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Motorola will sell its first foldable phone, likely the Razr, this summer

The device, rumored to be an update of the classic phone, will stand apart from the Samsung Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X.

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Images from a design patent filed by Motorola in 2017. The filing went public in December.

Motorola - Photo illustration by Ian Knighton/CNET

Motorola is jumping into foldable phones. And it's likely doing it with one of the most iconic names in the business. 

Motorola, a unit of Chinese consumer electronics giant Lenovo, plans to sell its foldable smartphone in the summer, according to a person familiar with the company's plans. The person said the design would be unlike the Samsung Galaxy Fold, which debuted last week, or the Huawei Mate X, which was shown off at the MWC Barcelona show on Sunday.

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The device is almost certainly a revival of the Razr brand, which The Wall Street Journal reported would be coming back with a $1,500 price tag. Engadget on Wednesday confirmed that the phone was coming.

The summer launch puts it squarely in between the launch of the Galaxy Fold, slated for April 26, and the Mate X, which will launch around the middle of the year, and further highlights the burgeoning trend of foldable phones. The devices garnered tons of buzz and were the talk of a reinvigorated MWC at a time when interest in phones were starting to mature.

Unlike the Galaxy Fold or Mate X, which fold out into larger displays, the Razr's design, based on schematics from a patent filing discovered by blog 91Mobiles, flips down into a smaller device like the original Razr.

The design has some advantages, including protection of the display once it's folded down. If it mimics the original phone, it'll be much more compact too. But it's unclear if consumers want to fold away their display. Samsung and Huawei are banking on people preferring the option of the larger display.

The original Razr was one of the most recognizable brands and helped drive Motorola's success for years during the flip phone era. The ultra-thin phone first started off at the then-outrageous price of $500 as an exclusive phone for Cingular Wireless (now AT&T.) It was one of the most successful phones in history, selling more than 50 million units within two years of its debut.

Motorola, however, couldn't capitalize on the success of the Razr, and fell further behind as the industry moved on to more sophisticated phones. Google purchased Motorola in 2012, and then resold it two years later to Lenovo. Motorola has made its mark largely on well-outfitted budget phones like the Moto G franchise and its Moto Z franchise, which is upgradable to 5G via a Moto Mod attachment.

Now, Lenovo has a chance to reinvigorate the Motorola brand with the Razr once more.

The story originally published on Feb. 27 at 5:25 p.m. PT. 

Update, Feb. 28 at 4 a.m. PT: To include additional details on prior phones. 

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