back to article Weird flex but OK... Motorola's comeback is a $1,500 Razr flip-phone with folding 6.2" screen

At a pseudo-rave slash launch party in Los Angeles on Wednesday night, Motorola revealed the 2019 Razr, an update on a flip phone that wowed people 15 years ago. Today, perhaps... not so much. Back in the old days, the Razr was the consummate flip phone – a well-engineered piece of kit that took design cues from the StarTAC …

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      as a piece of design it was hard to beet

      Indeed. I wonder when its like will turnip again. I suspect such design is not enough of a carrot to win the market; it's not easy to salsify consumers. It seems like Motorola is still approaching phone design rather gingerly. (I'm trying to stop, but they keep cumin.)

  1. 0laf Silver badge
    Happy

    Ok it's too expensive but as a form factor the folding screen makes a lot more sense in this than the others we've seen.

    The second (probably toughened) screen on teh outside is useful too with the added bonus of cutting down on the number of times the phone will need to be unfolded.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      The thing that made the orginal RAZR ergonically great is probably lost to the yoof of today. What it did was to mimic a landline handset, in that it could be really long (by folding) and so reached all the way from ear to mouth. So the speaker was by your ear, and the mic by your gob. Rather than the horrible short mobiles of the time that had omni-directional mics out past your cheek, so all the people you were talking to could hear was the street noise around you. I can remember having to cover the end of my phone when talking to people in the 90s.

      I think better mics, and some noise reducing computery goodness, have vastly improved this. So now it's mostly when you're talking to someone in high wind that you get unacceptable amounts of noise.

      Plus fewer people have landlines at home, and those that do mostly have DECT handsets that are also too short to reach your mouth properly. So it's only office phones that are the old traditional shape.

      I still think the RAZR form factor was perfect, but I wonder if as many people would agree now - as did then? It's still my favourite phone, despite the software being pants, and the built-in WAP hotkey (that couldn't be disabled) right next to the key for picking up calls - so you had to pay quite a few accidental WAP data downloads. Typically the only time I tried to use WAP in anger, to find an address for a lady on the train in London, it didn't work...

      But that was also about the sleekness of the design, and that shiny metal keyboard. I'm not sure it works as well with this thickness - and the fact that you're shoving a screen against your cheek - which no matter how long I've owned a smartphone - I still haven't got used to. And still, when I pull the phone away from my cheek a little in-call, it often hangs it up when I put it back again, as it's activated the screen again.

      I want the old RAZR back, but with the ability to do email and satnav, and checking basic things like bus times online - then throwing WiFi to a tablet for anything more. But then what's the point of a number pad on Android? So I think that's probably partly nostalgia. And the fact that my sight is so poor, that any long browsing is much better on a tablet, whereas people with normal sight are probably just as happy with a 6" screen.

      1. batfink Silver badge

        +1 for trying to find the number of a lady on the train. Normally I just have to ask them directly.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
          Happy

          batfink,

          As in many situations, if you look closely, you often find the number written on a label on the bottom...

          1. 's water music Silver badge
            Coat

            if you look closely, you often find the number written on a label on the bottom...

            I fear that you run a high risk of being misunderstood if you use this approach to try to acquire the number of a lady on the train

            1. 0laf Silver badge
              WTF?

              I'm not sure if having a phone with a microphone at the mouth and a speaker at the ear is really very marketable these days. Well judging by the number of utter fuds I see walking about holding a phone out in front of them like it's a biscuit they're about to eat.

              1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                Well judging by the number of utter fuds I see walking about holding a phone out in front of them like it's a biscuit they're about to eat.

                Why do people do that? Are they trying to make it easier for phone snatchers, or just using the screen as a drip tray?

                1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

                  "... using the screen as a drip tray?"

                  That^^ is my comment of the week - I'm still giggling!

  2. Khaptain Silver badge

    Star Trek

    James T Kirk might be able to afford one of these, although we as normal Clingons can't....

    1500 €, that's Apple territory, bordering insanity. It's just a smartphone, it doesn't make tea or coffee, which for the price you might expect that it would..

    1. Kane Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Star Trek

      At $1,500, I expect a lot more than tea or coffee.

      Maybe some toast?

      1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Star Trek

        At that price a 30 year old single malt whisky would be a minimum requirement

        1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

          Re: Star Trek

          Romulan ale, shirley.

