By Srivatsa Krishna
As one of my mentors at Harvard, the late Clayton Christensen, had predicted, even the most outstanding companies in the world can do everything right and yet lose market leadership. Motorola, which was once at the peak of the clamshell/ flip-phone market and then saw marketshare disappear rapidly, is one such example. It is now trying to regain its old spot with the new Razr 5G. Every choice is a sacrifice, said a wise philosopher. So, if you want this snazzy pocketable form-factor, expect to make some sacrifices.
As the mobile revolution sweeps the globe, phone makers around the world are inventing a new category called ‘Fold’, and it comes in many variants. Some fold inwards, others outward, some are a trifold (though still not launched commercially) while still others like Motorola have come up with the iconic flip phone which is also foldable.
The Motorola Razr 5G is the world’s first “creaseless” folding phone, thanks to a nifty engineering and design marvel which is a patented technology allowing the hinge to disappear seamlessly. The debut avatar of Razr launched last year had some glitches and many of them have been taken care of in this new model. The new Razr is built from aluminum with Gorilla Glass 5 and feels solid compared to the plastic feel of the previous one. The 2,00,000-fold lifespan is enough to last long, and the creaseless technology reduces wear and tear as well.
There are some very interesting things to note in the new version. The functionality of the front screen has been improved dramatically and if you use the front screen mostly then the battery lasts longer. There are three different modes on the front screen itself. The first lets you peek at notifications by pressing and holding them, which was there last time around as well. The next mode is one where you can tap, hold and swipe notifications to respond to them. The keys cover the screen but it’s not too tough to type with swipe-typing or with voice to text which is now exceedingly accurate with both Android and Siri (I use voice to text for 90% of my messaging and dictations in circa 2020, with minimal errors).
Then comes the third mode which is really smart where the full power of the device is there to see on the Quick View display. When the Razr 5G is closed, you can swipe down to get to the control panel. Swiping up leads to notifications , swiping left takes you to the camera and right leads you to see a grid of apps. Swipe to the right again to see contact favourites, for quick dialing.
The second interesting thing in this device is the camera which Motorola touts as the world’s best selfie camera at 48MP. It works well for Zoom calls also. It has Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), f/1.7 large aperture and laser autofocus. It has the popular Night Vision Mode and some AI (artificial intelligence) stuff to enhance the user experience.
The third point is that this is a true world phone which can work almost anywhere on the planet even as competition comes in different variants for different markets. It is compatible with over 300 5G bands that support it globally. It also supports carrier aggregation (3X20 CA – 60Mhz) and 4X4 MIMO for blazing-fast 5G performance as per Motorola claims though that could not be verified.
The battery life is still not as much as the latest phones in the market have as the challenge is to get a bigger battery into this tiny fold form factor with a slim design. So, you sacrifice battery for the form factor, which some people surprisingly do prefer. Likewise, the fingerprint scanner takes some getting used to as it is somewhat awkwardly positioned on the phone.
In sum, the 2020 Razr 5G marks the return of the Razr, the best one-handed use phone in the world. It is an admirable device with many nifty uses. Can Motorola perhaps make a slightly wider phone, and make it as a Make in India product, like the first one was, for its next avatar? For India and for the world, from India?
The author is an IAS officer. Views are personal
n Display: 6.2-inch HD+ Display, 2.7-inch Quick View Display
n Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G Processor
n Memory & storage: 8GB RAM, 256GB ROM
n Camera: 48MP rear camera, 20MP front camera
n Battery: 2800 mAh Lithium-ion battery
n Estimated street price: Rs 1,24,999