ZDNET’s key takeaways
- The Motorola Razr is this year’s most affordable foldable phone, with a The price is $699.
- Some notable compromises include a smaller external display, a lower-end processor, and a weaker camera system.
- The Motorola Razr handles day-to-day operations fairly well and can handle more graphics-intensive tasks when needed.
It’s been in my head since the first fold; At what point will these shape-shifting phones be affordable enough for everyone to buy? The first iterations were understandably expensive because of the R&D and materials manufacturers put in — and because of that Innovation — So it was only a matter of time before the processes became more streamlined and the price of entry dropped, right?
Also: Motorola wants you to wear its new foldable phone like a watch — but don’t get too excited
But that’s rarely been the case with recent OnePlus Open prices $1,699 (just $100 less than Samsung and Google’s phone-to-tablet foldables) and the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 still costs a penny less than $1,000.
So Motorola’s new Razr (2023) Such a big deal. It’s the first foldable phone to retail for less than $700, undercutting not only the next “cheaper” foldable by $300 but also the base models of more traditional phones like the Samsung Galaxy S23 and Apple iPhone 15. At this price point, the Razr might be the best foldable I recommend to most people.
Recommended by ZDNET
Motorola Razr (2023)
A pocket-friendly Android with dual displays, a Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 processor, a 4,200mAh battery and more.
For starters, it’s easy to mistake the Motorola Razr for the Motorola Razr Plus, released in June. The two phones are very similar with the folding mechanism, common form factor, software features and charging technology (30W wired, 5W wireless).
Review: Motorola Razr Plus (2023): The best flipping foldable right now
But seeing the two physically together paints a clearer picture. The 1.5-inch OLED panel on the Motorola Razr is its biggest compromise, as it’s not as functional or glamorous as the Razr Plus. This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your smartphone standards.
For example, having a small external display limits the information you can see at a glance In most cases, incoming notifications and text messages are too long to read in full, and a good portion of tasks require you to use the internal screen to complete them.
You also can’t freely open apps and browse the web from the outside screen — something I praised the Razr Plus for — because Motorola limits you to basic widgets like weather, contacts, and voice recorder.
Also: Gen Z is ditching iPhones for $100 ‘feature phones,’ and the numbers don’t lie
On the other hand, a smaller screen means you’re less likely to get distracted — or need to — when the razor isn’t in use. Motorola even has an “unplugged” feature that limits your access to more distracting apps like TikTok and Instagram, so it’s as close to a feature phone as a smartphone.
Flip the screen over and you’ve got what’s essentially a standard mid-range Android phone in 2023. The processor, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 7 Gen 1, isn’t the latest and greatest, but it’s good enough to get me through a day. Slack messages, emailing, capturing the occasional photo and video and navigating around town, with some lag and slow load times here and there.
Review: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5: Three features I love (and two I still want)
I’ve been testing the Razr’s performance with a Nintendo DS emulator (DraStic) — because why wouldn’t you simulate a foldable gaming console on a foldable phone — and the device held up fairly well. At most, the Razr warms to the touch after about 15 minutes of gameplay at 60fps.
On paper, the Razr’s 64MP dual camera system should take more flattering photos than it should, but Motorola’s biggest Achilles heel is image processing.
For the most part, colors are more washed out and not as saturated (or vibrant) as I like, and the 13MP ultrawide lens, capable of capturing a wider field of view than the main sensor, lacks detail in shots.
Also: OnePlus’ first-ever foldable takes on the old Samsung and Google look — and it’s almost perfect
But the fact that the Razr is foldable means it beats even the pricier iPhone 15 Pro Max in one area: hands-free photos. Motorola kept the same sturdy hinge on the Razr as it did on the Razr Plus, so you can set the phone down — something you’d normally need a counterweight or tripod for — and capture photos and videos from a distance.
Having an external display means you can take great-looking selfies using the rear cameras instead of the front-facing ones. Again, some can only do a foldable phone.
ZDNET’s buying advice
Shopping in the mid-range market can be tricky because it’s all about how manufacturers balance specs and features, and how those values align with your personal needs. in case Motorola RazrIts foldable form factor alone makes it stand out from the sea of glass slabs, and the $699 price (which I expect will drop to $599 by holiday shopping) makes it the most accessible option of its kind.
Of course, you have to be okay with its compromises, including the just-average camera system, small external display and 128GB storage limit. Otherwise, it’s as good a foldable as you can get at this price point, and I fully expect competitors to match Motorola’s offering as soon as next year.