First impressions of Motorola’s new foldable Razr smartphone

Motorola’s original Razr was the first mobile phone that I ever actually desired. I’d owned plenty of handsets before that and even liked some of them – I have a fond place in my heart for the infinitely customizable Nokia 5110, for example – but nothing felt as enticing as what Motorola put out in 2004.

The 2019 Razr keeps the same general form factor but replaces the T9 keypad and small LCD with a 6.2-inch foldable plastic OLED panel and Android 9 Pie. It’ll cost $1,499 when it arrives in January 2020.

The core of the phone is, of course, the display. It’s a 6.2-inch 21:9 plastic OLED panel that folds in half along the horizontal axis. Unfolded, it’s not dramatically bigger than any other modern phone, and the extra height is something that the Android interface and apps adapt to far better than a tablet-size screen. The screen does have a notch on top for a speaker and camera and a curved edge on the bottom, which takes a bit of getting used to, but after a minute or two, you barely notice it.

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

There are some concerns about durability for the folding display, especially after Samsung’s Galaxy Fold issues. But Motorola says that it has “full confidence in the durability of the Flex View display,” claiming that its research shows that “it will last for the average lifespan of a smartphone.” There’s a proprietary coating to make the panel “scuff resistant,” and it also has an internal nano-coating for splash resistance.

Motorola’s promises the device unfolds to a fully flat panel, with no visible or tactile creases, and then it folds up completely flush. (It’s actually exactly the same thickness folded as the original RAZR.) Holding the folded Razr up to the sun, you can see a crack of daylight shining through, but otherwise, the gap is barely discernible. It’s very impressive and the current high water mark in the still-fledgling foldable market.


Snapdragon 710 processor
128GB internal storage
6.2-inch foldable pOLED display (2142 x 876)
2.7-inch Quick View display (800 x 600)
16MP front-facing camera, f/1.7 with Night Vision mode
5MP internal camera
2510mAh battery
Android 9 Pie
Fingerprint reader

Motorola’s new Razr features a 6.2-inch folding display that critically is made of plastic. Motorola insists that it is plenty durable… but, is it really? What happens if you tap it with your fingernail? What happens if a small piece of debris gets lodged between the screen when you close it?

Another major concern is with the hinge or more specifically, how the screen bows out when you fold the device in half. Again, what happens when a piece of debris inevitably gets wedged in this space when you close the clamshell? And how about how the bottom of the phone tucks into the chin ever-so-slightly when you close it?

These are just a couple of the many issues that Motorola has put on the table with the new Razr. The $1,500 price tag is another, but I’m even more distressed over the fact that it uses a mid-range processor and has a small battery. The single rear-facing 16-megapixel camera isn’t up to par with today’s flagships, either.

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