Performance falls a bit behind, but the Motorola Razr 40 Ultra is still the closest challenger yet to Samsung’s flip phone supremacy
- Exquisite design
- Small hinge crease
- Excellent battery life
- Stagnant performance
- Price increase over previous model
The folding phone craze shows no signs of slowing down, and one of its first big proponents is back with the Motorola Razr 40 Ultra. Having made some excellent strides with last year’s Motorola Razr 2022, the Razr brand is now poised to be a serious challenger to Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip series, and it might even surpass them as the best folding phone in the business.
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Some notable design improvements over its predecessor certainly help it towards that goal, but the lack of advances in performance ultimately holds the Razr 40 Ultra back from true greatness. Samsung may get to hold on to its crown as the top flip phone for another year, but the distance between the two brands has shrunk to a razor’s edge.
Motorola Razr 40 Ultra review: What you need to know
With the new Motorola Razr 40 (£800) handling the entry-level side of things, the Ultra aims to be the brand’s most premium flip phone yet. The headline feature this year is the new external display, which covers almost the entire front when folded. This performs a variety of functions, including the ability to play simple games, operate the cameras, make calls and watch streaming services.
Embedded in this display is the dual camera array, comprising the same 13MP ultrawide lens as the Razr 2022 paired with a new 12MP main camera. The mostly superfluous selfie camera also carries over from the Razr 2022, with a 32MP lens set beneath the interior flexible screen.
There’s plenty of Razr 2022 DNA to be found elsewhere in the phone, too, with the same Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 chipset, once again backed by 8GB of RAM and 256GB of onboard storage. The battery has been upgraded to a 3,800mAh unit, and although fast charging remains at 30W, it’s joined here by 5W wireless charging.
Motorola Razr 40 Ultra review: Price and competition
At £1,050, the Motorola Razr 40 Ultra costs £100 more than the Razr 2022’s launch price, settling firmly as a rival to the new Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 (from £1,049). The latter is the successor to our favourite flip phone, the Z Flip 4, and could well take the title itself, thanks to excellent battery life, a faster Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset and a newly designed cover screen.
On the cheaper end of the flip phone market, we’ve got the Oppo Find N2 Flip (£849), which lags in the battery department but manages to keep pace with its rivals in other performance areas, and comes with a unique and extremely useful portrait-orientated cover display. There’s also the new Motorola Razr 40, which is currently the cheapest flip phone on the market, at £800. This comes with a slightly less powerful Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 processor and lacks the full-sized cover display, but it does have a larger 4,200mAh battery.
Motorola Razr 40 Ultra review: Design and key features
There are a few design choices here that combine together to set the Razr 40 Ultra leagues ahead of the Razr 2022 in terms of broad appeal. First of all, the design is slightly taller and slimmer, measuring 171 x 74 x 7mm, which makes one-handed use much more comfortable. This leads to a lower weight, too – the Infinite Black and Glacier Blue models, which use Gorilla Glass Victus on the rear, both weigh 189g, while the Viva Magenta (reviewed here) is slightly lighter at 185g, due to using a soft vegan leather on the back.
Flipping the phone open, the bumpers around the display are much less pronounced than we saw with the Razr 2022. The telltale hinge crease is about as discreet here as it was on the Razr 2022, which is no insult – both phones barely show the hint of a dip. The same can’t be said for the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5, which has a noticeable bump.
The volume and power buttons are above the hinge on the right-hand side, with the latter doubling as the fingerprint reader. The microSD card slot, capable of taking cards up to 1TB, is on the left, while the USB-C slot is located on the bottom edge.
Next to that is one of the Dolby Atmos-enabled stereo speakers, with its opposing number on the top edge. The phone is rated IP52 for dust and splash resistance, which means that it offers better dust resistance than the Galaxy Z Flip 5, but isn’t quite as waterproof.
Software is always decent on Motorola phones, as it’s about as close to stock Android as you can get without buying a Pixel. The Razr 40 Ultra is no different, with simple, unobtrusive icons and menus, minimal bloatware and a wealth of customisation options. The phone ships with Android 13, and Motorola has confirmed that you can expect three years of software updates and four years of monthly security updates.
At the time of writing, the number of apps that have been optimised for use on the folded screen is fairly slim, but what you do get is very useful. The camera, for instance, shunts the viewfinder completely into the top screen, leaving the bottom clear for the controls, while YouTube lets you watch videos up top while browsing comments and other recommended content down below.
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Motorola Razr 40 Ultra review: Displays
The redesigned 3.6in external display replaces the rectangular panel seen on the Razr 2022 with a full-size display, similar to the new Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5. The specs are quite a bit more impressive here, though, with a crisp 1,066 x 1,056 resolution and a breezy 144Hz refresh rate. Sitting over the top is a layer of Gorilla Glass Victus for drop and scratch protection.
