The Motorola razr: the foldable smartphone that takes you back in time - The360 Technology

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  • Thursday, December 26, 2019

    The Motorola razr: the foldable smartphone that takes you back in time

    The Motorola razr: the foldable smartphone that takes you back in time

    Marketed in a few weeks at a price of 1599 euros, the "razr" is the first collapsible smartphone from Motorola. This unit takes the iconic design of the phone released in 2004 while focusing on new innovative technologies.


    Doing something new with old is an expression that Motorola has taken literally. A few months after Samsung and Huawei, the famous manufacturer has formalized a few days ago the arrival of its first collapsible smartphone. Rather than risk launching a new range, Motorola has decided to rely on the reputation of its iconic razr, absolute star of cell phones from 2004 to 2007 before being resurrected from 2011 to 2013 in the form of a Android smartphone. Here he is now a camera whose screen is able to bend.

    A strange feeling of déjà vu

    First promise of Motorola, held, the razr 2019 looks like the original RAZR. This design gives us a strange feeling of satisfaction, as if we had just found an old friend. The opening of the valve also offers sensations very similar to that of the old phone thanks to a resistance system in the unfolding. To put it simply, when you open the razr and reach a certain angle, the rest of the screen unfolds itself. So just make a sudden move of the wrist to access the big screen. Motorola has the intelligence to leave a slight recess in the slice (between the screen and the back of the phone), so you can slip your thumb and unfold the terminal with one hand. It's confusing at first but so satisfying once the habit is taken.

    Let's talk about the Motorola razr's OLED screen. With a diagonal of 6.2 inches (in 20: 9 format), it will not surprise anyone. Unfolded, it matches the format of any other smartphone in 2019. This can be a little disappointing for anyone who imagined carrying a giant screen in his pocket but we still see a significant advantage: all applications are already compatible with this format. We will reproach him only his rectangular notch, clearly unsightly. Note also that the fold in the middle of the device is very light and sees only at a certain angle in full sun. Plastic coating requires (the glass does not fold again), the smartphone is particularly sensitive to the sun's reflections.

    According to Motorola, the 2019 razr will provide a 10-year lifespan. The company does not communicate any details on the number of unfoldings possible with the device but is very confident. If we really had the impression to hold a robust device in hand, doubt is still allowed. Foldable screens are just beginning and Motorola technology, which allows to completely fold the screen on itself (which is not the case with the Fold), can be judged only on the long term.

    As for the chin (the thick border) at the bottom of the screen, everything is a matter of taste. Some will hate it, others will appreciate the retro side. Motorola told us that without it, it would have been impossible for him to create a device as thin and light. We believe that the brand has made the right choice, the razr 2019 is as easy to handle as a conventional smartphone with its weight of 205 grams, similar to that of a mobile like the iPhone 11 Pro (188 grams). In the pocket, the device gives the impression of carrying only a simple wallet. It's very pleasant.

    Intelligently thought software

    Once closed, the Motorola razr 2019 sports a small OLED screen for viewing notifications. On a diagonal of 2.7 inches, this is called "Quick View" and has attracted our curiosity for some of its capabilities.

    Where Motorola could have been content with a mini-display of Android, the brand has chosen to adapt its interface to small format. For example, the Quick View screen displays applications as widgets. The notifications appear there, the piece of music being played too and ... that's all. When you unfold the phone after the arrival of a notification, the application in question automatically opens. It's played well, really.

    Note also the use that the brand has planned small amusing touches. For example, when you take a picture of someone with the smartphone unfolded, the small screen shows a smiley head. When the picture is taken, your subject will see a preview of his picture on the Quick View screen. This is once again a smart double-screen operation. We would have preferred, before the shooting, to see our subject rather than a head that smiles on the small screen, but all this should be able to improve from a software point of view over time.

    Finally and more anecdotally, note the presence of a "retro mode" accessible from the notification center. The latter makes it possible to display a false keypad and gives the impression of holding a razr of the previous decade. Does this serve anything? Absolutely not. Is it funny? Unquestionably.

    The concern of the technical sheet

    With only a few dozen minutes of razr 2019 to our counter, it is difficult for us to really judge the performance of the smartphone. However, we must admit that its technical characteristics worry us. If the razr seemed stable despite some bugs apparently related to the software, its Snapdragon 710 processor unfortunately places it in the mid-range category (the SD710 is also released in 2018...). To see if, in the long run, it will not create too many slowdowns. Motorola explained that we made this choice to preserve the autonomy of the smartphone which seems to be a somewhat dubious excuse. Let's mention in this regard the tiny 2510 mAh battery of the smartphone, there still far below what is found in most mobiles today. The brand justifies this choice by explaining that a larger battery would have made the smartphone too heavy which, for once, is frankly justifiable. Finally, the presence of a single camera on the back of the camera (16 Mpix / f.1.7) is not reassuring. At times of triple, quad or penta camera module, it will necessarily affect the versatility of the camera.

    A question arises finally, are you ready to spend 1600 euros in a smartphone that is not equipped with the best of the best? Marketed more expensive (2020 euros), the Galaxy Fold has for assets its high-end processor (SD855), its very high capacity battery (4380 mAh), its storage of 512 GB (128 GB here, not expandable), its triple module camera and many other things like wireless charging support. Wanting to settle for the minimum, Motorola may take the risk of placing his razr on the retro side rather than the modern side. Do we really need an umpteenth gadget come to awaken our nostalgia?

    Who is the Motorola razr for?

    With the Galaxy Fold, Samsung is addressing a new clientele. The company has developed the first smartphone capable of becoming a tablet, which is new. The Motorola razr does not offer the luxury of offering something really new and finally put on a more classic formula but equally ambitious. Rather than tackling the geek or whoever wants more, the razr 2019 speaks to "normal" people in search of compactness, those who no longer support large phones.

    Still, there is a major problem, will Motorola's target want to razr? With a salty addition of 1600 euros, you have to be either easy or very geek to want to invest as much in a smartphone. In both cases, it is hard to imagine a person spending so much on a mid-range smartphone, no matter how much of a screen it is. Then remains the fashionista clientele, which must represent only a tiny segment of the population. The real target, from the teenager to the mother to the person who had a RAZR in 2005 will refuse to put this price. All this is all the more worrying in the absence of a SIM card door, the razr 2019 needs an operator who accepts eSIM to operate. In France, only Orange does it today.

    In the end, we admit we are very divided by this first test. The Motorola razr is undeniably well designed, fully fulfilling its role of link between past and future but seems to us to correspond to no market today. The future will tell us if this first proposal from Motorola is really there to put the brand at the top of the smartphone market or if the new razr is just a nice shot com.

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