Foldable phones may be the future of design for smartphones, but for its first foldable device, Motorola is drawing on its past. The smartphone maker is reviving last decade's iconic Razr, producing a flip phone that's nothing but screen when you open it up. Folded up, the new Motorola Razr slips right into a pocket just like the cell phones of old.
It's an exciting design precisely because it's so familiar, but Motorola's foldable Razr isn't the only foldable phone out there. The Galaxy Fold is already available, even after some issues with review units caused Samsung to push back the launch of its first foldable by five months.
Can the Motorola Razr's recognizable design overcome the Galaxy Fold's head start in conquering the foldable smartphone market? Or will Samsung's focus on productivity help its device win the day. Here's how the Motorola Razr compares to the Galaxy Fold now that we've had a chance to take a closer look at Motorola's latest phone.
Motorola Razr vs. Galaxy Fold: The specs
|Phone||Motorola Razr||Galaxy Fold|
|Exterior Display (Resolution)||2.7 inches (800 x 600)||4.6 inches (1680 x 720)|
|Interior Display (Resolution)||6.2 inches (2142 x 876)||7.3 inches (2152 x 1536)|
|CPU||Snapdragon 710||Snapdragon 855|
|Cameras||Exterior: 16 MP (f/1.7); Interior: 5 MP (f/2.0)||Exterior: 12-MP wide-angle (f/1.5 to f/2.4), 12-MP telephoto (f/2.4), 16-MP ultra-wide (f/2.2); Front: 10-MP (f/2.2); Inside: 10-MP (f/2.2); 8-MP RGB depth (f/1.9)|
|Battery Size||2,510 mAh||4,380 mAh|
|Battery Life (Hrs:Mins)||Not yet tested||10:01|
|Size, Unfolded||6.77 x 2.83 x 0.27 inches||6.3 x 4.6 x 0.3 inches|
|Size, Folded||3.7 x 2.83 x 0.55 inches||6.3 x 2.5 x 0.66 inches|
|Weight||7.2 ounces||9.48 ounces|
|Colors||Noir Black||Space Silver, Cosmos Black|
Motorola Razr vs. Galaxy Fold: Design and display
Any comparison between the Motorola Razr and the Galaxy Fold starts with their displays. Both devices feature an exterior screen — a 2.7-inch OLED panel in the case of the Razr versus 4.6 inches on the Fold. That suggests a different approach to how Motorola and Samsung see you using their respective phones' outer displays. In the case of the Razr, that 2.7-screen is merely for at-a-glance information like the time and incoming notifications; you can also use the screen for quick replies when you don't want to open up the Razr. In contrast, the external screen on the Fold is big enough to use as a regular smartphone screen. You only need open up the Fold when a larger screen helps you become more productive.
The differences continue when you open up either phone. The Galaxy Fold opens like a book, with the panel containing the exterior screen folding down to reveal a 7.3-inch OLED screen with QHGA+ resolution. The new Razr opens up like the Motorola flip phones of a generation ago, lifting up to turn the interior of the Razr into a 6.2-inch HD display.
To give you the Razr's extended screen, Motorola uses two stainless steel hinges connected to sliding support plates that keep the display rigid when the phone is fully opened. As a result, there's no visible crease on the screen — at least, not one we noticed in our hands-on time with the Razr — like you see on the Galaxy Fold particularly when using apps with a white background. Resolution on the Fold is sharper than what you get with the Razr, though both phones suffer from the fact that they have to use plastic displays since bendable smartphone-sized panels of glass simply aren't feasible at this point.
At 3.7 x 2.8 x 0.55 inches when folded, the Motorola Razr enjoys an edge over the bulkier 6.3 x 2.5 x 0.66-inch Galaxy Fold. The Razr is slender enough to slip into a pants pocket when not in use whereas the Fold is better suited for a jacket pocket.
Much has been made over the Galaxy Fold's durability, especially after some design flaws became apparent with pre-release units forcing Samsung to delay the Fold's launch until the fall. Samsung has made several changes to the Fold, extending the plastic protective film over the display and tucking it behind a metal rim so that you don't inadvertently peel back that layer and damage the phone's screen. Samsung also added covers to keep debris from getting inside the Fold's hinge and used small metal plates to make the display more stable. Samsung says you can fold its phone 200,000 times, though some tests don't back up that claim.
Motorola isn't making any claims about how much you can open and close its phone, but it also doesn't issue any cautions on treating the Razr with kid gloves. We'll have to spend more time with the Razr to see how durable it truly is, but it felt sturdy in our hands-on time with the device, and a 1-year warranty covers screen replacements.
Motorola Razr vs. Galaxy Fold: Performance
There's not going to be much competition between these two foldable phones when it comes to performance. Samsung chose to use Qualcomm's top-of-the-line Snapdragon mobile processor in the Galaxy Fold, which means that its foldable phone features the same Snapdragon 855 chipset that powers the leading Android flagship phones.
Motorola has gone a different route. The Razr runs on a Snapdragon 710 processor, a decidedly more midrange chipset than the Snapdragon 855. Motorola says it opted for the Snapdragon 710 to place more of a premium on power efficiency instead of a performance boost, but the end result will be a phone that lacks the oomph of the Galaxy Fold.
