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Hands on with the Motorola RAZR (2020)

Motorola’s 2020 RAZR is a compact $2699 foldable phone

Phones that unfold into tablets is one way to interpret the foldable, but Motorola’s new RAZR folds small for a big cost.

Even though 2019 was supposed to be year of the foldable, Australians only saw one. Samsung’s Galaxy Fold was definitely interesting, but it was the only taste of foldable phones you could find on our site of the planet.

Fortunately, we haven’t had to wait too long to see another.

Announced at the back of last year, Motorola’s first take on the foldable is launching in Australia shortly, and boy, is it something different.

By now, you’re probably aware that the concept of a foldable phone is a phone that folds out into something else. Using a flexible screen and some neat hinges, most of the foldable concepts we’ve seen thus far take a phone that folds out into a small tablet, but Motorola’s first foray into foldables is a little different. Instead of folding out into a tablet, the Motorola 2020 foldable phone folds into a smaller phone.

The concept isn’t a dramatic leap from one of Motorola’s most established phones, either. Back in the early 2000s, Motorola’s RAZR was a clamshell phone that did that, but used a razor-thin etched keyboard to keep the keypad size down, while the screen itself was thin, too. The result was a super-thin clamshell phone, another small clamshell phone from a company with experience producing the StarTAC, a super small clamshell phone from back in the day.

Motorola's clamshell phones

Motorola’s RAZR was so successful, it sold over 1.3 million of the original V-series RAZR, so it’s a fitting product to turn to when it comes to inspiration for a new generation of RAZR phones, not just because of look and design, but because it’s a brand that people know.

“The RAZR brand is very synonymous,” said Danny Adamopoulous, General Manager of Sales at Motorola in APAC. “It’s probably the only phone that’s made it to Monopoly.

It seems fitting that the original RAZR’s success would inspire the next generation of the phone, which is modelled in its image.

Adamopoulous told Pickr the new model had “been in development for just over four years”, with much of that focused on the screen, what is arguably one of the parts in a foldable phone that needs the most consideration.

Hands on with the Motorola RAZR (2020)

You see like the RAZR models back in the day, the new 2020 Moto RAZR is a clamshell phone, but it’s made from a single plastic foldable screen, so when you open it up, you get a 6.2 inch display set to the 21:9 aspect ratio, yet when you close it, the big screen is slammed shut and the outside holds a 2.7 inch screen for notifications.

It’s a design that stands out, not just in the foldable world, because it takes something big and makes it immediately small, while also bringing with it a fair degree of style.

Weighing a little over 200 grams (205g to be exact), it’s a little heavier than quite a few phones, and even sports splash-proof water resistance, making it “oops-proof”, but not something you should take in the water or wash intentionally. That might not seem like a critical point, but when other foldable phones are concerned about dust getting under the screen and have removed the water resistance entirely, the 2020 Moto RAZR already has another neat selling point outside of the design.

It needs it, too, because while Motorola has packed in as much as it could, the specs aren’t of the highest phone in the land.

Instead of the best processor, you’ll find a perfectly acceptable mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 eight-core chip, paired with an equally perfectly acceptable 6GB RAM, and a maximum storage amount of 128GB with no microSD slot.

In fact, there’s no slot of any kind, and your SIM will need to be downloaded to the Moto RAZR from your carrier, as only eSIM is supported. This phone is basically sealed shut, with only one port — Type C USB — sitting in the middle of a bottom speaker, under the chin of the phone. There’s also no wireless charging here, and no 3.5mm jack. It’s USB Type C or nothing if you want to charge this phone, and you’ll find it in the chin of the phone.

Hands on with the Motorola RAZR (2020)

The chin of the Moto RAZR 2020 is there for design from the original, but also for parts, supporting the two-sided battery where some is in the chin and another is up top, and it’s also where the antennas are, too. The screen held above that chin is very cool, and uses some neat hinge mechanisms to push the screen into place when both open and closed, but does run at a relatively low HD-only resolution of 2142×876, which will be find for most, but isn’t the high-end display you might expect out of a top-tier phone.

There’s also only one rear camera — a 16 megapixel camera sporting F1.7 — again likely because Moto is trying to pack so much in, while there’s a front 5 megapixel camera. Motorola has included a portrait mode which apparently works with the one 16 megapixel camera, so our guess is the company is using the Pixel computer-assisted portrait mode, though we’re checking with Motorola in Australia to find out how it works.

However that one camera sits above the rear tiny external display, and it helps complete the design of this phone because it’s meant to look like a RAZR phone — like an old-school RAZR phone — and even feel like one too. When you open it up, the screen lies flat and feels quite cool to slide your fingers over, a bump or two being visible as you open it until it rests.

Hands on with the Motorola RAZR (2020)

It’s a plastic phone that folds, so it’s going to have bumps in the display until it’s opened, and that’s ok. Foldable phones are in the first generation, and won’t yet look like the modern curved glass smartphones we’ve come to expect out of manufacturers.

Close the Moto RAZR with a firm grasp and there’s a snap with a nice clack to it, and it’s actually a way you can hang up on people. Want to find a more fitting end for a phone call than just hitting the red button? Slam the phone shut and be done with it.

The new Moto RAZR is a modern interpretation of a classic made for a generation that yearns for something a little more tactile today. And it even comes with something that harks back to the good ol’ days, with a retro mode that emulates the old style of a Moto RAZR, just in case you miss the look and feel, a basic skin that essentially acts as a shortcut to Android functions, cool as it is.

Hands on with the Motorola RAZR (2020)

However the Moto RAZR will not be cheap, and fits in line with other foldable phones as it edges towards the $3000 mark. In Australia, the 2020 Moto RAZR will cost $2699 at launch, with Motorola partnering with Telstra as its launch carrier and with JB HiFi as its retail partner. Interestingly, while the price is high, the box does come with a speaker to make you feel special, saying “Hello Moto” from the old ad campaigns as you open the box.

“The old RAZR was a fashion icon that defined a generation and became an integral part of pop culture. The new RAZR takes those elements we cherish so fondly and flips them on its head to carve out a truly revolutionary and unique smartphone experience that you simply can’t get anywhere else,” said Adamopoulous.

“This is a momentous time for Motorola in Australia and we are absolutely thrilled to be bringing this revolutionary device to Aussie shores.”

Pre-orders of the Moto RAZR for 2020 are in effect now, with availability set for February 24.

Hands on with the Motorola RAZR (2020)
You can load a retro skin to make the old school RAZR appear before your very eyes. Cute.
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