Motorola Razr 5G full review
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Folding phones are still finding their way in the world and after a shaky start, Motorola is back with a new version of the Razr. It’s a retro classic reimagined as a modern smartphone with a flexible screen inside.
Before we get any further, it’s worth noting that we never got the first edition of the Razr in for review, presumably due to the reliability issues Motorola experienced. I’ll point out some of the changes, of course, but can’t comment on how much difference they’ve made.
Design & Build
With the vast majority of phones on the market looking like they come out of the same cookie-cutter, with a different manufacturer logo, it’s refreshing to see folding phones bringing something new and exciting to the game.
Making a phone with a full-size screen that folds in half is clearly a tough engineering challenge and a reminder that first-gen devices of a new category are often worth skipping (Samsung had issues with the Galaxy Z Fold, too).
While the Razr 5G looks almost identical to the first iteration, Motorola has made various small tweaks to improve the experience. And before I get any further, yes, you can open and close the phone to answer and end calls like it’s 1999.
It’s namely the hinge that’s been upgraded to a stainless steel construction and now has things like moving support plates. You obviously can’t see it, but when shut, the display arcs in a teardrop shape around the hinge so it doesn’t have a harsh crease - I’ll cover this in more detail in the screen section.
Opening and closing the Razr 5G is a smooth experience and you can see the display slide down into the chin a little and the cogs of the hinge are visible on either side. It just looks and feels very cool.
Although the hinge is spring-loaded, I would say that it’s quite difficult to open the Razr 5G with one hand. For right-handed users, the volume button provides a bit of purchase, but this is a lot wider and heavier (192g) than the old school flip phones.
Of course, it’s much easier to close one-handed and is very satisfying.
The other issue is how slippery the phone feels due to its polished 3D glass. It feels pretty sturdy, well made and luxurious, but you still don’t want to drop it, especially in an open position.
Should you manage to avoid an unscheduled drop test, you might be wondering about long-term durability. Now, I can’t test that so can only tell you that Motorola promises 200,000 flips or, based on 100 flips per day, over five years of use.
As I’ve said, the Razr 5G feels very well put together and doesn’t feel flimsy in terms of the main chassis. The screen, of course, is more delicate and there are some gaps that will allow dirt in. Luckily, the fact that the phone shuts with almost no gap, will help keep everything safe.
They're no proper waterproofing here, of course, but the Razr 5G does have a water repellent coating.
Other changes include a more tapered chin, which no longer has a fingerprint scanner on it. Instead, it’s on the back like most Motorola phones. With the phone folding in half, this is much lower down the device than is typical so isn’t a natural resting place for your fingertip. It works a lot better than the Z Flip's, mind.
I find having the tiny power button on the left a little odd but the Razr 5G comes to life when you open it up, so you won’t need it often. Like the Z Flip, the volume buttons work in the correct orientation whether the phone is open or closed.
I’ve tested the Polished Graphite colour here, but you can also get the Razr 5G in Blush Gold and a new Liquid Mercury.
Overall, I think Motorola has done a very good job with the Razr 5G. The novelty of the fold does wear off a little over time but there are some handy practical benefits of a design like this.
Firstly, the phone is tiny when closed and in the words of my wife “It even fits in silly lady pockets”. And while shut, you can still do plenty of stuff using the outer display along with the camera.
The folding screen might be the star of the show here, but it’s the outer Quick View Display that makes the Razr 5G quite special. It certainly is the USP when comparing it to the Galaxy Z Flip which has a tiny 1.1in display for basic information and controls.
Motorola has fitted a decent 2.7in (800x600) screen which can do a lot more. As well as being used for the camera, which I’ll talk about later, you can quickly check your notifications with peek view by tapping and holding on each one for starters.
You can then check them in full and also run some apps here too including Spotify and Google Maps giving you playback control and directions without opening the phone. You can customise which apps are here as well as shortcuts for your favourite contacts.
It’s even possible to get a keyboard up to type messages and the like, albeit a fairly small one. You might find yourself not needing to open the Razr 5G for large chunks of the day. It’s particularly handy when out and about and you just want to do something quickly with minimal fuss.
When you do open the phone up, you get a 6.2in pOLED display with an HD+ resolution (an unusual 2142x876). The ‘p’ standing for plastic in order for the screen to be foldable.
It’s plenty bright enough (I measured peak at nearly 500 nits) and the quality is good. It’s a little soft on colour and contrast compared to many top phones but they don’t fold. However, the Z Fold is more impressive here with a punchy AMOLED display at a higher resolution.
There is a slight dip in the middle and two smaller ones either side. They’re not really visible while using the screen but you can feel them as you scroll. I didn’t find them distracting, it just feels different to a regular smartphone and that’s just a tradeoff you have to accept to get a folding phone – for now anyway.
Apart from getting used to the feeling of it compared to a non-folding phone, I found one thing particularly annoying about the Razr 5G. And that’s the way the chin gets in the way of using the very bottom of the screen.
This is namely an issue because the gesture navigation controls in Android 10 mean you have to swipe up from the bottom to go home. The chin makes this really awkward, so you might want to consider switching back to the older three-button navigation bar.
