Motorola's revived Razr has no compelling productivity angle for professionals

Motorola is releasing a new Razr to coincide with the 15th anniversary of the brand. For a folding phone, there's not a lot here to unpack for business users.

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Motorola unveiled the revival of the Razr flip phone / fashion accessory Wednesday night during a press event in Los Angeles, marking the company's first product with a foldable screen. Unlike the tablet modality of the Samsung Galaxy Fold, the Motorola Razr uses the classic clamshell flip phone modality that largely fell out of favor following the release of the original iPhone.

The Razr uses a 6.2-inch, 21:9, 373 ppi pOLED display, with a resolution of 2,142 by 876 pixels, with a 2.7-inch, 4:3 800 by 600 pixel display on the front. It is powered by a mid-range Snapdragon 710, and includes 128 GB storage and 6 GB RAM, with a 2,510 mAh battery. The camera setup is a 16-megapixel external (f/1.7, dual pixel AF) camera on the front, which works as the rear camera when the phone is opened. There is also a 5-megapixel internal camera—pointed toward the user when the phone is open—for selfies. 

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Motorola is partnering with Verizon as the exclusive carrier of the Razr in the US, and the phone is priced at $1,499—which is steep relative to non-folding phones, though is cheaper than the Galaxy Fold ($1980), which has a larger screen and more powerful processor. Preorders start on December 26, with retail availability expected in January 2020. Motorola is shipping the Razr with Android 9, though Android 10 will be four months old by the time the phone is available.

CNET's Jessica Dolcourt notes in her hands-on experience with the Motorola Razr, that there is a "a fingernail-thin channel that runs around the perimeter between the display and the bezel, which concerns me in light of the [Galaxy] Fold's former issues with the top layer separating from the P-OLED below. At the very least, this channel collects dust," also noting that the phone has a 0.2mm gap between the display and hinge.

It's difficult to determine who this phone is for—despite being a Verizon exclusive, it is not compatible with Verizon's 5G network, nor is it sufficiently powerful enough to support Gigabit LTE. The Snapdragon 710 is squarely mid-range, seen in the Xiaomi Mi 8 ($420) and Mi 9 Lite ($300) as well as the Samsung Galaxy A8s ($389). Because of the form factor, the Razr is not compatible with Moto Mod lineup of expansions. The weak system-on-a-chip (SoC) is paired with a small battery—this theoretically should work out, as it should be less power-hungry than the flagship Snapdragon 855, but for powering two screens, the potential for that working well appears unlikely.

There's no obvious productivity play in the new Razr for business users—the front screen does not make anything easier, there is a strong potential for the sizable chin at the bottom to be an obstruction to typing. There's no microSD card, which could be a problem for users that depend on additional storage. The phone relies exclusively on eSIM, though given that it is sold only through Verizon, this is not substantially different from the CDMA experience.

If you need a tiny phone, this might be compelling—or at least better than the dinky 3.3" Palm phone that was released last year, exclusively on Verizon. That's a very low hurdle to clear, though. 

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Image: Motorola