The razr 40 isn’t Motorola’s new flagship phone — but it’s a more exciting foldable

Razr 40
On paper, the Motorola razr 40 Ultra is the king of the hill, but I’m more intrigued by the razr 40 instead. Here’s why.

Overnight, Motorola announced — if you can announce something that’s been so heavily leaked beforehand — its two latest foldable phones, the Motorola Razr 40 Ultra and the Motorola Razr 40.

Long time Vertical Hold listeners will know that I’m a bit keen on the whole prospect of foldable phones, but to date we’ve only had slim pickings in terms of available models, with Samsung leading ahead of Motorola and, more recently, Oppo.

Fairly predictably, most of the media attention has been on the premium Motorola razr 40 Ultra and its tasty looking external screen.

It’s not hard to see why; that external screen being nearly the full frame of the phone does add a lot of potential utility, and in the flagship space it leaps nimbly over the display on the already available Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 or Oppo N2 Flip.

Motorola Razr 40 Ultra: That is one nice looking phone, Motorola.
The razr 40 Ultra is one nice looking phone, Motorola.

It’s not without some compromises, like the use of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, last year’s flagship processor, but it’s a tasty looking unit indeed. I’m certainly keen to get one in for review.

Still, it’s the lesser model, the razr 40 that has me more intrigued. On paper it’s a clear cut-down option, with a Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 processor and much smaller 1.5 inch external display, making it more of a direct Z Flip 4 competitor than anything else.

Although weirdly it gets on-paper-better camera specs than the full fat razr 40 Ultra, with a 64MP primary sensor and 13MP ultra-wide/macro lens to play with. Numbers in camera games don’t always lead to better performance, however.

Update: (With a hat-tip to Chris Button, it’s also got a slightly bigger battery than the Ultra, though it remains to be seen how that plays out in real world use.)

So why am I more intrigued?

Razr 40: The lilac model does appeal to my inner Prince fan, but it's not the reason why I think it's significant.
The lilac model of the razr 40 does appeal to my inner Prince fan, but it’s not the reason why I think it’s significant.

Because of relative prices of both handsets. The razr 40 Ultra will cost $1,499 in Infinite Black, Viva Magenta or Blue Glacier finishes when it lands on our shores on July 10th 2023. That’s predictable, exactly-the-same-as-the-competition pricing, right there. Nothing wrong with it, but…

The Motorola razr 40 will land here on the 21st of July 2023 in Sage Green, Vanilla White or Summer Lilac finishes, for $999.

That’s significant. I’ve seen some older Samsung foldables sometimes fold down (ho ho ho) to sub $1,000 price points, but not at launch. A sub $1,000 price point does fold it into the mid-range, even if only by a dollar, and it opens up competition in that space as well.

That means that the razr 40 sets a new low water mark for foldable pricing in Australia, and hopefully not for too long. Even just by itself, it means that within six months or so it’ll probably be being sold for closer to $600-$700, at which point folding phones become a utility choice, not just one limited to those with big fat wallets.

There are some drawbacks, sure. The processor isn’t top notch, and that’s annoying but not likely to impact too many of its users all that much in real world use. I’ve said this for a while now across many reviews, but premium smartphone processors are these big grunty engines waiting for a speedy app track to run down… but very few apps really push them all that hard. I will have to save judgement for when I can properly test one, but I suspect most day to day consumers wouldn’t notice the huge difference here.

It is annoying that both the razr 40 Ultra and razr 40 only offer IP52 water resistance, given that Samsung has at least managed IPX8 rating. The difference there is basically that Motorola’s saying it’s lightly tested the new razr models for dust ingress, but it’s not tested for full water immersion. Drop a Z Fold 4 or Z Flip 4 into water and it’ll likely survive, where the new razrs would most likely die.

Funny thought: That IP52 rating is identical to the rating given to the Moto e13 I recently reviewed — and that’s a $149 phone.

If you’re not in the foldables camp, by the way, Motorola Australia has also announced local availbility for the Edge 40 phone as well. That’s not quite as brand spanking new, but at $699 might be a decent buy — most of Motorola’s recent “Edge” series phones have been. It’ll land here on the 10th of July, same day as the razr 40 Ultra.

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