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Motorola Razr 50 Ultra review: Form follows function in this foldable phone

The Motorola Razr 50 Ultra is a feature-packed smartphone that leverages its unique foldable form factor to deliver a novel user experience

Motorola Razr 50 Ultra

Motorola Razr 50 Ultra - Spring Green

Khalid Anzar New Delhi
Motorola has been synonymous with clamshell-style phones, particularly since its introduction of the original Razr in 2004, which propelled flip phones into the mainstream. Even today, Motorola, under Lenovo's ownership, continues this legacy with the Razr 50 Ultra, a 2024 foldable smartphone that retains the iconic flip design while incorporating modern features. While design remains a focal point, the Razr 50 Ultra offers more than meets the eye.

Design

The Motorola Razr 50 Ultra boasts a lightweight design, weighing in at 189g, which is notable given the extensive use of glass, aluminium, and vegan leather in its construction. The smartphone's front cover features a single-piece Gorilla Glass Victus that stretches from corner to corner, creating a uniform profile. Similarly, the back cover is crafted from a single piece of vegan leather, designed to mimic the touch and feel of plant-based materials, available in a Spring Green colour. The frame is constructed from 6000-series aluminium, polished for a smooth finish.

The Razr 50 Ultra consists of two equal halves connected by a mechanical hinge, facilitating the fold and unfold mechanism. The hinge operates smoothly, requiring minimal effort, and allows the two halves to fold completely flat, leaving no visible gap between them. This feature contributes to the smartphone's IPX8 protection rating, indicating water ingress resistance. Another key design element related to the hinge is the minimal horizontal crease on the bendable display. While the crease is perceptible when gliding your fingers across the display, it remains virtually unnoticeable to the eye.

Displays

The new-age Razr line, introduced in 2019, began with a prominent cover display, a legacy that continues with the Razr 50 Ultra. The smartphone features a 4-inch cover display, one of the largest among flip-style foldable smartphones available in India. This display is not only large but also highly capable, featuring a 10-bit pOLED panel with a 165Hz refresh rate, HDR10+ support, and 100 per cent DCI-P3 colour coverage.

This cover display is complemented by a gesture-driven user interface that mirrors the default Android UI, but with panels instead of an app drawer for quick access to core features, apps, and widgets. The quick settings menu remains unchanged, but notifications are shown separately on the home screen in the form of app icons for easy access.

The cover display is highly customisable, allowing for a personalised experience with adjustable themes and fonts. Almost all apps are accessible from the cover display, though not all are optimised for its unconventional aspect ratio (almost square – 1272 x 1080). Apps open in a compatible view with a thick black bar at the bottom to accommodate the camera obstruction, but users can choose to go full screen by long-pressing the recent app key.

Regarding apps, Google’s Gemini is available out of the box and can be used on the cover display with text input, voice, and images without needing to flip open the phone. However, text prompts cannot be sent in full-screen mode due to the camera obstruction blocking the send button. This issue is not exclusive to Gemini but affects other apps as well. Fortunately, switching between full-screen mode and compatible view mode is straightforward.

The main bendable display is a 10-bit 6.9-inch full HD+ pOLED panel with a 165Hz refresh rate, HDR10+ support, and 120 per cent DCI-P3 colour coverage. This display is bright, vivid, and responsive, and is perceived to be free from noticeable creases. Additionally, Motorola has enhanced the display with support for wet touch, allowing users to operate it with wet fingers or when there are water droplets on the display.

Like the cover display, the bendable display supports gesture navigation, but it is best operated using 3-button navigation. This is because the raised rims on all four sides can hinder finger movement, particularly when using swipe-in-from-the-sides gestures.

Camera

The Motorola Razr 50 Ultra features a triple-camera system, comprising two cameras on the cover and one on the inside. The cover camera system includes a 50-megapixel main camera sensor with optical image stabilisation and a 50MP 2x telephoto sensor. The third camera is a 32MP sensor, located in a display punch-hole on the bendable display.

While all three cameras perform well, they may not be the best in their class, particularly considering the smartphone's price point. The main sensor is versatile and delivers consistent performance across various lighting conditions. However, it is not the fastest at fixing focus, especially in low-light environments. Despite this, it produces good results with fine details, modest contrast, and stable frames. The absence of an ultra-wide-angle sensor makes capturing cityscapes, landscapes, and group shots challenging, though not impossible.

