Motorola has released their 2023 flippable RAZR smartphone and they have apparently learned their lessons from years gone past and have come to the party firing from the hip.  Not only have they released a foldable smartphone with some great internals but this time they are bringing the big guns with a couple of great displays.

The Motorola RAZR 40 Ultra (yes, I have capitalised all the things – far too many companies are alternating capitalising the names of their products and I cannot keep up) was announced last month to great fanfare, and rightfully so.  The foldable category is fresh and exciting.  For those wondering, in some markets the Razr 40 Ultra is also known as the Razr+ is some markets.

Priced at $1,499 it is certainly not cheap and given the setbacks previous Razr models have had it is a large outlay on a smartphone that has not lived up to the hype in previous years.  Read on to see if we think the 2023 Motorola Razr 40 Ultra lives up to this year’s hype and is worth dropping a cool $1,500 on.

The design is the same but different

At first glance, before turning it on, the Razr 40 Ultra (from here forward to be known as the Razr because the proper name is too much of a mouthful) is a flip phone just like all of the others.  Once you turn it on the magic happens.  

You see the huge outer display.  You see that yes there is indeed no gap between the two halves when it is folded over.  You see a couple of large outer camera.  This is no ordinary flip phone.

The Razr this year is actually the thinnest flip phone on the market at 6.99mm thin when open and just 15.1mm when closed.  So technically there is a gap somewhere because 6.99 x 2 does not equal 15.1.  Visually I can’t see it though so I’m not entirely sure where they get these dimensions from.

Motorola has included a plastic case in the box which is a nice addition, especially when it has a nice black strip at the end of it to blend in nicely with the phone colour – apparently the magenta colour has a red strip etc.

The hinge and the crease are both improved

Now, when I used the OPPO Find N2 Flip last month I was impressed with how minimal the crease in the display was but the crease on the Razr is even smaller.  It still has a pOLED display so that’s not it – I assume it’s their new hinge.

The new teardrop hinge allows for more room for the large display while also minimising crease. The teardrop hinge allows you to position the phone in “multiple angles giving you new ways to interact, capture or create.”  

Notice the marketing materials said “multiple angles”?  The reason for this is that anything outside of between approximately 45 and 135 degrees the hinge won’t hold in position.  It will either flip to fully open or fully closed (whichever is closest obviously). I didn’t have an issue with this given I think most of that using the phone half open on the desk etc is mostly a gimmick.

The Razr does shut flat though as I cannot see any daylight between the two halves when trying to.  As a thin device it’s great and sit comfortably in the pocket when folded.  To be honest I’m not entirely sure why companies don’t add a millimetre or two and stick in maybe better camera sensors?  Is that all it would take?  More on this later.

How long will the hinge last?  Motorola has tested it for thousands of folds so it *should* last that long but with a 24 month warranty what have you go to lose.  I wonder if Australian Consumer Law would cover a $1,500 phone out of warranty after all by law a device should last as long as you would expect it to last.

“Statutory rights have no set time limit – depending on the price and quality of goods, consumers may be entitled to a remedy after any manufacturers’ or extended warranty has expired.”

So what have you got to lose?

External (Cover) display is big and beautiful

Other flip phones have been all about the size and pocketability (it is now a word) but the Razr in 2023 is about that and more.  Much more.  It’s about the big, beautiful, full functional display!

The cover display is a big – it’s a relative term of course – 3.6-inch pOLED display with a refresh rate of 144Hz and a pixel density of 413ppi.  iPhone users will be jealous of that density and refresh rate – and it’s the outer display.  Great for games but it is buttery smooth for all things.

Motorola has tweaked their software so that the outer display can run nearly any and all apps (for some reason Google Photos won’t along with several other Google apps).  For an app to run on the external cover display you need to give it permission to do so first in the settings.

This is where a nice change was made by Motorola in their first update.  At first use you needed to allow an app to run on the cover display but it would have to be run either automatically all the time or not continually and you’d have to open it from the cover display launcher.

The update they pushed gave the options of tapping on a button on the cover display to continue using the app that was open on the inside display when you closed the phone – much like the way OPPO does it on their Find N2 Flip.  You can also have it open automatically when you close the phone but I opted for the button tap for all apps – after I’d first enabled them in settings.  

The same will happen in reverse as well — if you are browsing one app on the outside display it will open to its full size on the internal display when you flip the phone open.

Hopefully this is the support the Razr will see over its lifetime from Motorola because theft made this phone so much better and useful with this update.

So how responsive is the cover display?  As much as the inner display but you need to carefully adjust the size of the font and icons because if they’re set too small you won’t be able to read it and too big you will cut off a lot of the content – such as the text box that you are typing in to.  

