For $1500 (~£1147) you could treat yourself to approximately 750 cups of coffee, almost 14 years of a Netflix subscription… or you could pre-order one Motorola Razr.
It’s an expensive bit of kit, but it’s not alone in that respect – just take a look at its direct rival, the Samsung Galaxy Fold ($1980/£1900), or Apple’s highest-specced smartphone, the iPhone 11 Pro Max ($1449/£1499), but here’s why it would be folly to fork out for this foldable.
One of 2020’s defining trends is bound to be the adoption of 5G connectivity. Networks spread the technology across the UK in 2019, meaning you’re more likely to get a 5G signal.
Approximately 12.4 million 5G smartphones were sold in 2019, with Samsung dominating the market with a 53.9% share (including no less than 400,000 Galaxy Folds), and the already considerable 5G market will grow much larger this year thanks in large part to Qualcomm’s announcement of 5G by default for the Snapdragon 865 and 765 series of chipsets. Not only does that mean the majority of Android flagships in 2020 will be capable of 5G connectivity, but we strongly anticipate that Apple will finally take the hint and introduce 5G to the iPhone 12 series later this year.
With all this in mind, it would be imprudent, to say the least, to splash out for one of the world’s most expensive phones – surely a prestige product you’d like to keep for more than just a year or two – when it will be considerably outmoded by the same time next year.
Paying top dollar for a smartphone always feels painful, but you can usually salve your wounds with the knowledge that you’re getting a top performer – a phone that will be highly capable at the time and for a few years to come, and impervious to more-demanding software. That’s certainly the case with the Galaxy Fold and the iPhone 11 Pro Max, which have specs that put the rest of the market in the shade.
But when it comes to the Motorola Razr, we find that it flatters to deceive. It runs on the Snapdragon 710 chipset – the very same one you’ll find in the Realme 3 Pro – a bargain phone priced at £175. Elsewhere, you could pay just half Razr’s price for the likes of the OnePlus 7T, which boasts a top-of-the-line Snapdragon 865 Plus processor.
Not only is the processor on the light side, but the battery allowance is miserly too. The 2510mAh capacity would have been considered small three years ago, let alone today, when flagships boast up to 5000mAh. Tthe Google Pixel 4 was rightly criticised for its 2800mAh offering, which we found to be disappointing and inadequate. When you remember that Motorola itself offers a phone for £179 with a 5000mAh battery capacity (the Moto G7 Power) we can’t help but think your money would be better spent elsewhere.
This relatively sluggish specs are a sure sign you’ll be paying for nostalgic novelty and not a smartphone that you can genuinely rely on for a few years.
Keen gamers will be familiar with the maxim that you should always be wary of pre-ordering, no matter how flashy or tempting the product seems. In their case it’s because developers can often rush out unfinished or buggy games to hit a deadline with the intention of patching later. In this case, it’s hardware rather than software that could be a potential problem.
When the Samsung Galaxy Fold attempted to launch in April 2018, it hit into the problems within hours – reviewers found that the delicate screen malfunctioned and compromised the device. Launch was then delayed until September so that the issue could be fixed. The Huawei Mate X was also delayed for some time after its expected release date for unspecified reasons.
So, despite the fact that the Razr looks to have exceptional build quality, we’d suggest you wait until those first couple of weeks have passed, so that you don’t fall victim to technical hitches to which first-generation products are particularly prone.
And all for what?
You might consider the tone of this article a little harsh – after all, the Razr has managed to innovative and simultaneously tap into nostalgia. But it’s worth asking, as with any new tech, does the innovation serve the product or does the product serve the innovation?
It sure does look cool, but the foldable design’s only additional, tangible function is that it’s smaller to carry in your pocket. In return for that, several compromises have been made, including the fact it has just one camera (plus a Time-of-Flight sensor) while current flagships are packing as many as four cameras to serve greater versatility.
In addition to the single camera, its all-important folding screen is made out of plastic rather than premium glass and misses out on the new trend for higher display refresh rates for a smoother browsing experience.
Sure, it’s an eye-catching device, but this time around you might be best off saying “Hell no, Moto”.
Fast Charge is our weekly mobile-focussed column where we delve deeper into the world of smartphones, wearables and more. Find it on Trusted Reviews every Saturday morning.