Popular as it was in the 2000s, I never owned a Motorola Razr phone. So nostalgia is not the reason I bought the latest Razr 5G. The US brand never grew on me the way Nokia, Samsung or even the BlackBerry did.
Come to think of it, the last Motorola handset I had was the Micro-TAC 5200 (released in 1994), which was functional and sturdy. But there is a certain va-va-voom vibe about the 2020 update of the classic Razr - not least because it is one of the few smartphones on the market that has a foldable screen.
At US$1,676, it costs roughly the same as its direct competitor, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5G (US$1,677), but less than the top-of-the-range Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 5G (US$2,190).
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Have I finally found a replacement for my two old - but reliable - phones that I've been using for gaming (LG G5) and mobile photography (Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact)?
Design and hardware
When folded, the new Razr measures 72.6mm x 91.7mm x 16mm and the squarish body fits nicely in the palm. It has a glass front and back that are held together by a sturdy metallic frame. The Razr 5G has a large chin by today's standards but it is a major part of the design, and the top half of the phone folds neatly into the curved bezel without any gap.
Weighing 192g, the unit feels heavy but premium in the hand. The hinge mechanism is sturdy and the flip action is smooth; there was no creaking at all.
The 2.7-inch external display is the real deal breaker for me. I was eyeing the Galaxy Z Flip until I saw how much one can do with the Razr's second screen. It is big enough for me to read texts or even type short emails. YouTube videos (and simple video games) play on it without any distortion. The 1.1-inch external screen on the Galaxy Z Flip cannot compete.
The full 6.2-inch (plastic) OLED display may not be top quality, but its colours are bright and sharp. There is only a tiny hint of a gutter where the phone folds if you look at the screen at an angle, otherwise it is hardly noticeable.
The Razr 5G uses the mid-tier Snapdragon 765G processor, with 8GB RAM and 256GB internal storage. It houses a 2,800mAh battery and one nano-sim slot, with no expandable memory.
Software and features
The Razr 5G runs on Android 10 and is, as its name suggests, 5G enabled. The 5G antenna is tucked inside the chin, which explains its size. The main camera (which doubles as the selfie lens when folded) is 48 megapixels and can record video at a maximum 4K at 60fps.
The phone has no headphone jack but it comes with an USB-C to 3.5mm adaptor for those who don't want to use Bluetooth. The fingerprint reader is located at the back of the unit where the company logo is, and the main screen has water-repellent coating.
Performance and battery life
I experienced no issues with connection, speed or voice quality. The camera takes excellent daytime images but struggles with colour balance in low light conditions. I love the portrait mode, which turns on the bokeh effect automatically (something my old Sony cannot do).
Battery life is solid. I can never play a mobile game on my LG G5 for longer than 30 minutes without getting the low battery warning. With the Razr 5G, I can do that and run YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitch, Discord and Line throughout the day without recharging.
Unfortunately, despite the hefty price tag, this foldable doesn't come with wireless charging. The handset also gets warm very quickly; and the speaker is weak. Both my Sony and LG have much better audio quality.
I've had the Razr 5G for a week and it practically does everything that my two old phones can do but better. The phone's glass body feels great in the hand, but is very slippery, which means the unit can easily slide off any tilted smooth surface.
Gimmicky features aside (a quick shake of the folded phone turns on the selfie camera), the Razr 5G is functional and worthy of consideration by those who are thinking of an upgrade.
It doesn't come cheap, and there are plenty of options out there that have better screen, camera and processor and cost less. As far as foldable phones go, though, the Razr 5G is up there with the best.
Dimensions: 169.2mm x 72.6mm x 7.9mm (unfolded); 91.7mm x 72.6mm x 16mm (folded)
Display: 6.2in (main screen); 2.7in (external display)
OS version reviewed: Android 10
Processor: Snapdragon 765G
Cameras: 48 megapixel
Memory: 8GB RAM and 256GB internal storage
Colours: black, gold and silver
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This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (www.scmp.com), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia.
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