Skip to main content

The Motorola Rizr concept is my favorite surprise of MWC. Here’s why

It’s very rare to see a surprising announcement in the mobile world these days. Leaks ruin the fun of experiencing things without knowing what they are. That’s one of the reasons why the Motorola Rizr rollable phone concept is my favorite thing out of MWC 2023.

I got a chance to go hands-on with Motorola’s rollable smartphone at MWC, and after using it myself, I’m sold.

Why the Motorola Rizr is so special

The Motorola Rizr rollable features a 5-inch display in a 15:9 aspect ratio. It’s comfortable to hold with one hand. The phone is taller than the folded Galaxy Z Flip 4 or Motorola Razr and Oppo Find N2 Flip. But it makes more sense to me than the flip phone form factor.

With the flipping foldable devices, there is an added step to using your smartphone. You can’t do much on the cover screen, so you need to unfold the devices to use them. But with the Rizr, you get a 5-inch display in a compact form factor, and it does everything that the 6.5-inch rolled-out screen does. You are not limited in any way.

You want to write an email? Check. You want to use it as a full viewfinder for the camera? Done. Do you want to access any and every app? You absolutely can! The best part of the Motorola Rizr is that you don’t need to roll it out to use it. That alone makes more sense to me than a flip device.

Motorola Rizr back.
Prakhar Khanna/Digital Trends

In my short time with the device, I came across several software features that make the most of the rollable display.

For instance, if you are watching a video on the smaller screen in a vertical orientation and rotate it to a horizontal orientation, the display rolls out automatically. You don’t need to fumble with the power button and press it twice in the middle of your YouTube video to make the most of having a rollable device. It also works with Gmail, where tapping on the compose button forces the display to roll out and offers you a larger keyboard to type on.

Moreover, the selfie shooter sits behind the smaller display. If you open the camera and switch to the front one, the Rizr’s display rolls down to unveil the sensor. It is incredibly cool in person. When rolled in, you can also use the rear camera to shoot selfies, thanks to the rolled-up display sitting on the back.

Unfortunately, it’s not ready yet

Motorola Rizr display coming off.
Prakhar Khanna/Digital Trends

The durability of the Motorola Rizr rollable concept phone is still a question. And I’m not talking about IP rating — but the unique rollable screen.

First, it doesn’t have any bottom bezel, so if you drop it, it’s likely to get damaged. Second, I noticed the rollable screen coming off from the hardware. It wasn’t sitting flush with the front part, as you can see in the above image.

The Motorola Rizr rollable phone is still a work in progress, and while I’d love to see it in the market, it isn’t ready to be shipped yet. And it’s likely to take some time before the Motorola Rizr phone makes its way to your pocket. That said, I believe it has the potential for being a mass-market product — and be better than the flip phone form factor.

Editors' Recommendations

Prakhar Khanna
Prakhar writes news, reviews and features for Digital Trends. He is an independent tech journalist who has been a part of the…
Digital Trends’ Top Tech of MWC 2023 Awards
MWC 2023 Awards

Mobile World Congress (MWC) is one of the biggest yearly showcases for the ever-changing world of mobile tech. Whether you’re an avid smartphone fan, are fascinated by smartwatches/wearables, or love strange tech that doesn't really fit in a specific category, MWC is the place to be.

MWC 2023 was no different in this regard. Despite Samsung and OnePlus already launching their major flagships earlier this year (the Galaxy S23 Ultra and OnePlus 11, respectively), MWC 2023 was still home to numerous smartphone announcements — many of which push the foldable industry forward in big and exciting ways. In addition to peculiar wearables, new satellite technology, and a whole lot more, MWC 2023 gave us plenty of reasons to be excited about where the mobile tech industry is headed.

Read more
The best smartphones at MWC 2023: the 6 coolest ones we saw
The Tecno Phantom V Fold's open screen.

There are usually plenty of new smartphones announced in and around Mobile World Congress, and although the last few years have been a little lacking, MWC 2023 hasn’t disappointed with a wide variety of new and interesting devices.

From foldables, wild concepts, and "normal" phones that check all the right boxes, here are our picks for the best phones of MWC 2023.
Xiaomi 13 Pro

Read more
I used my phone and tablet to become an artist – here’s what happened
An iPad shows art made with Procreate and a Meko Stylus.

Chances are, if you’re reading this, you or someone you know wants to learn how to create art, but you don’t have the supplies for it. However, you do have a phone. You might even have a tablet.

Is it possible to become an artist with just those tools? The short answer is a resounding "yes." The longer answer is that I tried it and succeeded, but there were some issues I ran into along the way.
The devices I used for mobile artwork
The IbisPaint program Elizabeth Tirk / Digital Trends

Read more