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Moto Razr 5G review: Folding is fun but expensive

While 2019 was the year folding phones hit the mainstream, 2020 was the year we saw them refined. Samsung fine tuned their Z Flip with a 5G option, while also overhauling the Galaxy Fold for its second generation, while Huawei also refined their Mate X and made it more available. 

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Motorola concentrated on improving their Razr for the second generation. The Moto Razr 5G is the result of feedback from Gen 1 Moto Razr users, with Motorola refining the design, as well as usability on the secondary display, and also giving the phone a bump in specs. 

The inclusion of more capable hardware, refinements in design and the foldable display places the phone firmly in the premium category, and as such it attracts a premium price of $2,299 in Australia.

I’ve been using the Razr 5G for almost a fortnight now, and here’s what I think,

Hardware and Design

As a phone, the Moto Razr 5G is one hot looking handset. It’s all curved glass and aluminium, and in this latest iteration opens and closes more easily, with the two halves of the clamshell design sitting more neatly when closed. 

The only colour option for the Razr 5G is Polished Granite, which looks quite business like and frankly stylish, but for a fun foldable phone, it’d be nice to see some vibrant colour options available. The Razr 5G comes in Liquid Mercury and Blush Gold in other markets, so it’s down to Motorola AU to bring these options.

As well as colour, it would be nice to get a more matte finish to the phone. The slick glass on the exterior of the Razr 5G makes it a slippery little sucker to hold onto – or put onto a surface, it will slide off just about anything. It also shows fingerprints without even trying. As a folding phone there’s very few case options available, and at nearly $2,300 it encourages you to take it slow while handling the phone.

The volume rocker and power buttons sit just barely above the sides of the phone on the top half of the Razr 5G. The location makes it easy to reach when closed, though it can be a little awkward to reach them using one-hand when it’s open. 

There’s no ports on the top of the phone, though you get a USB-C port, speaker grille and the SIM tray in the base. The location of the speaker makes it easy to muffle while you’re watching a video in landscape, but it’s pretty decent for a single speaker if left uncovered.

Despite the smaller footprint, the Moto Razr 5G feels heavy. It’s actually lighter overall than ‘traditional’ candy bar design phones, but with everything packed into a smaller footprint, it feels heavier.

The most amount of work on the Moto Razr 5G seems to have been done on the hinge, which now opens and closes without creaking, which was reportedly a big issue with the gen 1 Moto Razr foldable. There’s no way there’s anything getting jammed in zero-gap hinge either, even after a couple of weeks in my pocket, it remains lint free.

The hinge has been subjected to rigorous testing, with Motorola saying the hinge can be opened up to 200,000 times. Motorola says most users open their phone up to 100 times per day, so 200,000 times will definitely cover you.

Even nearly two weeks into this review, I’m still pulling out the Razr 5G and flipping it open and closed like some sort of large fidget spinner. The phone has a satisfying open and close. It’s like an oversized, (and expensive) fidget spinner. 

The main display – Flex View – is a Plastic OLED (P-OLED) which consists of 5 layers designed to fold in concert with the hinge. There’s a noticeable plastic cover on the display, which you can see isn’t quite laminated to the P-OLED display, but it never became an issue. The plastic is slightly rippled from opening and closing, but you only see this really if you’re looking for it – though once seen, it’s hard to unsee.

The P-OLED itself is great quality, with a HD Plus resolution (2142 x 876), though the panel is only 60Hz, so it’s not quite up there with the flagship level screens which now extend to 120Hz refresh rates which can make phones look just lovely with faster animations and transitions. It is quite bright, and easy to use in daylight, or at night.

While the talking point is obviously the foldable 6.2-inch display, there’s also a 2.7-inch secondary display on the outside of the clamshell. Motorola took feedback from their customers on how to make this second screen more useful.

The ‘QuickView display’ as Motorola refers to it, is an easy place to check your notifications, run Google Maps directions, operate the selfie camera and loads more, all without having to open the phone up. It’s touch enabled so you’ll be swiping and typing on the external display quite quickly. 

The inclusion of Motorola’s Peek Display notifications on the Quick VIew Display means you’ll see your notifications, as well as respond. I found the Google Maps integration on the Quick View Display most useful, as was taking a selfie with the instant preview through the smaller display.

You can also take calls on the phone without opening it, just check who’s calling and answer.

Overall, the displays on the Moto Razr 5G are good, with only slight rippling on the top plastic layer on the Full View display my only real criticism. 

