The new Motorola Razr Plus cover screen is a big deal

Motorola’s new Razr foldable devices are official, confirming what we’ve learned from a string of substantial leaks over the past few weeks. Just as expected, the Razr Plus features a huge screen coverage, while the standard Razr offers a much more modest screen on the front panel. Both are coming to the US, though only the Razr Plus launches this month on June 23, to be exact, for $999.

You may have already seen the specs, but just to recap: the Razr Plus (the Razr 40 Ultra internationally) comes with a Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 chipset (last year’s flagship Qualcomm chip), 8GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, a 12-megapixel f/1.5 stabilized main camera and 5W wireless charging. The external display is a 3.6-inch OLED with a 144Hz refresh rate covered by Gorilla Glass Victus and l The internal OLED opens to a 6.9-inch 1080p panel with a 165Hz refresh rate. It uses an ultra-thin glass display, with a multi-layer protective treatment, and is also an LTPO display, so it will switch to 1Hz for tasks like reading an ebook to save on battery life.

Motorola has ditched the large chin of the original Razr design, which is for the better, and the 3.6-inch diagonal of the cover fits very well with the smaller 1.9-inch display of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4. It’s the difference between getting a heads up notification and being able to use a full app without opening your phone oh you know what? See the difference for yourself:

There’s a lot you can do with the cover screen as well. You get the usual weather and calendar widgets in quick panels optimized for the smaller size, but you can also run just about any app you like on Chrome, Gmail, Instagram, and YouTube which worked for me when I tried them out. If you start a new email or text message, you’ll have a full on-screen keyboard at your disposal. The only thing I couldn’t do was open the image gallery from the camera app.

Otherwise, the cover screen is basically a small smartphone in itself. If you’ve set three-button navigation as a system-wide preference, this is what you’ll use on the cover screen to switch between app windows. You can also choose to extend the display to fill the entire bottom of the screen around the camera lenses, or you can switch to a cropped view with a black bar at the bottom of the screen by tapping the navigation bar.

There’s also a clever method for distributing apps between the home screen and the cover screen. When you close your phone while you’re running an app, a button will appear in the corner of the cover screen that lets you tap to open the app on the outer screen.

You can run entire apps on the cover screen.

Do you want a keyboard? Here is a keyboard.

There’s a lot more to play with and I’ve only had a little time with the phone, but suffice it to say, it’s a completely different ball game than the much smaller screen of the Z Flip 4. Overall, it looks and feels feels the part of a high-end, cutting-edge phone. It comes in three colors, and Glacier Blue and Infinity Black versions feature Gorilla Glass Victus, while enviable vivid magenta (the official Pantone Color of the Year, if you’re keeping score at home) offers a supple vegan leather finish. It’s the same as the Edge 30 Fusion and feels great with a little more grip than glass.

Black, magenta and blue, take your pick.

All three versions feature a sturdy aluminum frame, although they are only IP52 rated for some dust resistance and are simply water repellent. You could excuse it for being less water resistant than other flagship phones because it folds in half, except that Samsung has figured out how to make its Flip and Fold completely resistant to submersion in water with an IP68 rating. That’s a bit concerning on a $999 phone, flip or no flip.

The hinge on the Razr Plus also doesn’t keep the screen stiff at all levels. It sits nicely folded to 90 degrees in laptop mode, but there is some softness as you approach 180 degrees and it will fall over in the fully open position. I don’t find that worrying, but it’s a notable difference between the Flip 4, which will remain stable in any position.

The Razr Plus includes an aluminum frame but only an IP52 rating.

Your phone stays stable in the laptop position for hands-free viewing.

2023 Motorola Razr

The standard Motorola Razr 2023 (Razr 40 internationally) features the same overall size and shape, but with a much smaller coverage screen, it’s a completely different kind of beast. Its external screen is a 1.5-inch 60Hz OLED designed for quick information like calendar alerts, messages, and checking the weather. Motorola is pitching it as an alternative for people who want to spend less time looking at their phones, which… sure. Are not we all? It’s admirable, but I don’t know. It just doesn’t seem that fun.

In any case, it comes with a slightly less powerful Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 chipset, a bit bigger 4,200 mAh battery (due to the smaller screen) and a 64-megapixel f/1.7 main camera with OIS. It has a similar 6.9-inch internal screen with a lower maximum refresh rate of 144Hz. Wireless charging and an IP52 rating are also there, and all three versions of the regular Razr come with the vegan leather treatment. Color options include vanilla cream, summer lilac, and sage green. Both the standard Razr and Plus are promised three years of OS updates and four years of security support, which is slightly better than Motorola has done in the past, but it still falls short on four OS updates and the five years of security support promised by Samsung.

Motorola has not yet provided an exact price or release date for the standard Razr, only that there will be a significant difference in MSRP compared to the Razr Plus and that it will be available in the coming months. The Razr Plus goes on presale June 16, and when it goes on sale a week later, you’ll only find the magenta viva version for sale directly from Motorola, and you guessed it T-Mobile.

In the meantime, I’m pretty excited about the Razr Plus. Motorola seems to think it will capture the imagination of trendy trendsetters and millennials who are nostalgic for their old flip phones. Personally, I think it’s a device for a certain type of mobile tech nerd who was intrigued by the Galaxy Z Flip but wished it could do more.

And it sure can go a long way. I’m excited to see what it feels like to live with that big screen coverage and all of its capabilities in my daily life. There is a risk that everything will seem too complicated for practical use and I’m curious to see how Motorola’s user interface responds to the potential for edges. In the short time I’ve been using it and trying to type an email, I’ve found that my thumb kept missing the tiny space key. Is it something you adapt to or is it forever frustrating? There’s only one way to find out.

Photograph by Allison Johnson / The Verge

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