The challenge with every midrange smartphone is to make just the right sacrifices to deliver a solid experience without making you fret over what you’re missing in a more expensive device. So, it’s quite the accomplishment that the Motorola Razr 2023 (the midrange version of the premium Razr+) has nailed it as one of the first midrange foldables – yet, it’s a well-rounded clamshell-style foldable that showcases what’s handy about having a foldable phone without lagging too far behind traditional midrange smartphones.
In our Motorola Razr 2023 review, we’ll break down how Motorola got that balance right, and why this phone is such a great value if you’re curious about trying foldables.
Motorola Razr 2023 Review: Design and build
Foldables can’t cut too many corners here – foldable durability is a big enough question mark as it is! The Motorola Razr 2023’s casing is made of aluminum, with OLED displays for both the 6.9-inch main internal display and 1.5-inch external display that you can use when the phone is folded. That smaller display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass Victus, but of course, that’s not possible with the main display – that’s a plain OLED panel, so the display can actually fold.
Despite the much longer form factor, the phone is still pretty light at 188.6 grams. It’s a little awkward in the hand because of its length, and while that never goes away, I found I got used to it pretty quick. That said, I can imagine folks with smaller hands might have more trouble than usual using the phone with one hand, especially when you need to swipe down from the top to pull up settings.
Vegan leather covers the two panels on the back of the phone, which are separated by the hinge – the vegan leather gives the phone a more premium feel and makes it a little more comfortable to hold.
When you fold the phone in half, you get one of the real benefits of foldables – the phone is so much easier to pocket or store. It helps that the hinge feels sturdy – whether the display holds up to all that folding remains to be seen, but the hinge doesn’t feel like it’ll be a failure point down the line. When you close the phone, there’s no visible gap, which looks clean and helps prevent dirt and dust from getting in.
The only downside to the hinge is that you can’t easily open the phone with one hand, which is small but noticeable annoyance – suddenly, holding a shopping bag in one hand becomes a barrier to using your phone with the other. Still, I think I’d make that trade to get a sturdier hinge, which is what we have here.
Motorola Razr 2023 review: Display
OLED displays are the only ones that fold, which means display quality is always going to be solid in foldables. The 6.9-inch 1080p pOLED main display features HRD10+ and a 144Hz refresh rate, and performs very well. Color contrast is terrific, especially with the benefit of HDR10+, and colors pop without being oversaturated. In daily use, I really liked the longer display for watching videos and gaming, and even more so when reading – required a lot less scrolling!
Of course, the crease on the display where it folds is unavoidable, but I was surprised how little I noticed it. If you look for it, you’ll find it without much trouble, but while I was watching videos or playing games, I never noticed the crease – although I definitely felt it. I didn’t find that to be a big deal, but while swiping around the screen, you do feel a little bump in the middle at that crease point. I also found that swiping my finger across the uncovered OLED display wasn’t as smooth as glass-covered displays on traditional smartphones, but it didn’t end up putting much of a damper on the overall experience.
On the back of the phone, there is a 1.5-inch OLED display that is covered by protective glass. The cheaper Razr has a much smaller external display than the premium Razr Plus, one of the ways the two phones are most clearly differentiated. We’ll get into what you can do with this smaller display in the next section, but suffice it to say it’s limited to basic phone functions and is good enough to handle them.
Motorola Razr 2023 Review: Foldable features/software
The big question that hangs over foldable smartphones: why? It’s worth asking – it’s not always clear what foldables offer over regular smartphones, especially when they are more expensive than comparable phones. They’re easier to pocket, sure, but is that something you want to spend hundreds more dollars on? It looks like Motorola is starting to figure this out, but it’s clear there’s still a ways to go.
When folded, you’ll find the small 1.5-in OLED display on the back, which is also where the rear cameras are housed. This display can be customized, but it’s mostly there to serve you basics when the phone is folded – time, weather, music controls, a quick timer, and calendar events. Given that the phone can’t be easily opened with one hand, it’s nice to have all that readily accessible.
