Lenovo’s Motorola on Wednesday announced a new version of the iconic Razr flip phone. It has a full touch screen display inside — no keypad — but still folds in half like the clamshell design of phones from the 1990s and early 2000s. I like the throwback design.
It will succeed the Samsung Galaxy Fold as the second foldable phone in the U.S. when it launches with Verizon in January for $1,499.99. Preorders will begin Dec. 26. The Razr is the latest example of the budding trend of phones with foldable screens. In addition to Samsung’s Galaxy Fold, Huawei, Xiaomi and several other smaller players have been experimenting with foldable designs.
The ultimate goal is to create a phone that can double as a tablet when you open it up, but Motorola has a slightly different take. It looks like a normal touch-screen smartphone when it’s open, and it’s smaller and more pocketable when closed.
When it’s closed, the outside of the Razr has a 2.7-inch “Quick View” display that can show you basic stuff, like text messages (which you can reply to), new emails, incoming phone calls, mobile payment cards, music controls and a camera viewfinder. You can even talk to Google Assistant by saying “OK Google” when it’s closed.
But, when you open the new Razr, it comes to life and resembles a modern smartphone.
A large 6.2-inch display unfolds when you open the Razr. It makes more sense than the Galaxy Fold, which opened up to a tablet-sized device but not really a form factor that most people are used to using, especially with one hand. Motorola said it added metal support plates so the phone feels sturdy when it’s open, as if you’re using a regular phone, just one that can close into a more pocketable design.
This seems like the future of how foldable phones should and may work for most people. Think about devices like the Samsung Galaxy Note 11+, for example. I love it, but it’s huge. If Samsung uses its display technology in future iterations, it could make it more pocketable by allowing it to fold in half, like Motorola is doing.
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Motorola says the screen is protected using a “zero gap” hinge that allows the Razr to fold “completely flush with no gap.” That’s supposed to protect the flexible screen inside, which is fragile and, like the Galaxy Fold, could potentially be prone to damage from outside objects that might be floating in your pocket.
But, for $1,500, you should expect more power. Motorola includes a Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 chip instead of the newest and more powerful Snapdragon 855+. There’s 128 GB of storage, which is fine, but it also runs Android 9 Pie, which is last year’s version of Android. Also, there’s a fingerprint reader, but no sort of facial recognition, which I prefer for added security and speed. And, finally, Motorola includes a 16MP camera, though its cameras haven’t previously been ranked as highly as the Google Pixel, iPhone or Samsung Galaxy phones.
The price of $1,500 seems like an awful lot for a phone that doesn’t have the most powerful processor. But the Razr was once the must-have phone back around 2004 and 2005, and its design makes more sense than some others we’ve seen. More likely, it’s a taste of the sort of designs of foldable phones we’ll see in the coming years.
This story first appeared on CNBC.com. More from CNBC: