The long-anticipated new Motorola Razr has finally been officially unveiled.
What is it? It’s a folding phone.
But instead of opening to form a tablet, like the Samsung Galaxy Fold,
it closes to form..
..well.. ..a phone.
A thick, stubby sort of phone with a tiny screen!
Sure, the Razr is kind of cool, in its own way, especially if you were a fan of the original Motorola Razr, from which it takes its design cues. But what is its purpose?
The Galaxy Fold — I get. I’m not going to buy one, because it’s fragile and, for me, way too expensive. But I understand it.
If I had to be productive whilst being mobile — and didn’t have the luxury of being able to write this article on a large screen and proper keyboard, whilst sitting on a comfy sofa with my feet up — I’d want one too.
The Fold is a phone that becomes a tablet. And I can completely see the benefits of having a pocketable tablet computer if you’re not just killing time, but actually have to get real work done whilst waiting for a train. In such circumstances, the large, unfolded display could be a godsend. You could browse the web or type or edit images or multitask so much more easily than with a standard smartphone.
Yes, the Fold is fragile and expensive, but there’s a clear functionality prize to be collected once further developments overcome those problems.
But the Razr?
Its unfolded screen is no bigger than what you get on many of the most popular non-folding phones.
And who on Earth is going to have such awkwardly-sized pockets that they can fit a Razr in one of them, but would have nowhere to put a standard-sized phone? And even if you had that exact problem, you could just buy a standard-sized phone and a nice new jacket, with large pockets, for far less money than it would cost you to buy a Razr.
In fact, the Razr seems to be somewhat thicker than most phones, so it’s more likely it’ll be the Razr that you struggle to fit in the tight pocket of your jeans, for example.
Opened out, the Razr is a standard smartphone. When closed, it’s a hobbled phone with a tiny screen. Or it’s a clunky, oversized smartwatch that you can’t actually wear on your wrist.
I like Motorola, because they make consistently excellent budget phones for people who think spending the best part of a thousand dollars on a phone is excessive.
Furthermore, initial impressions of the new Razr seem to be quite positive. It seems to be a well-made device.
And yes, it will feel good when you get the hang of opening and closing it with one hand. You may even go all retro and make a few actual phone calls, just so you can end them with a satisfying snap.
And perhaps it’ll be possible to leave the phone half-open, so it can do a good impression of an alarm clock, whilst resting on your bedside table.
But the Razr is not making me feel excited about the future, because this line of development appears to be going nowhere useful.
It seems to be an attempt to raise Motorola’s profile amongst the sort of wealthy, attention-seeking, fashion-conscious consumers at the premium end of the smartphone market, but it’s a product that even they will struggle to justify actually buying.
When bosses demand innovation for innovation’s sake, this is the sort of pointless product you can end up with.
I like cool new tech, but I’m not happy about vast resources being wasted on a product that offers no new useful functionality and appears to exist for little reason other than to be the cool new tech product of the week.
I’ll be interested to see if many people do actually buy the Razr, because it’ll be fascinating and amusing to hear what excuses they give for having done so.