    2. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      Re: Star Trek

      " it doesn't make tea or coffee"

      It's splashproof so you might be able to get away with using it to stir your tea if you're quick enough.

    3. smudge Silver badge

      Re: Star Trek

      it doesn't make tea or coffee, which for the price you might expect that it would..

      At that price, I'd expect it to communicate with the Enterprise :)

    4. RLWatkins

      Re: Star Trek

      I'd say the same for the phones Apple Computer makes.

  3. Gordon 10 Silver badge
    FAIL

    Aspect ratio very odd

    Might just work for a ebook or Document. Cant see it working for video. Whats the point of these devices if they cannot replace a tablet?

    1. 0laf Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Aspect ratio very odd

      To let other people know that the holder has spent £1500 on a phone and therefore must have lots of credit be an influencer or some other form of self-satisfied git.

      What other purpose is there for a flagship £1000+ phone these days?

      1. a pressbutton Silver badge

        Aspect ratio very odd

        Completely right.

        Looking at my Note8 in landscape mode - ~2:1 is just about ok for films but rather useless for web.

        21:9 is literally only good for films - and surely there will be bits of unused screen?

        1. ibmalone Silver badge

          Re: Aspect ratio very odd

          21:9 is literally only good for films

          And only if measured in metres. The quest to pay over a thousand pounds to watch movies on a postcard is baffling.

        2. TechnicalBen Silver badge

          Re: Aspect ratio very odd

          Some of it is notch and chin notifications/buttons. So the more real estate the better, if being used well. And from the clips, it is! They don't extend content into the notch, cutting of words mid sentence, but use it for notifications/edge effects.

      2. Franco Silver badge

        Re: Aspect ratio very odd

        "To let other people know that the holder has spent £1500 on a phone and therefore must have lots of credit be an influencer or some other form of self-satisfied git."

        It's not mentioned in this article, but the BBC also has a story on this phone and mentioned that the original RAZR V3 was the first phone to be considered a fashion accessory as well as a phone, and was heavily marketed by the likes of Paris Hilton and David Beckham.

        1. ibmalone Silver badge
          Paris Hilton

          Re: Aspect ratio very odd

          Having myself missed an open goal on the icon front today ->

      3. Sherrie Ludwig

        Re: Aspect ratio very odd

        What other purpose is there for a flagship £1000+ phone these days?

        My $20 (yes that was the purchase price, not monthly) LG has been doing everything necessary for a couple of years, and I will be very sad when it reaches end-of-life, built like tank (I'm clumsy) and holds a charge for days.

      4. RLWatkins

        Re: Aspect ratio very odd

        Another purpose for a $1,500 handset would be this:

        If I could put it into a dock connected to a keyboard, mouse, two or three screens, Ethernet, a scanner and a couple of printers, use it as fully functional desktop computer, then un-dock it, put it in my pocket and go, then it would be worth the price.

        But it just doesn't have enough horsepower to rival a stock desktop box. So... no.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Aspect ratio very odd

      It gives you a bigger screen in a smaller package? The hinge may be a worry, but basically the smaller second screen is also likely to be more robust than a larger one.

      Yes, it is too expensive for most but I think, apart from the shake to start the camera (give us a button FFS), it's been well thought out.

      1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

        Re: Aspect ratio very odd

        Double shake to start the camera is a standard Motorola action, double "chop" (like a karate chop ) turns the torch on. As is pick up to stop ringing.

        I'm sure that goes back to at least the G4.

        There is an Android setting (in Android 9) to change double pressing the power button to turn the camera on.

        1. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

          Re: Aspect ratio very odd

          Now that we've got a hinge, shouldn't the multiple shakes make the phone automatically get larger? At least if it's not too cold?

          1. 0laf Silver badge
            Paris Hilton

            Re: Aspect ratio very odd

            Multiple shake automatically brings up PornHub in an Incognito window.

            1. Aussie Doc
              Joke

              Re: Aspect ratio very odd

              Well, finally, a useful reason for buying it.

              Have to convince my partner first.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I foresee a great disturbance in the breakage rate.

  5. Totally not a Cylon
    Boffin

    DIY?

    2 cheap clone phones and some Gorilla Tape.

    Probably last longer too, plus if you call it 'Rustic' its trendy........

    1. batfink Silver badge

      Re: DIY?

