Motorola seemed poised to hit a home run with the rebooted Razr, which taps into early 2000s nostalgia while simultaneously pushing the boundaries of foldable display technology in ways Samsung only dreamed of doing. When I saw the Razr in person at a briefing in Los Angeles last November, I fell in love.
But then shit went sideways for Motorola, and it’s unclear whether the new Razr lives up to its promise—or how many people will actually be able to get their hands on to test it.
The earliest sign of post-unveiling trouble was when Motorola delayed shipping the new Razr from early January to Feb. 6 (which was yesterday—more on that in a minute). But that doesn’t necessarily signal disaster. Demand was high because early hands-ons with the device were glowing. Motorola likely didn’t anticipate that, especially after Samsung’s troubles with the Galaxy Fold.
The company had invited press to the Razr launch event in Los Angeles last November, but the nighttime soiree at an outdoor venue downtown catered mainly to influencers—most of whom have nothing to do with technology. (Browse that evening’s hashtag, #FeeltheFlip, on Instagram to catch some very attractive people showing off the Razr in extremely fetching poses.) I was there. It was confusing.
So now the Razr is officially on sale as a Verizon exclusive. But only buyers who preordered through Motorola’s website have started to receive devices. The company hasn’t handed out review units to any media outlets yet. The influencers who modeled the Razr never mentioned it again. Random folks and tech vloggers who preordered Razrs received them this week, so YouTube unboxing videos, which are all pretty surface-level and mostly positive, are starting to pop up.
Some outlets, including Android Central and CNET, purchased Razrs outright. Android Central found that the Razr’s low-light photos were shit, which is pretty disappointing for a $1,500 phone, while CNET claims that the device doesn’t withstand 100,000 folds as claimed—though the Razr didn’t actually break or exhibit damage in any way. It just didn’t like to be folded over and over again by a robot, apparently.
Some have noted that the Razr’s hinge is creaky and stiff, which was also true during my hands-on time with the device in November. The creaking wasn’t all that awful, as I recall, though the stiffness did fuck up the most pleasurable part of using the original Razr: huffily hanging up on someone by flipping the phone closed with a quickness. (Teenaged me deployed this tactic with abandon.)
So the early word on the Razr seems mixed. Its cameras are probably not great, and we’re not expecting much from its battery life. But this is a phone that people can buy already, and it happens to be one that took the technology world by surprise. Samsung is expected to reveal its own Razr rival at its Galaxy Unpacked event next week. TCL told me at CES that it’s waiting to see how the Razr sells before figuring out what its foldable phone will look like.
All of this is to say: Why didn’t Motorola treat the actual sale of its device with the same hype and attention to detail that it paid to the Razr’s unveiling? Is the Razr a terrible device that Motorola wants to bury, or did the company just fall asleep on the most exciting smartphone we’ve seen in years?
Either answer is bad. We plan to test out the Razr when we can actually get a hold of one.
Did you receive a Razr and have some thoughts to share? Do you have inside info on what exactly happened with the Razr’s launch? You can reach me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, DM me via Twitter, or contact us securely via SecureDrop.
Update, Feb. 7 at 10:30 p.m. ET: Motorola has responded to CNET’s drop test with this statement: “Razr is a unique smartphone, featuring a dynamic clamshell folding system unlike any device on the market. SquareTrade’s FoldBot is simply not designed to test our device. Therefore, any tests run utilizing this machine will put undue stress on the hinge and not allow the phone to open and close as intended, making the test inaccurate. The important thing to remember is that Razr underwent extensive cycle endurance testing during product development, and CNET’s test is not indicative of what consumers will experience when using Razr in the real-world. We have every confidence in the durability of Razr.”