How fragile is the Motorola Razr? Watch this

(Image credit: Jerry Rigs Everything)

If you are planning to buy a Motorola Razr there’s a question you should ask yourself first: how careful are you with phones? Because if the answer is not “super careful” you could be in for a world of pain.

YouTuber JerryRigsEverything got his hands on the Razr and, while he believes that the format is extremely compact compared to your regular candybar flagship, his analysis of its durability is pretty damning.

A fragile screen

We knew this was going to happen. The screen of the Razr is fragile, like every other foldable phone we have seen to date. In his tests, it doesn’t pass the number 2 scratch test — out of 10. At level three, he says, his pick almost felt like it was going to cut through the outer plastic layer. It didn’t, but it left some really extreme scratch marks.

(Image credit: Jerry Rigs Everything)

This is one of the pitfalls of the phone’s foldable screen technology. Being thin plastic, it’s bound to suffer. On the other hand, the phone will remain closed while in your pocket, safe from car keys, coins or any other object that will scratch it. But when you open it you will have to be very careful, as even your fingernails will leave marks on the surface if you are not careful and press hard enough.

That said, there are plenty of phones out there which get easily scratched. Last year the iPhone 11 was lambasted by users who saw its screens scratching with no apparent contact with any metal surfaces. And a candybar phone is always exposed unless it’s using a screen protector or a case that covers the screen. In the case of the Razr, the phone itself is the screen’s protector.

A solid hinge mechanism — exposed to damage

The other jarring test is the one in which he got a handful of dirt and threw it into the phone. Obviously, nobody is going to do this, but it’s a good way to demonstrate how easily it is to get particles inside the hinge mechanism. 

The Destroyer of Phones says that the hinge itself seems really solid but Motorola didn’t learn anything from the Samsung Galaxy Fold debacle. The Razr’s hinge is not sealed and you can still get stuff inside. As the test shows, the hinge will quickly deteriorate when it gets particles inside, making a “nails on a chalkboard” sound that is as unnerving as it is a sign of increasing damage inside the phone. 

The screen will be affected, too, as any big particle of sand will put pressure on any point of the OLED panel, pushing it upwards and deforming it. Eventually, JerryRigsEverything says, this will go from an aesthetic problem to damaged pixels to a fully broken display. I have no reason to doubt his judgement: just watch the BBC video above at the 40-second mark to see how easy you can get your nail under the display.

This is a lot more worrying than forced hinge tests or Cnet’s hinge durability test with a machine that — as Motorola pointed out — is not designed to simulate the natural opening and closing of the Razr. Regardless of the amount of times you can open and close the Razr, if there is a mechanism that is exposed to particles, you can bet that the particles will get in there rather sooner than later — unless you only use the phone in a clean laboratory.

(Image credit: Jerry Rigs Everything)

More reports from all over

The YouTuber says that, otherwise, the phone is solid. The build— metal and glass for everything but the back, which is a textured polymer — seems rather excellent  and scratch resistant. But, clearly, Motorola could have waited to get the screen and the hinge perfect. The incoming Samsung Galaxy Z Flip may have at least improved on the screen scratch resistance thanks to a new ultra-thin glass material.

These bad news are not the only ones. There are more reports that talk about the phones’ apparent fragility. There are Razrs in stores with display problems but we don’t know which kind of damage these units have received. We will probably get a better idea in the coming weeks, as users begin to use their Razrs without wanting to destroy them on purpose.

Jesus Diaz

Jesus Diaz founded the new Sploid for Gawker Media after seven years working at Gizmodo, where he helmed the lost-in-a-bar iPhone 4 story and wrote old angry man rants, among other things. He's a creative director, screenwriter, and producer at The Magic Sauce, and currently writes for Fast Company and Tom's Guide.