      Plus it would be dual-SIM for free

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: DIY?

      This is brilliant. You could even have a dual operating system. If you stick an iPhone and a 'Droid together, you've got the best of both worlds, access to both app stores and you can really annoy them when you go to the "Genius Bar" in one of Apple's shops.

      1. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

        Re: DIY?

        Simply brilliant. Market this as "The Double Ender". Subtext: "A phone that pleases everyone"

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: DIY?

          Or, the phone that annoys everyone equally?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Motorola

    I own a Motorola.

    One of the best phones in my collection.

    Gorilla glass touchscreen and has the latest security patches.

    Cost me about $30.00 and a few hours of my time unlocking the bootloader and compiling Lineage.

    Looking to find another Motorola that will work with LTE.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moto_E_%281st_generation%29

  7. andy 103
    Happy

    At least it's something different

    Whether you like it or not, it's exciting to see a phone that doesn't look like...all other phones today.

    Yes the price is a bit steep but perhaps this will encourage other manufacturers to think outside the rectangle!

  8. oiseau Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Ourageously expensive gimmic

    Hello:

    1.200 quid?

    Yes, sure ...

    Send me two or three.

    No, really ...

    The best phone I ever had was the last StarTac they put out.

    And I have tried a fair number.

    Light, rugged, great screen, excellent battery range and you could open/dial/close it with one hand without any issue.

    Pity they did not stay on the same design ideas and strayed away with the Razr for which I never developed the same liking and could not fathom why it was so popular.

    I don't need an expensive hard to hold folding fondleslab computer/laptop with three cameras (as is the rage these days): I just need a fuc*ing phone that will always connect, will not break down easily and can be repaired without spending more than the thing costs.

    O.

    1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      Re: Ourageously expensive gimmic

      Then buy a cheap mobile phone.

      A smart "phone" is only nominally a phone. It's a portable computer that we choose to name after its oldest function.

      Most people like having the convenience of having a very small very powerful computer they can carry around. Some people don't value that.

      That's fine, but they are two completely different markets. Both choices are valid.

      I don't get why you are complaining about the availability of something which will be useful to some people that aren't you.

      I won't be buying one - it's quite a way out of my (~ £250 every ~ 2 years ) budget too, but if people want it then that's up to them.

  9. Tromos

    Feeble battery

    Presumably there was only room for just over half the normal size of battery for a phone of this class because of the fold.

    I'm pretty sure I'd be happier with a phone that cost about what the VAT alone on this comes to.

    1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      Re: Feeble battery

      Or there are two batteries, one either side of the fold?

      2510mAh doesn't seem outrageously low.

  10. Maximum Delfango
    Thumb Up

    If this works, it'll be fantastic. Way too expensive mind you, but still - very cool.

  11. Wade Burchette Silver badge

    Microphone adapter

    For $1500, it better have a microphone adapter.

    "There's no 3.5mm headphone jack: instead you'll have to use a USB-C-to-headphone adapter."

    How difficult or expensive would it be to put in a 3.5 mm headphone slot. Just because Apple "bravely" made a decision to make themselves more money does not mean it is a good idea. I saw no mention in the article of a SD card either. That is two unforgivable strikes right there. I would pay $5 for a phone with a microSD slot or a headphone adapter, much less $1500.

    I fear that the bad idea cancer is spreading fast. These tech companies seem more and more determined to copy each other's bad ideas.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Microphone adapter

      I have't used wired headphones with any sort of plug for donkeys.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Microphone adapter

        >I haven't used wired headphones with any sort of plug for donkeys.

        I prefer bluetooth headphones to be optional, not compulsory.

      2. Julz Bronze badge
        Joke

        Re: Microphone adapter

        Those donkey ear buds must be massive so I guess there's plenty of room for loads of electronics as well as a huge batteries so no point in having wires.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. DiViDeD Silver badge

        Re: I have't used wired headphones with any sort of plug for donkeys.

        What size plugs do donkeys take?

        Asking for a friend

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Microphone adapter

      "How difficult or expensive would it be to put in a 3.5 mm headphone slot. "

      Probably because "splash proof".

      "I saw no mention in the article of a SD card either."

      I'm guessing e-sim means no physical SIM and without looking into it, a non-replaceable battery so no internal access for an SD card and no external SD card slot, all because "splash proof"

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