CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

Watch The Game Awards 2019 Fortnite update Netflix's The Witcher final trailer Stop robocalls Watch the Geminid meteor shower peak Best phones of 2019

Motorola Razr vs. Galaxy Fold: The foldable phone war is on

Every important way these wildly different foldable phones compare when it comes to screen crease, cameras and battery life.

timberwolf-2019-2794

The Galaxy Fold, left, and Motorola Razr are foldable phones with little in common.

Angela Lang/CNET

Earlier this week I suggested that the Motorola Razr could be a foldable phone for the rest of us. At $1,500 it certainly isn't cheap, and I'm not suggesting everyone run out and buy one on Dec. 26 when preorders start. But compared to the $1,980 Samsung Galaxy Fold, the Razr is a much easier device to wield, and it looks sharper and more phonelike to boot. So while I find the Razr's design compelling and more natural to use, in many ways, the Galaxy Fold is the better upgrade.

For $500 more (and remember, this is still an eye-watering $2,000 we're talking about here for the Galaxy Fold) you get more of everything -- six cameras compared to two*, 75% more battery capacity and useful extras like wireless charging. 

Now playing: Watch this: Motorola Razr vs. Galaxy Fold: Foldable phone specs compared
11:13

The Razr and Fold are stacked with trade-offs when it comes to features and design, and we're here to compare the early highs and lows. I say "early" because Razr review units are still to come, and along with it our usual array of lab tests and observations from living with the device daily.

Until then, here's how the Fold's and Razr's foldable screens and specs compare.

*Not including the time of flight (ToF) sensor, which is used to assist with low-light shots and can't be used alone to take photos.

Motorola Razr design feels more practical and thought out

If you want your phone to look like a phone, then the Razr's vertical flip design will be more for you, compared to the Fold, which opens like a book. 

The Razr's smaller, narrower screen (6.2-inch versus the Fold's 7.3-inch display) isn't about giving you a tablet and phone in one. It's about bringing a truly portable device to people who want something smaller to shove into their pockets. That said, the Fold is pocketable in its own way, stacking into a slim, tall phone sandwich.

What impresses me most about the Razr is how all its elements make sense. Its cameras, bezels and buttons fall exactly where they should, unlike the Galaxy Fold, which has a thick plastic bezel and a bulbous notch that takes up a large portion of the screen.

galaxy-galaxy-fold-82

The Galaxy Fold's big ole notch is hard to love. 

Angela Lang/CNET

Motorola already wins the screen crease front

If the thing of a creased plastic screen makes you cringe, you're out of luck. It's what soft plastic does, and there's no way around that for now. But you'll be gratified to know that in choosing to bend the Razr vertically, Motorola has a short horizontal crease. It's only as wide as the Razr itself -- 2.8 inches compared to the Fold's vertical crease of 6.3 inches.

Yes, you can still see it and feel it if you try hard enough, but it's much less noticeable on the Razr than on the Fold, which has a wider crease where the two halves bend closed.

Motorola and Samsung have both built steel plates behind their fragile displays for structure and support. Motorola also claims that its hard coat of plastic on top of the electronic elements is stronger than the Fold's.

timberwolf-2019-3452

Compared to the Galaxy Fold's tall central crease, the Razr's screen seam is itty bitty.

James Martin/CNET

You can do more on the Galaxy Fold's smallest screen

I never thought I'd appreciate the Fold's cramped 4.6-inch outer screen until I met the Razr's 2.7-inch exterior display. 

The Razr's tiny screen actually does make sense, since its purpose is mainly to display notifications, along with signal and battery status. But you can open any Android app on the Fold's outer screen and then launch it on the inside, which makes it more useful if you're using the Fold closed while on the go. I only wish typing weren't such a nightmare.

On the other hand, Motorola has limited the Razr's external screen capabilities to a tidy number of functions, including taking a self-portrait; carrying on a video call or a phone call over speakerphone or Bluetooth connection; and finally, listening to music that you've started on the larger screen first.

samsung-galaxy-fold-update-uk-2019-41

The 4.6-inch display isn't great for typing, but at least you can open any Android app while you're on the go.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Razr's hinges and foldable display aren't out of the danger zone

Peer closely at the Motorola Razr and you'll see that some of its physical elements raise questions and concerns. Its hinge design excels, but the gears are partially exposed on the outside and inside of the phone, which makes me wonder how easily crumbs, paper and fibers could gum up the gears.

There's also a narrow channel, about the thickness of my fingernail, that separates the display area from the bezel. I already saw dust collect along the top especially, but my main worry is how easily it could be to separate the top coat from the plastic OLED it's trying to protect.

Samsung ran into trouble with this same area, when early reviewers peeled off a protective top layer that resembled an optional dust guard you'd find on many phones. Removing this layer irreparably damaged the phone. Dust might very well be the worst of the Razr's problems here, but the Fold's troubles in this arena make me jumpy.

timberwolf-2019-3109

If you look very closely, you can see a thin channel between the plastic OLED display and the bezel.

James Martin/CNET

The Fold screen could be better for video

An unexpected benefit of the Razr's chin, the plastic bit that sticks out at the base of the phone, is using it as a grip while watching video.

But the Razr's beanpole dimensions, which form a 21:9 ratio that Motorola calls Cinemavision, didn't seem to uniformly complement every video I watched. The screen's so narrow top to bottom, you pretty much have to watch everything in landscape mode.

Pinch to zoom and you might lose the top and bottom of the frame. Leave it be and you might see big black bars on the side. Hope for the best and the image might perfectly crop.

