An innovative hinge design helps make the new Motorola Razr’s foldable screen lay flat, which is something the Galaxy Fold can’t do.
As I fold the Motorola Razr in half for the first time, it becomes clear that the Razr — with its foldable 6.2-inch screen, 16-megapixel double-duty camera and $1,500 price tag — is the best designed, most completely thought-out foldable phone to date. Streamlined. Utterly pocketable. Nostalgic, with a sharp futuristic edge. 

Over the course of the crisp fall day I spent at Motorola’s Chicago headquarters, I began to fall a little bit in love with the way the Razr softly snaps shut from top to bottom, one side laying flat on top of the other, without a visible gap between the two halves of the screen. With this simple act, Motorola has solved one of the biggest design conundrums that the Galaxy Fold and other foldable phones have yet to figure out. 

I’ll need to fully test the Motorola Razr from top to bottom, keeping a close eye on any damage its plastic OLED (known as P-OLED) screen might incur, its real-world battery life, camera quality and everything in between. But so far I love what I see: A foldable phone with real potential for today, not just a curiosity to improve upon tomorrow. 

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That’s not to say that every foldable phone should or will follow the Razr’s model, even if Samsung teased its own foldable flip. This is the Wild West of phone design, and the difference is exciting and necessary as the industry figures out how — and even if — foldable devices will become a thing. If you’ve got an eye on foldable phones, it’s time to pay attention.

Keep reading to learn about how the Motorola Razr’s foldable screen is designed to contain damage, how noticeable the screen crease is, what comes in the impressive box and the potential trade-offs the phone makes for its design and price. Scroll to the end for a specs comparison with the Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X.

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In the Motorola Razr, flip phones of old meet foldable phones of the future.James Martin/CNET

The Motorola Razr goes on sale in the US some time in January for $1,500. Verizon is the exclusive US carrier… forever, but the Razr will also sell in select Walmart stores. We don’t have an exact sales date yet. Preorders begin Dec. 26. Canada will get the Razr in “early 2020.”

Globally, the Razr will also go on preorder in select European countries as early as December, with a January sales date. Australia, Argentina, Mexico, Brazil and select Asian markets will also carry the phone.

What it’s like to use the Motorola Razr

We’re not at the point yet where using one foldable phone is like using them all. There’s still some novelty because so far we’ve seen so many different designs. But the idea of using the larger, folding screen to do most of your tasks is a constant. Here are some questions I thought you might have.Motorola Razr is a foldable flip phone like you’ve never seen before39 PHOTOS

How’s the screen? I’ll give you the short answer here and a longer answer in the section just below: It’s made of plastic and I haven’t had a chance to test its durability yet, but it looks the way I’d expect it to. There’s a fingernail-thin channel that runs around the perimeter between the display and the bezel, which concerns me in light of the Fold’s former issues with the top layer separating from the P-OLED below. At the very least, this channel collects dust.

How does it fold flat? The Motorola Razr’s proprietary hinge design has an open cavity that houses the looped portion of the screen. In other words, plastic screens don’t fold totally flat or you’d crease them down the middle. There’s still an air gap inside the phone, you just don’t see it, so the design appears mostly flat. Technically, there’s a 0.2mm gap between the display and hinge.

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The Razr gives you a 6.2-inch screen that minimizes the crease.Angela Lang/CNET

How tall is the Razr? Does it feel unwieldy or overly long? The 6.2-inch screen is tall, but also narrow, with a 21:9 ratio. The resolution is 2,142×876 pixels. Motorola has bottom-loaded most of the apps and controls to make them easier to reach with your thumb. It works better than most phones one-handed.

Is there a screen on the outside like there is on the Fold? You’ll get a 2.7-inch external display that’s meant for viewing essentials such as the time, alerts, notifications and basics like signal and battery life. You won’t be able to type on it (that’s for the best), but you can respond through canned messages or your voice. You can use it to see what you look like in selfies (see below).

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The Motorola Razr’s chin helps keep the sides slim by storing the phone’s bulkier elements in that base.James Martin/CNET

Why does the Razr still have a chin? The thick plastic “chin” at the bottom of the phone harks back to the original Razr design, so score one for nostalgia. More importantly, this chin houses the optical fingerprint reader (it works with Google Pay), all the antennas, the vibration motor, and GPS and Wi-Fi modules. It also gives you something to hold on to while watching video.

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Folded up, you’d never expect the Razr to have a 6.2-inch screen.James Martin/CNET

Do you open up the phone to talk? To initiate a call, yes, but if you’re already on a call, you can close it to keep talking — so long as you’re on speakerphone, connected through Bluetooth or on a video call. Otherwise, the phone closes out most apps. Music players are another exception, and you’ll be able to control tracks from the smaller outside screen.

