Flip phones are back, baby.
Motorola is reviving its most famous phone, the Razr, as a foldable smartphone with a flexible display. Not only is it surprisingly similar to the original, it might be the first foldable phone that’s more than just a gimmick.
You taking notes, Samsung?
The Razr won’t go on sale until early next year, but we managed to get some hands-on time earlier this week with Paris Hilton’s future favorite phone. Here’s what we know so far.
It’s not cheap
While it’s not as bad as Samsung’s $2,000 Galaxy Fold, the new Razr does come with a hefty price tag. At $1,499, it might be a little easier to stomach compared to its foldable rival, but not by much. And if something were to happen to your new, smart Razr, like, say a crack in its foldable display, there’s an additional wallet-gouging cost to replace it. But we’ll get to that later.
It’s not available on every carrier
In a move that’s sure to disappoint many would-be fans, Motorola has opted to make the Razr a Verizon exclusive in the U.S. So non-Verizon customers will unfortunately be out of luck. If you do happen to be a member of Big Red’s network, pre-orders will begin on Dec. 26, with the Razr hitting store shelves on Jan. 9.
It’s not about the specs
As cool as the new Razr looks, Motorola had to make some compromises to accommodate the clamshell design. So if you’re expecting a fully specced-out phone along the lines of other flagships, the Razr probably isn’t for you. It’s powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 processor, rather than the Snapdragon 855 that’s been behind most of this year’s smartphone flagships.
Motorola executives were adamant that users won’t notice any tradeoffs in terms of performance. But the 710 is a less powerful chip. It’s likely not something the average user will notice, but if you frequently run a lot of processor-intensive applications, you might want to think twice before you buy.
We also don’t yet know what the battery life will be like. Motorola has promised the Razr will run “all-day,” but stopped short of providing an actual estimate of how long it’ll last between charges, which is … worrying. That’s likely because the Razr’s 2,510 mAh battery is notably smaller than other flagships. (By comparison, the Pixel 4 has a 2,800 mAh battery and we’ve found it to be mediocre at best.)
The Razr does, however, support Motorola’s rapid “TurboPower” charging, so hopefully juicing it up will be a little less painless even if you have to do it more often.
It won’t be available in pink
I know, I know. As iconic as the original Razr was, the pink variations, widely promoted by Paris Hilton, had a certain kind of elite status all their own. (Personally, I was a big fan of the lighter, rose-gold-before-it-was-called-rose-gold pink.)
This time around, though, Motorola says it doesn’t plan to offer any additional colors besides the bland black, stainless steel and glass combo we’ve already seen. We tried to ask Paris Hilton how she feels about this but, sadly, she wasn’t available to comment. That’s not hot.
There’s no crease, but there is a gap
Unlike Samsung’s Galaxy Fold, there is not a crease in the center of the display where it folds up. There is, however, a small gap between the display and the hinge where it folds. The screen doesn’t exactly ripple when you drag your finger over it, but you can sort of feel that there’s some extra space in there.
This also means that it is possible to physically lift and separate the display from the hinge if you stick your nail into that gap. We know because we’ve tried, much to the horror of nearby Motorola executives.
While this could present some possible issues — part of the reason the Galaxy Fold failed the first time around was because debris got stuck underneath its display — Motorola executives seem to be pretty confident this won’t be an issue as there’s no gap when the phone is closed.
We don’t know how durable that hinge system is …
Motorola has been a little cagey about just how durable the folding display is. While Samsung rated its (admittedly flawed) Galaxy Fold display as able to withstand 200,000 folds, a Motorola executive declined to share how many times the Razr could be folded, saying the company considers it “proprietary information.” That said, Motorola representatives repeatedly said the Razr will easily withstand two years of use.
… and repairs will be expensive
Should your new foldable screen break, fixing it could be costly. The Razr comes with a standard one-year warranty during which the company will cover necessary repairs. But if you break your screen after that, a replacement will cost you a cool $299.
You can only use certain apps with the smaller, front display
One of the neat things about Motorola’s decision to resurrect the clamshell design is that it brings back the smaller front-facing display you got with old-school flip phones. But, unlike the cellphones of the olden days, the new Razr’s “Quick View” display can do a bit more than just show you who’s calling.
You can use the display to view your notifications and dismiss the ones you no longer need. If you want to respond to an email or text message, you can send a suggested quick reply, or dictate a response with your voice. You’ll also be able to control media playback (much like you would on a typical lock screen), make mobile payments with Android Pay and interact with Google Assistant.
The front-facing screen also makes good use of the phone’s main 16-megapixel camera. You can use it to snap a selfie while the phone is folded up, or use it to make video calls. If you start a call while your phone is unfolded, you can close it and switch the call over to the smaller front-facing display while maintaining a video connection with the main camera.
There’s a hidden “Retro Razr” mode
If you want your Razr to feel like even more of a noughties throwback, there is a hidden “Retro Razr” mode buried in the phone’s settings.
“Retro Razr” recreates the early 2000’s Razr software on the current phone’s 6.2-inch display. And it’s more than just a clever Easter egg — it actually works just like the original flip phone interface. When enabled, you have to use a touchscreen version of the old-style Razr keypad to launch app shortcuts for messages and other functions. Now, that’s hot.