Motorola Razr review: It's a remarkable peek at the future but not without concerns
This is the $1,500 Motorola RAZR.
I've been using it for one week and I have some big feels about it.
But I also have a ton of questions still.
Motorola aimed for the impossible.
A flip phone that's also a smart phone.
A screen that folds in half.
And honestly, there is so much going for the Motorola Razr.
The small-form factor, the nostalgia, the groundbreaking design inside and out, and I absolutely love this little peek display on the front, but is it worth $1,500?
Okay, I'm going to answer that I promise.
But first, I want to answer some of the questions you asked me or the people who see me with this phone asked me all the time and yes, there are a lot.
So let's do that first.
Does the razor squeak?
Okay this is my review unit and obviously it squeaks.
It's like a rubber.
Whoso speaking on like a tiled floor This is like a like a crunchy, sour sound if a sound could be sour.
It's absolutely disheartening.
In November a few of us from CNET got to go to Motorola's headquarters in Chicago and spend the day with three pre production Motorola razors Not a single one of them sweet let's I don't remember it.
Also I kind of they felt a little easier to open as well.
Now I was told these pre production units have been used as a daily driver for about five or six months by some of the executives.
So when I hear the squeak I think if this kind of like a new pair of leather boots possibly like you gotta break them in to get the sound out.
But then I think this is a $1500 phone.
I don't want to break anything in with it.
I don't want it to squeak, Gary.
But here's what Motorola told me, when folding and unfolding Razr, you may hear a sound, which is natural from the mechanical movement of the phone.
So let's just talk about this mechanical movement.
Essentially, behind the display or both of it, is two steel plates that both support the display, but also keep it taut in the open position.
And what Motorola is saying is that the movement of these plates is causing that squeak or creak.
How bad is the sound?
It's not record-skip loud, but it makes me sad.
Does the phone have a crease?
No, it does not.
Well, not like the Galaxy Fold does, at least.
You see, that whole hinge system I was talking about earlier and those metal plates, they're designed so that, when you close the phone It doesn't create a crease on the screen.
So really if you think about it, either you could have a squeak or you could have the crease.
The crease or the squeak.
Boy, that's a tough decision.
There are times when I'm watching a video on the screen and I couldn't make out where the steel plates end and begin.
And there is a still plate behind this part of the screen and this part of the screen but not in the middle.
It's kind of like if you had a couch and you covered the seat cushions with a bed sheet Really taut and you could see the space through the bedsheet between the two cushions.
And that's what's happening here.
Does it ruin my experience of this phone?
No, it's a little sour, but it just reminds me how delicate the screen is and how thing and Gets me a little anxiety
Is the razor dribble.
Well, this one's tricky.
I'll wait while you laugh.
Okay, so you see, let's start with this video that Motorola released about how to take care of the phone.
In it they say the screen is designed to bend bumps and lumps are normal.
So far I have not encountered any bumps or lumps on the screen, but winner bumps and lumps actually normal.
If you had any bumps or lumps in your body, you should go see a medical professional or doctor like now like go do it.
bumps and lumps aside The Razer has held up pretty well.
All I've noticed is some lint and occasional dust on the screen, as well as a ton of smudges on the exterior of the phone.
I've used this phone for seven days, and I have not seen any kind of damage to the screen, or to the [UNKNOWN] aside from this week.
But it is impossible for me to know if long term this phone is going to handle everyday life.
And the only way to know is to test it over months and months a month using it every day.
Now, a wonderful colleague of mine decided to test the durability of the phone and he used a folding machine To fold the phone hundreds of thousands of times.
Well, that was the idea at least, he got to about 27,000 folds and the phone did not break necessarily.
It kept working.
However, the hinge mechanism prevented it from being folded further.
Now, I don't know how necessarily scientific or unscientific this test was.
It's not really about that.
But when you see that, and you add this other anxiety I've already had about the phone.
This just causes more anxiety, and anything that stalled your excitement I see about the innovative design.
Well, it kinda of gets drowned out by that anxiety.
When I started reviewing this phone, the real question for me was, is a flip phone form factor worth 1500 dollars?
And that's it every time I flip it open or close it or put my pocket, it kind of feels like it is.
If this phone didn't fold in half, it would basically be a average mid tier Android phone.
Now if you're looking for premium specs for 1500 dollars, and you're an early adopter, the razors not for you, but I was surprised actually constantly surprised by how much I absolutely loved using this phone.
I probably the biggest thing I've noticed in using this every day Is the Razer just begs to be used one handed.
Everything from my flipping it up, closing it.
But we have a really tall screen.
Kinda makes it hard to reach the top of it with just one hand.
