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Motorola Razr 40 review: Mostly cuts in the right places

Our Rating :
£591.66 from
Price when reviewed : 800
inc VAT

While not without problems, the Motorola Razr 40 is still a great choice for anyone looking to dip their toes in the flip phone game

Pros

  • The most affordable flip phone yet
  • Excellent main display
  • Competitive battery life

Cons

  • Mediocre performance for the price
  • Limited functionality on cover display
  • Poor low-light photography

The Motorola Razr 40 sees the brand once again taking its first steps in the foldable game, this time being the first major company to release multiple clamshell phones at the same time. Launching alongside the pricier and more fully featured Motorola Razr 40 Ultra, the Razr 40 is positioned as the entry-level folding phone, offering the novelty and functionality to those who don’t want to drop four figures on their next handset.

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As you’d expect, there are corners to be cut to make this goal a reality, and in many cases, it’s not hard to see where Motorola chose to slice. With some exceptional non-folding phones available at this price point, can the Motorola Razr 40 rise above these concessions, or is it too much of a compromise to be worth it?

Motorola Razr 40 review: What you need to know

Given that its bigger sibling is called the Ultra, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the Razr 40 is the standard offering for this release cycle. In reality, however, this feels more like the Lite variant. That’s not meant as an insult – Lite models very much have their place – it’s just that the Ultra is most in line with the rest of the market, with this coming in as a cheaper, less powerful alternative. In other words, a Lite version.

Initially, the most obvious point of difference between the Razr 40 and the 40 Ultra is the external display. Where the latter has a full-size screen on the outside of the phone, the Razr 40 uses a slim notification strip that doesn’t look dissimilar to the camera bar on Google’s Pixel phones. The ultrawide camera set into this bar is the same as the one found on the Razr 40 Ultra, but the main camera next to it is a larger 64MP lens, with a slightly smaller (f/1.7) aperture.

The biggest changes are on the inside, and they’re not all for the worse. The 4,200mAh battery is actually a little bigger than the Razr 40 Ultra’s, though it supports the same combination of 30W wired and 5W wireless charging. The processor is a less powerful Snapdragon 7 Gen 1, paired with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of onboard storage.

Motorola Razr 40 review: Price and competition

With a retail price of £800, the Motorola Razr 40 is officially the cheapest clamshell on the market, at the time of writing. It undercuts the previous champion, the Oppo Find N2 Flip, by £50, but will likely lose the crown when the Oppo Find N3 Flip makes its way to UK shores in 2024.

With the Find N2 Flip now discontinued, the Razr 40 sits alone at this price point, as the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 (our current favourite foldable) and Motorola’s own Razr 40 Ultra (an extremely close runner-up) both start at £1,049.

There’s more competition at this price in the non-folding department, even if you want the same 256GB of storage that you’re getting with the Razr 40. The excellent compact flagship Xiaomi 13 is £849, the standard iPhone 15 is £899 and the Google Pixel 8 is currently just £684.

Motorola Razr 40 review: Design and key features

If you ignore the cover display, the overall design of the Razr 40 isn’t that far off that of the Ultra. The dimensions are nearly identical: unfolded, the Razr 40 is the same 171 x 74mm as the 40 Ultra, but just a tiny bit thicker at 7.4mm. It’s the same story when folded, measuring 88 x 74 x 15.8mm, and as you can probably guess, those extra dimensions add up to a slightly heavier weight of 189g.

Like its pricier sibling, the Razr 40 is rated IP52 for water and dust protection. Unlike the Razr 40 Ultra, however, there’s no glass-backed option here, with the Green, Cream and Lilac models all coming only with a vegan leather rear. The edges are cut in a contrasting aluminium trim, and a slim glass panel near the top houses the external display and dual rear camera system.

Flip the phone open, and you’ll find the power button just above the fold on the right edge, with the volume controls just above it, while the left edge is home only to the SIM tray. Along the bottom, we’ve got the USB-C charging port next to one of the Dolby Atmos-compatible stereo speakers – its twin can be found up top, just above the under-display selfie camera.

Speaking of cameras, that app is one of only two major ones that are optimised for the flex screen, with the other being YouTube. Aside from separating your viewfinder from your camera controls or your video from the comments section, there’s not much functional use for the flex screen at this time, but what we do get in these two apps at least works well. Software is otherwise as clean as it gets – the phone ships with Android 13 and is good for three years of OS upgrades and four years of security patches.

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Motorola Razr 40 review: Displays

Of all the compromises that Motorola has made with the Razr 40, the internal display is not one of them. Aside from the lower 144Hz refresh rate, the 6.9in pOLED panel has the exact same specifications as the Razr 40 Ultra’s, but it performed better in testing. On the Natural colour setting, the Razr 40 covered 97% of the sRGB gamut, with a decent volume of 98.5%. The average Delta E colour variance score came back at just 0.78, which is astoundingly accurate and better than the Ultra’s (still very good) score of 1.3.

