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One of the best cheap foldable phones I've tested is not a Samsung or OnePlus

Last year's Motorola Razr made headlines for its value for price. This year's version is even better, and it costs the same.
Written by Max Buondonno, Contributing Writer
Motorola Razr 2024 bent upward on a table.
Max Buondonno/ZDNET

ZDNET's key takeaways

  • The Motorola Razr (2024) is available now for $699. 
  • It's a refreshed version of the entry-level foldable Moto released last year, with an even bigger cover display, better performance, and all-day battery life.
  • The camera remains the weakest point of the device, and you'll only get three major Android upgrades.

So, you're in the market for a folding phone. Whether it's your first one or your second or third -- if you refuse to go back to "normal" non-folding phones and are looking to save some money, there's no better foldable on the market today than the Motorola Razr.

Also: I went hands-on with Samsung's Galaxy Z Flip 6, and it's basically a high-tech fidget spinner

The latest version of Motorola's flip phone gets all sorts of upgrades from last year's model: a bigger external display, faster performance, better water resistance, and higher brightness, all for the same $699 price. Are there some downsides? Sure, but anyone looking for a mid-range foldable should look no further.

View at Motorola

It starts with the cover screen, which has significantly improved over the previous generation. The display has grown from 1.5 inches to 3.6 inches -- the same size as the outer screen on the 2023 Razr Plus. This means that you can run apps, play games, and use well-detailed widgets for quick glances at important information.

Also: I went hands-on with Samsung's Galaxy Z Flip 6, and it's basically a high-tech fidget spinner

For context, none of these features were available on the old Razr. Sure, you had some widgets and panels to look at on its tiny 1.5-inch display, but there's no denying that it got cramped pretty quickly. The new Razr gracefully avoids that issue with a far larger screen, and it's the upgrade I've appreciated the most.

Motorola Razr 2024 cover display versus Razr 2023 cover display.
Max Buondonno/ZDNET

Speaking of which, the main display also looks great. It shares many of the same specs as the old Razr's display, such as the size, the P-OLED panel, and the Full HD+ resolution. The refresh rate is slightly lower at 120Hz versus 144Hz, but the difference is negligible. What matters most is the increased brightness; the new Razr can go all the way up to 3,000 nits, making the screen way easier to see in direct sunlight, especially through sunglasses.

Of course, the crease is still there, but Motorola has reduced it compared to the previous Razr. It doesn't feel as pronounced in person, but you can definitely still see it. The hinge itself has also been upgraded with increased strength, which is important for long-term use.

Also: The best Android phones you can buy: Expert tested

Motorola also had the Razr and Razr Plus IPX8 certified, which means you can dunk either of them in a meter and a half of water for up to 30 minutes. You might be wondering why there's an "X" where you'd usually find a "5" or "6" in that rating, and that's because Moto didn't test for dirt and dust protection. The company did, however, tell me that there is a level of protection for small debris, so there's that.

Motorola Razr 2024 inner display in a living room.
Max Buondonno/ZDNET

The design also includes some premium materials on the exterior. The Koala Gray version I have comes with a vegan suede material, while the Beach Sand and Spritz Orange (a.k.a. the best color) have vegan leather. The suede on the gray model feels both smooth and grippy, and I haven't noticed any excess dirt collection. Of course, over time, it's unclear how well the material will hold up, but it seems to be doing well in my early testing.

Also: I tested Motorola's new Razr Plus (2024) and it made the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip feel outdated

New in Motorola's Hello UX experience are a few AI upgrades, including a whole new Moto Assistant that can reference images, remember what someone said, and manage your notifications. Unfortunately, it's not here yet. Instead, the only "new" AI feature I could test was Google Gemini, which is integrated into both the folding and cover displays. You can completely replace the Google Assistant with Gemini and use the same "Hey Google" command to ask questions or prompts.

Motorola Razr 2024 Koala Grey suede finish.
Max Buondonno/ZDNET

I also really liked the battery life of the Razr. Motorola equipped it with a 4,200mAh cell, and it can deliver all-day battery life with 20-25 percent left in the tank after a full 16-hour day. It recharges at 30W which, admittedly, is slow by today's standards, but it's fine for an overnight juice-up. You also get 15W wireless charging, which is a nice convenience, but there's no reverse wireless charging.

The biggest downside to the new Razr, however, is the camera. The 50MP f/1.7 main camera is severely underwhelming. Photos come out decent in broad daylight, but they fall apart quickly in most other situations.

Moto Razr 2024 50MP main camera sample

A sample from the 50MP main camera on the Motorola Razr (2024)

Max Buondonno/ZDNET

The 13MP ultra-wide camera is simply unreliable as is. Quality dips tremendously between the two sensors, with the ultra-wide failing to capture the same amount of light and detail as the main. Video quality from both looks choppy and overprocessed, and the portrait mode is passable. I do appreciate the fact you can use the outer screen as a viewfinder for your subject, but with cameras this disappointing, it's nothing more than a nice-to-have the few times you'll be snapping shots.

Also: Get our favorite foldable phone for $599 - a discount of $1,100. Here's how

Video quality is also disappointing, as are selfies taken with the 32MP front-facing camera. Overall, unless you tend to apply a ton of filters to your photos anyway, you'll be disappointed.

I'm also not a fan of the software support Motorola has promised. It only guarantees three years of major Android upgrades and four years of security patches, whereas other manufacturers offer five to seven years of updates. Maybe you use your phone for longer than three years, maybe you don't, but it'd be nice if Motorola gave you the option to use the phone longer than three years with updates.

One more side note: the Razr has a tendency to get pretty hot under normal usage. Maybe it's just the extra heat from the summer or the fact I was taking more pictures than I usually would outside of a review period, but I noticed that it heats up pretty often and doesn't cool down as quickly as other phones. My guess? It's a physics thing involving the specs, battery, and the fact this thing is on the thin side.

ZDNET's buying advice

The Motorola Razr (2024) is a great entry-level phone for those who are curious about the flip-style form factor. While the camera isn't the best, the rest of the Razr is incredibly solid, especially for the $699 asking price. Sure, you'll find more high-end foldables out there, but if you want to save some money (or perhaps pick it up as a secondary phone), this is the one to get.

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