I’ve seen plenty of inventive smartphone concepts over the years, but very few that actually seem functional. That’s why the rollable Motorola Rizr seriously impressed me when I got to go hands-on with it at the company’s HQ in Chicago.
The Rizr — not to be confused with the foldable Motorola Razr — is a palm-sized handset with a display that shape-shifts from a 5-inch, 15:9 screen to a 6.5 inch, 22:9 screen with a double press of a button. The flexible display curls around the bottom edge of the device, somewhat like a conveyor belt.
While the Rizr’s general size and shape feel reminiscent of the iconic Razr design, it can fully operate as a half-sized smartphone. It’s extremely pocketable, posing a stark contrast to my iPhone 14 Pro Max. I found the Rizr extremely comfortable to use, even one-handed.
I know I said the transformation is triggered by a side button, but that’s not all. The device offers a degree of built-in intuition thanks to automatic expanding actions. For example, when I launched a YouTube video and pressed the full-screen icon, the Rizr started expanding to accommodate a favorable aspect ratio for watching.
For now, the Rizr only offers the two screen orientations, meaning you can’t stop it from fully expanding or retracting. When retracted, the display on the backside of the phone beneath the camera array remains functional. I used it as a viewfinder to take selfies.
Surprisingly, the Rizr didn’t show signs of stress despite unfurling and re-curling the phone multiple times during the demo session. It moved smoothly, switching between orientations in approximately 2 seconds. I noticed the phone’s home screen takes a moment to reorient, but the experience is generally smooth.
With foldable phones still not as mainstream as the familiar slab, it’s been a bit difficult for me to imagine making the switch to a device with display versatility. But the Rizr might be the phone I’ve been waiting for.
I appreciate how the Rizr’s illusion can be carried out one-handed, which I can’t enjoy with any current foldable, including the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4. Motorola's device fits perfectly in my palm, providing nearly full functionality when condensed. When I need a larger screen, I can make it expand. Plus, the automatic expansion would eliminate some of the friction of transitioning to a non-traditional smartphone.
The current Motorola rumor-mill is caught up in the next generation Razr phones. But me? I'll be paying attention to more news about the roll out (hah) of the Rizr.