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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?