mobile

Motorola Razr first impressions: So long and thanks for all the nostalgia

Motorola Razr 2019 is set to launch in India on March 16. Before the official launch, check out our detailed first impressions.

Up and close with Motorola’s new foldable phone
Up and close with Motorola’s new foldable phone (HT Photo)

My first phone was the Nokia 2100 my dad bought me when I was in class 12. As far as choices went, I was allowed to buy one of the changeable covers in a purple.

The 2100 saw me through most of my college days till I had earned enough to decide that I wanted a 'cooler' phone. It was 2006 and my heart was set on the Moto Razr V3, in the hot pink, no less.

I don't entirely recall if I had saved enough money to pay for the phone at one go, but I didn't end up buying it because they did not have the pink one.

Year 2020, I got my hands on the Razr again. It's still sleek, it's still (essentially) a flip phone and there's no pink colour this time. But before my brain went - "Hard pass" - I gave it its fair due.

The Motorola Razr 2019 is new in a lot of very 2019/2020 ways and old in some others - there are two screens, one that folds, the camera isn't great, the chipset is not top-of-the-line, there's only the Black Noir colour for options, the battery feels inadequate (though Motorola says that it will pull you through the day), the design is, thankfully, almost identical to the iconic Razr I had wanted for ages, but…

After the initial high of being able to hold new-age tech in an old-school form runs out, you are left with a device that you will actually start worrying about. Especially since you are going to pay almost a lakh and more for it.

I had a decent lot to say about the 2019 Razr till I saw the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip. And now I have very little.

Motorola says that this phone has been 15 years in the making. After 15 years what we get is the same clamshell form factor with the heavy chin that we love, two screens (a smaller 2.7-inch gOLED on top and a bigger 6.2-inch foldable pOLED inside), a 2,510mAh battery with 15W TurboPower charging, Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 for the works, a 16MP camera on the rear and a 5MP camera on the front and esim support only.

Given that I spent about 20 minutes actually using the device in the middle of shooting an unboxing video (things we do for traffic, also, please watch) and letting the camera crew take still shots, there is honestly no knowing how well most of the things work. However, our western counterparts clearly got more time with it and seem to have the same things to say.

 

The main screen, the 6.2-inch one, folds. It folds into the hinge of the Razr when you shut the phone. It doesn't snap together like the old Razr, that had two separate screens connected through the hinge. You'll miss that 'snapping together'. One of the main perks of flip phones was that satisfying snap when you were done with a call.

Adding to that is the fact that the screen is, well, plastic. You can hear a creak every time you close the device. It's unsettling to say the least. Again, the company says that it is not something we need to worry about, but think about it. You've just paid a whole tonne of money for a phone that makes a noise when it folds - you WILL be worried.

We were told that over some usage, we will get used to 'snapping' it shut, but that proposition seemed a little hard to swallow. The smartphone feels too fragile for us to snap it shut in a quick hurry. It's not. But it feels like it is.

Motorola Razr 2019 has a 16MP camera on the rear and a 5MP camera on the front
Motorola Razr 2019 has a 16MP camera on the rear and a 5MP camera on the front (HT Photo)

However, you will feel this with the Z Flip as well. I suppose we have heard so many horror stories about foldable screens now that none of them inspire any real confidence, yet.

With these rather mediocre specs, the 2019 Razr seems like a beta model of a much better foldable phone Motorola could have in the works. This is Motorola saying - yes, we can build a foldable, a foldable that looks awesome because nostalgia is awesome. And now that we have proved that we can do this, we're going to get you better ones in the future.

We know for a fact that they plan to up the specs significantly on the next iteration of the Razr. They also want to stick to the design, small mercies.

A closer look at the Motorola Razr retail box
A closer look at the Motorola Razr retail box (HT Photo)

Launching just after another foldable that boasts of grossly better specs makes the 2019 Razr feel inadequate. Motorola's late to the party. If I had not once lost my heart to the Razr V3 some 14 years ago, I would have little case to make for the 2019 Razr.

Obviously, there are cheaper flagship phones, across companies, that come with infinitely better specs. They don't fold, sure. But if I am scared to fold this device, and it will apparently take some getting used to, does that perk really matter?

I was sold on how the 2019 Razr took me back to 2006. The 21-year-old me was jumping about with mad joy. But a much, much older me was worrying about the specs.

We all grow up, the Razr has grown up, but it needs to grow up a bit more.