The internal display has also seen a few changes. The 6.9in AMOLED panel features an increased resolution of 2,640 x 1,080, compared to the Razr 2022’s 2,400 x 1,080, and a lightning-quick 165Hz refresh rate. While there aren’t many applications that will actively make full use of this refresh rate, scrolling and jumping between apps is at least incredibly fluid and responsive.
Like all AMOLED displays, the contrast and black levels are as close to perfect as you can get, but overall brightness takes a small hit compared to the Razr 2022. The automatic brightness setting topped out at 910cd/m² with a torch shining on the ambient light sensor, where the Razr 2022 stretched to over 1,000cd/m².
The Razr 2022’s display showed more colour variance than you want to see in this price range, but that issue has been rectified in the Razr 40 Ultra. The Saturated colour mode offers punchy, vibrant colours, perfect for streaming, while Natural is the best pick for accurate sRGB representation. On this setting, I recorded an sRGB coverage of 93.4% and a total volume of 93.6%, with an average Delta E score of 1.3 showing much lower (and therefore better) colour variance than the Razr 2022.
Motorola Razr 40 Ultra review: Performance and battery life
The octa-core 3.19GHz Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 chipset inside the Razr 40 Ultra is the same as was used in the Razr 2022, which results in the two performing roughly equally. This would be fine, as performance is still nippy and responsive, if it wasn’t for the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 offering better performance for the same price. Thanks to its newer Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, the Z Flip 5 managed a lead over the Razr 40 Ultra of around 12% in the single-core tests and over 26% in multicore.
The GFXBench Car Chase GPU benchmarks showed a minor step backwards, with the Razr 40 Ultra scoring 7fps lower than the Razr 2022 in the onscreen benchmark and 14fps on the offscreen portion. Even still, the Razr 40 Ultra handles graphic-intensive games well, letting me run through a few rounds of Asphalt 9: Legends without any noticeable dips in frame rate.
The one area in which we see real hardware advancement is battery life, with the 3,800mAh unit lasting for 21hrs 35mins in our looping video test. This is among the best we’ve seen on a flip phone, only being outpaced by the even more impressive performance of the Galaxy Z Flip 5.
The larger battery takes a bit longer to charge up via the provided 30W charger, hitting 50% in around 28 minutes and 100% in just under an hour. New for this model is 5W wireless charging, which doesn’t provide amazing speeds, but is still a decent inclusion that helps to close the gap with Samsung’s output.
Motorola Razr 40 Ultra review: Cameras
As tends to be the case with flip phones, the Razr 40 Ultra uses a dual camera array on the rear, led by a 12MP (f/1.5) wide lens. While that may sound like a big downgrade from the 50MP lens used by the Razr 2022, megapixel count doesn’t tell the whole story.
Crucially, the aperture is quite a bit wider this time around, meaning more light is being absorbed, which results in better low-light photography. This was a big problem on the Razr 2022, which suffered from odd colouring and excessive noise after dark, but tones are much more natural this time around, even if the image isn’t as sharp as I’d like it to be.
In decent lighting, images are vibrant and full of natural colours. In the below image, you can see the impressive balance between the bright background and the more shadowy foreground, with effective contrast really bringing out the detail in the branches. The leaves smudge together a little more than I’d like, but overall image quality isn’t affected.
The 13MP (f/2.2) ultrawide lens is a direct carry-over from the Razr 2022, which I don’t mind because it performed well back then and continues to be one of the better backup lenses today. Colour and exposure are maintained well compared to the wide lens, and the finer details are acceptable, if not amazing.
This lens also handles macro shots, which once again fall into the acceptable category, with reasonably strong lines around the focal point and a decent background blur.
While most of the video offerings are the same as the Razr 2022 – both 1080p and 4K can be filmed up to 60fps, and the slow-motion mode offers 120, 240 and 960fps settings – 8K recording has been dropped. This likely won’t be the end of the world for most users, and the Galaxy Z Flip 5 doesn’t offer 8K either, but it’s still worth bearing in mind.
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Motorola Razr 40 Ultra review: Verdict
If Motorola had forked out for the newer Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, we’d likely be talking about crowning a new king of the flip phones. As it stands, offering last year’s performance at this year’s prices is a tricky position to be in, especially when the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 offers better hardware for the same price.
Even if it doesn’t completely blow away the competition, the Razr 40 Ultra is still impressive. The new design is both sleeker and more comfortable to use, the larger cover display is terrific, and battery life is some of the best on any flip phone. The lack of advancement in performance might hold the Razr 40 Ultra back from being our new favourite flip phone, but this is easily the closest that any brand has come to knocking Samsung off the top spot.