Motorola: Our foldable screen is stronger than the Galaxy Fold

My first question about any foldable phone is “how strong is that screen?” — thanks to the Galaxy Fold’s litany of early screen troubles, which resulted in a redesign and a four-month delay. 

The main culprits plaguing Samsung’s design came down to damage by pressure (e.g. pressing the screen hard enough to crush pixels), debris getting underneath the screen, damage to the plastic material through sharp objects (such as a fingernail or ring) and pulling off the protective top coating.

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Samsung’s Galaxy Fold is about the bigger screen, while Motorola’s Razr puts portability first.Angela Lang/CNET

Like Samsung, Motorola uses a flexible plastic OLED display to bring images to life, and a type of plastic coating on top to protect the delicate electronics that make your screen light up. 

Biggest camera, battery and screen trade-offs you need to know

I’ve never met a perfect phone, and the Motorola Razr already shows some trade-offs. The phone’s main 16-megapixel camera is a good start, but it lacks the telephoto and wide-angle lenses that have become the hallmark of premium devices. Meanwhile, the Galaxy Fold gives you six of them.

I’m curious if and how the screen dimensions hamper video watching, gameplay, typing and reading over time. The keyboard is narrow, but accurate enough for me to use without too many mistakes. I could also type quickly. People with larger fingers may not feel the same. I was relieved that the chin didn’t get in the way. 

There’s also a question mark over battery life. Motorola put a battery in both sides of the Razr, for a combined total of 2,500 mAh. That helps balance out the weight, but two separate batteries are typically less efficient than one. Motorola says the battery will last a day. For reference, the Galaxy Fold battery adds up to 4,380 mAh.

MOTOROLA RAZR VS. GALAXY FOLD VS. MATE X


Motorola RazrSamsung Galaxy FoldHuawei Mate X
Display size, resolutionInternal: 6.2-inch, foldable pOLED; 2,142x876p pixels (21:9) / External: 2.7-inch glass OLED, 800×600-pixels (4:3)Internal: 7.3-inch Dynamic AMOLED; 2,152×1,536-pixels (plastic) / External: 4.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED; 1,680×720-pixels (Gorilla Glass 6)Fully extended: 8-inch OLED (2,480 x 2,200) / Folded up, front: 6.6-inch (2,480 x 1,148 pixels) / Folded up, back: 6.38-inch (2,480 x 892);
Pixel density373 ppi (internal screen)362 ppi (internal screen)414 ppi (expanded screen)
Dimensions (Inches)Unfolded: 6.8×2.8×0.28 inches. Folded: 3.7×2.8×0.55 inchesUnfolded: 6.3×4.6×0.3 inches. Folded: 6.3×2.5×0.6 inchesTBA
Dimensions (Millimeters)Unfolded: 172×7 2×6.9mm. Folded: 94x72x14mmUnfolded: 117.9x161x6.9mm ~ 7.6mm. Folded: 62.8x161x15.7mm ~ 17.1mmTBA
Weight (Ounces, Grams)7.2 oz; 205g9.7 oz; 276gTBA
Mobile softwareAndroid 9 PieAndroid 9.0 with Samsung One UITBA
Camera16-megapixel external (f/1.7, dual pixel AF), 5-megapixel internal12-megapixel (wide-angle), 16-megapixel (ultra wide-angle), 12-megapixel (telephoto)4 rear cameras
Front-facing cameraSame as main 16-megapixel externalTwo 10-megapixel, 8-megapixel 3D depthAt least one
Video capture4K4K (HDR 10 Plus)N/A
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 710 (2.2GHz, octa-core)Qualcomm Snapdragon 855Kirin 980 processor
Storage128GB512GB512GB
RAM6GB12GB8GB
Expandable storageNoNoNo
Battery2,510 mAh4,380 mAh4,500 mAh
Fingerprint sensorBelow screenPower buttonPower button
ConnectorUSB-CUSB-CUSB-C
Headphone jackNoneNoN/A
Special featuresFoldable display, eSIM, Motorola gestures, splashproofFoldable display, wireless charging, fast chargingFoldable display, fast charging
Price off-contract (USD)$1,499$1,980Converts to about $2,600 (2,299 euros)
Price (GBP)Converts to about £1,170£2,000Converts to about £2,000
Price (AUD)Converts to about AU$2,200AU$2,950Converts to about AU$3,700

Originally published yesterday.

https://cnet.co/2qVt6HQ

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