Motorola Razr 2019: Specs, Price, Release Date

By today’s smartphone standards, the original Motorola Razr phone is primitive. At the time it debuted in the early 2000s, however, the ultra-thin clamshell phone’s metallic build, electroluminescent keyboard, and long battery life came close to mobile phone nirvana. It even gave a satisfying snap when you shut it.

Years later, Motorola tried to revitalize the Razr brand by putting the name on a series of Android handsets: the Droid Razr, the Droid Razr HD, and the Razr Maxx. These were, according to reviews and our own recollections, good phones. Compared to the original Razr however, they were unmemorable.

Now Motorola is bringing back the Razr once again. And this time, it folds.

The company announced the new device Wednesday at a press event in Los Angeles. As first reported in early 2019 by The Wall Street Journal, this new Razr has a flexible display. This allows it to fold closed like an OG Razr, then unfold to become a touchscreen smartphone with a 6.2-inch diagonal. It’s called, simply, the Motorola Razr, and it runs on Google’s Android 9 Pie operating system.

Motorola, which was acquired by PC maker Lenovo near the end of 2014, says a cross-functional team of engineers from both Motorola and Lenovo was created back in 2015 to start researching what was technically possible with a folding phone. The original idea wasn’t to bring back the Razr, but after seeing other flexible display designs, the team determined that clamshell was the way to go. (It’s worth noting that the overall utility of a folding phone is still debatable, though electronics makers insist that these are the future of devices. We shall see!)

This new Razr looks sleek like the original one, with the exception of what appears to be a bulky chin at the bottom, which houses a fingerprint sensor. The phone is constructed of stainless steel and Gorilla Glass. There are three tactile buttons: power, volume up, volume down. There’s no audio jack, but Motorola says a USB-C to headphone adapter will be included in the box the phone ships in.

When unfolded, the Razr is slim—6.9 millimeters thin, about the thickness of an old iPhone 6. Naturally, it’s thicker when folded. But even at a folded 14 mm, the Razr is thinner than Samsung’s Galaxy Fold when the latter is folded.

When the Razr is closed, you’ll access settings, some basic app functions, and quick interactions on a 2.7-inch touchscreen. When it unfurls itself to the world, the Razr has that 6.2-inch diagonal, flexible display with a 21:9 aspect ratio.

The new Motorola Razr, all folded up.

Courtesy of Motorola

The Razr’s camera operability gets a little weird, as we’re learning is the case with folding devices (see: Galaxy Fold and Microsoft’s Surface Duo device, which in its current form doesn’t even have a rear camera). When the Razr is closed, you can use the 16-megapixel rear camera as a selfie camera through this 2.7-inch “Quick View” display. When the phone is opened, you can use that same camera as a standard rear camera, and use an interior five-megapixel cam as your selfie camera.

Motorola is particularly proud of the phone’s hinge—we’re seeing “hinge pride” as a trend here among the manufacturers that have dared to get bendy this year. The company calls it an “industry-first, patent protected zero-gap hinge,” one that lets the new Razr phone close completely, with both sides of the display lying flush with one another. This design is supposedly going to protect the display from debris and dust too, a necessity that Samsung discovered the hard way when the earliest units of its Galaxy Fold failed in the hands of some reviewers thanks to errant particles.

One aspect of the phone that Motorola might not boast about so readily is its battery life. We don’t know yet how well the device perform in that department, and I haven’t had the chance to hold the phone, much less test it. But the phone’s spec sheet lists a 2,510 mAh battery, which is smaller than the battery in the Samsung Galaxy S10, the Google Pixel 4, and newer iPhones.

Flex Spending

The new Motorola Razr will sell for $1,500. A spokesperson for Motorola said the phone will be available for pre-sale through Verizon next month, and will be in Verizon stores by January 2020.

At $1,500, the Razr is not a cheap phone. It’s in line with top-of-the-line (non-folding) flagship phones from Samsung and Apple, though it’s less than the $1,980 Galaxy Fold.

The big question is whether people will want to pay $1,500 or more for a phone that has the benefit of being a little more pocketable. Motorola’s foldable approach is notably different from Samsung’s. Where Samsung is trying to convince people they need a phone that can turn into a tablet, Motorola is offering a 6-inch smartphone that halves in size with a snap.

Putting it another way: Samsung thinks the melding of smartphones and tablets may be the future, while Motorola is betting that the future, actually, feels a lot more nostalgic than that.

Update, November 13, 2019 at 11:35 pm EDT: A previous version of the article said Motorola hadn’t yet shared how much the Razr will cost. The article has been updated to include the price.

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