The smaller display is best used with the cameras – the display can show you a small selfie preview, so you can take selfies with the more powerful rear cameras. That’s great with the larger external display on the more premium Motorola Razr Plus, but in this case, the display is a bit too small to get a good preview. We can accept that this display is going to be smaller on a midrange device – OLED panels aren’t cheap – but that is a big hit to an otherwise really useful feature. The small display is still good for playing little cartoon faces, which Motorola loaded up as a way to get babies and infants to look at the camera when you’re taking a picture. I don’t know if it’s better than just using a squeaky toy, but hey, nothing wrong with more tools in the toolbox, right?
I liked using the cameras best when the phone was folded into an L shape. When you open the camera app in this configuration, the phone uses the upper half of the display to show you the picture preview, and moves all the settings to the lower half. It makes tweaking settings while setting up a shot so much easier and less awkward than it is with regular phones! Not a big deal if you just do point-and-shoot with your smartphone photos, but if you like getting into manual photography settings, it’s a really good quality-of-life feature.
Aside from the foldable-specific features, the Motorola Razr 2023 has the usual suite of Moto apps and features found on other Motorola smartphones. Most of these amount to basic customization features, but Moto Unplugged is worth calling out – you can use it to set up times where only certain apps or notifications are allowed. If you’ve been trying to make a concerted effort to better focus at work or stop yourself from mindlessly scrolling when you get home, it’s worth checking out.
All told, the Motorola Razr 2023 has a nice compilation of small, useful features, but still nothing that stands out. Normally that would be disappointing, which is why this phone’s much lower price is so important. In a more expensive device, I’d want something that makes me feel like having a foldable phone is significantly more worthwhile than a regular one, and I’m not sure that feature exists anywhere yet. At this price, I don’t need much more than curiosity about foldables to make it worth it – as long as the rest of the phone is solid.
Motorola Razr 2023 Review: Battery Life
Battery life is usually an argument in favor of midrange devices over premium offerings that have hardware that demands more power. That’s the case here – the Motorola Razr 2023 has a 4,200mAh (a bigger battery than the Razr Plus) battery that lasts well over a day and holds up well to extended gaming and video sessions. A typical day of use put me anywhere between 40% and 60% at bedtime. When watching videos at peak brightness, the battery only dropped by 10% over the course of an hour and a half. When gaming at peak brightness, an hour of Genshin Impact brought the battery down by 22%.
When it comes time to charge back up, you can use 5W wireless charging or 30W wired charging. Neither wow in terms of speed, and the wireless charging is slow enough to only be useful overnight. So, nothing special here, especially not when compared to other smartphones on the market, premium or midrange.
Motorola Razr 2023 Review: Performance
The Motorola Razr 2023 uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 chipset, Qualcomm’s midrange offering. The phone has 8GB of RAM, 5G and Wi-Fi 6E connectivity, and a side fingerprint sensor. Looks like the Motorola Razr comes with just 128GB of storage, and unfortunately, there’s no microSD card slot to expand storage. There are also stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos sound processing.
For a midrange phone, I was pleasantly surprised with the performance. I’m used to living with some hitches and slowdowns even doing basic tasks on other phones at this price, but it was smooth sailing here. I never experienced any hitches when web browsing and scrolling was always smooth.
I was surprised to find that performance carried over to gaming, too. An hour of Genshin Impact went by without any notable difficulty – the phone even handled the initial cutscene perfectly, which I’ve seen other phones in this segment struggle with. While the phone warmed up noticeably during gameplay (actually, just the half of the phone that holds the chipset), it never got uncomfortably hot. You’ll get better graphics with a premium device, but that doesn’t matter to everyone when it comes to mobile gaming.
Another pleasant surprise was the audio. The speakers get really loud, but they never start to sound tinny or mechanical like they do on a lot of other midrange or budget phones. That helps the phone take full advantage of the quasi-surround sound effect you get from Dolby Atmos processing. Combined with that beautiful 6.9-inch OLED display, the solid audio made the Motorola Razr 2023 a much better entertainment device than I was expecting.
The fingerprint sensor is on the power button on the side of the phone, which is always an adventure. It doesn’t work as consistently as on-screen fingerprint readers on other phones, but it didn’t work any worse than other power button fingerprint readers I’ve used.
