Is Moto Razr the first true foldable phone?


Foldable phones have had a rough time of it lately. And when I say lately, I say it loosely as we’ve just seen the first wave of gadgets which have these new types of screens. With the whole Galaxy Fold saga still fresh in people’s minds, it’s become a little difficult to justify splurging big bucks on technology that is clearly in its infancy.

Unless you are Motorola. The return of the Razr brand represents a new beginning for the fledgling smartphone maker and the second coming for flexible displays. The ease with which Motorola has managed to tie together an iconic design with a flexible display feels organic and obvious.

While everybody is racing to figure out a practical design for a foldable, Motorola already had one in its pocket, the iconic Razr and its clamshell design. Without trying hard to bridge the gap between phones and tablets using a flexible display, cramming it into a clamshell just makes sense. It solves the two major problems that manufacturers face with building a true foldable.

  1. The practicality of lugging around an oversized display that doesn’t fit into anyone’s pockets and
  2. Giving foldables a reason to exist beyond just being a proof of concept for the future. 

While foldable phones have something inherently cool about them, the thing is they aren’t really solving any problems that people have with their smartphones currently. By giving people a popular nostalgic design with a little wink to the future, Motorola has done something unique, it’s given the technology a reason to exist.

  • When fully open, the Razr’s 6.2-inch touchscreen provides a user with enough real estate to work with but when it’s closed, it’s a sleek, compact shell that snuggly fits into the pocket – the best of both worlds! 
  • The small external touchscreen is another nice touch, giving users a quick way to glance at notifications without the need to unfurl the shell to its full size. 
  • Though it may not have the same appeal as seeing the Galaxy Fold transforming into a large tablet, Motorola’s application seems a little bit more practical as apps right now haven’t been optimised for the tablet form-factor which is the reason why Android tablets aren’t popular. 
  • It also has the advantage of leaning on Lenovo expertise for its hinge. When the display is open, the Razr has movable support plates that provide structural support which was developed in tandem with the Lenovo Yoga team. When it’s closed, the plates smartly move out of the way giving the screen some extra room to curve in.
  • The sturdy hinge also allows the Razr to have a gapless design, with no obvious gaps between the two halves of the display and no creese. 

Now for the elephant in the room, the $1500 price tag. Yes, it’s expensive and yes, it’s tough to recommend at that price point given the fairly average hardware that Motorola has gone with. There is also the problem of the optics on the phone, with early reviews not being too kind to the Razr’s camera capabilities. Similarly, it doesn’t have the largest battery out there, chiming in at 2,500 mAh.

It does have one thing that no other foldable has going for it though, the ability to look cool and turn heads, which I suspect was Motorola’s intention all along.  And at $1,500, it is easily the most affordable foldable from a major manufacturer.