The foldable Motorola Razr grabbed our attention when it debuted in 2019, but Motorola never converted that interest into sales. It sounds like a rumored update, the Motorola Razr 3, aims to change that.
Motorola has yet to confirm that it's working on a new edition of the Razr, which already saw an update in 2020. But rumors about the device are swirling — there's even a short video purporting to show the Razr 3 in action. And some observers think we could be seeing an announcement about a new foldable from Motorola as soon as June.
Previous versions of the Razr — which takes the old Motorola flip phone of old and updates it with a flexible display — had failed to crack the best foldable phones rankings. Even more galling for Motorola is the fact that the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 features a very similar design to the Razr, but has proven far more popular. (The sub-$1,000 price for Samsung's phone probably helps.)
From what we've seen so far of the rumored Motorola Razr 3 features, this new version looks like a bit of a departure from what's been available previously. More importantly, the rumored changes suggest that Motorola is serious about fixing the flaws of its earlier foldable phone.
Where the Motorola Razr went wrong
Jump back three years ago, and expectations were certainly high when Motorola confirmed that it was working on a foldable that offered the look-and-feel of the Razrs of old. Back before the iPhone ushered in the candybar-shaped smartphone era, the Razr was the epitome of a flip phone done right. Throw in a foldable screen and all the conveniences of a modern handset, and there figured to be plenty about the Razr, even with its eyebrow-raising $1,500 debut price.
High prices aren't necessarily a deal killer for foldable phones — just ask the Galaxy Z Fold 3, which still costs $1,799 — but serious flaws are. And that first foldable Motorola Razr had more than its share of those.
Our Motorola Razr (2019) review found a phone with a stiff hinge that made it difficult to open and a noticeable gap between the display and the chassis that appeared when you tried to close the phone. Then there was the creaking noise that was audible when you open and closed the phone
Beyond questions of the build quality, you can also find fault with the design decisions that went into the Razr. Motorola opted to keep the bulky chin from its original flip phone. Maybe that was the right idea at the time, but as smartphones have moved closer to edge-to-edge displays, the bulky bezel on the Razr seems more out of place.
The interior of the phone failed to redeem it. Besides some underwhelming camera performance, the Razr featured a Snapdragon 710 chipset — a solid performer but not the kind of powerhouse you'd expect from a phone with a four-figure price tag. The Razr lasted a little more than 6 hours on our battery test, nearly 4 hours less than the average smartphone.
But other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how do you like your new foldable?
Motorola made some effort to address those problems with a 2020 follow-up release that cut the price of the phone to $1,399. The newer Razr upgraded the lone exterior camera and tweaked the design to address that creaking hinge and the gap that kept the phone from closing flush. But while the silicon got a slight upgrade, the new Razr still didn't use one of Qualcomm's more powerful 8 Series chipsets. We never got the chance to review the newer model — Motorola didn't offer review units to the press — but it seems that plenty of room for improvement remained.
How the Motorola Razr 3 could change things
Motorola could turn things around if what we've heard about the Razr 3 turns out to be true. For starters, rumors point to the phone using the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 — currently the fastest system-on-chip Qualcomm offers. That should address performance concerns and put the Razr on par with the upcoming Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4 foldables Samsung's likely to release later this year.
That video from dependable leaker Evan Blass should also alleviate concerns about the Razr. There are two lenses on the outside of the phone, not just one, and the selfie cam on the interior display is housed in a punch-hole cutout, not a notch. More significantly, the chin is gone from the bottom of the screen, allowing the display to extend the length of the phone's body.
We don't know how or if Motorola plans to address battery life, a common issue on foldable phones that have so much screen space to keep powered up. But with the better processor and improved design we've seen from Razr 3 leaks so far, that's two big issues with the earlier versions tackled right off the bat.
We also don't know what the price of the Motorola Razr 3 is likely to be, but the beefier chipset and added camera suggest that the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is unlikely to get company in the sub-$1,000 price range. But as noted above, price isn't as much of an issue if your foldable phone can deliver other fronts. The rumored Motorola Razr 3 seems in a better position to succeed than its predecessors.