Oh, and one more tip if you are going to get this phone – I think the NFC hardware is in the lower half of the phone. I’m used to tapping the top of my phone on a terminal to use Google Pay, and it took me some embarrassingly long interactions at the register to realize I needed to tap the lower half of this phone to the terminal, instead.
Motorola Razr 2023 Review: Cameras
The Motorola Razr 2023 has a dual camera array on the back, comprising a 64MP main camera with optical image stabilization, laser autofocus, and an ambient light sensor and a 13MP ultrawide/macro camera. That means there’s no telephoto option, so you probably won’t be taking many zoom shots with this phone.
I was pleasantly surprised by the results I got from the Razr. Shots with the main camera came out crisp and clear, with reasonably accurate colors. Nothing amazing, but nothing that immediately jumped out at me as lacking, either. Close-up shots in natural light and indoor lighting both turned out well, although maybe not quite as sharp as I’d like – there’s a little blur in the burrito shot and the shots of the tabletop minis, but the color reproduction was still good.
The nighttime shots were on par with those of other midrange phones I’ve tested this year – passable, but limited. There’s still a nice crispness to them, but you can see the limitations when in the shot of the neon sign, where the camera can’t get the text of the sign clearly.
There’s a 32MP selfie camera as well, although in theory you’ll only use it for video chatting – the main camera is what you’ll use for selfies, thanks to the small external display that can give a selfie preview. In practice, you might use that 32MP selfie camera more often – the 1.5-inch display is only able to give you a sliver of a preview, so it’s tough to use it to line up shots. And, counter-intuitively, the screen shows previews for portrait orientation when used normally – turn the phone on its side so the external display is in portrait mode, and you’ll get a sliver of a preview of a landscape shot. It’s not a great implementation of the preview feature, and is the only real knock on the small size of the external display for me.
Motorola Razr 2023 Review: Sustainability
Sustainability is inextricably linked to longer-lasting phones, and that’s still a question mark with foldables. Will the hinge or the foldable display become a failure point and force you to buy a new phone before you would have otherwise? We won’t know for a while, but it’s a question we don’t have to ask with traditional smartphones.
Motorola is guaranteeing three years of Android OS upgrades and four years of security patches – that’s not bad for a more experimental phone like this, but it still falls behind other devices, even other foldables.
On top of that, the phone only has an IP52 rating – it’ll hold up to a light splash, but drop it in the pool or take it with you to the beach and let sand get near the display, and you’ll be going shopping shortly after. Put all that together, and I don’t get the sense that this phone will be with you for the next five years like we see with a lot more traditional smartphones these days.
Motorola Razr 2023 Review: Release date and price
The Motorola Razr 2023 (or Motorola Razr 40 in other markets) is available as of now at $600 unlocked if you preorder, and will retail for $700, and comes in sage green, cherry blossom, summer lilac, and vanilla cream colors.
Should you buy the Motorola Razr 2023?
If you’ve been curious about trying a foldable, but haven’t wanted to pay a premium to sate that curiosity, you probably should consider the Motorola Razr 2023! For a midrange phone, the Motorola Razr 2023 is adequate across the board, and in some areas, like performance, gives you better than you might expect.
There hasn’t been a cheaper foldable available in the U.S. yet, so we’re pretty impressed that the first one at this price point didn’t stumble in any significant ways. Unlike the flagship Razr Plus (also known as the Razr 40 Ultra), which has to compete with the likes of the Oppo Find N2 Flip (and now Oppo Find N3 Flip) and Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5, the Motorola Razr doesn’t have much competition at its price point, making it an easy buy as an entry-level foldable.
I also don’t think you lose much with the smaller 1.5-inch external display on the Razr compared to the much larger one on the Razr+. Anything past basic information is going to make me want to unfold the phone and use its full capabilities anyway – the only thing I missed from the larger screen was the better selfie preview when taking selfies with those rear cameras, and that’s not going to sway a buying decision for me. I do wish there was more than 128GB of storage, but it’s not a concern if you rely mostly on cloud storage.
To put it simply – the Motorola Razr 2023 feels solid and runs smoothly, the battery lasts a long time, the cameras are decent, and the foldable features are fun to use, even if there’s nothing in particular that wows. There’s not much negative to report – the Moto Razr 2023 is ultimately the best value in a foldable you can find!