There are times though, because the sizes do need to be smaller than that on the inner display to include all test boxes etc above the opened full size keyboard, you might miss-press, but my accuracy has improved over time with more use.

On the cover display there are two ways to view the apps – in a default view which has the notifications down the bottom left of the display and the actual screen used by the app shrunk upwards a bit, or a full screen view where the notification icons are no longer in the bottom of the display and the app displayed uses the entire display.

If you are using the phone entirely on the external display (which is entirely possible except for a few app exceptions) then default view with the notification icons visible may be best but if you flip between open and closed viewing of the phone then I prefer the full screen view so you can see more of the app.

Unfortunately, although the cover display can run nearly all apps, it cannot run all widgets.  There are only a select few that Motorola has allowed but Motorola call them panels.  Most panels are made by Motorola except for the Google News, Google Fit and the Spotify one.  

Spotify coincidentally also has one for the Find N2 Flip – good to see then moving with the new technology.  Google should do that too – after all they should know a thing or two about coding for Android.

I would like to add my own widget to the cover display – my garage door opener, a YouTube Music and a Pocket Casts one would be nice.

If you wish to take selfie photos with the camera lenses on the outside, that is, visualise the viewfinder on the external display, you need to open the camera using the other display app launcher or trigger it using the double tap power button or the shake the phone gesture.  There is no option to switch to this if you open the camera while the phone is folded out.

That was a lot to write about a seemingly simple 3.6-inch display but it can’t be that simple when no one else has done it yet (until Samsung do it too with the Flip 5 – rumour).  This display makes the phone. Simple as that and I cannot overstate just how useful this outer display was for me. 

The inner display is tall

Ho hum.  The inner display.  It’s difficult to describe the inner display after fluffing on about the external display so much.  It’s tall. Very tall but it’s also bright and colourful..

A 6.9-inch FHD pOLED display should not be this tall – but here we are.  Motorola have opted to make the Razr display taller and thinner to get to the 6.9-inches.  It is even taller when open than my Pixel 7 Pro.


Such a tall, narrow display can make for some interesting finger gymnastics to reach the entire phone but if you are using one hand in a rush you just use the outer display and not the inner.  The inner display is for when you are comfortable and little bit of finger gymnastics will not result in a phone drop.  

There are some apps which do not seem to support this different aspect ratio of 22:9 of the Razr with them not rendering properly and content overlapping.  I assume Google will update their APIs etc in the coming months to support this too?  The AFL app is one that comes to mind – the app is still fully usable, it just does not look how it should.

The inner display does have an ultra-fast refresh rate of up to 165Hz but if you wish to save on battery you can make that 60Hz instead.  The display is “smart optimised” which means that the refresh rate changes based on what app and content is being displayed on the screen to conserve battery life.

I had no problems viewing the inner display although, as with all flip phones I have tested, the display sits behind or back of the lip of the phone making it difficult at times to use or tap content that is at the edge of the display.  

As mentioned above, the crease, although visible does not interfere with operation of the screen and you actually end up forgetting it’s even there after a while.

Overall, the colours are bright, crisp and a great experience with content scrolling and moving smoothly across the display.

Useful software features

Motorola has always had a very basic, as close to stock Android as anyone, Android skin.  Don’t let that fool you though because they have included a lot of added features.  Unlike some manufacturers where many of their “features” amount to nothing more than pretty gimmicks, a bulk of the Motorola features are actually used, a lot.

Rather than run through every single feature I’m going to mention a few of my favourites.  Most of the Motorola enhancements are featured around gestures, be it onscreen gestures, physical button gestures or what they are calling kinetic gestures.

The kinetic gestures are what I use most.  The ability to launch the camera using the double tap the power button is available but Motorola has an even easier gesture to launch the camera – twist the phone.  

“Twist your wrist twice quickly to open the camera at any time”

Also, turning the flashlight on and off is something I do a lot.  Simply “Turn the torch on/off with two karate chop motions.

My last favourite gesture is the three-finger screenshot.  Some manufacturers have the swipe down with three fingers to take a screenshot.  With the Razr 40 Ultra simply touch the screen with three fingers at the same time to take a screenshot.

The last feature I want to mention is “Peek Display.”  Peek display shows notifications while your display is off.  You don’t need to unlock the phone to see the notifications.  Tap and drag on an icon for a notification to read the notification and drag it to either reply, archive or other.  This is especially useful while you are busy and don’t have time or are unable to unlock the phone.

Hardware, Performance and battery life to get you through the day

I’m not going to talk too much about the hardware because at this end of the market the chipsets are all great, even if it is a year old.  The processor powering the Razr 40 Ultra is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 and although it is a year old and one small increment behind the latest and greatest Snapdragon, it is still plenty powerful to run this smartphone at extreme levels without missing a beat.

