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Motorola is taking a second swing at a foldable reboot of the Moto Razr with what it's calling the “new Razr.” It's slightly faster, slightly cheaper, slightly different looking, and no longer a Verizon exclusive. We're also hoping it's a little more sturdy and viable than the original Razr reboot, which had atrocious build quality and was constantly out of stock, probably due to production issues. The original Moto Razr reboot hit stores February 6, 2020, so this sequel is pretty early.
First up: specs. The Razr 2 (we're calling it that, deal with 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 much the same as the Razr 1: the outside screen is a 2.7-inch, 792×600 OLED, while the inside screen is a foldable 6.2-inch, 2142×876 OLED. There's also NFC on this version, so you can finally use tap-to-pay.
A major disappointment is that the Razr 2 screen is still 100-percent plastic. There's no ultra-thin glass like you'd get on the Galaxy Z Flip. Samsung's foldable displays are a plastic and glass sandwich, with the outside layer being plastic. While that's nowhere near as nice as a normal glass display, the underlying layer of glass does help stiffen up the display surface and stop the squishy feel of other flexible displays. The old Razr display also had a ton of issues, which hopefully Motorola has worked out by now. On our store-purchased unit, the Razr 1 touchscreen stopped working after a single day, and numerous other display units and review units experienced failures.
The design of the Razr 2 is a bit different. First off, it's thicker. Each thin half of the phone is 7.9mm while open; and closed up, the thickest point (presumably the bottom chin) is 16mm. The OG Razr reboot measured 6.9mm open and 14mm closed. The design of the single outside camera is different—and maybe a bit strange looking. It's no longer centered on the front of the phone; instead, Motorola chose to place the flash LED next to the camera and center the two components on the front of the phone. The front fingerprint sensor is gone, too—on the OG Razr reboot, it was on the chin, but now the fingerprint reader is on the back of the phone, inside the Motorola logo. With no fingerprint sensor, the front chin seems a bit smaller than the Razr 1. The whole phone also seems a bit rounder compared to the Razr 1.
The phone ships with Android 10, meaning this will be the first Razr to have access to gesture navigation, which is used in all the promo shots. I wonder how compatible the gesture navigation will be with the Razr's hardware design. Gestures like swiping up from the bottom of the screen for home and recent apps might be a bit strange with the chunky chin that sticks out from the bottom of the Razr. Swiping in from the side of the screen to go back sounds a bit scary, since the Razr's display is unsecured on the sides thanks to the sliding, folding hinge mechanism.
The new Razr reboot doesn't seem hugely different from the old Razr reboot, but that's also very on-brand for the Razr line. Back in the Razr's heyday, there were a million slightly different variants that no one could keep track of. For a lot of people, the big deal here will be actually being able to buy the Razr, since it won't just be a Verizon exclusive. Motorola says the new Razr will be available “universally unlocked” this fall (presumably that means it will support the big-three carriers) and will be available through AT&T and T-Mobile stores. Note that Verizon is not mentioned in Motorola's blog post. It sounds like after dealing with the disastrous launch of the first Moto Razr, Verizon has had enough.
Internationally, Motorola says the Razr “will be available starting in China and select European markets, with other markets to follow this fall.” It also calls out eventual availability in “select markets across Latin America, Middle East, and Asia Pacific.”
Motorola rightly pitches the Razr as a “fashion symbol,” and that's probably the best way to think of these new-age flip phones like the Razr and Galaxy Z Flip. Just like how people pay hundreds of dollars for a pair of “fashionable” ripped jeans, you're paying a premium for the Razr because it folds in half and you presumably think that looks cool. The specs of the $1,400 new Razr are roughly equivalent to a $700 LG Velvet, and after our experience with the first Razr and the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip, we can say that folding a phone in half doesn't add a lot to the experience. The phone sits differently in your pocket (if you carry a phone in a pocket), but once you open it, it's basically a normal, mid-range smartphone. If you're a smartphone power user who is purely concerned about ease of use, these new-age flip phones will actually slow you down. Instead of pulling a slab-style smartphone out of your pocket and having it be ready to use, you have to flip open your phone every time you use it. There will be a handful of functions available via 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 when you're on the go. With the tablet-like interior on a bigger foldable, there are some useability improvement arguments to make there. Flip phones are purely fashion objects, though. You should only buy a Razr if you think it looks cool and have money to burn. We've yet to see if there's actually a market for this type of phone.