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Can Motorola justify the cost of the rebooted Razr?

Motorola has jumped back on the folding phone bandwagon with its new generation Razr. The US manufacturer is using consumer nostalgia for its iconic Razr phone to drive brand awareness, but mid-range features and premium pricing will limit adoption.

Motorola unveiled the return of its first foldable smartphone, the Razr, capitalising on its iconic 15-year old clamshell Razr design.

The Razr offers a main 6.2-inch foldable pOLED display, an external 2.7-inch quick view display, Snapdragon 710 processor, 16MP front-facing camera, 6GB RAM and a 2510mAh battery.

The phone will cost $1,500 and will be available for pre-order exclusively at Verizon Wireless, starting 26 December 2019 in the US and start shipping in January 2020.

UK consumers can pre-order the Razr via EE starting December 2019. The phone will also be available in the EU, Latin America, Asia and Australia but details are yet to be announced.

Motorola is the second vendor to launch a workable folding phone at a US carrier after Samsung Fold. Huawei’s folding Mate X is not available at any US carrier but can be purchased unlocked. Mate X is only available in China currently.

The manufacturer believes the Razr’s small size, thinness and portability make the folding phone more appealing to consumers, compared with the tablet-sized Samsung Fold and Huawei Mate X. Its clamshell design with a single-cut display eliminates the hinge gap, which is a major issue for folding phones.

Motorola has been vying for consumer attention, especially in the US market dominated by Apple and Samsung. Google bought Motorola in 2012 and sold it to Lenovo within two years and Motorola has been trying to regain a foothold in the US market ever since, with moderate success.

The Razr will not be a volume generator but Motorola is hoping that its design will help it stand out among rivals. Also, Verizon’s exclusivity allows the carrier to compete with AT&T with a foldable phone of its own.

Razr is cheaper than the only other folding phone in the US market, the $2,000 Samsung Fold, but more expensive than premium flagships such as Apple’s new iPhone 11.

The Razr offers modest features for the price: an older version of Android, a slow processor and small battery. The phone’s single-cut display is new and untried, which may give rise to issues yet undiscovered. But folding phones are a new category expected to shake up the stagnating mobile industry, and rivals are investing heavily in this segment.

Samsung is currently working on a mid-range folding phone that is expected to land mid-2020 and has announced that folding displays will form the crux of its future phones. Nevertheless, the Razr is a visually compelling device that brings the idea of folding phones a lot closer to mainstream adoption.

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