I'll be honest with you. Up until now, I've been pretty lukewarm on the whole foldable phone thing. I think the technology behind phones like the Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X is damn impressive, and I'm ecstatic that these sorts of devices are being made. However, as something I'd go out and spend money on, they've missed the mark for me.
Then came the Motorola RAZR. I never owned the OG RAZR that the new foldable is modeled after (ok millennial), but the phone absolutely captivated me the moment I saw it. Sure, it suffers from an assortment of gen-one quirks, but it's the first foldable I've been compelled to buy.
That's probably an unpopular take, so let me explain myself.
We're still in the very early days of folding smartphones, but already, we've seen quite a few different ways that companies are approaching the functionality. With the Galaxy Fold and Mate X, you're essentially getting a large, unwieldy phone that can transform into a miniature tablet. That's a neat idea as it effectively gives you two devices in one, but trying to be a jack-of-all-trades comes with compromises. On the Galaxy Fold, it's a teeny-tiny phone display with a body that feels like two Galaxy S10's stacked on top of each other. With the Mate X, you end up with a giant plastic screen that's susceptible to damage at all times.
The idea of the Galaxy Fold and Mate X is captivating, but when I think about using either phone as a daily driver, they start to look like practicality nightmares. That's precisely where the Motorola RAZR sets itself apart.
Rather than attempting to be a phone and tablet in one, the RAZR just wants to be an ultra-portable phone. When it's closed, it's a compact little square that you can fit just about anywhere. Open it up, and you're met with a pretty typical 6.2-inch panel. That's not much bigger than the Pixel 4 XL's screen. You can use that 6.2-inch screen as you would with anything else, and while it is narrower than most other phones with a 21:9 aspect ratio, it means that apps and games don't look stretched out or wonky.
Instead, they look just like they do on other "normal" phones. When the RAZR is closed up, the outer 2.7-inch display is limited in functionality by design. You can adjust some settings, see and reply to notifications, access the Google Assistant, have video calls, and make payments with Google Pay. And, well, that's it. You can stay connected and do some things in quick bursts, but if you want to hop on Twitter or clean out your inbox, you need to flip the larger display out.
To play devil's advocate, there's a reasonable argument against the RAZR. Why on earth would you want a $1,500 phone with outdated specs that requires you to open it every time you want to use your favorite apps? For me, it's the RAZR's ability to incorporate a futuristic folding design without compromising the core Android smartphone experience.
When the RAZR is opened, it's just like any other Android phone. When you aren't using it, you can close it up, and by doing so, it reduces its size by half while still keeping you connected to calls, texts, and other notifications. The RAZR's design also means that it's not overly bulky like the Galaxy Fold, and contrary to the Mate X, its plastic display is kept out of harm's way when closed.
The RAZR itself has a lot of things working against it, from the spec choices to its Verizon exclusivity, but as far as folding phones go, this is the kind I want to see more of. It's incredibly unique, is still easy to use as a regular smartphone, and can be folded up for greater portability. Its existence as a phone isn't worsened by this design, and that's something you can't say about the Galaxy Fold.
That's what it all boils down to for me. The RAZR has the same cool factor of other foldables we've seen, but it does so while providing a pretty normal Android phone experience. I understand the want for gadgets like the Galaxy Fold, but as far as smartphones go, the RAZR is the first one I've seen to offer a folding form factor and still retaining the ease-of-use we expect from any other handset.
Call me crazy, but that's the foldable future I've been waiting for.
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