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Motorola Razr 5G

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Motorola Razr 5G

Motorola Razr 5G

bySteven Winkelman

Editor Rating: Excellent (4.0)

Motorola Razr 5G - Motorola Razr 5G

  • Pros

    • Gorgeous design
    • Useful exterior display
    • Excellent 48MP camera
    • Solid sub-6GHz 5G connectivity
  • Cons

    • No IP rating
    • Battery life could be better
  • Bottom Line

Motorola revolutionized the mobile phone industry in 2004 when it launched the Razr. Almost overnight, the sleek clamshell became a status symbol and gained a dedicated following until Apple's iPhone and a host of other smartphones hit the market. Moto brought it back briefly in the early 2010s with a line of slab-style Droid Razrs, before reuniting it with its rightful folding form factor earlier this year. While the new Razr definitely turned heads, it was met with mixed reviews (including our own) and a healthy dose of skepticism after Samsung’s problems with the Galaxy Fold. Months later, the folding phone trend shows no sign of stopping and Motorola is back with the Razr 5G ($1,399.99).

Can the Razr 5G muster up the same enthusiasm as the OG model? Possibly, though even Motorola’s Doug Michau said the form factor isn't for everyone—and until I used the new phone, I wasn't sold on it myself. But the Razr 5G is different than most of the foldables out there right now, as it doesn’t attempt to do double duty as a tablet or a laptop replacement. And it fixes nearly every issue we had with its predecessor, for a lower price. While it's still pretty expensive at $1,399.99, it costs a lot less than the $2,000 Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2, which is the only other folding phone we currently recommend.

Bringing Back a Classic (Again)

The Motorola Razr 5G is a handsome phone. The boxy design and sharp edges of the previous model have been replaced with curved glass, aircraft-grade aluminum, and a svelte chin bezel. It actually looks like a clamshell, unlike the clunky Galaxy Z Flip, which looks more like Samsung simply threw a hinge and flexible display into a regular smartphone.

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Folded, the Razr measures 3.6 by 2.9 by 0.6 inches (HWD) and weighs 6.7 ounces. While we fretted over the possibility of pinched fingers from the hinge on the previous model, I purposefully tried to make it happen for over half an hour this time, and I think it's safe to say this hinge is pinch-free.

Speaking of the hinge, Motorola says it made some minor alterations to make it feel more like the Razr from the early 2000s. It’s easy to open with one hand and it closes with a hearty, satisfying snap. Perhaps best of all, I’ve opened and closed the phone at least a thousand times at this point without experiencing the creaky noise that plagued the previous model.

It’s also worth noting the Razr 5G’s hinge has two positions: open and closed. There’s no Flex Mode like on the Galaxy Z Fold 2, or the seemingly limitless variations offered by the Microsoft Surface Duo. You can’t use the Razr 5G as book, or a tablet, or a very tiny laptop; it's a phone, plain and simple.

I tested the dark gray model, which does a pretty good job of resisting fingerprints. Sure, you can see some smudges in direct sunlight, but it's not nearly as egregious as on many other glass phones out there.

The power button is on the left side of the phone, while the volume rocker sits on the right. The unsightly fingerprint sensor on the chin of the previous model has been moved to the back, which is a much better spot. A USB-C port and speaker sit on the bottom; there’s no headphone jack, but there’s a USB-C headphone adapter in the box. The lack of stereo sound feels like a missed opportunity, especially since Motorola often uses the earpiece as a top-firing speaker in other phones.

The outside of the Razr is home to a 2.7-inch, 800-by-600-pixel Peek Display and a 48MP camera. The display is essentially the same as you’ll find on the last model, but it’s way more functional thanks to some software modifications. In addition to the basics like date, time, and notifications, you can now access your favorite apps, reply to texts and notifications, and use Google Assistant without needing to open the phone.

It’s important to stress just how much these seemingly minor additions to the Peek Display improve the overall user experience. During a week of using the phone, I found that I could easily perform 50 to 60 percent of my normal tasks without opening it. That’s great for battery life (more on that later), but it also offers a far more valuable, less tangible benefit: I found myself using the phone more mindfully.

Over the last six or so months, I’ve been using my phone a lot more often than in the pre-COVID-19 days. A reply to a text message might lead to a quick glance at Twitter, and the next thing I know, 45 minutes have gone by. That happens a lot less with the Razr because the Peek Display is large enough to handle the basics, but too small for mindless scrolling.

When you do need to open the phone, you’ll find a gorgeous 6.2-inch, 2,142-by-876-pixel folding POLED display. It's nicely bright, colors are accurate, and there’s no visible crease where it folds. If you feel around, you can notice a small dip where the hinge mechanism is located, but since it's in the middle of the display, you don’t feel any give when typing or performing most regular tasks.

There's no IP rating, though all of the Razr's internal components and external points of entry have been protected with a water-resistant coating. Motorola says the phone can withstand sweat, rain, and splashes; I used it in the rain more than once without issue. Even so, when you’re spending $1,400 on a phone, it's a smart idea to shell out a little more for a good case.

Peppier Performance

The Razr sports a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage, of which about 228GB is available out of the box. There’s no microSD slot for external storage.

The 765G chipset is smaller and more energy-efficient than the 800-series processors you’ll find in the Surface Duo, the Galaxy Z Fold 2, and the Galaxy Z Flip, but it isn't as fast when it comes to system performance or modem speeds. That said, I currently have 27 apps and 27 Chrome tabs open on the Razr and there isn't so much as a stutter. I used it to play Alto’s Odyssey for nearly two hours without encountering any lag or skipped frames.

