Do you remember the original Motorola RAZR, first released in 2004? That gorgeous, super-slim design, the way it snapped shut with a satisfying car-door clunk? Maybe you remember that it was much more robust than its svelte shape would suggest.
And maybe, just maybe, you also remember that it had the same difficult interface that was Motorola’s UI, something that didn’t hold the spiffy-looking phone back from selling in enormous numbers, leading to some saying it was properly a case of style over substance.
Well, as you’ll know, a new RAZR is coming, with the same, or similar folding phone design.
In the last few hours, a post on weibo.com allegedly showed what the new phone will look like, for the first time with a series of apparently leaked renders. That post has since been deleted but the images were later uploaded again at SlashLeaks.
So, what do the images tell us?
A different fold
The Samsung Galaxy Fold, when it finally is released, opens like a book, and the Huawei Mate X opens like, well, like a paperback you’ve folded back on itself, if you don’t mind breaking the book’s spine. You brute.
But this one opens like the original did, with a vertical fold.
Inside, instead of a screen on the upper part and a flush metallic keyboard on the bottom, it will be one long screen sweeping seamlessly from top to toe.
It means that instead of being a tablet that folds down to a phone as the Huawei and Samsung models are, this is much more a regular size phone (if with a rather longer screen than many smartphones) which seems to be able to fold down into something rather more pocketable.
The angle of the image may be chosen to hide a thicker profile, please note.
There’s a notch in the display
According to these renders, there’s a medium-wide notch at the top of the screen, with a camera sitting there. The display itself is very long, looking at least as slender as the 21:9 display on the upcoming Sony Xperia 1. It also has a curved edge at the bottom of the display. That’s tricky and expensive to manage, though Lenovo, the company that makes Motorola phones, could take advantage of the raised lip that sits below the phone, a design element from the original. With this large lip, there’s a place to put the screen driver, perhaps.
The packaging is extensive
No, I’m not as interested in the packaging in these images either, but at least some attention to detail has been paid. I’m not mad about the curious triangular box, but I like the look of the wireless charging pad, if that’s what it is. I will just say that every part of the packaging seems to relate to the phone in its open position. I mean, it is going to fold, isn’t it?
Yes it is, just look at the third image, silly
Quite right, the third render shows the phone as it’s mid-fold, though it’s almost hard to make out what the image shows, to be honest. The Motorola logo is visible in the middle of the back, but the rest of it is all just a bit too blurred.
What about an external display?
A separate rumor has insisted that the new RAZR, like the first one, will have a screen on the outside as well. As Forbes contributor Jay McGregorpoints out, this will be just for notifications, not a full Android screen.
With these renders it’s impossible to know if that external screen is there, though it would certainly make sense, even if it did make the new phone less slim than the original. On the image of the fold in progress, there’s no evidence of that second screen, but that could just be the angle. Even so, the dominance of the central camera would suggest not.
The position of the camera does look odd in the semi-fold position – as though it’s designed to take photos peeping round a corner. Actually, that could be almost cool.
How likely is all this?
It’s a fair question. Although I think it’s highly likely that the new RAZR will follow a similar shape to the original because, well, it was so cool back then, there’s a lot I don’t quite believe in these renders. The phone looks spectacular in its extended form, and the classic raised lip at the bottom ticks the nostalgia box.
Can it really fold flat?
But my biggest question comes from what we know about the Samsung Galaxy Fold. The Fold has a little gap when you close it because folding a screen like this completely flat, like a piece of paper that’s been creased between your fingers, is impossible. That’s what Samsung says, anyway.
So, should we really accept that Motorola has cracked a problem that Samsung could not? I find that hard to believe.
I have reached out to Lenovo for comment but the company has not yet responded to a request for comment. I will update this post accordingly.
When will we see the real thing?
In February, Engadget talked to Motorola VP Dan Dery who said the company has been working on a folder for a long time and that the company has, “no intention of coming later than everybody else in the market.”
Given that the Fold was due out right about now, surely Motorola must be nearly ready to release it, too? Maybe, or perhaps the whole Samsung issue has just given Moto a bit of breathing space.