Out of all the foldable smartphones we’ve seen so far — which I can count on a single hand — Motorola’s new Razr looks like it has the best shot at gaining traction, because it solves a problem we didn’t know we had.
The problem is that 99% of smartphones today take up as much space in our pockets and bags when we don’t need them as they do when we’re using them.
The new Razr flips open like the original one did years ago, but the new version has a foldable screen that extends from the top of the phone to the bottom. When you’re done using the Razr, you fold it down back into a small, compact device.
The cool thing here is that you can make the Razr smaller when you’re not using it.
To be clear, the size of a traditional smartphone isn’t a massive issue. No one is rioting outside phone companies because their phones are too big.
But that doesn’t mean the situation can’t be improved. With its new Razr, Motorola simply set the precedent for a better future for smartphones: a normal smartphone that can be folded down into something that takes up less space.
Conversely, other foldable smartphones like Samsung’s Galaxy Fold that start off as a regular smartphone and unfold into something bigger — a tablet — are addressing a desire rather than a problem. It would be great to have a tablet that we can fold down into a smartphone we can fit in our pockets. But that’s arguably superfluous.
Tablets offer a larger screen for better experiences using apps and watching videos. The other argument for phones that unfold into tablets is that they allow for more productivity and multitasking because they can run multiple apps on a tablet-sized screen. That’s true, to an extent. But if we really wanted to be productive and multitask, we’d bring a laptop.
I wouldn’t be surprised if people valued the Razr’s compact design over a smartphone that turns into a tablet.
This isn’t a recommendation for the new Motorola Razr, and I don’t anticipate anyone recommending the new Razr when the reviews come out. First of all, it’s $1,500 for lesser specs and fewer features than phones that cost hundreds less. It’s also the first generation of a new kind of device, so there are bound to be kinks that need to be ironed out. With these kinds of devices on the bleeding edge, it’s usually best to wait until a few generations have run the gauntlet.