The folding phone market is well and truly alive, seeing the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Fold in 2019, followed by the freshly invigorated Moto Razr, which will go head-to-head with Samsung’s second folding phone, the Galaxy Z Flip.
By Chris Hall
While we know the Razr’s specs and have seen the phone on several occasions, the Samsung is rumoured to be launching on 11 February at Galaxy Unpacked.
So we’re using leaked specs for the Z Flip, but we feel confident we now have a good idea of what Samsung’s phone will offer.
So which folding phone will be best?
- Razr: 172 x 72 x 6.9mm (open); 94 x 72 x 14mm (closed), 205g
- Z Flip: 167.9 x 73.6 x 6.9-7.2mm (open); 87.4 x 73.6 x 15.4-17.3mm (closed), 183g
The Moto Razr and the Galaxy Z Flip both hinge around the same design, that’s a clamshell, with a horizontal folding display. Both have articulate hinges, the big difference being that the Moto Razr carries some retro design elements from the 2004 Razr it apes.
That includes the classic Razr chin, which gives some form to the phone, while the Samsung is a lot more symmetrical, with the two sections effectively the same size. The Razr, on the other hand, has a smaller top section.
The Razr has a stainless steel frame, while the bottom section on the rear gets a textured finish and the top houses the second display, so has a glass finish. That’s pretty different to Samsung phone, which is said to have Gorilla Glass 6 on the rear of both sections.
There will be some differences in the hinge too. We’ve seen the Razr a couple of times and on close inspection you can see how the supporting central section of the open phone drops down, while the pOLED (plastic OLED) screen doesn’t fold, per se, instead expanding into the hinge to allow a slightly softer arc – while letting the frame seamlessly fit together.
Naturally we haven’t seen the hinge on the Galaxy Z Flip, but if it’s anything like the Galaxy Fold, it might be that Samsung’s phone folds with a tighter crease.
Overall, Samsung’s phone is a little shorter and lighter, despite having the larger display.
- Razr: 6.2-inch, 2142 x 876, 21:9, pOLED, 373ppi; 2.7-inch 600 x 800, 4:3
- Z Flip: 6.7-inch, 2636 x 1080, 22:9, AMOLED, 425ppi; 1.06-inch 300 x 116, 8:3
The Razr’s Flex View display goes up against Samsung’s Infinity Flex. While Motorola has used a plastic surface, there’s rumours that Samsung is going to be using ultra thin glass as a coating for protection. That might mean that the Z Flip is a little better protected.
Samsung also has the advantage in size. Despite the dimensions of these phones being close, not having a chin on the phone (as dictated by the Razr’s design) means it can sport a display that’s 0.5-inch larger.
Samsung is also pushing a greater resolution, having ensured that its display is full HD+. If you look at the pixel densities, Motorola is at 373ppi, while Samsung is at 425ppi. Basically, Samsung’s display is going to be technically better.
Of course, there’s a lot more to the display than just the specs, but Samsung also has a long history of delivering great displays. In this case the Z Flip also has a punch hole camera, while the Razr has a notch.
When it comes to the second display, the Razr is a much more usable size. There’s actually some substance to it, whereas Samsung’s external display – according to the rumours – is more like a notification window. That means the Razr is likely to offer the better closed-phone experience.
- Razr: Snapdragon 710, 6GB RAM, 128GB storage, 2150mAh
- Z Flip: Snapdragon 855, 8GB RAM, 256GB storage, 3300mAh
If the leaks surrounding Samsung’s phone are accurate, this is where it might draw a bit of a lead. The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip is said to come with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 with 8GB of RAM – that’s essentially a flagship 2019 phone load-out.
This is paired with 256GB of storage, but with a reported 3300mAh battery, there’s a chance that Samsung’s phone might last a little longer than the Razr with its 2150mAh battery.
Despite seeing the Moto, that’s one thing we’ve really not had the chance to test – battery life. Both phones are reported to support 15W fast charging.
The Razr comes in with surprisingly mid-range specs. The Snapdragon 710 with 6GB RAM isn’t bad hardware, it’s plenty powerful, but it does set it at a disadvantage compared to the more powerful Samsung – especially as these two phones are rumoured to be within the same sort of price bracket.
Ultimately, we’ll need to do a lot of performance testing here to really see how big that difference is.
- Razr: 16MP, f/1.7, 1.22µm; 5MP, f/2.0, 1.12µm
- Z Flip: 12MP, f/1.8 + 12MP, f/2.2; 10MP, f/2.4
The Razr gets a 16-megapixel main camera and it’s just a single unit, mounted on the “lid” of the phone. You can flip the phone open to use it as the main camera, or use the second display to use it for selfies.
The internal camera on the Razr is 5-megapixels, sitting in that notch at the top of the display.
Samsung is packing in a few more cameras on the Z Flip according to reports. This is going to see a pair of 12-megapixel cameras on the rear of the phone, the second offering a wide-angle, which we always enjoy. What’s not clear is if these are last year’s cameras, or the newer sensor reportedly going into the Galaxy S20 – we suspect it’s an older sensor.
Certainly, it looks like Samsung is going to offer more options with its camera, but we do like that Motorola went with a simpler approach and there’s beauty in the symmetry that comes from that single rear camera.
Samsung wins on the front camera though, as we much prefer the punch hole front camera to the notch of the Razr – and we suspect it will be a little more capable too.
Price and availability
- Motorola Razr: Pre-order, $1499.99 on Verizon, EE UK exclusive
- Samsung Galaxy Z Flip: Unreleased, $1400 rumoured
When it comes to pricing, things are a little obscure. In the US, Verizon has the Moto Razr on pre-order for $1499.99; in the UK you can’t buy it outright, you can only get it from EE – and that’s on a 2-year contract from £94 a month – so it’s expensive.
While it’s currently on pre-order, it will be available from 4 February in the US, 19 February in the UK.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip hasn’t yet been announced, so the only guide we have to price is the suggestion that it will be available for $1400. There was also the suggestion that you would be able to get it from 14 February, so both these devices fall into a tight timeframe if that date is true.
That we have two folding phones appearing within the same sort of timeframe is exciting. Certainly, the Moto Razr has won a lot of fans thanks to its appearance and we have to admit that having played with the phone on a couple of occasions, the nostalgia value around this form and design is huge – it’s really desirable.
The Samsung Z Flip might not look quite as good, and the external display might be too small to be of any practical use compared to the Razr. But the hardware load-out is more appealing – in most aspects of the Z Flip’s specs, Samsung has the edge – if they turn out to be accurate.
If Samsung offers this phone around the $1400 price – i.e., cheaper than the Moto Razr – then it’s going to represent better value for money. The Moto Razr really has to sell itself on its design and unfortunately, with Samsung coming to market so close to the Motorola, it might be that little bit harder to sell the Razr. More