+ Monday December 16th, 2019

Last week, Motorola showed us how the foldable phone could be done in a different way. It’s not about fitting a tablet-sized device into a normal phone form factor; rather, it’s about getting a normal sized phone into a smaller sized device you can more easily stick in your pocket or your bag. That is the simple premise of the Moto RAZR, and boy oh boy is it wonderful.

Put simply, the Moto RAZR is about making a statement. It might “only have” a 16MP camera. Maybe it “only has” a Snapdragon 710 processor, and a “relatively small” battery, but that’s just not the point. As Motorola Australia’s Danny Adamopoulos tells it, this is a phone that every businessman is going to want – what could be more iconic than flipping a phone open to take a call, and snapping it shut to end one?

In a package that’s smaller than my (already) small wallet, the Moto RAZR could perhaps best be described as roughly the size of a pager. The form factor is similar to the original RAZR from years ago, but it is a little wider. However, it’s easily flipped open and closed with one hand, and despite the small size, open it up and there’s a full size, full-featured smartphone inside.

This is an engineering masterpiece, and for as much effort that others have put into their folding phones, it just feels to me like Moto have done it properly. From little touches – like a screen that lifts away slightly from the hinge to prevent a hard pinch-point – to engineering that sees the screen slide (ever so slightly) into the chin when folded to prevent creasing the display, this is a masterpiece.

Not only is the screen designed to be used as a smartphone screen – there’s no warnings about precisely how to use this foldable – but if it is damaged due to some defect in the manufacturing process, Moto will replace broken screens for free. From my time over lunch, you’d struggle to damage this screen unless you intentionally set out to do so. Sure, you could get dust in the hinge from keeping the phone in your pocket, but the spaces are open and accessible – if you get dust in, just blow it out.

The chunky chin gives Motorola some other advantages too – instead of a microphone that – at best – aims down your face, Moto RAZR’s microphone points to your mouth. This gives you astonishing voice clarity, with excellent ambient noise reduction too. Not only will your businessmen look the part with RAZR, but you’ll be able to actually have a useful conversation with them on the go as well.

Motorola isn’t concerned about the battery life, or reported lack thereof. In the company’s testing, Danny tells us that the average user should easily get a day’s use out of the RAZR, and possibly more. Of course, those who use it constantly will find it does go flat a little quicker than this, but with turbo charging, it’s not really a major problem. Again, this phone is a statement, and if the price of that statement is having to top it off while you’re at your desk (or in the car) anyway, that’s not a huge price to pay.

On that topic of price, there’s no confirmed pricing for the Moto RAZR in Australia, at least not yet. That will become known closer to Q1 2020, when we should see a local launch, but on pure dollar conversion we’re at $2,200 without factoring local supply chain costs. Realistically, Moto’s RAZR will probably land here for closer to the $2,500 mark … but even at that price, this is the only foldable I’d actually consider buying.

I like the idea of Huawei’s Mate X, but in the current environment, I don’t see it coming to Australia in a hurry, and I don’t see it being a good option when it does (as the almost-certain lack of Google Apps renders it dead in the water). Samsung’s Galaxy Fold is beautiful hardware, but the size just isn’t right for me. Folded, it’s tall and bulky. Unfolded, it’s usable, but that square display means lots of cropped content (or letter-boxed video) and that’s just not desirable.

Next to these two devices, the Moto RAZR looks seriously polished. Perhaps the bells and whistles are slightly less in some areas, but this feels like a foldable designed for what people want and will use, rather than a foldable built because something’s technically possible. I couldn’t in good conscience recommend either of Huawei or Samsung’s foldables, but I’d put $2,500 of my own up to buy this from Motorola tomorrow if I could.

It’s hard over lunch to really try a camera out too much, when all that’s around is a drink bottle, a couple of blokes, and a smoking, dreary looking outdoors. However, one thing instantly struck me about the Moto RAZR’s camera – it takes great shots without even trying, and when you view them at full crop, the quality is bonkers.

You might be a little put off by the RAZR only supporting eSIM, but this move – designed to keep the RAZR as slim (and water resistant) as possible is a necessary compromise. Fortunately, all major Australian telcos support eSIMs now, and getting one for your phone is usually only as difficult as walking into a carrier store and asking to swap your physical SIM for an eSIM – not hard.

Really the only thing I think I would have liked to see is wireless charging, because the RAZR has everything else I would need and use (it has NFC, so you can use it with tap and pay which is excellent). Unfortunately, with everything else packed in the way it is, wireless charging coils would simply have taken up more room that Motorola didn’t have, and it would mean a thicker phone which ultimately might not be quite so desirable.

However, given the design of the phone, if Motorola don’t bring out a desk charging dock (or one for your nightstand) they’re nuts – this phone just cries out for this kind of accessory.

The only other thing the Moto RAZR is crying out for?

Me. Come Q1 next year, I’ll be giving one a new home, come hell or high water (and in Australia, let’s face it, both those outcomes are likely anyway).

 

 

 

 

Chris Rowland   Managing Editor

Chris Rowland

Chris has been at the forefront of smartphone reporting in Australia since smartphones were a thing, and has used mobile phones since they came with giant lead-acid batteries that were "transportable" and were carried in a shoulder bag.

Today, Chris publishes one of Australia's most popular technology websites, Ausdroid. His interests include mobile (of course), as well as connected technology and how it can make all our lives easier.

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Jeni Skunk
Ausdroid Reader

A question, Chris: Did Moto reproduce the look of the original RAZR number pad, for their phone app?

Peter Margetis
Guest
Peter Margetis

At $2500 Will wait for price to drop by half in 6 months. Good opportunity for Motorola to be a big player if released at a decent price but looks like a money grab from the stupid…

Tim Marshall
Ausdroid Reader

I’d go further. I think this is actually a really good product for the first in its category especially with heavy hitter Samsung stuffing up the Fold the first time around. Moto might have gotten attention from the image conscious with the sleek looking Razr but they were coming after waves and waves of flip phones from most big manufacturers from the early 2000’s to 2008 or so. so we have heard Samsung and Xiaomi will have answers to this soon and expect “Nokia” (cause its a new crew with the old name) to make at least one , LG… Read more »

Kevin
Guest
Kevin

Have to say, when foldables were first mentioned, THIS was the form factor I was looking for. I don’t like large phones for the simple reason that they are a pita to carry. The price tag is maybe a little too large for me at the moment, but hopefully this phone (and its successors) will be a success, and that will bring the price down as they become cheaper to make

Tim Marshall
Ausdroid Reader

agreed. I have the Note 8 and despite loving the software features i hate a lot about it now. hulking great thing that won’t go in casual attire pockets except for jeans (e.g. falls out of tracksuit stuff, shorts etc) and really should not have been a “phablet” device because using it to watch any significant media gets you awful burn in and active use for tasks wears away the oleophobic coating. if this means narrowing down the number of camera sensors needed on the phone ( because rear sensor becomes front when you fold closed) and makes these things… Read more »

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