When we had a chance to benchmark the Fold, we recorded a multicore score of 2,619 on Geekbench 5, which measures overall performance. That result wasn't that far off from the 2,691 result turned in by the Galaxy Note 10 Plus, another Snapdragon 855-powered device. We haven't had the chance to run benchmarks on the Motorola Razr yet, but we're not expecting anything that will match those results.
Samsung packs 12GB of RAM into the Galaxy Fold, while also giving you 512GB of storage. The Razr makes do with 6GB of memory and features just a quarter of the Fold's capacity, with 128GB of storage.
Motorola Razr vs. Galaxy Fold: Cameras
Apart from the way the phones open and close, the biggest physical difference between the Galaxy Fold and the Razr may be the number of camera lenses. Samsung's phone has a lot of them; Motorola offers just two.
There's a 16-megapixel camera on the outside of the Razr that doubles as a selfie cam when the phone is closed and a main camera when you've got the interior screen fully extended. Motorola equipped the camera with a Night Vision mode for low-light photography, and twisting your wrist offers a selfie preview on the exterior Quick View display. Open up the phone, and there's a 5-MP camera housed in a slight notch in the interior display staring back at you.
Contrast that with the "we heard you like cameras so we added more cameras" approach that Samsung took with the Galaxy Fold. All told, you'll find six lenses on the Fold — three on the back of the phone (a 12-megapixel wide-angle camera, a 16-MP ultra-wide lens and a 12-MP telephoto lens), a 10-MP selfie cam when the Fold is closed up, and two additional selfie cams when you've opened up the phone. Those two lenses — a 10-MP main camera and an 8-MP depth camera for portraits — are housed in a very prominent notch in the corner of the interior screen.
When we reviewed the Fold, we found all those cameras were capable of taking very detailed and colorful shots, even if the end results fell short of what the best camera phones have to offer. It's easier to take photos with the Fold opened up, as lining up a shot on the small 4.6-inch outer screen can prove challenging.
We're not sure if the Razr is going to be able to match the Fold's camera capabilities with its more limited number of lenses, but we look forward to stacking up the two phones in a photo face-off.
Motorola Razr vs. Galaxy Fold: Software
Both the Galaxy Fold and Motorola Razr run Android 9, and Samsung at least has taken advantage of Google's support for foldable devices to add highlighting multitasking capabilities with its handset. You can run up to three apps at once using the Fold's Multi Active Window, and a fair amount of third-party apps have added support for this feature. That makes the Fold better geared for productivity buffs yearning for a smartphone that's capable of tablet-like multitasking.
The Razr does support a feature similar to the App Continuity capabilities offered by the Fold. With App Continuity, you can use an app on the outer screen of the Fold, and then open the device to find a full-screen version waiting for you at the exact point you left off. On the Razr, you basically use the external Quick View screen to hand off tasks to the interior display. Tap reply for an email notification, for example, and you'll be directed to open up the phone where a blank email will be waiting for you. This feature works with only a handful of apps right now.
Motorola Razr vs. Galaxy Fold: Battery
Motorola may have gone with a midrange processor in part to help the Razr run more efficiently, but the phone's got its work cut out for it to last a long time on a charge. The Razr features a 2,510 mAh battery, which seems pretty slender for any smartphone, let alone one that powers a 6.2-inch foldable screen.
Contrast that with the Galaxy Fold, which uses a dual battery — one on each side of the device — to keep things running along. All told, both batteries provide about 4,380 mAh of capacity, and that delivers a pretty decent amount of battery life. When we ran our Tom's Guide battery test on the Galaxy Fold — it involves continuous web browsing over LTE until the phone runs out of juice — Samsung's foldable held out for 10 hours, 1 minute. That's about average for a smartphone, but it's impressive in the Fold's case, since we ran the test on the fully extended 7.3-inch display.
Like other Samsung flagship of late, the Galaxy Fold supports a Wireless PowerShare feature that allows you to charge other Qi-compatible devices just by placing them on the Fold's back. The Razr doesn't support wireless charging, but it does ship with a 15-watt fast charger.
Motorola Razr vs. Galaxy Fold: Price and availability
"Affordable foldable phone" is going to be a relative phrase, at least until the cost of bendable displays drops a little more. But you'll definitely spend less if you opt for the Motorola Razr over the Fold.
Motorola will charge $1,500 when the Razr goes on sale in January. That's quite a steep price, in a world where $999 buys you a fully-featured phablet like the Galaxy S10 Plus or iPhone 11 Pro Max. But the Razr costs nearly $500 less than the $1,980 Galaxy Fold, making it the less expensive foldable option.
The Motorola Razr will be a Verizon exclusive, though you can also buy the phone from Walmart. Pre-orders for the Razr start at Verizon on Dec. 26, with the phone arriving in stores in January 2020.
AT&T sells the Galaxy Fold, though the carrier puts a lot of bloatware on Samsung's phone. You can also pick up the Fold directly from Samsung or through Best Buy.
We'll have to spend more time with the Razr to truly evaluate how it compares to the Galaxy Fold, but it seems at first glance as if Motorola and Samsung are competing for different audiences with their foldable devices. Thanks to its multitasking features, the Galaxy Fold seems geared toward people who want the productivity boost that comes with a larger display in a device that remains portable. The Motorola Razr, in contrast, seems to be aimed at people who want a pocket-sized phablet.
Foldable phones will remain a niche segment of the smartphone market — the high-price tags will see to that. But the Razr's design could broaden the appeal of foldable phones, especially if its cameras and processor are up to the tasks people throw at it.