Motorola also overhauled the internals of the Moto Razr 5G, bumping the processor to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor (which includes 5G support), and bumping the RAM to 8GB (from 6GB), and storage to 256GB (from 128GB). Even though there’s no microSD card slot to expand the on-board storage, 256GB is a great way to go, giving you plenty of room for app or photo/video storage.

The Qualcomm SD765G processor is more than enough to handle your day to day activities, especially paired with 8GB of RAM. There’s no skipping or lag, and the 5G performance is, as we’ve found with phones running this chipset all year, just great.

Power

The battery has been increased to 2800mAh, but still supports the same 15W Turbo Charging option. The slight increase to battery size means you’ll get as close to a full day of use as you could want. 

My average for use was anywhere up to 24 hours of use, with about 3.5-4 hours of screen on time. You can get more time in between charges, but that 3-4 hours of screen on time is about the maxium.

Considering the Moto Razr 5G is powering two displays, it’s not a bad battery life. Using the Quick View display to respond to notifications will extend your battery life, but as a creature of habit, I like the larger display and the 15W Turbo Charger lets you top up relatively quickly if you’re getting low. 

The Turbo charger can bring you back to 40% charge in about half an hour, but given we’re seeing chargers with over 100W of power now, it may be time to update their fast charge tech. You also won’t find any wireless charging in the Moto Razr 5G, something Samsung managed to squeeze into their Z Flip, so it would be nice to see this overhauled for V3. 

Camera

As well as their internal specs and design, Motorola also bumped the camera specs on the Moto Razr 5G. The main camera now uses a 48MP sensor, while the internal selfie camera gets a bump up to 20MP. 

In good light, the main camera on the Moto Razr 5G works quite well whether inside or out.

Under low-light/night conditions, the camera does a decent job, leveraging some computational photography to enhance the shots you take. 

The 48MP ‘rear’ sensor and the 20MP internal selfie camera both use quad-pixel tech, which means it stacks the images to produce a final shot.

I rarely used the internal camera, with the main sensor much better for taking a selfie, though it’s convenient to have that second sensor there for video conferencing. 

There’s options for portrait, spot colour, Cinemagraph, Panorama and more with the Motorola camera app. There’s also timelapse and slow motion options for video. 

Software

Motorola’s MyUX software is used on all their phones over the top of Android 10 on the Razr 5G. Motorola says you’ll get two feature updates – the first to Android 11 – and they’ve also said they will push security updates every two months – our review unit is running the September 2020 update which arrived a few days ago, so they’re a bit behind.

There’s very little bloatware on the Motorola series phones, it’s mostly the ‘Moto’ app which sits front and centre on the home screen when you login. 

One game that is included on the Razr 5G is Astro Odyssey. While it’s a simple clone of the Chrome Dinosaur game, the advantage of Astro Odyssey is that it plays on the small Quick View display, giving you a casual game you can play when you’re bored, without having to open the Razr up fully.

MyUX does allow for Motorola to add some features like Moto Actions which let you use gestures including a double twist of your hand or chop gestures which launches the camera or turns on the torch. 

The MyUX software also allows Motorola to incorporate all their little features into the Quick View Display, but given how light it is, you’ll barely notice it’s there. It’s a good, clean and above all else, usable version of Android and includes some guarantees of updates which is a plus.

Should you buy this phone?

Despite the heavy price tag, there is a lot to like about the Moto Razr 5G. The performance is great, cameras capture decent quality snaps, and the flip form factor is both a conversation starter, and fidget spinner alternative – especially with the improved hinge design.

There’s certainly still room for Motorola to improve, notably in things like charging and wireless power, and an option for a less slippery model would be appreciated. You could also make the argument for better (perhaps more) cameras with support for Ultra-Wide or Telephoto. 

The biggest competition for Motorola in this space is Samsung and their Galaxy Z Flip which was selling for a crazy low $999 prior to the ‘Black Friday’ sales this year. At that price, Motorola hasn’t got a hope, even with 5G support included.

I’ve fallen a little in love with the Razr 5G and its compact form factor. It’s a great phone, but the price could definitely be better and it’s down to a waiting game for how low can the price go? Motorola already sells the cheapest 5G phone in Australia with the Moto G 5G and it comes with similar internal hardware for $499, so I’d love to see Motorola Australia get their pencils out and get us a better deal. 

If you’ve got the budget, and a desire for something stylish that will handle your day-to-day smartphone needs, the Moto Razr 5G is definitely a winner. You can check it out at JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman, The Good Guys, Officeworks, Mobileciti and the Motorola online store 

Moto Razr 5G review: Folding is fun but expensive
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