Remember the Moto Razr V3? Devilishly slim, swanky neon colours and a peppy interface came together in a phone that quickly became a crowd favourite, and cemented its place in technology folklore. It has now been 15 years since the Moto Razr took the world by storm, and in this decade and half, the world has changed significantly. Phones are no longer just communicators, Nokia and Motorola are mere shadows of the behemoths that they were back then, and it has become increasingly difficult to wow customers by just slimness, swanky colours and a roguish attitude. Today, smartphones are almost sheepishly cloned, going after more camera modules, maximum screen size with minimal bezels, high processing power, and of late, foldable screens.
It is in this climate that the all-new Moto Razr is expected to make a return. Motorola, now owned by Lenovo, has sent invites for an event later today in Los Angeles, USA, and while they haven’t explicitly mentioned the name of the device, they have left cues in their invite, which says “an original unlike any other”, and “you’re going to flip”. Given that Motorola has already confirmed to have been working on foldable devices for quite some time now, and rumours about an all new foldable phone bearing the nostalgic Moto Razr moniker stronger than ever before, it might really be time for the icon to return to the world of gadgets. But, would it manage to recreate the kind of following that the original Razr did?
Going by rumours, the Moto Razr 2019 is expected to feature a clamshell body, with a single camera module and fingerprint sensor to the rear of the folded shell. To the front of the folder, a smaller display with 800 x 600-pixel resolution is expected. This display might function as a notifications panel, as well as for quick selfies and casual tasks. The real deal lies inside, where flipping the device open is expected to reveal a 6.2-inch, 2,142×876-pixel foldable OLED display. Unfolded, the display is expected to present 22:9 aspect ratio, bringing the new Moto Razr up to speed with all smartphones of today. Other rumoured internals include the Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 SoC, up to 6GB RAM and up to 128GB of native storage. All of this, according to reports so far, would run on a 2,730mAh battery, as well as near-stock Android 9.0 preinstalled.
On paper, then, the Moto Razr seems hardly attractive, and any other device would have already faced public prosecution if it offered a single camera, a small battery, a second tier processor and other run of the mill specifications at an expected price tag of €1,500 (~Rs 1,20,000). However, the 2019 Moto Razr is hardly any device, and signifies the return of one of the most loved mobile phones in the world. For many, it is about nostalgia, while for the more pragmatic mind, it is about seeing whether any company still holds the potential to offer acceptable performance on all grounds while taking the user experience beyond the mundane smartphone. In other words, the new Moto Razr can make a new statement in the face of the specifications-ridden smartphone industry.
It is not impossible altogether. At a time when device makers were stacking up RAM in their phones, Apple stuck to just 1GB of RAM till as late as 2014. Even this year, as flagships head for 12GB RAM as standard, Apple’s top of the line iPhone 11 Pro comes with just 4GB of RAM. In the era of multi-camera phones including as many as five rear imaging modules, Google’s bar-raising efforts with the Pixel’s camera saw it produce stellar results even with just a single main camera module. Given the right algorithms and the proper optimisation of resources, the Moto Razr can still be a well-equipped smartphone.
The question, hence, lies on whether the Moto Razr brand holds enough recall value to spark off the world’s first successful foldable smartphone in production. Given that the price tag will likely be too steep for many to afford, we’re anyway not expecting the new Razr to be an outright mainstream device. While we will reserve our final judgement for after the launch is officially complete, it seems that Motorola is paving the future roadmap for mainstream, foldable devices, than straightaway launch one themselves.