The new Razr, like the old Razr, is a throwback to the Moto Razr V3 from 2004, a feature phone that made feature phones look cool and trendy.

Motorola Razr 5G first impressions: Nostalgia strikes twice

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Updated: Oct 05, 2020 7:14 PM

Question is, will it be enough to swoon you over to its direction.

Motorola has launched the new Razr in India at a price of Rs 1,24,999. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

Full disclosure: this Motorola Razr 5G hands on/first look/first impressions is based on two days of use as primary device with physical SIM (the phone also supports e-SIM).

Having used the new Razr for a bit, I can’t help but wonder, what logic went behind Motorola launching the old Razr barely a few months ago. I know such decisions are not taken overnight. There is a lot of planning, lot of technicalities that factor in. But still, why?

Motorola should have just waited and launched the new Razr instead. Not that the first Razr was right on schedule anyway. That way, it could have saved itself from all the negative press. But more importantly, who knows, Motorola could have rewritten the rules maybe, by becoming the first mainstream brand to get foldables right in first attempt. Sigh! Can’t even say what a difference a year can make.

Moto Razr is a throwback to the Moto Razr V3 from 2004. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

Regardless, there are some big updates to talk about. In design, in hardware, as well as in software. The end product is one that’s a lot more solid and refined while keeping intact the original’s USP feature — nostalgia.

The new Razr, like the old Razr, is a throwback to the Moto Razr V3 from 2004, a feature phone that made feature phones look cool and trendy. Everyone wanted to have one, heck, most people I know had one. The clamshell design was so ahead of its time, it gives many modern-day phones a run for their money to this day. That is probably why Motorola decided to resurrect it in the first place. With a modern-day twist of course.

It is a clamshell alright, but it has a screen that folds in the middle and it runs on Android software. The idea is to offer a full touch-screen display that flips into something more compact that you can then fit into your pocket. The setup also allows Motorola to offer a secondary cover display on the outer side.

It is a clamshell with a screen that folds in the middle. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

In its second attempt, Motorola has given the exterior of the phone a major rehash. The biggest difference is that it is made of glass now (the original was all plastic). This is Corning Gorilla Glass 5. The outer frame is made of 7000 series aluminum. All this adds structural rigidity to the phone while also adding a dash of premium to the whole package. There are a few obvious downsides to this. Glass makes the new Razr heavier, slippery, and prone to fingerprints but as I said it is obvious.

The power button and volume rocker have been given a redesign (as well as a repositioning) as well, in that, they are actually usable now, and Motorola has moved the fingerprint scanner from the chin on to the back of the phone. Its positioning is still not the most ideal as it sits on the lower part of the phone, but at least it is a step in the right direction. The other big change is that unlike the first Razr, the new Razr has a slot for a physical SIM. The phone also supports dual SIM via an additional e-SIM.

Motorola says the new Razr has an updated hinge. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The Razr is the only foldable in the world right now to have some sort of splash or water resistance so that is something to keep in mind.

Motorola says the new Razr has an updated hinge though it does not mention what those updates exactly are. Like say, Samsung. For some context, the Razr will compete with the Galaxy Z Flip so there is some competition there. All we know is that the Razr can withstand up to 200,000 flips which, according to Motorola’s internal calculations means, over 5 years of “power” use before it starts showing signs of wear and tear.

Again, those claims do not mean anything on their own. The first Razr was also built to last “n” number of flips, but it creaked and made unsettling sounds every time you opened it — and that was from day one. I cannot tell you how the new Razr will hold up with time, but I can tell you that those creaks and unsettling sounds I heard consistently in the original, they are all gone now. At least that is one less thing to worry about.

As for creases, they do exist. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

Motorola seems to have reworked on the inner display as well. It is the same size (6.1-inch), resolution (876×2142-pixel), and material (p-OLED), but it is more tightly wound on its axis leaving no prominent gap. The tight seam also makes the whole thing seem stronger — while it was all loose and flimsy in the first Razr. You still cannot prop this thing up at an angle like you can with the Galaxy Z Flip, and that is where I think Motorola might have overdone the nostalgia bit, a bit too much. This unique form factor, Samsung has shown, is ripe with possibilities. Motorola should have embraced it a little more, even if it meant borrowing a page from Samsung’s book.

As for creases, they do exist. If you are wondering why I am using plural, well, with the Razr, you get a trio of creases and even though they are subtle, there is no escaping them.

The cover display is more useful now. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The outer cover display remains untouched at 2.7-inch with a 600×800-pixel resolution though Motorola has baked new software to make it more useful. The cover display, that Motorola calls quick view, can run any app now but your mileage may vary. By default, it ships with eight pre-defined apps. You can use gestures on it for navigation, respond directly to notifications if you can get used to its miniature full-size keyboard, or simply flip and move things to the inner screen — again, not all apps support this but the ones that do, work well enough. Motorola has got the cover display right if you compare it with what Samsung has done in the Galaxy Z Flip.

The new Razr also gets new hardware. It is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor paired with 8GB RAM and 256GB of non-expandable storage. Fueling the phone is a 2,8000mAh battery with 15W fast charging support. For photography, the Razr has a 48MP main camera and a 20MP selfie camera.

The new Razr also gets new hardware. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The thing about second-generation foldables, including the new Razr is that, they are all turning out to be big improvements over their predecessors on all fronts. They are getting more affordable too. Motorola has launched the new Razr in India at a price of Rs 1,24,999. Does that mean, you should buy one now? Well, the answer to that is still complicated. As visibly solid and reliable as these second-generation foldables are, they are still a risk when it comes to longevity. There is also the risk that Motorola might replace it with an even more compelling option soon enough. Lastly, even though the pricing has gone down, a phone like the Razr is still a luxury for most people.

Be that as it may, if you are unbothered by any of these aspects, I am happy to report that, the time to buy a foldable is now. The Razr may not be as hardware and function heavy as the Galaxy Z Flip, but it is the only other option available in the market today. Question is, can its nostalgia swoon you over to its direction.

Also Read Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G first impressions: Surprisingly solid, shockingly addictive

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