See How We Test Phones

On Geekbench 5.0, a series of tests that measure raw computing power, the Razr 5G earned a score of 616 single-core (SC) and 1,903 multi-core (MC). That doesn’t hold a candle to the Galaxy Z Fold 2’s respective scores of 980 and 3,118, or even the Surface Duo’s 754/2,651. But this is a good example of how benchmarks serve as an objective measurement tool to compare similar products, and don’t necessarily represent day-to-day performance. Yes, those other phones are faster than the Razr, but chances are you won't notice it with regular use.

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Motorola bumped the battery capacity up to 2,800mAh (compared with the 2,500mAh original). In our battery drain test, which streams HD video over Wi-Fi at full brightness, the phone lasted 7 hours and 51 minutes with the screen open. That's about an hour longer than the previous model. It isn't great compared with many other current phones, but remember this result is with the screen unfolded. While using the Peek Display on a regular basis, I was usually able to get through a day of regular use with about 30 percent battery left.

The included 15W Turbo Power charger can boost a dead battery to about 40 percent in 30 minutes. Unfortunately, the phone lacks wireless charging.

Well-Connected

The Razr 5G offers global LTE and sub-6GHz 5G coverage. Right now, it should get 5G in 26 countries, but that number will grow. And since it has 3GHz spectrum support, there's a chance it will be enhanced with new airwaves the FCC is auctioning off later this year, although there's no guarantee it will be recertified with that capability.

Like the Galaxy Z Flip, the Razr 5G lacks millimeter-wave connectivity. This isn't a big deal at the moment, as the results from our Fastest Mobile Networks testing show that there is very little millimeter-wave 5G currently available across the country. If you absolutely must have it in a foldable form factor, your only option in the US as of this writing is the Galaxy Z Fold 2.

I tested the Razr on T-Mobile’s network in Chicago and saw consistently solid speeds. After nearly two dozen tests, average speeds came in at 118.4Mbps down and 48.2Mbps up. The highest speeds I saw topped out at 186.2Mbps down and 56.3Mbps up.

Call quality is solid. I made several test calls and transmissions were crisp and clear. Noise cancellation works well, and earpiece volume maxes out at 86dB, which is loud enough to hear outdoors.

The bottom-ported speaker is okay, but not amazing. It peaks at 90dB and produces no noticeable distortion, but it sounds a little boxy due to its location. It’s fine for conference calls and streaming video, and the Moto Audio app allows you to customize sound for different scenarios.

Bluetooth 5.0, dual-band WI-Fi, and NFC are supported.

Surprising Cameras

The phone has a 48MP camera with an f/1.7 aperture and laser autofocus on the outside, and a 20MP camera with an f/2.2 aperture inside. No, it doesn’t have triple outer sensors like the Galaxy Z Fold 2, but it also costs $600 less.

Both the 48MP and 20MP sensors excel in good light. In test shots, I found images to be crisp, with excellent depth of field. Motorola’s color science takes a more conservative approach than many other phone makers, so you’re not going to see super-vivid and oversaturated colors unless you shoot in Pro mode or tinker with the settings

.

Portrait mode works well for the most part, though things got a little funky with depth mapping when I stood in front of a background that was nearly the same color as my hat. Spot Color (to control how much or how little color is in the photo) and Cinemagraph (to animate a part of a photo while the rest remains still) modes worked well.

In low light, the 48MP lens does a surprisingly good job when set to Night mode. I took dozens of tricky shots and the Razr managed to produce solid results each time. There’s some minor loss of background detail, but it’s no worse than on the Galaxy S20 Ultra and the iPhone 11 Pro.

The 20MP sensor does okay in low light, but I can't think of a good reason to use it over the 48MP camera.

Software

The Razr ships with Android 10 and Motorola's My UX software extensions. For the uninitiated, Motorola offers a nearly stock version of Android with some genuinely useful features you can turn on and off.

Moto Audio lets you tweak sound settings, while Moto Game Time allows you to customize notification and performance settings for gaming. Moto Gestures lets you enable abilities like flipping the phone upside down to silence it, or making a twisting motion with your wrist to turn on the camera.

Motorola promises at least two Android upgrades and two years of bimonthly software support, and it tends to be pretty snappy with updates.

Conclusions

Motorola's Razr 5G is a welcome antidote to the monotony of the generic glass sandwich. It's an improvement upon its predecessor in every way, with faster performance, better cameras, longer battery life, 5G, and more. And with Motorola's enhancements to the Peek Display, it has the possibility to genuinely change the way you use your phone.

The Razr isn't as powerful as the Galaxy Z Fold 2, but it's far less expensive, putting it within closer reach of people looking to spend $1,000 on a phone. It's worth pointing out that Samsung's Galaxy Note 20 Ultra offers faster performance, along with millimeter-wave 5G and a genuinely useful stylus for the same price as the Razr. But it doesn't fold, and chances are you're not in the market for a massive phablet if you're considering this style of folding phone. So while the Razr 5G probably won't be the same cultural sensation as the very original, it's likely to make some well-heeled users with a dose of nostalgia very happy.

Motorola Razr 5G Specs

Operating System Android 10
CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G
Screen Size 6.2 inches
Screen Resolution 2,142-by-876 pixels
Camera Resolution (Rear; Front-Facing) 48MP; 20MP
Battery Life (As Tested) 7 hours, 51 minutes

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