After a coronavirus induced delay, last week the foldable Motorola Razr quietly went on sale in Australia. There was no press release and there will be no Australian reviews of the phone. Here’s why that is a problem.
When I had a hands-on session with the Razr, I was enamoured. It was the first retro handset refresh that felt truly modern. The original clamshell designed was updated for 2020 with a foldable screen seen in only a handful of devices so far.
But I had reservations.
With average specs, an unimpressive camera and a battery that couldn’t even last a day, it was difficult to understand how Motorola justified the $2,700 price tag. While all foldables in Australia cost a small fortune, at least Razr’s predecessor in market, Samsung, is a trusted consumer electronics brand with a strong track record in mobile flagships.
Motorola just isn’t in the same league as Samsung or an Apple for an Australian consumer. Every year they brings out specced-out flagships that sail over the $1,500 and $2,000 marks. Comparatively, Motorola isn’t really known for doing anything outside entry-level and mid-range devices.
Few are going to trust that $2,700 is worth the price of admission on a Motorola device, especially once you take a look at the spec sheet.
For $2,699 you have every right to expect more than 128GB storage, a deeply average 16 MP camera and a battery that by Motorola’s own admission won’t last an entire day if you’re a power-user – which anyone who would consider dropping this much on a phone probably is.
It’s not that the Razr didn’t have potential. In my hands on preview I praised the device for its seemingly great screen, how ergonomically comfortable it was and the fact that it was the first Australian phone to be eSIM only.
But my time with the Razr was short. It’s impossible to truly grasp what a phone is like to live with in half an hour.
And this is where reviews matter. It gives people a chance to read an unbiased take on a product which they can factor into their buying decisions. It provides a service that influencers and ambassadors can’t, regardless of whether their enthusiasm for a product is genuine.
Most gadgets are relatively expensive. Some, justifiably so. Others, not so much.
Unfortunately for the Motorola Razr, it won’t get a chance to prove itself in the hands of Australian consumer technology experts. As myself and other colleagues discovered earlier this week, there won’t be a review program.
It may seem that this is only problematic because we simply want to play with an expensive new toy, but this is a real issue for consumers.
Australia is about to get another foldable, and this time it's the size of an actual phone. Motorola has resurrected its beloved Razr to transform is classic clamshell design from being hinged to having a folding screen. There's a lot to love and it might even surprise some foldable sceptics, but it's really hard to get past the $2,699 price.Read more
Nobody in Australia has the ability to test one of the most expensive phones on the market before customers are being asked to spend thousands of dollars. And while companies are under no obligation to offer products up for review, there was originally review units planned for the Razr.
“We won’t be running a review program at this stage due to the delays of production,” a spokesperson from Motorola told Gizmodo Australia. “We have prioritised customer delivery and pre-orders for the units we have received. Understand this is disappointing but the focus is on customer delivery.”
Right now, JB Hi-Fi and the Motorola website have the Razr in stock. The foldable was available for pre-order as well, indicating that the phone’s initial allocation did not sell out before launch. Gizmodo Australia asked Motorola before publication about the Razr’s pre-order numbers, but the company declined to comment.
The Razr’s plan prices aren’t cheap, either. Telstra plans for the devices starts from a whopping $162.45 a month for a 24-month plan, with only 15GB data. Over the life of the plan that totals $3,898.80. There are cheaper 36-month plans, but we don’t tend to recommend these even for cutting edge flagship devices due to the long commitment, let alone something with such forgettable specs.
And since Motorola’s Australian briefing for the Razr, life has been difficult. In addition to the COVID-19 delays, overseas reviews of the Razr haven’t been kind.
Engadget referred to the device as “a fashion statement, not a flagship”, while CNET questioned its long term durability despite quite liking it. The Verge called the device a “flop” and “compromised”.
Motorola seemed poised to hit a home run with the rebooted Razr, which taps into early 2000s nostalgia while simultaneously pushing the boundaries of foldable display technology in ways Samsung only dreamed of doing. When I saw the Razr in person at a briefing in Los Angeles last November, I fell in love.Read more
To add insult to injury, Samsung announced its second foldable phone for the Australian market, the Galaxy Z-Flip. It has a similar clamshell design as the Razr with far beefier specs. The Z-Flip is also $500 cheaper.
On the plus side, the Razr isn’t as expensive as Huawei’s $3,999 foldable Mate Xs. But unlike the the Razr and the Z-Flip, Huawei is sticking to its guns with the phablet form factor – so you’re getting a little more screen size in that department, as well as good specs and a great camera. But without access to Google products, the Play Store and other American apps, the Huawei Mate Xs has its own problems.
While coronavirus delays may very well be the sole reason for the cancelled review program, it’s difficult to not to take the rest of the context that surrounds this launch into consideration.
The lack of even one Australian review may not be fishy. But it reads like the company has lost faith in its own product and the price it slapped on it. Without reviews or any media coverage, all it has to rely on is Motorola fans with enough nostalgia and disposable income to invest in a folding screen and not much else.
At Samsung's Unpacked earlier this year Gizmodo Australia was given a first-glimpse of the Galaxy Z-Flip - the company's new clamshell foldable that is actually the size of a real phone. While it went on sale in the U.S. almost immediately, Aussies were landed with the customary 'TBA'. Now the wait is over. Not only do we know when it will hit Australia, the price significantly undercuts other foldable devices that are about to be released here.Read more