New York (CNN Business)Why does the Motorola Razr 2 exist? Last year’s flip phone reboot — the Motorola Razr — was a bust. The new version is better, but it remains a flip phone in an age when no one makes calls, with a subpar battery, a slowish processor, and a mediocre camera. And for that privilege, you get to pay $1,400.
Is the Razr 2 worth that much money? Absolutely not. Do I still want one? Oh, 100%.
When Motorola brought back the Razr last year, it hoped to recapture some of the success of its legendary flip phone from 2004 that became America’s bestselling phone of all time (before the iPhone stole that title several years later). The old Razr was impossibly thin — still, even by today’s standards — and had that stunning blue-backlit metal keypad. The original Motorola Razr was lust with an antenna.
Last year’s version wasn’t far off from that. Well, looks-wise, anyway. It was crazy thin, and it really looked like a modern version of the classic Razr.
This year, Motorola doubled down on the look and concept of the foldable Razr smartphone, but it tweaked just about everything that stunk about its predecessor. It’s got a bigger battery, a bigger camera lens, a better processor, 5G connectivity, and some other welcome refinements. It comes in three colors, and the new Razr will be available unlocked (last year was sold exclusively by Verizon). You can read CNN Underscored’s review here.
But the new Motorola Razrs (last year’s and this year’s) aren’t about engineering marvels or pocketability. They’re about making a smartphone look like the 2004 Razr. They’re built to give customers something that will make their friends jealous. They’re about taking us back to those fond memories of our first cellphone. They achieve that.
That’s why, for some people, it didn’t matter that last year’s Razr used outdated technology, running Android 9 a month after Android 10 hit the market. It had a Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 processor with 6 GB of RAM, which was decidedly mid-range. It featured a 2,510 milliampere hour battery, which is seriously puny. Its screen was plastic and not nearly as sharp as its competitors. And the camera (never Motorola’s strong suit) stunk.
The 2020 Razr has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 processor with 8 GB of RAM, which is faster than last year’s phone but still not top-of-the-line by any stretch. It comes with 256 GB of onboard storage, double last year’s phone. It features a 2,800 milliampere-hour battery — better, but still not, you know, great. And the 48-megapixel camera is bigger, but you’re never going to get supreme quality photos from a phone this thin — it’s just physics.
And it runs Android 10, although to be fair to Motorola this time, Android 11 literally just came out on Tuesday.
Motorola has been trying to replicate its Razr success for the past decade. It brought the brand back in 2011 with the Droid Razr, a super-thin smartphone that Motorola hoped would vault it back into relevance after Apple and Samsung had leapfrogged it. The Droid Razr failed to capture any significant attention.
But folding phones are all the rage now, and Motorola thought the time had come to try again — with a twist. Unlike its growing competition, including the Samsung Galaxy Fold and the Microsoft () Surface Duo, the Razr uses its hinge to make a 6.2-inch smartphone-sized phone smaller. The others flip open to make a smartphone sorta tablet-sized.
Only Samsung’s Z Flip phones mirror the Razr’s pocketability aims, but the Z Flip oddly has a teeny-tiny screen on the outside when it’s closed — good enough for the time, the weather, and maybe half a text message. The Razr’s second screen is significantly larger, pretty much giving you full access to your phone — neat!
Still, like all flip phones, the new Razr 2 is an underpowered, overpriced accident waiting to happen. Its hinge is creaky, its screen separates from the phone a bit when you close it, and the screen gets creases when you open and close it. You can get way better value in phones that literally cost a third of the price.