I won’t sugarcoat it: Motorola’s first attempt at a foldable Razr refresh was a complete flop.
The company is back to right its wrongs with the new Razr 5G, which features upgrades across the board, from better cameras and a stronger hinge to a bigger battery.
And, at $1,399, it’s also a bit cheaper than the first-generation model. While Motorola has yet to announce an official release date, the company says the phone will be available unlocked this fall. As for carriers, it’ll be available through AT&T and T-Mobile.
Having reviewed the first Razr back in February, I’m still a bit traumatized from the experience. In addition to an embarrassingly creaky hinge, the display started cracking after only a few days. On top of that, the pricey $1,500 phone produced low-resolution images and barely a day’s worth of battery life.
But Motorola can only go up from here, right? Let’s get into all of the improvements.
Same clamshell design, with a few tweaks
As a whole, the Razr 5G looks almost identical to its predecessor — it has the same clamshell aluminum build, but a bit smaller. On the front is a cover display that flips open to a larger screen (which we’ll get to later). But on closer inspection, you’ll find there are a few key differences.
For starters, the chin on the bottom of the phone is a lot smaller and no longer houses the fingerprint sensor. Instead, it’s reserved for 5G antennas while the sensor has been moved to the back of the device. Not only does this make it a lot easier to open the device one-handed, but it’s also a far more natural gesture.
I’m very thrilled for this change, particularly because I had a tendency to rest my finger on the chin while using the phone. This would often result in the Razr recognizing my fingerprint and locking the device each time, which got super annoying after a while.
Motorola also made improvements to the hinge with a redesigned feel that has more of a spring to it. The first version felt super stiff to open and close with one hand, so hopefully this one will allow for more of that classic flip-phone feel.
The Razr 5G also features the same “zero gap hinge system,” which leaves a minimal gap between both halves of the phone when shut to help prevent dust and debris from touching the display. And, to keep from damaging the hinge itself, there’s also a stainless steel cover that acts as a protective coating.
According to Motorola, a flip cycling test showed the Razr 5G can “withstand up to 200,000 flips, meaning it would take a power user over five years to reach that level of use.” But whether or not it can keep from making that awful creaky noise after a while remains to be seen.
As for color options, the Razr 5G is available in Graphite, Mercury, and Blush Gold.
An emphasis on information “at a glance”
On the front of the Razr 5G is a 2.7-inch touchscreen QuickView display while the inside features a 6.2-inch “FlexView” OLED HD screen with a 21:9 aspect ratio. If those specs sound familiar, that’s because Motorola kept both screens the exact same size as the first iteration.
However, you’re now able to do more with the cover display than simply check notifications. Essentially, you can navigate your most-used features using gestures. No need to open the phone each time.
This includes accessing the home screen with a swipe up, swiping to the left to trigger the app tray, swiping right for the camera app, and more. If you’re using Google Maps, you’ll also be able to see turn-by-turn directions or access playback controls with Spotify, Pandora, and YouTube Music.
Meanwhile, with the main display, Motorola said it focused more on durability — given that the phone’s predecessor had some issues. Like I said before, mine started to noticeably crack after only a short time, which made it difficult to use on a daily basis.
On the Razr 5G, the display is once again made of plastic but is composed of five layers that Motorola says are “durable enough to put in the hands of consumers.” It also has a custom protective hard coat and a water repellent design to help shield it from spills.
Of course, as with the hinge, we’ll have to test it out in person to see if Motorola’s new phone is as durable as it claims.
Far more impressive cameras, thank god
While I’m relieved to see Motorola set out to improve the Razr 5G’s durability, I’m more excited for the upgraded cameras.
The original model featured a 16-megapixel sensor on the front and a 5-megapixel sensor on the main display — the same cameras you’d find on a budget phone. The Razr 5G, on the other hand, has a 48-megapixel sensor under the cover display and a 20-megapixel sensor on the inside.
But rather than having to flip the phone open, the 48-megapixel main camera doubles as both the rear and selfie camera, allowing access to features like Portrait Mode, Spot Color, Group Selfie, and more. Additionally, you can also take advantage of the external display to help you line up a shot before it’s captured and to preview the photo afterwards.
Other improvements to the main camera include optical image stabilization for both photos and video along with laser autofocus built into the time-of-flight (ToF) sensor. Motorola also says the sensor has 4x the low light sensitivity from its predecessor, which should help to improve night shots. With the first-generation model, Night Vision on the Razr produced super blurry shots, so here’s hoping the upgraded technology will help.
As for software updates to the camera app itself, quick controls have been redesigned above the shutter button. You’ll now be able to access features like flash a lot more easily when holding the phone with one hand. Meanwhile, the carousel can now also be customized with modes that you tend to use a lot (like Portrait or Group Selfie).
What’s under the hood?
When it comes to its processor, the Razr 5G has a Snapdragon 765 processor with but it only supports the “slower” sub-6 5G speeds. That’s only applicable if 5G is currently available in your area.
It’s also powered by Android 10, but you’ll still have access to Moto Actions like twisting the phone to trigger the camera app or making a chopping motion to turn on the flashlight. Motorola is also introducing My UX which allows you to customize themes like fonts, colors, icon shapes, and more.
While the Razr 5G only comes in one storage configuration, yet again, Motorola has increased it from 6GB/128GB to 8GB of memory and 256GB of storage.
The phone also packs a bigger battery than its predecessor, with a 2,800mAh battery that comes with a 15W TurboPower brick for fast charging.
The last Razr featured a 2,510 mAh battery. It would last me all day on the weekends when I used it minimally, but when multitasking during the week (like checking emails, Slack messages, using Spotify, and streaming Netflix), I could barely make it more than five hours. So, it’s safe to say this is yet another improvement I’m excited about.
Durability remains to be seen
It’s clear that Motorola took note of all the ways the first Razr failed — a delicate display, an unpredictable hinge, poor camera quality, and iffy battery life — and tried to make the necessary changes.
However, while all of these improvements sound wonderful on paper, it remains to be seen whether the Razr 5G holds up. I say this because I was genuinely excited about the first version. And I remember how extremely disappointed I was when it didn’t live up to the hype.
Don’t let us down this time, Motorola.