Motorola's 5G Razr is better than the original in almost every way

Motorola was always clear that the Razr is a "design-first" device, and it went to great lengths to recreate the visual vibe that its classic flip phones ran with for its first foldable. To pack some much-needed extras into this new model, though, Motorola had to make some changes: The new Razr is a little chubbier, and a features a "chin" that's a bit less prominent than the original's. Personally, these changes are enough to make the Razr just a little less visually striking, but they're worth it when you consider what Motorola could pack in here as a result.

Motorola

For one, Motorola squeezed a better camera into the Razr's top half. My biggest gripe with the original Razr's 16-megapixel rear shooter wasn't that it was bad, per se -- it just wasn't great compared to every other camera you'd find in a similarly priced phone. In response, Motorola chose a 48-megapixel camera for this new model, which should improve photo quality substantially. (Seeing as we haven't even touched this thing yet, we'll have to see about that.)

The somewhat pokey Snapdragon 710 found in the first Razr also is gone, replaced here by a more modern Snapdragon 765G and 8GB of RAM. That's the same great-but-not-quite-premium chipset you'll see in a new batch of affordable, 5G-friendly smartphones, like the OnePlus Nord, the TCL 10 5G, and certain versions of the LG Velvet. As I said, we're not working with flagship power here, but the new Razr has everything it needs to run much more smoothly this time around.

And speaking of speed boosts, the new Razr was built to play nice with sub-6 5G networks, like those operated by its US carrier partners, T-Mobile and AT&T. (That's right. Despite Verizon carrying the first Razr, there are apparently no plans for it to offer this significantly upgraded model.) Naturally, that extra horsepower and networking support are likely to impact power consumption, so Motorola also gave the new Razr a slightly bigger battery. I do mean slightly bigger, too -- its full capacity tops out at 2,800mAh, up from 2,510mAh in the original. I suppose any improvement is a good thing, but it also means Razr owners are working with a battery that's still significantly smaller than most other phones out there.

Naturally, Motorola contends that battery life shouldn't be an issue. That's partially because of what it learned about how people use their Razrs --customers apparently really enjoy using the phone's 2.7-inch external touch screen, which draws much less power than the big internal display. The problem is, the original Razr's software didn't allow for too much flexibility; you could use that smaller screen to check your notifications, frame up a selfie, or fire off a canned response to a message, but that was about it.

The biggest change Motorola made for this second-generation Razr is that those limitations have been lifted. Swipe right on that small screen, and you'll get quick access to a handful of apps Motorola has curated for their ease of use, like YouTube, Google News, Google Home, and more. Even better, you can add whatever app you want to that list of shortcuts, so there's a decent chance you can get through at least part of your day without having to open the Razr at all.

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Motorola

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By now, it might sound like Motorola has improved this new Razr on all fronts, and that's very nearly true. There are only a few things Motorola didn't change here, like its 6.2-inch flexible internal display. It's the exact same panel they used last time, and while that's not necessarily a bad thing, I was still hoping a second-gen Razr screen would run at a resolution higher than 876 x 2,142.

Maybe more curious is the fact that, in the United States anyway, Motorola just plans to call this phone the "Razr," and doesn't plan to differentiate it from the Verizon-only model it released earlier this year. I guess that makes sense on some level -- people walking into an AT&T or T-Mobile store probably weren't expecting to get the same device they find at Verizon, but lumping these two phones into the same brand bucket seems very strange when you consider just how different they are.

Then again, the foldable landscape as a whole is pretty strange right now -- Motorola's in good company. If the company's refined approach to the Razr is calling out to you, you won't have to wait very long: It'll be available unlocked this fall at Best Buy, B&H Photo, Amazon.com, and Motorola.com, plus through AT&T and T-Mobile around the same time.

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