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Hands-on with the Motorola Razr: this is how a folding smartphone should be

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So Motorola can still surprise us and perhaps set a trend again, because the Razr not only brings back a famous brand name but also shows Samsung and Huawei how to use foldable display technology for the smartphone user more sensibly. Instead of making an already large smartphone even bigger, the Motorola Razr's folding mechanism makes the smartphone smaller and more compact.

Motorola Razr (2019)
Motorola Razr (2019): All deals

Patience and deep pockets are needed

Before we get to the visual and technical features of the Motorola Razr, we must tackle the most important information about the market launch including price and availability. Among the first countries where the Motorola Razr will be available are the United States (exclusive to Verizon) and Italy. In these two countries, the pre-order phase is expected to begin in December.

In the first half of 2020, other European countries such as Great Britain, the Scandinavian countries, Germany, Austria, and certainly other countries will gradually follow suit. The reasons for this step-by-step launch for the Motorola Razr are certainly also to be found in production, because Motorola has only recently started to produce the smartphone with a foldable display and will certainly produce in small quantities first, which over time should then gradually increase.

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The Motorola Razr is only available in black at the start / © NextPit

The Motorola Razr is priced at $1,499 for the North American market. In Europe, Motorola quotes a list price of €1,599. A proud sum, if one compares it only soberly on the basis of the specs. But let's be honest, if you are seriously interested in the Motorola Razr, you will only be a little bit surprised by the price and as soon as the emotions have taken the logical thinking by surprise, the price will move into the background.

Modern retro design

Motorola worked on the new Razr for a full four years. Countless design prototypes, form factors, and equipment variants were tested and also presented to users. Motorola has found that the majority of users do not prefer a folding smartphone that is already large when folded up and becomes even larger when folded out. Instead, the majority of Motorola test subjects wanted a large smartphone that was compact when not in use. It should also fit easily into your shirt or trouser pocket. For these reasons, the Motorola designers followed the familiar folding principle of the original Razr cell phone.

Motorola wanted to keep the design as close to the original as possible and create a very thin smartphone in its unfolded state. Optically it should also keep the style element of the original.  Everything in the new Motorola Razr had to submit to the design and presented the engineers with some challenges. Fortunately, Motorola was able to rely on Lenovo engineers for the folding mechanism. The Chinese parent company has already gathered a lot of experience with space-saving joints for notebooks and 2-in-1 devices, and Lenovo has also shown an X1 notebook with its own flexible and foldable display.

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The second display shows notifications / © NextPit

The Motorola Razr has a small, 2.7-inch OLED display on the outside so that you don't have to open the Razr at the slightest notification - and thus wear out the hinge. This not only displays notifications and the status bar, but the display also acts as a selfie viewfinder or animator when you want to take pictures of friends. Animator  Yes! As soon as you want to take photos with the Motorola Razr in the opened state, smiley images appear on the small outside display next to the camera. Small children will certainly look in the direction of the camera and adults should smile more naturally, at least that's the idea.

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If you take photos, the second display can also bring a smile to your face / © NextPit

The retro design of the Motorola Razr has lots of the original stuff, from the bezel on the upper frame, to the wide and bulging lower part of the Razr case in which now sits a modern USB-C port and a fingerprint sensor. The latter is especially useful for contactless payments, as you don't have to open the Razr to authorize a payment.

How to fold a display correctly

Retro is nice, but maybe not everyone's thing. As soon as you open the Motorola Razr, your mouth opens in amazement. Currently, there is probably no foldable smartphone whose two halves lie on top of each other in the folded state.  Therefore, if you don't know the Razr 2019, you'd expect a 6.1-inch P-OLED display that folds apart. You'll experience a wow factor if you take a closer look at the mechanism.

As shown in the video, Motorola prevents the Razr's display from creasing by using two metal sheets under the display on each side, i.e. a total of four metal sheets, which push upwards when the display is unfolded. When the Razr is folded up again, these disappear under the display so that they can bulge into the case.

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Flicking the display open with your thumb is not so easy with the new Razr / © NextPit

But also not visible in the video is the fact that the display is only fixed at the upper edge and is otherwise movable. It is very nice to see the Motorola Razr closing slowly and keeping an eye on the lower edge. You can see that the display is pushed under the bottom section. A similar technique is also used in bridge construction, for example, except that the bridge does not fold but expands due to temperature fluctuations.

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On the prototypes at the event, the displays weren't quite flat yet, but the fold was barely visible / © NextPit

All in all, the mechanics of the display are ingenious but still have to prove themselves in continuous use. What is particularly interesting is how susceptible it will be to particles that can penetrate, as the joint is not sealed tight. Otherwise, Motorola uses a P-OLED with a maximum resolution of 2,142 x 876 pixels for the 21:9 display. The outer qOLED panel has a resolution of 600 x 800 pixels. The switching of the camera app from the small display to the large one is not yet seamless, but the small second it takes is fine.

Motorola Razr (2019) software

On the software side, Motorola delivers the Razr with Android 9 Pie. The Moto Actions, which Motorola fans are used to and often love, are of course also on board with the Razr.  It is still unclear when Motorola will deliver Android 10 for the Razr, but here too the question arises: is that so important to a Motorola Razr user? I don't think so.

