For roughly four years, phone-makers have attempted to establish what the next iteration of the smartphone should be. They arrived at two answers: the revival of the flip phone, and tablets that fold in half to fit in your pocket.
I’m usually a fan of the latter. But after a week of using the new Razr Plus, Motorola has changed my mind. Starting at $1,000 and launching on June 23, the Razr Plus has one simple difference that makes it vastly more useful than Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip 4: a massive cover screen. While you’ll still open the Razr Plus for most tasks, the spacious outer display gives the phone much more versatility, enabling it to adapt to the situation. The Razr Plus can turn into a miniature smart display, a viewfinder for taking selfies and a lot more.
The way we use our phones has changed a lot over the past decade, so it makes sense that the shape of our devices should evolve to match. That’s the premise behind the new Razr and other foldables, and Motorola’s execution is among the best I’ve seen. But at $1,000, it’s still expensive. Motorola is betting that consumers are willing to pay top dollar for a device that’s still new and largely unfamiliar. As is the case with most foldable phones, you must be prepared to make some sacrifices in exchange for that flexible design, such as a less capable camera compared to similarly priced nonfolding phones as well as a subtle – but still noticeable – crease.
The Razr Plus’ big screen makes a big difference
The Razr Plus has a 3.6-inch cover screen, making it approximately the same size as the display on old smartphones like the iPhone 4. It’s also significantly larger than the 1.9-inch screen on the front of Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip 4.
Having a large cover screen might not sound like a big deal, but it makes a huge difference once you try it. There’s a level of convenience that comes with being able to discreetly reply to a text message (on a full keyboard!) or check the weather quickly without unfolding the phone. The cover screen also made the phone more useful when doing simple things like listening to music or taking photos. However, it does gather fingerprint smudges, so be sure to wipe it often.
The Razr Plus’ large cover screen can also feel like a miniature smart display. I partially opened the Razr and propped it up like a tent while listening to Spotify so that the front screen was facing out, making it easy to glance at which song was playing and skip to the next track without lifting my phone. I also propped it up on my desk at work so that I could see the weather and incoming notifications just by peeking over at the screen. It reminds me of the new StandBy mode coming to the iPhone in iOS 17.
But perhaps the camera is the best showcase of how that cover screen can be put to use. It provides a large canvas for previewing selfies taken with the rear cameras, giving you more space to see yourself and your background compared to the Galaxy Z Flip 4. There’s also a mirror mode, complete with shortcuts for zooming in and brightening the screen to more easily see details.
My friends got a kick out of the fact that they could see themselves on the front screen as I was taking a photo of them. There’s a lot more you can do with the front screen, but these are some of my favorite features.
The Razr Plus’ cover display has extra screens you can scroll through, which Motorola calls “panels,” that accompany the main clock face. There’s a panel for app shortcuts, contacts, upcoming calendar appointments, weather forecasts, Google News, Google Fit, your Spotify player and games. You can cycle through them by swiping left or right, while the main home screen has shortcut buttons that let you jump directly to each one. Long-pressing the home screen lets you edit and rearrange your panels.
For the most part, these panels reflect the tasks most of us would likely be doing on the cover screen, like quickly checking the weather or firing off a text to a friend. Gaming may sound like a surprising use case for such a tiny screen, but playing titles like Solitaire and Astro Odyssey was actually more amusing than I expected. At a time when smartphones can feel unwieldy to use with one hand, I appreciate being able to scroll through news headlines on a device that fits in the palm of my hand.
If you’re using an app on the phone’s main interior screen, there’s a handy button to pick up where you left off when closing the phone. Apps automatically adjust to the 3.6-inch cover screen with ease; I was surprised to see that nearly every app I used conformed to the front display right away.
But oddly enough, many apps weren’t allowed on the cover screen by default in my experience. I had to go into the settings menu and give most apps permission individually to do so. While I appreciate this level of customization and the privacy precaution, going through my app list to choose which ones I wanted to use on the front screen was time consuming.
