Motorola’s adaptive display could let you wear your phone like a smartwatch — here’s how it works

Motorola adaptive display in watch mode
(Image credit: Motorola)

The best phones are slowly becoming the best foldable phones, but Motorola’s new adaptive display takes things to a whole other level.

Unveiled today at Lenovo Tech World 2023 in Austin, Texas, Motorola's adaptive display is a stunning piece of display technology. It starts out as a normal Motorola Android phone in its flat position, which measures out as a 6.9-inch FHD+ (meaning greater than 1080p resolution) pOLED display (plastic instead of glass). 

It can then be bent into several “stand modes.” When in these stand modes, the adaptive display transforms into a 4.6″ display. This gives you a similar experience to the outer screen of the Motorola Razr+ when that phone is folded in half or in a stand mode, and runs a more compact version of Android rather than the full-fledged operating system.


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But the real kicker? You can fold it to wrap the device around your wrist and wear it like your smartwatch. This potentially is a huge upgrade, since it could allow you to ditch the need for a wearable entirely.

And in an on-stage demo during the Tech World 2023 Keynote, Innovation Research Lead at Motorola Lexi Valasek showed how the phone can use AI to automatically create backgrounds to match your wrist candy to your outfit. Not exactly an earth-shattering AI development, but definitely a nice feature if you plan on rocking the adaptive display on your wrist regularly.

Motorola adaptive display adapts to any need — except one

(Image credit: Lenovo)

Ironically, Motorola’s adaptive display can’t actually fold, or at least, Motorola has shown nothing that indicates it can fold completely in half. And that could hamper the display’s practicality as a daily device for users. And to be clear, while called the adaptive display, this is a concept smartphone, so it’s a device as well.

I do have some concerns about how practical any of this is. I think that while it’s incredibly cool as a smartwatch — it’s bulky. I think you’ll be worried about bumping into things and I think it’s unlikely it’ll be comfortable as a watch while you exercise.

But it’s still an incredible concept, and I could see how it would have a lot of use for specific users in certain situations. For example, I could have definitely used it at Tech World today as a camera and notetaker in its smartphone mode, and then thrown it onto my wrist while moving about the expo. I should be able to get hands-on with it later today, but for now, it’s still definitely the thing I’m most excited about from Tech World so far.

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Malcolm McMillan
Senior Streaming Writer

Malcolm McMillan is a senior writer for Tom's Guide, covering all the latest in streaming TV shows and movies. That means news, analysis, recommendations, reviews and more for just about anything you can watch, including sports! If it can be seen on a screen, he can write about it. Previously, Malcolm had been a staff writer for Tom's Guide for over a year, with a focus on artificial intelligence (AI), A/V tech and VR headsets.

Before writing for Tom's Guide, Malcolm worked as a fantasy football analyst writing for several sites and also had a brief stint working for Microsoft selling laptops, Xbox products and even the ill-fated Windows phone. He is passionate about video games and sports, though both cause him to yell at the TV frequently. He proudly sports many tattoos, including an Arsenal tattoo, in honor of the team that causes him to yell at the TV the most.