Fast enough performance

Motorola did not design the Razr superficially as a flagship killer. In addition, the engineers had to strike a balance between good performance, low power consumption, and space-saving.  The result was that the Razr was given a Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal and non-expandable storage. The Snapdragon 710 is often used in Asia and can be found in the recently introduced Xiaomi Mi Note 10.

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The Motorola Razr is so flat and compact that there was no room for a SIM slot. But luckily there is e-SIM / © NextPit

Since the space in the Razr is very limited, a SIM card slot is missing, so the Motorola Razr is probably the first smartphone that works exclusively with an eSIM. As long as the own network operator already offers these, this is not a shortcoming for the Razr, but bad luck for those whose network operator does not offer eSIMs yet. In this case, you would have to change the network operator or keep your fingers off the Motorola Razr for the time being.

Motorola Razr (2019) camera

A Motorola Razr V3 from 2004 also had a camera on the outside, but at that time pictures were only taken with a maximum of 640 x 480 pixels. The Motorola Razr can take 16-megapixel photos with the main camera, which can also be used as a selfie camera.  For nice portrait pictures, the Razr has a TOF sensor, which is hardly visible next to the main camera under the Gorilla Glass 3 cover. Another 5-megapixel camera is located in the notch in the upper frame of the display, so that you can also make video calls in the opened state.

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The 16-megapixel main camera can be used as a selfie camera... / © NextPit

I didn't spend much time with the camera, I didn't have time for that during the European event around the Razr and the folding display distracted me too much. But I promise that when we finally get our hands on the Razr in 2020, we will of course test it thoroughly.

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Or also as a"normal" main camera / © NextPit

Not much juice, but lots of fun

Even though the new Razr has adopted the design of the original from 2004, there is no replaceable battery. But there are two batteries with a total capacity of 2,510 mAh.  Why two batteries? The battery also had to bow to the design of the Razr 2019, because for a single battery with this capacity, the lower half would have been too thick and the weight would not have been evenly distributed - especially if you kept the smartphone in landscape.

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The 18 Watt quick charger can be connected via the USB-C port / © NextPit

Motorola assumes that with this battery you'll get well over a whole day, because you will change your usage behaviour thanks to the small second display. Instead of always using the large display for notifications, you use the small display and reduce power consumption. During the entire hands-on period with the Motorola Razr, in which the smartphone passed through numerous journalists' hands and photos and videos were permanently taken from the folding display, the battery level dropped from 100 to 74 percent with a display time of just under one hour and 20 minutes. A display on time of 4 to 5 hours seems realistic. With a final test sample, we will check the battery life in real everyday life for you.

Conclusion: the phone you will buy with your heart

With the Motorola Razr, the US smartphone manufacturer demonstrates impressively that they are still able to arouse emotions with a mobile phone. If you are already fond of the Razr, you will make your decision neither on the basis of technical specifications nor on the basis of price and performance. Much more Motorola touches with the Razr the pleasure center in the brain. Even though I never owned the original Razr V3 and even though my desire for fast performance with a smartphone and a good camera is screaming, the new Motorola Razr is one of the few, no THE only smartphone in 2019 that has managed to give me goosebumps. Does common sense still play a role in such a case?

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Go to comment (6)
Shu On Kwok

Shu On Kwok
Senior Editor

Since 1999, Shu has written about the colorful world of IT and telecommunications. His career started as a presenter at the five-hour TV show NBC GIGA, which led him through several career stages until he finally joined the AndroidPIT team in May of 2015. His passion for mobile devices and gadgets knows no boundaries. Whether Android, iOS or Windows, Shu feels at home with any OS.

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  • Simone Costi 21
    Simone Costi Nov 28, 2019 Link to comment

    The second generation of this model needs to have a physical SIM card.

  • marco sarli 39
    marco sarli
    • Admin
    Nov 21, 2019 Link to comment

    Good looks, low specs, high price. Nice but...

  • 46
    Deactivated Account Nov 21, 2019 Link to comment

    Low end specs easily damaged 1,500$ another gimmick phone. Dual screen foldable are the only way to go

  • 49
    storm Nov 21, 2019 Link to comment

    In the style conspiracy against pockets for female clothing in western attire, this phone is a win. But for how I (male) carry a phone, thin and flat is better than short and chunky.

    So no folding phone is offering me a win for how the phone is most of the time. Stuffed in a pocket.

    Similarly, if you want to argue that a folding phone is a tablet replacement, thin and long tends to fit in a bag better than stubby and thick. Spreads out the weight for more comfortable and even carry. Even offers some structure in an otherwise floppy bag without a framesheet.

    This is not to say that there is no future or use for a folding screen. But we haven't seen it yet imho.

    I think a more ideal phone design would be to flex. Form fit inside a pocket for comfort and movement but bias out flat when in use.

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  • Rusty H. 33
    Rusty H. Nov 21, 2019 Link to comment

    1st gen ANY folding device...NOPE.
    A. Too expensive
    B. Too risky
    Hey, it has to start somewhere, but, I'll hold off to see if this "trend" continues.
    Right now, the smart phone market to me, it just looking to make something
    "unique" in the hope it brings sales back up. But, for THAT price, I'll continue
    to use my "boring" smartphone that looks like a candy bar.

    Deactivated Account

  • David Martrano 29
    David Martrano Nov 21, 2019 Link to comment

    Two things I've noticed the price, 1500.00 bucks & a Verizon exclusive. That right there will hinder it's sales. Processer the 710 & the battery 2510mamp hours? Will that matter, yes absolutely!

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