The vast majority of apps worked just fine, but the Google Assistant app doesn’t seem to be supported on the external display at the time of writing. Whenever I used Google’s voice-enabled helper, I would see a prompt on the cover screen encouraging me to open the phone. And that’s a shame because, I could see the Google Assistant being especially handy when using that cover screen as a miniature smart display. I also wish I could more easily access the entire app drawer from the external display. You can browse through your apps when choosing which ones to pin to the apps panel, but I couldn’t find a way to summon my app catalog otherwise.
Motorola isn’t the first to put a large cover screen on a foldable flip phone, but it is rare. The Oppo Find N2 also has a reasonably sized outer display that measures 3.26 inches, which is smaller than the Razr Plus’ but seemingly large enough to feel useful. I haven’t used that phone, and it can be difficult to find in the US. But my colleague Sareena Dayaram said she found it to be convenient for checking the weather and viewing notifications.
However, Motorola may have more competition soon enough. Samsung’s next Galaxy Z Flip, which could debut at the company’s Unpacked event next month, is also expected to gain a more spacious exterior screen.
A big inner screen with a subtle crease
The crease is certainly present on the Razr Plus, although it’s barely noticeable in most situations. It’s visible when using apps or wallpapers with dark backgrounds and when the phone is tilted at a certain angle, but it’s much more subtle to the look and touch compared with the Z Flip 4. It sounds similar to the crease on Oppo’s Find N2 Flip based on my colleague’s experience.
The Razr’s 6.9-inch main screen is considerably large, topping even the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s 6.8-inch screen in terms of sheer size. However, the Razr Plus’ screen is narrower than that of your average phone, much like the Galaxy Z Flip 4’s. But this didn’t impact the experience, and it actually works to the Razr’s advantage, making it feel thin and portable for a phone of its size.
The main screen’s refresh rate can reach up to 165Hz for smoother scrolling and animations. That said, it didn’t feel much different from the 120Hz refresh rates I typically experience on Samsung’s Galaxy S23 lineup and the Pixel 7 Pro.
Coming from the Galaxy Z Flip 4, the Razr Plus feels exceptionally thin. There’s also no gap when the phone is closed, making it feel more compact than Samsung’s version. However, Samsung is also expected to implement a new hinge that could allow for a gapless design with the rumored Galaxy Z Flip 5.
There’s Corning Gorilla Glass Victus on both the front and back of the phone to protect it from drops. But the magenta version I’ve been using has vegan leather on the back instead of glass, giving it a distinctive feel that looks fashionable and also doesn’t gather fingerprints. The Razr Plus also has an IP52 durability rating, which should make it water repellent. I briefly used it in the rain and didn’t notice any issues, although I wasn’t brave enough to use it extensively until the weather cleared up.
Simple software that should do more
Motorola’s software really shines when the Razr Plus is either open or closed. I only wish it had more to offer in between. The Razr Plus has a feature called Flex View, which is essentially Motorola’s version of Samsung’s Flex Mode. When the phone is opened halfway, this feature shifts certain apps to the top portion of the screen so that they’re easier to use.
However, in my experience, this only worked with a small number of apps like the camera and YouTube. It unfortunately didn’t work in Google Meet, even though that app is optimized for Flex View, which is disappointing considering the Razr Plus would otherwise be ideal for video calls. While I love how versatile and useful the Razr Plus feels thanks to its giant front screen, I’d love to see Motorola experiment more with interesting ways to use the phone when opened halfway.
Otherwise, the Razr Plus runs on a relatively clean version of Android 13 that has a few Motorola apps. You’ll get three years of Android operating system upgrades with the Razr Plus, which is on par with Google’s update timeline for its Pixel phones but isn’t as long as Samsung’s four-generation pledge. I hope Motorola and others eventually follow in Samsung’s footsteps. Enabling phones to last longer is crucial in making the supply chain more sustainable and helping users get the most out of their devices.
