Motorola unveils its newest Razr with a flagship chip, 144Hz screen, and China exclusivity

It looks like a sweet foldable, so here's to hoping it makes its way out west sooner than later.

This week has been full of foldable smartphones, with Samsung hosting its Unpacked event where the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Z Flip 4 were unveiled. Now, it’s Motorola’s turn in the spotlight with the latest version of its foldable Razr smartphone, and I’d be lying if I said I was excited for it.

Okay, let me rephrase that. I am excited to see a new Razr, especially given all the improvements this new model seems to boast, but that joy quickly diminishes thanks to Motorola’s plans to offer the device exclusively in China, at least for the time being.

OnePlus had a similar approach with the rollout of the OnePlus 10 Pro earlier this year, launching it exclusively in China at first and releasing it in other countries after a few months. Unfortunately, it sucked a lot of the momentum OnePlus could’ve garnered around the 10 Pro to make a big splash in any other market beyond China’s, and as a result, not many people kept talking about it after it became more widely available.

I have no idea if Motorola will meet the same fate with the new Razr and its Chinese exclusivity, but I think there’ll at least be a bit more interest in the device considering what it offers.

The 2022 Razr propped up with the third-gen “Star Tail” hinge. | Photo: Motorola

The third-generation Razr

The new Razr tweaks the design of the previous model with a form factor that more closely resembles the shape of the Galaxy Z Flip series. Gone is the signature chin of previous models, replaced by a slim, even bezel around the display. Speaking of which, there’s a 6.7-inch Full HD+ OLED screen inside which Motorola equipped with a 144Hz refresh rate, the fastest ever on a folding phone.

The cover screen remains pretty much unchanged, with an OLED panel and an 800×600 resolution. You still get access to all the quick toggles and widgets as before, as well as the ability to run apps without having to open your phone. It’s one of the biggest advantages the Razr has over something like Samsung’s Z Flip series.

It looks more like a Galaxy Z Flip than any of the previous Razr phones. | Photo: Motorola

The hinge has been improved compared to the last generation with a more seamless closing mechanism and a reduced crease in the screen. Motorola calls it its third-generation “Star Tail” hinge which… is a branding choice.

Under the hood seems to be where Motorola is focusing the most on improving the Razr. Gone is the mid-ranger mindset behind the specifications of the previous Razr phone, in comes top-tier flagship territory thanks to the inclusion of a Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 (the same chip in the latest Galaxy Z devices as well as the OnePlus 10T), up to 12GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage. The battery has also gotten larger with a new 3,500mAh cell over the previously-used 2,800mAh power pack. It still falls behind the Z Flip 4’s new 3,700mAh battery, but anything’s better than a measly 2,800mAh. It runs on Android 12.

The camera on the back is also seeing an upgrade. Not only is the main shooter getting a new 50MP sensor with OIS, but it’s now being paired with a 13MP ultra-wide lens, the first time dual rear cameras have made it to a Razr phone. The selfie camera has also been upgraded with a new 32MP sensor.

The 2022 Razr lying face down on some fancy leather. | Photo: Motorola

Impressions from afar

A lot of people are going to get excited about this phone one way or another. It’s been a while since Motorola has announced a new Razr, and the nostalgia of the brand still holds heavy weight. However, unless the Razr eventually makes it way out of China, it’s hard to say whether anyone will care about this phone.

I just hope it doesn’t fizzle out of existence like the OnePlus 10 Pro did for a month before OnePlus said it was coming to the States. I’ll never understand the reasoning behind these release strategies other than the fact the US smartphone market is hard to compete in. Maybe it’s smart to grab some sales in other markets, make a few bucks, then bring it to markets where your success isn’t necessarily guaranteed.

That being said, it’s really only Samsung who’s making decent foldables in the US, so Motorola has a golden opportunity to come in with an alternative and help push competition along. It’s also not like the Razr is hot garbage – the first version was for a variety of reasons (including durability), but one has to assume Motorola has made progress in this space since then.

Nonetheless, I’m rooting for the Razr to make it out west. In China, it’ll go for about 5,999-7,299 RMB, translating to about $890 – $1,380 in USD. That’s about the same price as a Z Flip 4, making it all the more intriguing to think about and ponder whether it’s any good. Hopefully we get an answer on that sooner than later.