The chipset is accompanied by either 8GB or 12GB of RAM and 256GB or 512GB of storage.  This phone is about the experience and not the specs though so I wouldn’t worry abou9t these either way.

There is a single bottom-firing speaker but using the Dolby tuned software the speaker pairs up with the earpiece speaker to create a decent sound when gaming.  If you’re listening to music do us all a favour and use headphones.  If you insist on using the speakers, they are loud! Some of the loudest I’ve heard on a smartphone but don’t expect them to sound super crisp.

The battery is a 3,800mAh and is charged by the USB-C port at the bottom.  Motorola has included their 30W turbo power charging which charges extremely quickly, so quickly in a short period of time that it certainly feels like it is charging faster than 30W – maybe it’s just because my Pixel 7 Pro does not even charge that fast so anything is an improvement.

To Motorola’s credit they have included wireless Qi charging as well although it is only 5W.  5W is slooooooow but perfect for overnight charging.  If you are wanting a quick top up, I’d suggest using a wired connection.

The battery life on the Razr 40 Ultra is good enough for a day, even with using the inner display more often than the outer display.  If you see that your battery is running lower than hoped for you can switch to using the external display exclusively (as far as possible) and it will churn through a lot less juice.  It is great to have that option but for a vast majority of folks you’ll easily last the day out without having to recharge.

Unlike early foldable smartphones the Razr 40 Ultra does have a waterproof rating, but I would NOT be submersing this in any type of fluid with it only having an IP52 splash and dust resistant rating.

The camera

Flip and fold phones are limited with the camera hardware they can include due to their thickness.  Few people want a flip/fold phone that is so thick that it struggles to fit into your pockets and as such manufacturers need to make the foldables as thin as possible.

For this reason we are yet to see a foldable smartphone with a flagship quality camera setup even though foldables carry a flagship price (and then some in some cases).  Motorola have famously included what can best be described as spud cams in their Razr foldables in previous iterations but this year that has changed.

The outside camera setup includes a 12MP f/1.4 Dual Pixel PDAF with OIS which is actually the same sensor that is in the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 – that is now 12 months old so we will have to see what Samsung include in the Flip 5 in a couple of weeks time.  

Partnered with the 12MP main camera is a 13MP f/2.2 ultrawide and macro camera which seems to be a step down from the 50MP in last year’s camera setup but the proof will be in the pudding of the resultant images — see below.

Inside is a 32MP f/2.4 selfie camera, which is a lot of megapixels but I’m not sure it will be used all that often on a flip phone such as this where you have such a large outer display and thus can use the more proficient outer cameras for selfies/video calls.

The results are much better than the photos produced from last year’s Razr flip smartphone. The colours are reproducibly bright and colourful but you do lose some detail when zooming in the resultant image, likely due to the 12MP only camera. Detail of animals and humans is good and if this was your only phone you would be relatively happy with them.

The Razr 40 Ultra is a $1,500 phone so you would and should expect photo quality of equivalent value but in this case, and with all foldables, you are paying for the foldable technology, not the camera software and hardware. The images are good but just not flagship quality.

Selfies are good and definitely better using the external primary camera so you should try and use this for all of your selfies. The AI portrait mode is excellent as well.

Why you should buy a Motorola Razr 40 Ultra?

I cannot overestimate just how much I like the Razr 40 Ultra. The external display is big and beautiful and FULLY usable, making other flip phones’ cover displays seemingly useless. The ability to run basically every app on the external display saves a lot of time while at the same time having a phone that sits easily within any pocket, no matter how skinny your jeans are.

Opening up the display gives a big beautiful display which is tall (possibly too tall), bright, colourful and smooth. 165Hz really does make a difference. Add to the usefulness and connected nature of the two displays the excellent software Motorola has produced for the Razr 40 Ultra and you have a great flip phone.

The camera quality is not quite flagship quality but is still capable of producing great photos, something many foldable smartphones have lacked in recent years. It is certainly no spud-cam.

If you are sick and tired of carrying around smartphones as big as Maxwell Smart’s shoe phone and want something small then this is for you. The quality and usefulness of the external display makes the phone. As someone who uses their phone a lot but also hates carrying around a massive phone in his pocket all the time then I certainly have my eye on this one.

I personally will be purchasing one of them with my hard earned after this review unit heads back to Motorola. This is the biggest recommendation I can give a device, that I’m willing spend my own money on it.

The Motorola Razr 40 Ultra has an RRP of $1,499 and is available in Black, Viva Magenta and Glacier Blue starting today, 10 July, 2023. Buy it:

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