Samsung's Galaxy Fold has its own weirdness in the form of the fat notch that sticks into your video like a sore thumb. Since it's off to one side, the one consolation there is that it doesn't get in the way of the action.

306-galaxy-fold

The Fold's more regular dimensions make it easier to fill the screen no matter how you hold it.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Razr's camera system is more elegant, but gives you less to work with

The Galaxy Fold brings you six high-powered cameras that produce excellent photos no matter which screen you use. That might be overkill. If Samsung had chosen a different design, it may have made do with fewer pricey lenses.

Motorola has the opposite problem. It has only one real camera, which means there's no telephoto or wide-angle capability that you'd expect from a premium phone. The Fold has both those, plus its main camera and three more front-facing sensors besides. Yes, there's a time of flight sensor (ToF), but that's used for low-light photography, not for capturing a new focal range.

Back to the Razr, its 16-megapixel camera lives just below that small outer screen and is the main sensor for taking all your photos. You'll find a 5-megapixel lens when you flip the Razr open, but it's intended for video calls (which you can also support from the main camera when the phone is closed as long as you initiate it from the interior screen).

I haven't had a chance to test the camera quality, but will keep a close eye on this when the review unit comes in.

timberwolf-2019-4273

This single Razr camera takes all the photos you'll need.

James Martin/CNET

Galaxy Fold already wins on extras

Samsung's foldable phone is a premium device that strives to be the equal of the Galaxy Note 10 Plus and the rest of its top-tier phones. 

In addition to a greater variety of cameras, it boasts greater screen area, a high-powered processor (Snapdragon 855 versus 710) and wireless charging on the back. You'll also get double the Razr's internal storage and RAM. In Korea and the UK, the Fold also comes with 5G support.

samsung-galaxy-fold-new-0709

The Galaxy Fold has double the internal storage and RAM, and can charge wireless devices on its back.

Angela Lang/CNET

Razr's battery life is still up in the air

Motorola promises that the Razr's battery life will last you all day, and I'm extremely curious to see how well it actually does. That's because the capacity adds up to a mere 2,500 mAh. For reference, the Google Pixel 4, which has mediocre battery performance, tops the Razr at 2,800 mAh.

Even more suspect, the batteries are split between the two halves of the foldable phone. This balances the device in the hand, but all things being equal, one battery is more efficient than two. We saw the same lower-than-expected performance with the Galaxy Fold as well (4,380 mAh).

On the other hand, the Razr is also a smaller device with far less screen surface to cover on both inner and outer displays, and that midtier Snapdragon processor we talked about above also consumes less power when processing at slightly slower speeds than the most advanced model. 

timberwolf-2019-2710

The Razr is a smaller phone, with a smaller battery capacity. Is that enough?

Angela Lang/CNET

So what now?

I've fully reviewed the Galaxy Fold (twice!) and have spent a fair number of hours with the Motorola Razr, but this is still just the beginning of comparing these two groundbreaking foldable phones

The next step is to review the Razr as soon as I get it in my eagerly awaiting hands, and then to test the cameras, screen sturdiness and all the rest against the Galaxy Fold. Since the Razr doesn't ship until sometime in January, it's likely that many of our questions will remain unanswered for some time.

Until then, read up on what it's like to use the foldable Motorola Razr and Samsung Galaxy Fold, and peer behind the curtain to see how and why Motorola made the foldable Razr. It's been a long, strange year for foldable phones, and with these two devices, we're finally on our way.

Motorola Razr versus Samsung Galaxy Fold


Motorola Razr Samsung Galaxy Fold
Display size, resolution Internal: 6.2-inch, foldable pOLED; 2,142x876p pixels (21:9) / External: 2.7-inch glass OLED, 800x600-pixels (4:3) Internal: 7.3-inch Dynamic AMOLED; 2,152x1,536-pixels (plastic) / External: 4.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED; 1,680x720-pixels (Gorilla Glass 6)
Pixel density 373ppi (internal screen) 362ppi (internal screen)
Dimensions (Inches) Unfolded: 6.8 x 2.8 x 0.28 in / Folded: 3.7 x 2.8 x 0.55 in Folded: 6.3 x 2.5 x 0.6 in / Unfolded: 6.3 x 4.6 x 0.3 in
Dimensions (Millimeters) Unfolded: 172 x 7 2 x 6.9mm / Folded: 94 x 72 x 14mm Folded: 62.8 x 161 x 15.7mm ~ 17.1mm / Unfolded: 117.9 x 161 x 6.9mm ~ 7.6mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 7.2 oz; 205g 9.7 oz; 276g
Mobile software Android 9 Pie Android 9.0 with Samsung One UI
Camera 16-megapixel external (f/1.7, dual pixel AF), 5-megapixel internal 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 16-megapixel (ultra wide-angle), 12-megapixel (telephoto)
Front-facing camera Same as main 16-megapixel external Two 10-megapixel, 8-megapixel 3D depth
Video capture 4K 4K (HDR 10+)
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 (2.2GHz, octa-core) Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
Storage 128GB 512GB
RAM 6GB 12GB
Expandable storage No No
Battery 2,510mAh 4,380mAh
Fingerprint sensor Below screen Power button
Connector USB-C USB-C
Headphone jack None No
Special features Foldable display, eSIM, Motorola gestures, splashproof Foldable display, wireless charging, fast charging
Price off-contract (USD) $1,499 $1,980
Price (GBP) Converts to £1,167 £2,000
Price (AUD) Converts to AU$2,183 AU$2,950

Originally published last week.