Motorola Razr Plus and Razr (2023) hands
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Motorola Razr Plus and Razr (2023) hands

Jun 06, 2023

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It's been a few years since the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip had meaningful competition in the US. Despite initially leading the charge of foldable flip phones, Motorola chose to skip Razr releases for a few years, letting its rival chew up more and more of the market without significant innovation. Now, the longtime Android brand finally has its answer — or rather, answers. Motorola has announced two clamshell-style foldables, the Motorola Razr Plus and the Motorola Razr (2023). I got a chance to spend time with them ahead of the June 1, 2023 launch of the Razr Plus. Let's find out if two Razrs are better than one.

There's no better place to start than with the Motorola Razr Plus’ defining feature — its cover screen. After all, the clamshell now has a massive 3.6-inch pOLED panel, currently the largest on a foldable phone of this form factor. It's made of Gorilla Glass Victus, packs a 144Hz refresh rate, and supports HDR 10 Plus.

Even better, the Motorola Razr Plus has graduated beyond basic widget-style functionality. You can still check the weather and keep up with your calendar events, but the Razr Plus now supports full-scale apps on its outer display. Apps appear in a smaller window by default, as seen above, but you can either hold the gesture bar or the square button (if you prefer traditional navigation buttons) to stretch the app to full screen. If you’re sending a text message or an email, the entire display shifts into a full-size keyboard.

Apps don't have to be specifically optimized for the external display, either, meaning that you can technically run almost any app, but some tend to perform better than others. When I tried to open the Whole Foods app, for example, the two cameras overlapped with a few of the buttons, forcing me to shift the app into a smaller window. However, to scan the Whole Foods QR code, I had to jump back to the full-size display. It's still much faster than opening the phone to use the internal display.

Once you open either the Motorola Razr Plus or the Razr (2023), you’re greeted with a sweeping 6.9-inch ultra-thin glass display, interrupted only by the 32MP punch-hole selfie camera. Although both foldables have identical internal LTPO displays that bottom out at 1Hz, the Razr Plus supports a 165Hz refresh rate while the Razr (2023) tops out at 144Hz due to its Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 chipset.

Outside of the new Galaxy Z Flip-like shape, both the Motorola Razr Plus and Razr (2023) pack aircraft-grade aluminum frames and either matte glass or vegan leather back panels. The previous hinge has also been replaced with a new dual-axis design, eliminating the gap so that both Razr models close completely. This change allows the duo to sit at just 15.1mm thick when closed — the thinnest of clamshell-style foldables.

As for durability, Motorola told us that the Razr 2023 family is rated for 400,000 folds and that both models come IP52 certified, which is good news against dust but less encouraging when it comes to waterproofing. Unfortunately, the classic Razr chin had to head off into the sunset to accommodate the larger external display and seamless design.

While we didn't have a chance to put the Motorola Razr Plus through its benchmarking paces during our short time with it, the flagship foldable packs a solid spec sheet. It carries Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 chipset, which keeps up with the Galaxy Z Flip 4 — at least for now. Motorola's 8GB of RAM and 256GB of fixed storage should be plenty for most users, and the Razr Plus sang through all of the apps I tried to open.

The Motorola Razr (2023), on the other hand, drops to a Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 processor, as mentioned above. It still keeps pace with 8GB of RAM, but you get half as much storage at 128GB.

As a clamshell-style foldable phone, you’ll probably end up using the external display a lot of the time — especially with its increased functionality — but battery life shouldn't be too much of an issue. The Razr Plus packs a 3,800mAh battery with 30W wired TurboPower charging and 5W wireless charging, while the Motorola Razr (2023) bumps to a 4,200mAh cell thanks to its smaller external display. Either way, the battery capacity and wired charging speed outpace Samsung's Galaxy Z Flip, which is a welcome improvement.

Motorola claims that the Razr Plus has an all-day battery, but we’ll have to test it further once we have our review unit. Unfortunately, you won't get a charger bundled with your Razr Plus or Razr (2023), but you should be able to achieve peak speeds with a fast enough Power Delivery charger.

One thing that was abundantly clear from our briefing on the Razr Plus is that Motorola is after content creators with its latest foldable. On top of the 12MP primary camera and 13MP ultrawide camera (with "Macro Vision") that interrupt the external display, the viewfinder mode lets you see exactly what the phone's camera sees — perfect for TikTok dances if you’re into that, I guess.

If you’re not into that, having wide and ultrawide cameras is also helpful when you want to capture a selfie alone or with friends. The primary camera also has an extremely wide f/1.5 aperture, which means a shallower depth of field for portrait shots and more light for low-light shooting. You can also capture low-light video with Night Vision, and the horizon lock feature that showed up on the Motorola Edge Plus is present, too. Video stabilization seems better on the Razr Plus than on the Motorola Edge Plus I just got finished testing, but that may be thanks to the camcorder-style fold rather than the cameras themselves.

Motorola made it pretty clear during our briefing that the rear cameras come first on the Razr Plus, whether you’re shooting selfies or not. The internal 32MP selfie shooter is no slouch, but the 12MP and 13MP external duo packs larger pixels and doesn't need to bin by default. If you’re an avid video shooter, both Razr models can fix at angles from 45 degrees to 130 degrees, eliminating the need for a tripod or enabling you to hold the Razr like a camcorder for steadier shots.

As for the Motorola Razr (2023), it swaps the 12MP primary camera for a 64MP shooter with a slightly narrower f/1.7 maximum aperture. It bins down to 16MP images by default, but it's paired with the same 13MP ultrawide camera as its premium counterpart.

There are a few new software features on the Razr duo, too. One that Motorola emphasized is called Photo Booth, which emulates a classic photo booth by taking four photos with three seconds between each. It works on both the internal and external cameras and in wide or ultrawide settings.

While our time with the Motorola Razr Plus and Razr (2023) was brief, it was enough of a taste to know that the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip finally has real competition in the US. Motorola's massive external display brings more full-fledged features to the Razr than ever — and more complete app experiences than other clamshell devices can match. Yes, early rumors suggest that Samsung is headed for a larger external display with its Galaxy Z Flip 5, but for now, Motorola can bask in the glow of having the largest display on the market.

So far, it's shaping up to be the Summer of Motorola in a way the company hasn't seen for years. The Razr Plus and Razr (2023) follow Motorola's excellent traditional flagship, the Edge Plus (2023), and they feel good enough to make us ignore the fact that we had to wait several years between Razr launches. While there's still a way to catch up to Samsung's market share, it's clear that Motorola is on the right path.

As for availability, the Motorola Razr Plus is set to launch for pre-orders on June 16, 2023, from Motorola, Best Buy, Amazon, and select carriers, with open availability beginning on June 23. It will start at $999, but carrier pricing may vary thanks to trade-in deals. Motorola didn't tell us when the Razr (2023) would launch, though it should be in the coming months, and we were told it would be "meaningfully cheaper" than the Razr Plus.

What do you think? Are you excited about the new Motorola Razr Plus? Or will you be sticking with a different clamshell device?