When it came out in February, the Motorola Razr was a hyped-up vision of the future with roots planted firmly in the past. It was the first modern smartphone that could fold in half with a foldable display — but it packed nostalgic appeal too, because it looked like a clamshell from the early 2000s. In short, the phone was very, very cool. But there was a problem when the $1,500 phone launched, and it was called the Galaxy Z Flip.
Because the Z Flip had premium 2020 specs (compared to the modest 2019 specs on the Razr), was available on more carriers and had a lower price, Motorola's foldable flip phone suddenly didn't look so compelling anymore.
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Then things got worse when the pandemic started, which forced many people to tighten their spending habits.
Despite all this, Motorola is giving it another go six months later. It might have helped that in August, Samsung added 5G to the Z Flip and raised the price of its phone from $1,380 to $1,450. Motorola also made numerous refinements to the Razr, added 5G and managed to drop the price to $1,400, which is $50 less than the Z Flip 5G.
It's as if the February Razr was a haunted house and this new version is Motorola's attempt to exorcise the ghosts. Everything about the new Razr is better: the build, the specs, the cameras, the software and the cost. But it doesn't have everything. The new Razr lacks dual speakers, a headphone jack, headphones, wireless charging and a high refresh rate display.
It's also still expensive, given that it's a foldable phone. The compromises Motorola made at first glance seem to work, and should manage to make the Razr simultaneously better and less expensive. From what I've seen, Motorola struck a good balance, and the Razr still has its cool factor. After all, even the pandemic can't quite dull the luster of a foldable phone's shine and exoticism.
Design: Aluminum and glass look and feel premium
The phone comes in three colors: polished granite, blush gold and liquid mercury, which also happens to be the name of my Queen cover band. Before even picking it up, I noticed the phone's new refinements. This Razr's chin is more tapered. The back is no longer plastic but glass. There's a new aluminum frame. All this adds up to a solid, premium look and feel.
At the core of its foldability is the same Zero Gap hinge mechanism from the February Razr, but some important adjustments were made. For one thing — my favorite improvement, actually — the hinged screen doesn't squeak like a leather baseball glove when I open and close it. At least it doesn't on the review unit I've been using.
The springs are tighter, making the screen more taut and (along with that new tapered chin) easier to flip open with one hand. The ends of the hinges are more pronounced, almost like they're wearing shoulder pads. The volume rocker and power button are no longer on the same side of the phone, which made them easier to distinguish for me.
New Motorola Razr looks even slicker when you fold it in half
The Razr still has a 6.2-inch internal OLED display made of five different layers and sealed with a hard coating on top. Motorola claims the screen is rated to be opened and closed 200,000 times. To give you an idea how much that is, you could open and close the Razr 100 times a day for five years and still not hit that number.
In certain lighting, when the screen is off, I could make out the edges of the steel plates that are at the top and bottom behind the screen. Your pickiness on this may vary. That said, the screen looks good and it still doesn't have that permanent crease like the one the Galaxy Z Flip has (which to be honest doesn't bother me either).
The phone is not IP-rated for water or dust protection, but it does have a water repellent nano-coating on all the internal components and the exterior of the phone. So if a few raindrops fall on the phone it should be OK. Just don't drop it in the toilet.
Camera and processor: 48-megapixel camera with OIS
Motorola's main camera (on the outside of the phone) now has 48 megapixels — and uses pixel binning to reduce image noise and brighten shots in medium- to low-light situations. It packs optical image stabilization, which allows for longer shutter speeds in low light. The camera also has a time-of-flight sensor to help with focusing and create portrait mode photos.
At the top of the interior display, within the Motorola batwing-shaped screen notch, is an upgraded selfie camera with a 20-megapixel sensor.
Powering the cameras and the phone is a Snapdragon 765G processor (the G stands for gaming), 8GB of RAM and a 2,800-mAh battery with 15-watt Turbo Charging. The battery has a bigger capacity than the February Razr, but it's still not huge compared to other phones. Motorola said, however, that use of the Razr's exterior display helps reduce strain on the battery. And we'll have to see what 5G connectivity does to battery life.
Android 10 software and Quick View display
The new Razr has 256GB of storage and runs Android 10, which brings a slew of new and useful features, especially to the exterior Quick View display. When the phone is locked and closed, just wave your hand over it or tap on the power button to use the outside screen in Peek Display mode. This lets you see notifications just by pressing and holding on an icon.
When the phone is closed and unlocked, the Quick View display turns into a mini Android phone. You can swipe down to get to the control panel, swipe up to see the notification shade, swipe to the left to go to the camera and swipe right to see a grid of apps you've selected. You can use apps like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Gmail on the petite display complete with a mini keyboard. Motorola also threw in an addictive game for the display called Astro Odyssey. Honestly, it has the best music.
When you're using an app on the Quick View display and then open the phone, it'll pick right up where you were. So if I'm watching a YouTube video about telescopes, I can continue watching it on the larger interior display just by opening the phone.
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Other odds and ends
Perhaps the Razr's biggest improvement is that it isn't exclusive to Verizon anymore. It goes on sale this fall and you can get an unlocked version and use it on AT&T and T-Mobile with their sub-6 5G networks.
The February Razr also only had an eSIM, but the new Razr has dual-SIM support: a physical nano-SIM card and an eSIM. There's NFC for Google Pay too.
Motorola is committed to two OS updates and two years of security updates. Compare that to Samsung, which recently announced it will support new Galaxy phones with three OS updates.