Motorola has three compact folding smartphones, the most recent being the Motorola Razr (2022). Now, a fourth model is being rumored for release in the near future. The Razr (2022) improved on the second-gen model (the Razr 5G), and after using it for the past week, I can see what needs to change to make any replacement worthy of purchasing over the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 or the Oppo Find N2 Flip.
Here are five things the Motorola Razr (2023) needs to make it a success.
Always-on cover screen
The Motorola Razr (2022)’s cover screen is almost perfect, and considerably better than the Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Find N2 Flip’s outer screens, all because of one thing — it can run apps. That’s right, if you want to reply to WhatsApp messages or even watch a YouTube video with the phone closed, you can. Try that on any other flip smartphone.
Unfortunately, there’s one thing missing that means the screen falls short of perfection: It doesn’t have an always-on setting. This means you can’t glance to see the time or waiting notifications without interacting with the phone, and it’s a massive pain. Even the iPhone has an always-on screen nowadays, so there’s no excuse for it not to be available here.
Provided Motorola adds this to the Razr (2023), and only enhances any app support on the outer screen rather than changing to a largely useless widget system like the competition, it’ll potentially be the compact folding smartphone to beat.
Tidy up the hinges
Whether it’s folded or unfolded, and regardless of that fact that it’s actually quite clever, the Motorola Razr 2022’s hinge looks messy. It may have been updated from the previous models, but in either orientation, the inner workings are too exposed, and the crevices soon get filled with dust and other detritus. There’s no simple way to clean inside these little gaps either.
The hinge holds itself half-open, but there is a lot of flex. It’s steady, but there’s an unnerving amount of wobble, accompanied by noise from the hinge when you go to open or close it fully. It doesn’t inspire much confidence and makes the phone feel a little cheap. By tightening it up and better concealing the gaps, the Razr 2023 will look and feel like a higher-quality product.
Current software, fast updates
It’s the end of March 2023 as I write this, and the Razr 2022 in my hand still has Android 12 installed. That’s simply not good enough. Android 13 was released in August 2022, around the same time as the Razr 2022, so it was too much to expect it to launch with the latest software installed. However, that was seven months ago, which is ample time for Motorola to deliver an update, and it has failed to do that.
This has to change for the next Razr phone. If Motorola follows an annual release schedule, and we see the next Razr around August, it’ll likely run Android 13. That’s understandable, given the timing and Android 14’s potential release, but an update needs to arrive before 2024 if it’s to be taken seriously. It also needs to clarify its update policy for the new phone, and to compete with the Z Flip 4 and Find N2 Flip, it should support the phone with major updates for at least three years.
Release it globally
The Motorola Razr 2022 is available to buy in the U.K. and Europe, but not in the U.S. Motorola’s release plans — and the models it makes for different regions — have been confusing for a while. It was an unusual decision not to release the Razr 2022 in the U.S., as it left the Galaxy Z Flip 4 to command the market.
I’m sure there are complex business reasons for not giving the Razr 2022 a wider release, but whatever they are, it would be good to see them solved in the future. Motorola will be unchallenged by Oppo in the U.S., unlike in the U.K., and those wanting a compact folding phone would finally get a choice of models.
Give it an IP rating
There’s not really any excuse to avoid getting an IP rating on a folding smartphone, and it was one of the few details that caused a markdown in our Oppo Find N2 Flip review. The Razr 2022 does not have a formal water- and dust-resistance rating, although Motorola says it’s “water repellant,” but when the Galaxy Z Flip 4 has an IPX8 rating, this isn’t really good enough.
Obtaining dust resistance certification on a folding smartphone is a serious challenge, but adding durability through validated water resistance and strong materials increases confidence, which is an important part of attracting people to these still-new devices. For its next folding smartphone, Motorola would be wise to add an IPX8 rating.
Motorola could have a winner
The Motorola Razr (2022) is a great smartphone, hobbled mostly by the old software and its limited release, and it deserves more attention than it has received. There are only a few changes Motorola needs to make to ensure the Razr (2023) doesn’t end up being forgotten in the same way.
Outside of these five important changes we want to see in the Moto Razr (2023), Motorola otherwise needs to improve the camera, which is decent but far from excellent on the Razr (2022), use the latest and fastest processor (the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 is a great addition to the current Razr), and get the most from the battery. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the battery life from the Razr (2022), provided I didn’t push it too hard, and have easily managed more than a day’s use on a single charge.
The Razr (2022) shows Motorola knows how to make a desirable folding smartphone, but the problems it has also show it hasn’t quite figured out the right formula for a flagship device, despite years of experience. The Razr (2023) will be its chance to change that. Motorola has confirmed that a new Razr foldable is “coming soon,” so we shouldn’t be waiting too long to see if Motorola is up to the challenge of making what could be one of the year’s best folding phones.
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