Motorola’s new Razr foldable is official, confirming what we’ve learned from a substantial collection of leaks over the past few weeks. As predicted, the Razr Plus comes with a larger cover screen, while the standard Razr offers a much simpler screen on the front panel. They’re both coming to the US, though only the Razr Plus is launching this month — June 23rd, for $999. And it’s a real head turner.
You’ve probably already seen the specs, but to recap: the Razr Plus (Razr 40 Ultra internationally) has a Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 chipset (last year’s flagship Qualcomm chip), 8GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, a 12-megapixel f/1.5 stabilized main camera, and 5W. Wireless charging. Its external display is a 3.6-inch OLED with a 144Hz refresh rate covered by Gorilla Glass Victus, and the internal OLED expands to a 6.9-inch 1080p panel with a 165Hz refresh rate. It uses an “Ultra Thin Glass Display”, a protective multilayer treatment and an LTPO display, so it can be reduced to 1Hz for activities like reading an eBook to save battery life.
Motorola ditched the big chin of the original Razr design, which is great, and the Cover Screen’s 3.6-inch diagonal measurements look great against the smaller 1.9-inch display on the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4. Heads-up notification and being able to use a whole bunch of apps without unlocking your phone… Oh, you know what? See the difference for yourself:
There are many things you can do on the cover screen as well. You’ve got the usual weather and calendar widgets optimized for the small form factor, but you can run any app you want — Chrome, Gmail, Instagram, and YouTube all worked for me when I tried them. When you start a new email or text, you’ll have a full-screen keyboard at your disposal. The only thing I can’t do is open the image gallery from the camera app.
Otherwise, the cover screen is basically a small smartphone. If you’ve set three-button navigation as a system-wide preference, you’ll use it on the cover screen to flip between application windows. You can also choose to stretch the display to completely fill the bottom of the screen across the camera lenses, or switch to a cropped view with a black bar at the bottom of the screen by tapping the navigation bar.
There is a clever way to hand off apps between the main screen and the cover screen. When you close the phone while running an app, a button pops up in the corner of the cover screen that lets you tap to open the app on the outer screen.
There’s still a lot to play with, and I’ve only had the phone for a short time, but suffice it to say it’s a whole different ball game compared to the much smaller screen on the Z Flip 4. Overall, it looks and feels the part of a style-forward, high-end phone. It comes in three colors, and the Glacier Blue and Infinity Black versions feature Gorilla Glass Victus, while the coveted Viva Magenta (the official Pantone Color of the Year, if you’re keeping score at home) offers a soft vegan leather finish. It’s similar to the one on the Edge 30 Fusion, and feels nicer with a little extra grip in your hand compared to glass.
All three versions have a sturdy aluminum frame, although they only have an IP52 rating for some resistance against dust, and are barely water-repellent. You can forgive it for being less water-resistant than other flagship phones because it folds in half, and Samsung has figured out how to make it fully resistant to submersion with an IP68 rating. That’s a bit of a concern for a $999 phone, flip or no flip.
The hinge on the Razr Plus doesn’t hold the screen tight at every degree. It bends well at 90 degrees in “laptop” mode, but gets a little flimsy when you get closer to 180 degrees, and it fails fully open. I’m missing out on this, but it’s a noticeable difference between the Flip 4 and it’s stable at any position.
2023 Motorola Razr
While the standard 2023 Motorola Razr (Razr 40 internationally) has a similar size and shape, but with a much smaller cover screen, it’s a completely different animal. Its external screen is a 1.5-inch 60Hz OLED, designed for quick information such as calendar alerts, texts and weather checks. Motorola is using it as an alternative for those who want to spend less time looking at their phones. Don’t we all? It’s admirable, but I don’t know. It doesn’t sound like much fun.
However, it comes with a slightly less powerful Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 chipset. big A 4,200mAh battery (due to the small screen real estate), and a 64-megapixel f/1.7 main camera with OIS. It has a 6.9-inch internal screen with a low 144Hz maximum refresh rate. Wireless charging and an IP52 rating are also here, and all three versions of the regular Razr come with a vegan leather treatment. Color options include vanilla cream, summer pink and sage green. Both the standard Razr and Plus are promised three years of OS updates and four years of security support, which is a bit better than what Motorola has done in the past, but still less than Samsung’s promised four OS updates and five years of security support.
Motorola has yet to provide pricing or an exact release date for the standard Razr — there will be a “meaningful difference” in MSRP compared to the Razr Plus, which will be available in the coming months. The Razr Plus goes on sale starting June 16, and when it goes on sale a week later, you’ll find the Viva Magenta version on sale directly from Motorola and — you guessed it — T-Mobile.
Meanwhile, I’m excited about the Razr Plus. Motorola thinks it’s going to capture the imaginations of fashion trendsetters and millennials who are nostalgic for their old flip phones. Personally, I think it’s a device for a certain type of mobile tech nerd who was intrigued by the Galaxy Z Flip but wants it to do more.
It can certainly do a lot. I’m excited to see what my day-to-day life feels like with that big cover screen and all its capabilities. All of this risks feeling too frivolous for practical use, and I’ll be interested to see how Motorola’s UI responds to the potential for rough edges. The moment I tried to type an email using it, I discovered that my thumb had missed the tiny space key. Is it something you agree with, or is it always frustrating? There’s only one way to find out.
Photo by Alison Johnson/The Verge