). But a 21:9 device is more portable than a 21:18 device (ie Huawei).

        The “foldable” technology is best utilised to turn phones into tablets, rather than turn phones into clamshells.

        1. I don’t entirely agree. You are only talking about aspect ratios, there is more to consider than just this. I can make a device that is 21 mm by 18 mm (using your 21:18) that would be tiny and very easy to get in and out of your pocket. I could also make a device 11 inches by 9 inches (using your 11:9) that would never fit into your packet. There is also more than it just fitting in your pocket, it has to be comfortable to have in your pocket all day. By your logic a phone 5 inches long and 3 inches wide “is no more portable” than a phone 10 inches long and 3 inches wide as they have the same width, making them the same in terms of “fitting in your hand and in your pocket”. I think we can both agree that those phones would be MUCH different to carry around.
          All of this is to say that a phone about 3 inches wide and 6 inches long would be, at least slightly, less comfortable to carry in your packet all day than a phone 3 inches wide and 3.5 inches long (ie RAZR).
          I get where your coming from, and you do have a good point. I just think your over simplifying what it means for a phone to be comfortable to carry and use throughout a day. My Moto X4 is not that large by modern smartphone standards, but if I could fold it in half length wise it would be noticeably easier to take in and out of my pocket, especially while seated, and to stand/sit/squat with it in my pocket.
          For what it’s worth I’d take the RAZR over the Huawei. A small but noticeable increase in ease of carry is worth more to me than having extra screen space that I’ll almost never use. I’m sure others would feel the opposite, luckily we should both be able to get what we want (if we have the money that is).

        2. The aspect ratio was there to illustrate the idea. Clearly I have failed, so I will attempt to do it again proper this time, with more aspect ratios and actual dimensions:

          This is (A) square folding-out into a rectangle.
          It’s smarter to have (B) rectangle folding-out to a square.
          And you have option of Inward Folding (i), or (o) Outward Folding.

          The hypothetical differences are:
          A) Basically an Undersized Tablet (8:9, 3.9in, 66 x 74mm) or (11:9, 4.6in, 87 x 74mm)
          Unfolding into an Oversized Phone (16:9, 5.9in, 132 x 74mm) or (21:9, 7.4in, 173 x 74mm).

          B) Versus an Oversized Phone (16:9, 5.9in, 132 x 74mm) or (21:9, 7.4in, 173 x 74 mm)
          Unfolding into Undersized Tablet (16:18, 7.8in, 132 x 148mm) or (21:18, 8.9in, 173 x 148mm)

          Remember the limitations (thickness, length, and WIDTH) of pocket sizes:
          https://pudding.cool/2018/08/pockets/

          The Pro’s and Con’s of Inward Folding:
          The inward folding device protects the display. However, crease is sharper and harsher. There’s no direct access to the half-display.

          The Pro’s and Con’s of Outward Folding:
          Folding crease is wider and more gentle. There is direct access to the half-display. The display is exposed to outside dents or scratches.

          This “Motorola Razr” has the gimmick of inciting flip-phone nostalgia. It’s the worst option (Ai) out there from a practicality point. Followed by Ao (“Royole Flexpie”) and Bi (“Samsung Galaxy Fold”). The (Bo) is the most practical design, which is shown by the “Huawei Mate X Fold”. However, due to the problems with Huawei, I would recommend waiting for a future foldables. Hypothetically, a “Samsung Note Fold” which would be a one-handed and pocketable 160 x 77 x 11mm (folded) phone that unfolds (160 x 144 x 5.5mm) to a respectable sized tablet. Though it should house the S Pen in the silo of the Camera-Lane. Finished off with IP68 protection, top-end specs, and 5G radio, all for a cool USD $1,500.

          PS: I think foldable designs are naturally going to be very fragile. They require a more advanced technology to make the body, but more importantly the screen durable. So without that technology, it’s pointless to mass-produce foldable phones. And with that technology, it nullifies the drawback of an outward-folding design. So from a practicality standpoint, it’s clear to me which one of these designs is actually the better engineered one.

  2. I wonder why the 710 rather than the 730?

    I’d probably be more interested in this phone if there were two displays inside rather than a folding display. That would make it more durable and less expensive. The trick would be allowing your finger track from one display to the other without annoyance.

  3. I am not bothered by the 700 series processor. I AM bothered that they don’t bother to add a microSD card slot. It will be interesting to see what real world battery life is like too. As for the price, I don’t agree that it should be closer to $500. This is a new form factor for a smartphone and should demand a premium price for a year or so. I am thinking $700 would be fair for year one. πŸ˜‰

  4. Great engineering feat.

    And Brad: thanks for the great summary. Other sites’ write-ups are all long-winded and meandering.

  5. Wow that packaging though.

    And $1500 for one of the first foldable screen phones on the market AND a new form factor a lot of people seem to be into? Doesn’t at all seem unreasonable (relatively), even with the “mid range” chip, when Apple and Samsung are trying to charge a grand for the same old same old with an ever so slightly better camera then last years $1000 model.

  6. I like this form factor. Although, I’ll probably get something like this when it becomes mainstream enough to be on low to mid range phones. I don’t pay more than $400 including tax for phones.

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