Brightness is also surprisingly superior to the Ultra, hitting a peak of 942cd/m2 on auto mode with a torch shining on the ambient light sensor. HDR content looks even better, with the phone stretching to 1,136cd/m2 brightness. Add to that the essentially perfect black and contrast levels, and this display is a great pick for streaming. It’s not even cut up by a protruding hinge, either – like the Ultra, the Razr 40 has a fantastically discreet crease that is all but invisible when the screen is lit up.

As for the other display, the smaller 1.5in external panel naturally isn’t as feature-rich as the full-size alternative on the Razr 40 Ultra – so no games, no YouTube and no streaming services – but it still has a couple of tricks up its sleeve. Along with basic smartwatch-esque cards like media controls and weather, you can also use the external display to take better selfies with the rear cameras. The viewfinder is fairly tiny and doesn’t show the full image that will be captured, but it’s useful enough in a pinch.

Motorola Razr 40 review: Performance and battery life

As you’d expect from the cheapest flip phone to date, you’re also getting the weakest performance on any current clamshell. The Razr 40’s octa-core 2.4GHz Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 chipset isn’t disastrously slow by any means, but it fell around 18% behind the Oppo Find N2 Flip in the multi-core benchmark tests.

It’s fine that the Razr 40 is slower than more expensive flip phones, but things get tricky when you look at what kind of performance you could get from a non-folding phone in this price range. The Google Pixel 8, for instance, which retails for around £50 less than the Razr 40, managed a whopping 44% lead in the multi-core benchmarks.

Motorola Razr 40 review - Geekbench 6 chart

It’s a similar story with the GPU benchmarks, with the Razr 40 sitting firmly at the rear of the pack. The 144Hz display puts its feet up here, leaving the Razr 40 topping out at just 30fps in the onscreen portion, and the offscreen doesn’t fare much better at 38fps. Those are less than half of the Google Pixel 8’s results, and further still from the buttery smooth framerates achieved by the (admittedly more expensive) Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5.

Motorola Razr 40 review - GFXBench chart

The bigger battery didn’t deliver superior stamina to the Razr 40 Ultra, but 20hrs and 55mins is still an outstanding result for a flip phone of this price. It’s only 40 minutes shy of the Ultra and leagues ahead of the Oppo Find N2 Flip. Charging is capped at 30W, like the Ultra, so you’re looking at around an hour to juice up to 100%, and you’ve again got the option of 5W wireless charging, too.

Motorola Razr 40 review - Battery life chart

Motorola Razr 40 review: Cameras

The new Razr phones are a terrific showcase for why the megapixel count is not the final word in camera quality. Case in point, the Razr 40 Ultra is fitted with a relatively puny 12MP main lens, while the Razr 40 is fitted with a “larger” 64MP shooter. The problem is, that the 64MP sensor has a narrower aperture than the Razr 40 Ultra’s (f/1.7 vs f/1.5) as well as smaller pixels (0.7µm vs 1.4µm).

Both of these affect the amount of light that can be taken in with each shot, so naturally, I felt the differences most keenly with low-light photography. With very little to work with, the artificial brightening still left images looking very dull, and we’ve got the same overly yellow colouring that we saw with the Razr 2022.

Motorola Razr 40 review - Marina at night

Things did at least improve with the lighting conditions. Images are pixel-binned into 12MP shots as standard, but you can also opt to shoot in 64MP. Either way, the resulting images are decent enough, with strong contrast plucking out plenty of detail and nicely vibrant colours in my neighbours’ cars.

Motorola Razr 40 review - Houses on a bright day

Alongside the main camera, we’ve got the same 13MP (f/2.2) ultrawide lens that we saw on both the Razr 40 Ultra and last year’s Razr 2022. These lenses never blow me away, but it does a decent enough job of widening the shot without losing too much detail – though the brightness struggled against the gloomy winter sky.

Motorola Razr 40 review - Winter trees wide angle

Video is limited to 30fps when shooting in 4K, 60fps in 1080p, and 240fps slow motion. You’re getting the same electronic stabilisation as the Ultra, so the footage is relatively shake-free, and as long as you’re shooting in decent light conditions, the quality is more than sufficient.

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Motorola Razr 40 review: Verdict

Performance and night photography are problems here, but the biggest obstacle facing the Razr 40 is the reduced functionality of its external display. Though not the biggest selling point of flip phones, being able to watch videos and play games on the secondary screen is a fun novelty, and omitting it is a big risk when all of the current competition offers it in some form or another.

If this is a concession that you’re willing to accept, however, the Razr 40 mostly works as an “entry-level” flip phone. The design is sleek and portable, battery life keeps pace with the pricier alternatives, and between the incredible colour accuracy and small hinge crease, this could well be the best display on any flip phone to date. For those waiting on the inevitable affordability revolution before jumping on the flip phone bandwagon – this isn’t it. But it is, at least, a solid step in the right direction.

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