motorola razr 2019, moto razr
Motorola, announced its latest aircraft, the Motorola Razr, at an event in Los Angeles, California. While it’s not the first folding phone we’ve seen this year, it’s the first device that folds vertically like the flip phone that everyone had before.
But if the new Razr manages to combine deep nostalgia with futuristic smartphone design, it remains to be seen whether Motorola can overcome the many problems that plagued the first folding phones.
The Razr 2019, truly inherits the old-fashioned Razr design, from the tilting hinge to the thick lower lip that the top folds to meet. While it’s not the same as opening the rugged yet lightweight old Razr (this phone is denser, wider and harder to open with one hand), it’s a moving reflection of the old-school format.
The Razr 2019, is a chance to break the mold while defying industry assumptions about the future of the smartphone. We assumed that foldable mounts would allow the phones to be moved closer to the tablets by unfolding horizontally into a larger screen. Motorola’s grip has other ideas and opens to reveal an elongated touch screen, slightly longer than the iPhone 11 screen.
However, there’s something about the Razr that feels right. You really have to hold it and fold it for the Razr to stand out. Motorola has given it a lot of thought and it shows.
So no, you don’t get much more screen. What’s new is what you can do with the screen closed, because there’s a smaller screen on the outside to check texts, calls, music, emails, etc., much like the preview, you’ll get on a smartwatch. Below this quick view screen is the rear camera which, when the Razr is closed, becomes a selfie camera, while the small screen shows what it’s looking at.
The Razr 2019 can be operated with one hand when open (as much as a larger smartphone), but more importantly, when closed, it fits in the palm of your hand.
The new Razr can and will turn heads, and it’s undeniably fun to use.
But it’s also expensive, costing three times the introductory price of the Moto Z4. This price tag reflects the technical challenges of running a rocker phone in 2019 and the inclusion of unconventional parts you won’t find in conventional smartphones.
If you want to be at the cutting edge of style but not specification, the Razr is worth the detour – and at least you won’t have to pay as much as, say, the Samsung Galaxy Fold to experience this radically different approach to folding screens.
Folded, the handset fits in the palm of your hand, with a textured metal back and a glass cover at the front with a small “quick look” display. Underneath is the rear camera, closed, it becomes a front shooter. The back panel is metal, which means the phone does not support wireless charging.
The lower lip – the iconic Razr chin – houses the antennas, speakers, lower USB-C port and the forward-facing fingerprint touch sensor. The phone does not support face-unlocking. So it may be the only biometric solution.
There is no slot for expandable storage, no SIM card (the phone uses eSIM), and no 3.5 mm headset jack. There are a volume flip and a lock button on the right side, which are all honestly too thin and sharp to be terribly useful.
In addition to the feel, the fold of the Razr does a few other things, on the one hand, it makes the unit much more compact. The Flex View display measures 6.2 inches in diameter, making it a large display. But it’s half that when it’s folded, so it fits easily in a pocket.
The folded display also partly solves the current phone puzzle: getting lost in a rabbit hole of settings, when you just want to check the time or a notification. With the external ‘Quick Overview’ screen, users can view messages, access quick settings such as flashlight and Wi-Fi, view and reply to messages, access Google Assistant and more.
Further testing will be needed to determine the usefulness of the Quick Preview display, but I hope it will sort notifications and prevent the phone from opening unless absolutely necessary.
The inside screen of the Razr 2019, is an elongated 21:9 aspect ratio screen in pOLED HD format (2,142 x 876) which is as wide as Sony’s Xperia range.
This may not be a good thing if you want to use it to watch the media. For example, not all Netflix content would fill the Sony Xperia 1’s elongated screen, and while this may improve over time, it’s unlikely that you’ll watch everything you have to watch in full screen.
There’s a front screen, a bit like the old-school Razr – although instead of the dated 96 x 80 digital color LCD screen, the new Razr has a 2.7-inch 800 x 600 screen, which is much sharper than expected, and makes nice selfies.
Simply press the screen, press the volume button or activate “Smile for the shutter” and the phone takes a picture.
The Razr 2019 has a single 16-megapixel rearview camera, which works well. But since it has been supplemented with significantly improved software, we assume that the new Razr will take pictures of the same quality.
So, unfortunately, no multi-camera like the Motorola One Zoom with four lenses, but that was probably another design requirement, which had to do everything in the small frame.
There’s also a 5MP front camera perched at the top of the unfolded screen. Although it’s less accurate, there’s something interesting about filming a selfie or video with the device closed and then opening the phone to tilt it (seamlessly) onto the camera facing forward.
The Razr 2019 contains a Snapdragon 710 chipset, which does not match the performance of the Samsung Galaxy Fold’s advanced Snapdragon 855. Why not the latest and greatest chipset?
Because the biggest, hardest chip would have drained more battery power and generated more heat.
The Razr 2019 uses Android 9, and while it doesn’t have the benefits of Android 10, it doesn’t need the foldable compatibility settings designed for the latest version of the Android operating system.
Unfortunately, the design also overrides some of the specifications. To achieve the phone’s thinness, Motorola opted for the Snapdragon 710, which is less powerful than the 855. The Snapdragon 710 is slower, but this makes thermal and power management easier. However, the Razr offers solid specifications in other areas. It has 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. The battery at 2,510mAh is mediocre.
How much will it cost?
Price is the ultimate barrier to entry for foldable smartphones. Of course, people are concerned about durability and long-term wear and tear, but the main reason this new form factor won’t sell in large quantities at first is cost. The Galaxy Fold is approaching 2,000 euros, the Mate X is over that.
According to several reports, the Motorola Razr Fold will be exclusive to Verizon in the US and will start at around $1,500 (and 1,500 euros in Europe). This would make it 500 euros cheaper than a Galaxy Fold.
The thorn in Motorola’s side could be Xiaomi. It would be very surprising that the Chinese manufacturer would ask nearly two thousand euros for its foldable smartphone. Either way, the Razr will be at the bottom end of the folding market, in terms of price.