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As a flip phone user, here’s my first impression of the Motorola Razr 40 Ultra

When I switched to the Nokia 2660 Flip as my secondary phone, it was a mere fun experiment. I was looking for a flip-style phone to satisfy the itch for retro tech. A year has passed since then and the nostalgic appeal of the Nokia 2660 Flip has not faded even a bit. It has only grown. That appeal seems to be at the core of the Motorola Razr 40 Ultra, a new premium clamshell-style foldable smartphone that leans heavily on the legacy of the iconic Razr V3. The Razr 40 Ultra also embraces the connected world of today where we have an intimate relationship with our smartphones. Motorola is looking forward by looking back, and that to me is a brilliant way of reconnecting with grown-ups and lapsed fans of the Razr.

Here are my early impressions of the Motorola Razr 40 Ultra after having spent a few minutes with the device during its launch.

Polished design

Four years back, after I first tried the first-generation Razr foldable smartphone, I wasn’t entirely convinced with the execution of the product. I felt it was an incomplete and unfinished device that shouldn’t have come out of the lab. The Razr 40 Ultra, is a fourth-generation product and seems a lot more polished.

I find the design of the Razr 40 Ultra extremely beautiful. The variant in ruby red colour and the vegan leather back, especially the one I saw in the hands of a  Motorola executive, looks luxurious. Though it’s wider than the original, the Razr 40 Ultra is impressively thin measuring just 7.58mm when unfolded. And when opened up, the large chin of the original Razr design is gone. That was Razr’s differentiating design factor. Now the Razr 40 Ultra looks just like any other flip-style foldable smartphone on the market.

razr 40 uLTRA The large cover display features a home screen and app tray, and can run most Android apps directly. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

The demo unit I tried was light enough and fit in my pants pocket comfortably. It didn’t feel flimsy in the hand which was the case with the 2019 Razr foldable. The flip mechanism feels sturdy and reliable. Now I feel more confident with foldable smartphones in general, although there’s still some uneasiness when you fold and unfold them. There’s no gap when the phone is closed, making it more compact than Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip 4.

At a fundamental level, the Razr 40 Ultra and the original Razr V3 are no different. Both are extremely small and can be easily held in a pocket or purse. But a device like the Razr 40 Ultra is more relevant at a time when every smartphone looks and feels the same. The new Razr has a 6.9-inch screen on the diagonal – the same size as the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. But it folds in half thanks to the foldable screen. Closed up, the Razr 40 Ultra becomes as small as a men’s wallet. I am sure there are other small phones on the market like the iPhone 13 mini but they suffer from terrible battery life and a cramped keyboard when typing with two hands. And yes, they don’t fold in half like the Razr 40 Ultra. With the Razr 40 Ultra, however, you are getting the best of both worlds. The interior 6.9-inch screen which also supports a 165Hz refresh rate is massive and everything on that screen looks better and more immersive. The big crease in the middle of the screen is certainly present, although it’s barely noticeable.

RAZR 40 The iconic ‘chin’ is no more, an iconic design element that made the original Razr V3 different from other phones of its time. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

Large external screen

Perhaps the most interesting part of the Razr 40 Ultra is the external cover screen. My Nokia 2660 Flip also has a cover screen but is limited to viewing notifications and time. And although there’s nothing wrong with a smaller external display, Motorola has a new take on how flip-style smartphones should look.

The front of the Razr 40 Ultra has a 3.6-inch OLED screen which is large enough to run apps and read notifications. I think the idea of a large front display works simply because you can do things like texting someone or replying to an email without needing to open the phone zillions of times in a day.

The external cover screen isn’t there for the sake of it. In fact, Motorola has designed a custom interface just for the front display. There is a panel (accustomed one, obviously) with an app tray that includes news, contacts, calendar and weather. In my brief time with the device, I could reply to an email with the entire keyboard that fits nicely on the phone’s front screen. That feature not only saves my time but also gives me the choice of using the phone the way I want to use it.

motorola razr 40 ultra I have been using the Nokia 2660 Flip as my secondary phone for over a year now. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

You can also play games on the phone’s external screen. I played a game called Marble Mayhem, where you need to physically tilt the phone to move a marble through a maze. It’s a fun game to pass the time when you are stuck in a boring meeting or waiting for a friend at a coffee shop. I may not be able to play games on such a small screen, but I do want to use that display as a camera viewfinder. So when you unfold the Razr 40 Ultra and launch the camera app, the person you are taking photographs of can see a preview of themselves on the external screen.

I also liked how you could transform the phone into an old-school camcorder, the ones that were the rage in the late 90s and early 2000s. All you need to do is open the camera app, switch to video mode, fold the phone to the right angle, and hold the bottom half sideways the way you used to hold a camcorder. It’s seriously like going back to my teenage years.

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Standard hardware

The Razr 40 Ultra is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor, 8GB RAM and 256GB storage. The specs may not be as powerful as other flagship smartphones, but who cares?  I would hardly call that underpowered. I think the performance will be good to keep day-to-day tasks running. There is wireless charging, NFC for contactless payments, and dual stereo speakers. A side-mounted fingerprint scanner on the right-edge phone is there for unlocking the device. It runs Android 13, and this time around, Motorola is promising three years of OS updates and four years of security updates.

The thing that worries me is the phone’s 3800mAh cell, which falls short of most high-end smartphones which now come with bigger batteries. I will have more on the battery life when I have the review unit. On the camera front, there’s a 12-megapixel main camera, a 13-megapixel ultra-wide camera and a 32-megapixel selfie camera. I don’t have any expectations from the phone’s camera, because of my past experience with Motorola phones but I am willing to give it a shot and see if the company has improved cameras on the Razr 40 Ultra.

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Early impressions

The Razr 40 Ultra offers a fresh and exciting take on flip-style foldable smartphones, with a large external screen and a fun design. This phone isn’t about powerful hardware or insane graphics. Instead, it fixes things that should have been addressed in the second and third-generation folding phones. My biggest complaint with the Razr 40 Ultra is how expensive it is. At Rs 89,999, you will be paying a premium for the Razr 40 Ultra. But then every high-end smartphone these days costs a lot of money, especially if it is a foldable phone.

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