Motorola Razr is the closest thing to a workable, real-world foldable device with pre-orders starting Dec. 26. Should you consider it?
In the US, the Razr will be available for $1,500 in early January with global availability in early 2020. If you've read up on Razr here, here, here and here you've gotta admit you're enticed by the design and possibilities.
The Razr warrants more consideration than what has emerged so far in the foldable category, but it still may make sense to wait. Bottom line is that the foldable device category may be more than a science experiment thanks to Motorola.
Here's your decision tree and variables to consider before forking over $1,500.
Motorola has come closer than any other smartphone maker to a workable foldable device that makes sense. It has been a rough year for foldable devices. Initially, the concept from the likes of Samsung and Huawei sounded promising. The reality is that foldable devices were pricey beta tests. Motorola, however, has a design that has a hinge much like the original Razr. The hinge separates the screen from issues that Samsung had with the Fold.
Another consideration here is that Motorola is now owned by Lenovo. If there's any electronics manufacturer that knows how to test hinges it's Lenovo.
In addition, the Razr also minimizes itself relative to the Galaxy Fold and Mate X, which open like a book and want to be a tablet at times. The real world use cases align more with the Razr approach.
What's unclear is whether Motorola's Razr is refined enough to plunk down $1,500 for a device that's exclusive to Verizon. It's also unclear whether Samsung will have a foldable clamshell soon too.
If you're buying the Razr embrace it as a vanity play on some level. The specs are lacking, battery life unclear and the camera may need work. But damn it's kinda cool.
The new Razr has Qualcomm's Snapdragon 710 chip not the 855 or 855+. The battery is 2510 milliamp-hour, but that's smaller than many flagship devices and the Razr has to power a 6.2-inch display and an outer 2.7-inch display. Color me skeptical on battery life.
Storage at 128GB is skimpy and Razr has Android 9 Pie, not the latest version. Motorola will upgrade to Android 10 and is good and generally keeps up with Android's cadence. There is a 16-megapixel external camera on front and back and a 5-megapixel internal camera.
Motorola obviously made some trade-offs to price the Razr at $1,500. Other foldable devices run you $2,000 or more. The big question is whether these tradeoffs and specs matter.
The marketing of the Razr will be interesting give how nostalgia plays well these days. Razr was an iconic phone before Apple's iPhone and Lenovo's Motorola unit has retooled it, modernized the design and given it new life.
In other words, Razr will be evaluated as a modern take on an icon relative to phones that have an older brand yet don't offer much new. HMD's Nokia and BlackBerry phones come to mind.
Like other devices, the lack of 5G on the Razr is a tough fact to swallow. Razr is a $1,500 device with a novel design, but you'd be holding it for 2-years most likely on a network and processor that's slower.
The odd part here is that Razr is a Verizon exclusive. Verizon is working the 5G rollout and expanding cities almost monthly. Razr could be the 5G headliner for Verizon.
Why not 5G?
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It's hard to pack in another 5G processor as well as the antennas to make the Razr work.
That said it wouldn't be surprising to see a Razr Pro or similar device with upgraded specs and 5G at some point in 2020.
Bottom line: There are many reasons to wait and see how the foldable category develops, but since when has logic trumped gadget lust and those first few weeks of having a device no one else has?