Razr is transformative when it comes to its design, coolness and usability, with a dash of nostalgia for those who crave for small folding phones
By Srivatsa Krishna
At a time when smartphones are on the path to “size does matter” and are pushing boundaries in the 6-7 inches segment and beyond, comes the reimagined Motorola Razr which is a little engineering and design delight to hold and use. When folded, it fits comfortably inside the palm of your hand and is designed for single-hand use. At a time when clamshells seemed to be done and dusted, as also when most foldable phones of Xiaomi and Huawei are struggling to hit the market despite showing off excellent prototypes, Motorola’s Razr redefines the game. Its design has to be seen to be believed — a 6.2-inch foldable P-OLED screen with 373ppi density with the chin and back made of high-quality plastic. The tall 21:9 aspect ratio of the interior screen is fantastic for watching films shot in a wide aspect ratio.
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This foldable delight is an engineering marvel of steel and glass, with no visible crease which is almost magical when its folded. That’s because the hinge is cleverly designed to ensure the display itself doesn’t crease completely and the two metal plates move under the screen. Motorola did take great care to keep the fold in the middle of the screen as gentle as possible and also not to put too much strain on the ribbon cable that connects both halves, which hopefully will keep the display more durable than the competition. When folded, the Razr measures 14 mm thick making it the slimmest foldable phone in the world beating the Galaxy Fold which is a bit thicker at 17.1 mm. When the phone is closed, the 2.7-inch external “Quick View” display is a highly usable one for notifications, selfies and music. The Quick View can perhaps be used for many more innovative shortcuts and uses through future software upgrades, which can make it even more charming. The box is in the shape of a diamond and once the phone is docked in it, it can be used as a speaker to play music. It also has a carrying case resembling a high-end sunglass case which is extremely premium. Try the retrospective Razr keyboard to turn up the volume when you fire it up.
The other interesting facet of the phone is its gesture support and purist Android software without annoying proprietary layers on top of it. Motorola gestures are perhaps the best among Android phones and on a folding device they add to its usability and coolness. If you point the phone to a bunch of faces and twist your wrist, it activates the camera and the moment you smile the picture is taken! When you take a picture of a person, the Razr has a cartoon face on the Quick View display. Likewise, a double shake activates the torch. Gimmicky? No, actually it’s quite smart and makes taking photos a joy, much better than on the Galaxy Z Flip. Further, on the main phone one can turn off the buttons completely and use just gestures to navigate it with remarkable simplicity. There is no headphone jack, but the phone comes with both a dongle and a premium set of USB-C earbuds. The power button on the side is textured, which is nice and the fingerprint sensor is on the chin. Motorola says the phone is splash resistant, but not waterproof. The bummer is when one looks at price performance ratio: the specs are largely mid-tier. It uses the Snapdragon 710 with 6GB of RAM and 128GB storage with no expandable storage and a tiny 2510 mAh battery—for a $1500 phone these are disappointing. It uses an e-Sim only and needs to be programmed over the air for using it and this is currently offered only by Airtel and Reliance Jio in India.
Saving the best for the last, the Razr is actually made-in-India, perhaps one of the first high-end phones to be so! Razr is transformative when it comes to its design, coolness, and usability with a dash of nostalgia for those who crave for small folding phones. The next version will hopefully push the boundaries of design, performance and usability even more with a 5G chip and better specifications to handle the various well-known trade-offs inside such an engineering marvel.
The Razr will change your relationship with your phone forever. It is an icon—re-imagined.
The writer is an IAS officer.
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