The new Motorola Razr is set to release on February 6th. This is only the 2nd version of a mass-produced folding screen phone any of us have ever seen. After witnessing the lukewarm reception to Samsung's Galaxy Fold last year, it's little wonder other companies have been hesitant to enter the fray.
In April of last year, Samsung sent a handful of phones to select members of the technology press, hoping to make a great first impression and kickstart sales of a truly new kind of personal device.
The only thing Samsung managed to kick was itself. Within days many of the devices suffered critical failures. In one or another each problem was traced back to issues with the device's folding screen. A few reporters complained of debris becoming stuck underneath the flexible display. A few over-eager writers began their testing process by peeling off what they thought to be a temporary screen protector only to realize it was a critical piece of the screen itself. The folding screen may be have nifty (albeit a feature no one ever asked for), but the design simply couldn't stand up to the rigors of daily use. Samsung tried to fix the problems and re-released a new version a couple months later. Spoiler alert: the problems weren't fixed.
Long story short, it turns out making a glossy folding screen is neither easy or cheap, and unless it works flawlessly consumers will never flock to it. It's little wonder that we haven't heard about a folding screen phone since. That is, until a few days ago. Motorola has announced a folding-screen reboot of their iconic Razr flip phone from 15 years ago.
Yes, the same Razr that you wanted years ago but probably didn't have. Despite it's incredible popularity, the device was quickly overshadowed by more sophisticated offerings from Blackberry and their smartphone ilk. Now is your chance to try again! The new foldable Razr hits stores on February 6th! In spite of the challenges Samsung experienced with the Fold, Motorola is leaning hard into the folding screen concept to try again. This confidence isn't entirely hubris. The Razr differs from it's Fold predecessor in a few key ways that may mean the difference between commercial success and failure.
A few of these differences are obvious at first glance. The new Razr folds along the horizontal axis rather than the vertical as Samsung had tried. Overall the device itself is smaller as well. These two changes mean the Razr lacks the bulkiness of the Fold and is much easier to carry around.
It's also important to note that new Razr is slightly less powerful than it's competition. The Fold's Snapdragon 855 hardware easily outperforms the Razr's Snapdragon 710 chipset. The Razr also has half the RAM, a quarter the storage, and a battery half the size of the Fold's. So while the Fold outperforms the Razr is a sprint, the Razr will be more affordable. Listed retail is around $1499, compared to the Fold's heftier $1,930 price tag. Verizon actually has Razrs available for pre-order at $62.49/month.
For pictures the new Razr comes equipped with a single forward-facing 16 megapixel camera. In other words, you'll get decent pictures but don't expect to see Insta-celebs carting these around any time soon.
Just like last time, we'll have to see how it goes. It seems inevitable that the screen-folding technology will improve to the point of consumer-grade reliability. One day we'll likely all have a couple devices that feature such a screen, and we won't think twice about how long it will last in our charge.
Is that Razr that device? Possibly; at least we hope so. It looks cool and fun to use. Now we just have to see if it works.