Motorola Razr hinge could fail within a year according to fold test

Just one day after its in-store launch, the new Motorola Razr might be failing at the first hurdle. Is this another folding phone with a very limited lifespan?

Motorola Razr
The Motorola Razr became available for pre-order on 26th January and was available in stores yesterday. Image: Motorola

Folding phones

Clamshells and folding phones are all the rage. They make a handset smaller, lighter and slimmer. However, there is one big catch; the fold.

After a launch delay, the Motorola Razr, a retake on their iconic handset, finally launched in stores yesterday. It was available for pre-order from 26th January, and in stores from 6th February.

With the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip breathing down their necks, Motorola had one shot at making this the go-to next-gen folding phone. And it might not be going to plan…

Creasing issues

The Razr looked to be doing something different from other folding phones. Indeed, Motorola calls it ‘a design that shatters the status quo‘.

With an outer Quick View screen and a full length 6.2″ Flex View screen inside, the OLED screen is a complete piece, without any bends or folds. Theoretically.

Motorola designed a proprietary hinge mechanism which uses sliding plates to move the screens. This is intended to make the full Flex View screen rigid. Using a sub-flush stainless steel frame should mean that the Razr screen will not start to show the irritating crease that appears on folding screens over time.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip will be a major rival for the Razr. Photo: WinFuture/Samsung

The problem

Just a day after main launch, CNet tested the Razr live. This has been done before with the Samsung Galaxy Fold.

The idea is to use a machine called a Foldbot, which was created by SquareTrade. The Foldbot repeatedly folds the phone to identify how long it lasts before the hinge or display start to show signs of wear and tear.

On the Galaxy Fold, testing showed that it lasted 120,000 folds over 14 hours. On the basis of the average smartphone use, CNET estimate that the average US user checks their phone 80 times per day. That means that 120,000 folds equate to about 1,500 days or just over four years.

In comparison, the Razr lasted just 27,000 folds before testing was halted. That is comparable to about 337 days – less than one year.

Damage control

There are a few things to note here before discarding the Razr as a very expensive phone that won’t last more than a year.

The first is that it has a handy Quick View screen on the outside of the casing. This displays notifications and means that the average user probably wouldn’t open the full Flex View screen anywhere near as likely as with another handset.

In addition, the testing did not show any damage to the display. For me, this is pretty vital – the biggest problem with folding phones is a crease appearing on the screen. The damage that was noticeable after 27,000 folds were to the hinge, and not to the display.

It is also apparent that the Foldbot wasn’t really created to test the Razr. SquareTrade had to adapt the machine to accommodate the Motorola handset and admitted that the device wasn’t able to work properly. The Razr test was folded only halfway, so is purely indicative and isn’t necessarily accurate in comparison to actual user use.

The testers stopped the exercise when a noise was heard from the hinge, but could not find any visible damage. It is also clear that there were some issues with the machine, so I’m not convinced the problem was with the handset at all.

Motorola Razr
The Razr features an outer Quick View screen and a full-size Flex View screen inside. Image: Motorola

To me, the test is interesting but potentially misleading. I think the only way to know for sure how well this hinge, and the handset works, is to see it tested over time.

Let’s wait and see!

Do you have a Motorola Razr? Share with us your feedback and what you think so far!

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