The 2x telephoto sensor is effective for portraits and capturing distant objects, but it does not perform as well as the main camera in low-light conditions. The portrait mode has a straightforward interface with four focal length options supported by the two sensors, rather than the usual lens switch option. Portrait quality is commendable, with fine subject details and a natural-looking depth of field. There is some crossover and less precise subject contour capture, but these inconsistencies are only noticeable upon close inspection.

The 32MP in-display camera sensor is the weakest of the three, though it does not significantly impact the smartphone's overall imaging capabilities, as the other two sensors can be used for most scenarios.

All three cameras can record videos in 4K resolution at 60 frames per second, with the ability to switch between the two main sensors during recording. Videos recorded in good lighting conditions exhibit fine details, good dynamic range, and stable frames with stabilisation enabled. However, low-light video recording is not of flagship quality, and stabilisation is less effective under these conditions.

The Razr 50 Ultra's foldable form factor introduces several novel features. For instance, image preview can be enabled on the cover display for the subject to see the frame. The display can be half-folded to start video recording in camcorder mode, allowing for easy zoom-in and zoom-out via swipe gestures on the lower half of the bendable display. Additionally, vertical videos can be recorded using the cover display in the folded state. There are many features to explore, making it clear that form follows function in this foldable device.

Software

Powered by Android 14-based Motorola’s Hello UI, the Razr 50 Ultra features a clean user interface enriched with several value-added features designed to enhance the user experience. Motorola has included a comprehensive learning section, called "Tips," to assist first-time users in understanding the device, its features, and the novel interactions introduced by the foldable form factor. Additionally, artificial intelligence features from both Google and Motorola further enhance the user experience.

From Google's side, the Razr 50 Ultra includes the Gemini assistant, accessible on both the main and cover displays, as well as the Photos app with AI-based image editing tools such as Magic Editor, Magic Eraser, and Photo Unblur.

The Magic Editor allows users to make complex edits to their photos with ease, such as repositioning subjects, adjusting lighting, and even changing the background. The Magic Eraser helps users remove unwanted objects or people from their photos, making it appear as if they were never there. Photo Unblur is designed to improve the clarity of images that may have been taken in less-than-ideal conditions, reducing blurriness and sharpening details for a clearer and more defined picture. These tools collectively improve the imaging capabilities of the Razr 50 Ultra.

Complementing these, Motorola has integrated its own AI features, including Style Sync and AI Magic Canvas. Style Sync allows users to generate wallpapers from images with a matching theme, while AI Magic Canvas creates visuals based on text prompts, though the latter requires a Motorola account. Furthermore, Motorola offers AI-based enhancements in the camera to improve output, including adaptive stabilisation in videos and stable shots of moving objects.

Performance and battery

Powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8s Gen 3, the Razr 50 Ultra offers a balance of performance and power efficiency. The processor capably handles everyday tasks and performs well with power- and graphics-intensive workloads. While the phone can run games at high graphics settings, the flexible display is not ideally suited for gaming as it may feel flimsy.

Regarding power efficiency, the 4,000 mAh battery supports a full day's use on a single charge. This efficiency is aided by the functional cover display, which reduces the need to use the larger bendable display, thereby conserving power. While extensive usage reduces battery life, the variation is not significant. The Razr 50 Ultra supports 45W wired charging and 15W wireless charging, both of which quickly recharge the battery—approximately an hour for wired charging and under two hours for wireless charging.

Pricing

Motorola is offering the Razr 50 Ultra in 12GB RAM and 512GB storage configuration at Rs 99,999. It is bundling the Moto Buds+ wireless earbuds within the box to make the deal lucrative. On top, there are bank offers of up to Rs 5,000 available that brings down the effective cost of ownership to Rs 94,999. 

Verdict

The Motorola Razr 50 Ultra is a feature-packed smartphone that leverages its unique foldable form factor to deliver a novel user experience. From design to displays, audio, software, and performance, the Razr 50 Ultra impresses on most fronts. Although the smartphone is not without flaws, it makes no compromises on core features and functionalities.


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First Published: Jul 11 2024 | 2:05 PM IST

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