Yet another benefit of the clamshell design is the fact you can use the main ‘rear’ camera for selfies. This is why Motorola calls it “the most advanced selfie camera”.
It’s a 48Mp sensor and there is another 20Mp one inside if you do need it, but I didn’t need that one at all – only using it to include samples here.
Using the main camera for selfies is so easy because the outer Quick View Display is used for a live preview so you can frame your shot with minimal fuss. By default, it takes these in a square 1:1 aspect ratio but you can change that.
Almost needless to say, the results are better than the internal camera and when open, the small screen can display a cartoon face when detecting a person which might help to get kids to look at the camera.
Like other phones, you’re actually getting a 12Mp final image from the camera and it’s capable of some impressive shots partly thanks to a decent f/1.7 aperture and OIS (optical image stabilisation).
You can see my test photos below which look great for landscape and macro shots, but the camera falls down on two modes that people will use a lot.
Portrait mode can do a good job but also makes errors – see how my ears have been blended into the bricks in the background. It also doesn’t work on animals, so I couldn’t take bokeh shots of my dog.
Night Vision mode is the other, which does improve over a regular shot (low light performance isn’t great) but there are far better examples of this in other phones.
While it’s able to take nice detailed shots with good colour in the right conditions, the fact remains that the level of performance is available on even some budget phones now. And they often have additional cameras.
Video performance is also pretty average, capable of shooting in up to 4K at 30fps.
Motorola is restricted by the form factor here so it's just a tradeoff for the flip design. The Z Flip has dual rear cameras adding an ultrawide lens but there’s still a trade-off here as going with Samsung means not having that proper outer display.
Specs & Performance
The Razr 5G isn’t really about the core specs but for those interested, the phone runs on a Snapdragon 765G. A very popular processor this year, and although the asking price here might suggest a flagship 800-series, the 765G is good enough to offer smooth performance.
It’s certainly a step up from the Snapdragon 710 in the 2019 Razr and there’s also more RAM now at 8GB. I didn't have any performance issues in my time with the phone.
Furthermore, Motorola has doubled the storage to 256GB which is great considering there’s no microSD card slot.
Much of this matched the Z Flip, although that does have a Snapdragon 865+ if you want more power – or the 855+ in the 4G model. You can see our benchmarks below (we tested the 4G Z Flip) along with some other devices for comparison.
When it comes to battery life, I’ve found the Razr 5G to last reasonably well. It’s got a relatively small 2800mAh battery due to design constraints and will last most people a day depending on usage.
I did manage to get the Razr 5G to last two days but with pretty light usage and screen time of around two hours.
Motorola supplies a TurboPower charger which offers 15W fast charging. It’s nothing special these days and can get the Razr 5G from 0 to 39% in our usual 30 minute test.
It’s worth noting that there is no headphone jack here so if you’re charging the phone, you won’t be able to plug in the supplied USB-C headphones – which are very nice. In terms of on-board sound, there’s just a mono speaker at the bottom of the chin which is nothing to write home about.
Beyond 5G, internal specs include NFC, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS and dual-band 11ac Wi-Fi 5.
A folding phone isn’t cheap, although the Razr 5G is cheaper than the original at £1,399/US$1,399 and matches the RRP of the Galaxy Z Flip with 5G.
At the time of writing, Motorola UK is bundling a Lenovo M10 Plus tablet including a charging dock and Lenovo Yoga headphones - worth £329.99. You’ll also get a free leather case.
That’s not a bad deal at all, and these are the only two flip foldables on the market right now.
Motorola is still selling the original Razr at £999/US$999 but considering the issues along with half the amount of storage, I wouldn’t recommend going that way.
There are some downsides to getting a foldable flip phone and you’ll need to be ok with these before splashing out on one.
The form factor simply means that you can get cheaper phones with better cameras, longer battery life and higher-quality screens. These are the main trade-offs to get a folding phone right now.
However, they’re not as exciting as the Razr 5G and you might want this for something different or even the nostalgic factor. There's no denying its head-turning cool factor.
Buying for somewhat fickle reasons is totally fine, but the Razr 5G does have genuine practical benefits that will be a boon so some people. As well as being compact, it’s actually how well the phone works when shut which is the main lure here.
Granted, the Galaxy Z Flip has better cameras, display and a more powerful chip but I think I’d still choose the Razr 5G for its design. It’s a close call between the two which will largely come down to personal preference.
After a rocky start, the Razr 5G is a good folding phone to own. In the grand scheme, it’s an affordable way to get a folding phone and it will be interesting to see there Motorola and Samsung do in the future.
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Motorola Razr 5G: Specs
- Android 10
- 6.2in HD+ (2142x876) foldable pOLED
- 2.7in OLED (800x600) Quick View display
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G octa-core processor
- 8GB RAM
- 256GB internal storage
- 48Mp, f/1.7, OIS main camera
- 20Mp, f/2.2, secondary camera
- Rear-mounted fingerprint scanner
- 11ac dual-band Wi-Fi
- Bluetooth 5.1
- Nano-SIM + eSIM
- 2800mAh non-removable battery
- 15W TurboPower charging
- Unfolded: 169.2 x 72.6 x 7.9mm
- Folded: 91.7 x 72.6 x 16mm
- Water repellent coating