The Razr Plus’ cameras are for casual photos and selfies
The Razr Plus has a 12-megapixel main camera and a 13-megapixel secondary camera that takes ultrawide and macro shots. Photos looked crisp and clear in most scenarios. But there were times when pictures either looked too washed out or not nearly as colorful as those taken with the Galaxy Z Flip 4 or Pixel 7 Pro, the latter of which is $100 cheaper than the Razr but doesn’t fold in half.
The photo below of an ice cream scoop is one example of this. The color in the Razr Plus’ shot looks a little bland compared with the Galaxy Z Flip 4’s and Pixel 7 Pro’s, although Motorola’s picture is sharper than Samsung’s.
Motorola Razr Plus
Google Pixel 7 Pro
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4
Here’s an example of the Razr Plus’ photo looking way too washed out. The sky completely lacks color compared with the Pixel 7 Pro’s image.
Motorola Razr Plus
Google Pixel 7 Pro
I also noticed the color temperature changes a bit when switching between the wide and ultrawide lenses on the Razr Plus, as shown below.
Razr Plus (wide)
Razr Plus (ultrawide)
That said, there were plenty of other instances in which photos looked bold and vibrant, as shown below.
Selfies taken on the Razr Plus’ 32-megapixel front camera look great. That’s important for the social media-forward audience that Motorola is pitching this phone to. My skin tone and hair color look punchier in Motorola’s photo compared to Google’s. I also preferred it over Samsung’s selfie since the color and shadowing in Motorola’s photo looked richer.
Motorola Razr Plus (front camera)
Google Pixel 7 Pro
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4
The benefit of using a phone like the Razr is that you can also snap selfies with the rear cameras while using the outer display as a viewfinder. The selfie taken with the Razr Plus’ main rear camera certainly has more detail, which you can especially notice when looking at my hair. That said, I preferred taking selfies with the interior camera because it felt more natural and was easier to position at a flattering angle. I often found myself holding the phone upside down when taking selfies with the front screen while the phone was closed, which felt awkward at first.
Low light performance is also good, with the Razr focusing more sharply and producing brighter images than Samsung in some cases. But the Pixel 7 Pro lit images more evenly and had better color in my experience.
Motorola Razr Plus
Google Pixel 7
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4
Overall, the Razr Plus’ camera quality is just fine for someone who primarily wants to snap photos of food, travel and pets for social media. It’s similar to what you’d get with the Galaxy Z Flip 4. But don’t expect to get the level of camera prowess you’d find on a premium, nonfolding phone like the Pixel 7 Pro. In addition to providing better color and detail than the Razr Plus in some scenarios, the Pixel 7 Pro’s zoom is much more capable given it has a dedicated 48-megapixel telephoto camera.
Motorola Razr Plus
Google Pixel 7
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4
But similar to the Galaxy Z Flip 4, the Razr Plus’ appeal as a camera is about versatility above all else. Unlike a nonfolding phone, the Razr Plus has a built-in tripod, since it can stand upright when folded halfway. That allowed me to get this shot of myself petting my friend’s dog in the park (although it couldn’t help me convince Curly to face the camera, alas).
There are some other fun features that take advantage of Razr’s design too. For example, there’s a photo booth mode that’s meant to mimic the physical photo booths you often see at weddings and other special events. Just select Photo Booth with the phone opened halfway, and the Razr Plus will capture four photos in a row, with a three-second countdown timer before each photo.
It’s a neat trick, but I also feel like Motorola could have done even more with it. Why not add more special effects and filters to make it feel even more like a real-life photo booth? You can choose a filter beforehand for all four photos but not individually for each picture. It would also be interesting to see Motorola apply a film strip-esque aesthetic that groups all four photos together in a photo booth-like way. Right now, these images just appear in your camera roll like any other photo. But Motorola says these photos will appear stitched together in Google Photos in a future software update.
