Foldable phones are cool. Foldable phones are fancy. But not all foldable phones are built the same way. Motorola Razr, the foldable phone that comes with a generous dollop of nostalgia thanks to its predecessor from many years ago, is supposed to be the next big thing for foldable phones. But as it turns out, it may not really last as long as you might expect, before you need to head into the service center for a bit of complex hardware re-engineering. According to a test done by the good folks over at CNET, the Moto Razr’s hinge lasted 27000 fold cycles before giving up. The Moto Razr is priced at $1,499. And this comes not too soon after the company released a ridiculous video teaching potential buyers and the rest of the commoners how the Moto Razr foldable phone needs to be cared for (Read more here)
Now put this into perspective with the numbers that a study by tech company Asurion, which says that Americans check their phones 96 times a day—that is once every ten minutes. If that is the exact measure of daily usage for someone who buys a Moto Razr, that means the fold hinge mechanism will last just a bit more than 281 days. Remember, CNET did a similar test with the Samsung Galaxy Fold last year, and that lasted 120000 fold cycles before giving up. Clearly, the Moto Razr doesn’t come close. Even remotely.
“As soon as the test started, however, we noticed the FoldBot was having some trouble closing the phone all the way each time. During our 4 p.m. check-in, I noticed the hinge was very stiff and resistant to being closed all the way, almost as if something had come loose and was blocking it. After flexing the hinge a few times by hand, however, it started to loosen up some. It was definitely not functioning as intended, but still usable,” notes CNET’s Chris Parker. He also mentions that there are two new visible creases on the plastic screen. “To my eye, they seem to correspond with the steel plates behind the screen that are part of the folding mechanism,” he adds. That’s the hinge gone, pretty much. And off to the service center at this time, if you are someone who has spent $1,499 on the phone.
The FoldBot machine is made by SquareTrade, a San Francisco-based company and is used to do the marathon tests which involve folding and unfolding the foldable phones to test their longevity. At this time, Motorola is not ready to accept these test results. “[The] razr is a unique smartphone, featuring a dynamic clamshell folding system unlike any device on the market. SquareTrade's FoldBot is simply not designed to test our device. Therefore, any tests run utilizing this machine will put undue stress on the hinge and not allow the phone to open and close as intended, making the test inaccurate. The important thing to remember is that razr underwent extensive cycle endurance testing during product development, and CNET's test is not indicative of what consumers will experience when using razr in the real-world. We have every confidence in the durability of razr,” says the company in a statement shared with CNET.
Coming back to that gem of a video which Moto had released on YouTube a while ago, it educated us about things like "Razr is water repellant; wipe with a dry cloth if wet", "Avoid sharp objects" and "Close the phone before putting it in the pocket or purse". remember what a Motorola executive told The Verge when they launched the phone in November, “We’re not going to go out there and say, ‘consumers should be cautious of how they use the phone.'" And all that is even before the bombshell - "Screen is made to bend; bumps and lumps are normal." Apparently, “bumps and lumps” are normal on a foldable phone, as you use it. Surely the folks over at Samsung must be perplexed now, because they got a lot of bad press for exactly that issue in the earlier units of the Galaxy Fold.
We can all be confident about the new foldable Razr phone doing better in the real world, purely because the predecessor was a brilliant phone. But irrespective of what Moto has to say or deny, this test doesn’t surely inspire any confidence in a potential buyer looking buy a foldable phone. What good is the flaunt value if it doesn’t even last a year?