I wish I could tell you exactly where I think the Motorola Razr went wrong, but there are too many options to choose from.
It’s the first of a new generation of folding devices that open vertically into a regular phone shape instead of horizontally into a mini-tablet like Samsung’s Galaxy Fold. That means Motorola had the benefit of learning from earlier missteps from the Fold and a very few other devices, but it still makes too many mistakes of its own.
The Motorola Razr is a Verizon-exclusive phone that retails for $1,499, but it has features and functionality that would barely pass as acceptable on a $250 phone. Motorola, in fact, just announced a far superior $250 phone, the Moto G Power. Of course, the Moto G doesn’t fold in half.
If the Razr didn’t fold and cost a penny over $250, I’d tell you to skip it, which means there’s really only one question to ask: how much is that folding screen worth to you?
VERGE SCORE4OUT OF 10
- Folds completely flat
- Looks like the modern successor to the Razr should
- Big outer screen
- Mediocre camera
- Creaky, unsatisfying hinge
- Mediocre battery life
- Lumpy, bumpy main screen
- Value for the money
- Verizon junkware
EveryEvery smartphone is a bundle of trade-offs. Even if price is no object and you want to buy the biggest, best phone on the market, you’re still making the most obvious trade-off of all: spending a lot of money.
That is the Razr’s first major trade-off. I’m harping on the $1,500 price, but not because it’s too high for any phone. Phones are our primary computers, and many people could reasonably justify that price or something even higher for the right phone. The problem with the Razr is that it delivers so few of the things you’d expect at that — or any — price.
But you likely aren’t coming to the Razr because you care a lot about traditional ways to judge phones. The camera may be mediocre and the battery life sub-par, but it flips, damnit, and it looks like those classic Razr phones, just a little bigger.
There are also some real benefits in having a small phone that unfolds into a big one: it will fit into any pocket without poking out, for one thing. There’s also a vague sort of feeling that having a phone you can close may make it less tempting to use all the time than a regular slab. That didn’t really happen to me. Unlike my experience with the Galaxy Fold, the Razr didn’t make me feel like my relationship to the phone changed. But a folding flip phone is still pretty cool, and we shouldn’t act like there isn’t value in that.
Which is to say that the Razr does have some good things going for it. The overall look and feel of the device when closed is unique and does an excellent job of evoking the original. Even if you don’t have any fond memories of flip phones, you can still appreciate that it’s something different from the usual featureless rectangles most phones have become.
There is a retro aesthetic that is genuinely appealing both in a nostalgic way and on its own merits. Plus, when closed, it’s actually thinner than the original Razr V3 from 2004.
When you open it, there is a big old chin on the bottom that presumably allows the rest of the phone to be thinner. I also think it helps with balance. This is a very tall phone: the screen is 6.2 inches, but it’s at a 21.9:9 aspect ratio.
It feels too narrow for me to comfortably type on, but I think that’s something you could get used to over time. The overall build quality is solid. Sure, there’s some plastic on the back and some fairly big bezels around the screen, but in some ways, that’s part of the charm. More