A new patent shows that Motorola is at least thinking about giving modular capabilities to its new foldable Razr smartphone line. That might not be surprising given the company’s long history of trying to make its phones expandable with different attachable parts.
The diagrams filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office — unearthed by the ever-digging patent hunter LetsGoDigital (opens in new tab) — show a phone very similar to the newest Razr, but without its prominent "chin."
Instead, this hypothetical Razr 2 would get a hunchback. In fact, it appears that these squarish modules poking out of the back would actually be the phones' backbones.
Modular components would attach to the Razr 2’s hinge, providing it with features such as cameras, speakers, projectors or whatever Motorola engineers or third parties can dream up. The patent describes a camera module with a 12MP sensor.
Motorola's love affair with modular phones goes back to 2013, when Motorola Mobility showed Project Ara (opens in new tab) to the world. The concept was created to give a basic phone expanded functionality with different specialized modules, from better cameras and extra storage to niche mechanical and medical blocks.
Project Ara stayed with Google when Lenovo bought Motorola from Google. But in September 2016, Motorola introduced the Moto Z Play line. These phones had a connector on their backs to magnetically attach modules (opens in new tab) such as expanded power packs, 5G modules, regular speakers, Alexa speakers, a gamepad, cameras with true optical-zoom capability, 360-degree cameras and even a Polaroid photo printer.
Rumor has it that Motorola may be scaling back on its modular phone efforts (opens in new tab) — even though the modules are beloved by users. However, the patent unearthed by LetsGoDigital shows that Motorola may still be thinking in those terms.
I think that modular phones are a great idea, especially if Motorola lets people order customized phones with different modules according to their needs. For example, why would I want a selfie camera if I never take selfies?
In the United States, the current Motorola Razr will be available for pre-order for $1,500 through Verizon on Dec. 26. Buyers will receive their foldable Razrs when the phone goes on sale Jan. 9.