Motorola is taking a second step in a foldable reboot of the Moto Razr with what is known as the “new Razr”. It’s a little faster, a little cheaper, looks a little different, and is no longer exclusive to Verizon. We also hope it’s a bit more robust and workable than the original Razr reboot, which had terrible build quality and was constantly selling out, likely due to production issues. The original Moto Razr reboot went on sale on February 6, 2020, so this sequel is pretty early on.
First: specifications. The Razr 2 (we call it that, we take care of it) is $ 1,400 and has a Snapdragon 765G, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, and a tiny 2800mAh battery. That’s better than the Razr 1, which was $ 1,500 and had a Snapdragon 710 SoC, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and an even smaller 2510mAh battery. As usual, you get two screens that are pretty similar to the Razr 1: the outer screen is a 792 × 600 2.7 “OLED, while the inner screen is a foldable 2142 × 876 6.2” OLED. There’s NFC in this version too, so you can finally use Tap-to-Pay.
One big disappointment is that the Razr 2 screen is still 100 percent plastic. There is no ultra-thin glass like the Galaxy Z Flip. Samsung’s foldable displays consist of a sandwich of plastic and glass, with the outer layer made of plastic. While this is nowhere near as beautiful as a regular glass display, the layer of glass underneath helps stiffen the display surface and stop the squishy feel of other flexible displays. The old Razr display also had a ton of issues which Motorola has hopefully resolved by now. The Razr 1 touchscreen on our store-bought device stopped working after a single day, and numerous other display and test devices were failing.
The design of the Razr 2 is a little different. First of all, it’s thicker. Each thin half of the phone is 7.9mm when open. and when closed, the thickest part (probably the lower chin) is 16 mm. The OG Razr restart was 6.9mm open and 14mm closed. The design of each outdoor camera is different – and it may look a bit strange. It’s no longer on the front of the phone. Instead, Motorola placed the flash LED next to the camera and centered the two components on the front of the phone. The front fingerprint sensor is gone too – when OG Razr restarted it was on the chin, but now the fingerprint reader is on the back of the phone in the Motorola logo. Without a fingerprint sensor, the front chin looks a bit smaller than on the Razr 1. The entire phone also looks a bit rounder compared to the Razr 1.
The phone comes with Android 10, which means this will be the first Razr to have access to the gesture navigation that is used in all of the promo shots. I wonder how compatible the gesture navigation will be with the Razr’s hardware design. Gestures like swiping off the bottom of the screen for home and current apps might be a bit strange given the chunky chin protruding from the bottom of the Razr. Swiping back from the side of the screen to go back sounds a bit scary as the Razr’s display is unsecured thanks to the sliding flip-hinge mechanism on the sides.
The new Razr reboot doesn’t seem much different from the old Razr reboot, but that’s very trademarked for the Razr line as well. In the heyday of the Razr, there were a million slightly different variants that no one could keep track of. For many people, the big deal here will actually be being able to buy the Razr as it isn’t just a Verizon exclusive. According to Motorola, the new Razr will be “universally unlocked” in the fall (presumably that means it supports the three major carriers) and will be available through the stores of AT&T and T-Mobile. Note that there is no mention of Verizon in Motorola’s blog post. It sounds like Verizon has had enough after the disastrous start of the first Moto Razr.
Internationally, Motorola says the Razr “will be available in China and select European markets, with additional markets to follow in the fall.” It is also advised of possible availability in “select markets in Latin America, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific”.
Motorola rightly calls the Razr a “fashion icon,” and that’s probably the best way to think of these new age flip phones like the Razr and Galaxy Z Flip. Just like people pay hundreds of dollars for “fashionable” ripped jeans, you pay a premium on the Razr because it cuts in half and you think it looks cool. The specs of the new $ 1,400 Razr are roughly the same as an LG Velvet for $ 700. After our experience with the first Razr and the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip, we can say that cutting a phone in half doesn’t add much to the experience. The phone sits differently in the pocket (when you have a phone in your pocket), but once you open it up, it’s basically a regular mid-range smartphone. If you’re a smartphone power user who only cares about usability, these new flip phones will actually slow you down. Instead of pulling a plate-style smartphone out of your pocket and having it ready to go, you have to flip your phone open every time you use it. A handful of features are available through the tiny front screen, but it’s not a real phone interface.
On the foldable tablet / smartphone hybrids like the Galaxy Z Flip 2, you have a more useful front screen that shouldn’t slow you down much on the go. With the tablet-like interior on a larger foldable one, there are some arguments to be made for improving the usability. However, flip phones are pure fashion items. You should only buy a Razr if you think it looks cool and has money to burn. We still have to see if there really is a market for this type of phone.