I find myself often using a second hand to tap a feature or bring a control panel down.
But you know what?
I've actually liked what Samsung's been doing lately with One UI and One UI 2, where they've basically reinvisioned how you interact with a larger screen, a taller screen.
They've simplified where you tap, where you press.
They've moved things to the middle or to the bottom.
And they actually make it much easier to use one handed it.
And I would love to see Motorola bring some of that to the Razr.
The display quality is good.
Colors pop nicely and contrast is crisp without looking overlay sharp.
The 21:9 aspect ratio is pretty fantastic especially for thumbs.
I was watching Blade Runner and the Dark Knight in the original wide screen aspect ratio.
The outside display is called the peak display.
And as I alluded to before, it's actually one of my favorite things on the phone.
It has a mini control panel for brightness, flashlight, WiFi, Bluetooth and selfies.
Also, I should warn you beware of the flashlight shortcut on the front display, it will blind you and it's very hard to turn off especially in the dark.
The tap and hold an icon for a quick peek works really well and is also very discreet.
Though here's where I wish Motorola went further.
It would be great to access more of Google Assistant.
I know I can do it with my voice.
But to have just even some subtle Google Assistant controls on the screen would be awesome.
However, some features could actually be a little more helpful.
For example, I set a timer while I was cooking the other night.
For like seven minutes and when I went to check it on the display, it just said the word timer versus telling me how much time I had left so yeah, that seems like a miss.
There's a fingerprint reader on the front.
It's right below the main screen above the fingerprint reader is an on screen home button that you can use with the Moto actions.
One of my favorite moto actions is called one button navigation.
Basically What this would do when it first came out on the Moto G five plus it's a kind of turned the fingerprint reader into basically a trackpad for your phone.
And I love that feature.
Now, on the razor that's not the case.
Instead of using the actual fingerprint reader, you have to reach over the fingerprint reader and touch the screen home button to trigger the same actions.
Seems a little cocky.
I always say buttons are important.
Yeah, I know I'm weird but honestly they are one of the easiest things to mess up on a phone.
And now Motorola face a challenge with the buttons they have on this phone.
We have the volume rocker and the home button and they have to work both when the phone.
Is open as well as when the phone is closed.
So the position feels right to me.
It's really the size.
The buttons feel too small and sometimes hard to distinguish despite the fact that the wake button has a texture on it.
If you've not heard the Razr in the United States is exclusive to Verizon.
I don't really have a problem with that but I do have a problem with all the bloatware of Verizon put on this phone.
Seriously it's 2020, why is bloatware still a thing?
I removes most of it though I have to admit I did like the Game of Thrones experience thing.
So coming up.
All right, then there's the battery.
So the razor actually has a very small battery 2500 milliamp hours.
So I still have a ton of battery testing to do, but I was able to run one of our battery tests and what I did is I played a video on a loop setting And aeroplane mode at 50% brightness and the razor lasted 13 hours and three minutes which is definitely respectable in everyday use.
The battery was pretty good I got through most of the day I found myself have the top off around dinnertime, versus say like bedtime.
That said I look forward to using this phone when I'm not reviewing it to see if we can actually get through a normal day.
The Motorola razor basically has one camera that doubles for selfies and the rear camera.
It's decent but isn't at the level of the pixel for iPhone 11 or Galaxy Note ten.
Photos in good light are sharp with nice contrast but as soon as you're in medium to low light things start to fall apart.
There is a lot of image noise or what I have illustrated a lot as it tries to compensate with a longer shorter speed leading to blurred motion.
Video well it's the hair.
You're not gonna be making a movie with a Razor.
But let me tell you about a really fun feature they used the external display for.
When it detects a face in a frame, it will throw up a cartoon emoji on the camera.
Now, this is great for getting kids attention or maybe an adult attention.
So can get them looking at the camera at the right place.
It's really fun.
And it makes me happy.
All right before you comment not technically, there is a second camera on the Moto robot razor.
It's on the inside a top the display where the not his it's purely used for video chat.
Yeah, it's there.
Hey, but let's wrap this review up.
At the beginning of this video I asked the question, is the Moto razor worth 1500 dollars?
To me it's not and here's why because the amount of anxiety they have about the build the durability, the bumps of the lumps Even though I haven't experienced any problems with this, it just kind of wipes out all the fun I have with the the star and the flip.
That being said, I don't think Motorola's on the right track.
In fact, I think this is a tremendous phone and I can't wait to see what the next version of it is if there's a razor to or a premium razor with better cameras or even a lower end razor that might have a lower price point.
For more about the Motorola razor, check out my full review on cnet.com.
I go much more in depth on the settings and some other problems I had with the phone as well as some other really cool features but until then,
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