Razr Plus performance and battery life
The Razr Plus’ 3,800-mAh battery has more than enough juice to last a full day. I always had some battery life left at bedtime, even with the high refresh rate and adaptive brightness settings turned on.
On one day, the phone had 60% of its battery left after roughly 14 hours of use, and 24% after 17 hours of use. But it’s important to remember that battery life will always vary depending on how you’re using the phone. Cranking the display brightness up high and streaming media for long periods of time, for example, will likely drain the battery faster.
Motorola’s new phone also performed considerably well during CNET’s battery endurance test, during which I made a short video call, played games, browsed social media and streamed video over the course of 45 minutes to see how much these tasks drain the battery. The Razr Plus’ battery dropped to 93% from 100%, which is on par with the Google Pixel 7A and Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra.
The Razr Plus offers 30-watt wired charging with a compatible power adapter and five-watt wireless charging. That’s similar to the wired charging speed you’ll get on Samsung devices like the Z Flip 4 and S23, which support 25-watt charging with the right charger, although the Galaxy S23 Plus and Ultra go up to 45 watts. But like most modern phones, the Razr Plus doesn’t come with a power adapter in the box.
The Razr Plus charged from 20% to 65% in 30 minutes, which is slightly faster but roughly the same as the Galaxy Z Flip 4, which went from 38% to 83% over the same period. The Razr Plus’ five-watt fast charging is much slower, only replenishing the battery from 67% to 72% after 30 minutes, making it more ideal for overnight charging.
Performance was generally fast and smooth, all powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor, the same chip found inside the Galaxy Z Flip 4. It’s not Qualcomm’s newest chip for flagship phones, but it provides enough power for many of the tasks you’ll likely be using the Razr for. The camera launches quickly, games run smoothly, apps open right away and switching between portrait and landscape orientations happens almost instantly. This is all to be expected of a $1,000 phone like the Razr Plus.
The Razr Plus performed well in Geekbench 6, a benchmark test meant to evaluate general computing performance for everyday tasks like checking email, taking photos and multitasking. Its results were better than the Pixel 7A’s and about on par with the Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Galaxy S23 Ultra. But in a separate test called 3DMark Wild Life Extreme, which tests graphics performance, the Razr Plus had lower results than many other phones we’ve tested.
Motorola’s Razr Plus made me excited about flip phones
Coming roughly three years after Motorola’s first Razr revival, it finally feels like the company has successfully pulled off the modern flip phone. The Razr Plus’ giant screen makes it feel much more useful, adding a surprising amount of utility. It proves that flip phones have more to offer than just portability.
The Razr Plus doesn’t get everything right; I’d like to see longer Android version support and more apps and features that work when the phone is folded halfway. But it’s compelling enough to get me interested in flip phones and see the promise of foldable devices.
Barring any glaring issues that come up after extended use, the Motorola Razr Plus may be the best foldable phone I’ve used so far. But that “so far” caveat is important, considering Samsung is expected to release a new version of the Z Flip with an equally massive cover screen soon enough.
How we test phones
Every phone tested by CNET’s reviews team was actually used in the real world. We test a phone’s features, play games and take photos. We examine the display to see if it’s bright, sharp and vibrant. We analyze the design and build to see how it is to hold and whether it has an IP-rating for water resistance. We push the processor’s performance to the extremes using both standardized benchmark tools like GeekBench and 3DMark, along with our own anecdotal observations navigating the interface, recording high-resolution videos and playing graphically intense games at high refresh rates.
All the cameras are tested in a variety of conditions from bright sunlight to dark indoor scenes. We try out special features like night mode and portrait mode and compare our findings against similarly priced competing phones. We also check out the battery life by using it daily as well as running a series of battery drain tests.
We take into account additional features like support for 5G, satellite connectivity, fingerprint and face sensors, stylus support, fast charging speeds and foldable displays among others that can be useful. And we balance all of this against the price to give you the verdict on whether that phone, whatever its price is, actually represents good value.