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Motorola Razr 40 Ultra Review: A True Game-Changer

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Change can be good or bad, and while Motorola as a company has seen its fair share of change, the Razr series of phones which was first released in 2004, has also evolved quite a bit. Fans of the original RAZR V3, which mainly includes millennials (including myself), might find the not-so “edgy” design of the latest Razr 40 Ultra iconic but it still is a very important step in the evolution of the foldable smartphone. I’ve been using Motorola’s top-end and most premium smartphone in India for about two weeks and here’s why I think it is a game changer.

Motorola Razr 40 Ultra price in India

The Motorola Razr 40 Ultra is priced at Rs 89,999 in India and it comes with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage. The phone is available in two finishes – Viva Magenta and Infinite Black. I received the Infinite Black unit for review. In the box, Motorola offers a 33W charger, transparent TPU hard case and a Type-A to Type-C USB cable for charging.

Motorola Razr 40 Ultra design

The Motorola Razr 40 Ultra has a rounded overall appearance which looks thin whether it’s folded (15.1mm) or open (6.99mm). I like that both halves of this foldable sit flat against one another with no gap between them. This also adds to its overall slim appearance when folded, compared to the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4, which is a lot thicker.

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The Motorola Razr 40 Ultra uses Gorilla Glass Victus for its front and rear panels

 

Motorola has also done a good job with the phone’s two rear-facing cameras which almost sit flush with the cover display’s glass surface. This cover display itself is something to behold, and like the rear panel it is also made of Gorilla Glass Victus. Firstly, Motorola has done a fantastic job of embedding the two cameras into it with near perfect cutouts around each camera and the separate LED flash. Secondly, there’s the 3D curved-edge glass screen which wraps around the top edges of the metal frame, giving the Razr 40 Ultra a very polished and premium appearance.

What’s interesting about this edge-to-edge cover display is that it also gives one half of the Motorola Razr 40 Ultra a customisable skin or finish, and all you need to do is change the wallpaper to change how it looks. Indeed, Motorola missed out on an LTPO panel on the front display as having a wallpaper constantly on (like on an iPhone 14 Pro), would have permanently changed the look of the top half of the device. While the display does support an always-on feature, it is only enabled  for a few seconds when you move the phone, before returning to its mirror-black appearance.

Motorola Razr 40 Ultra rear ndtv MotorolaRazr40Ultra  Motorola

The Motorola Razr 40 Ultra’s hinge does not open to 180-degrees

 

The Motorola Razr 40 Ultra’s rear panel has a matte finish which is very slippery. Thankfully, the frame and hinge have a glossy finish which makes this device a bit easier to grip. Most of the time, I just wasn’t confident enough to operate the phone with one hand simply because it was too slippery to hold. Opening it with one hand is a very risky manoeuvre, but it is possible to do it by first spacing out the top half from the bottom half and then flicking the top half out with a twisting gesture. It almost seems like this phone was meant to be operated this way, which brought back some long lost Razr V3 memories.

If you are okay with a bright colour, I would recommend going for the Viva Magenta finish as it gets a faux-leather textured back, which should make the phone easier to hold and operate.

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The Motorola Razr 40 Ultra’s fingerprint reader is embedded into its power button, on the right side

 

Motorola’s Razr 40 Ultra gets a IP52 rating which is one of the only foldables to offer dust protection, but water protection is rather basic. To recall, Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip 4 comes with an IPX8 rating, which is better when it comes to surviving splashes of water but has no protection against dust. Oppo’s Find N2 Flip on the other hand offers neither, officially anyway.

The new water-drop hinge used in the Motorola Razr 40 Ultra lessens the crease on the inner folding display, but it does not fold flat, so the phone always has this slightly concave appearance when open.

Motorola Razr 40 Ultra specifications and software

In terms of core specifications, the Motorola Razr 40 Ultra seems to be the obvious choice even when compared to the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4, which until now offered the best specifications for foldable devices in this segment. The Razr 40 Ultra comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 SoC which may seem a bit dated today, but still packs in enough power for gaming and daily app usage.

There’s 8GB of LPDDR5 RAM and 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage, with no room for expandable memory. The additional storage over the Galaxy Z Flip 4’s base model with 128GB of storage (which retails at the same price), does make the Razr more attractive in terms of storage space. Oppo also offers 256GB of storage at the same price point with its Find N2 Flip, but with a MediaTek Dimensity 9000+ processor.

Communication standards include Wi-Fi 6e, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC, and support for several 5G bands. The phone has a single physical nano-SIM card slot, but also offers a secondary e-SIM functionality. Both SIMs can be used in dual-standby mode. There’s a USB 2.0 Type-C port at the bottom. The phone is powered by a 3,800mAh battery which can be charged using the 30W charger that comes in the box.

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The Razr 40 Ultra’s Retro mode will remind users of the old Razr V3

 

We always liked Motorola’s approach to software, which has a near-stock Android appearance. With the Razr 40 Ultra, Motorola takes this experience to new heights with the addition of a second cover display.

The software is based on Android 13, and comes with a ton of customisation options which lets you choose from different built-in fonts, wallpapers and matching themes. Even the icons can be themed like on a Pixel smartphone. There’s minimal bloatware which mainly includes the Family Space, Moto, Moto Secure and the Moto Notifications apps.

Most foldables treat both inner and outer displays separately with customisations for the outer display usually hidden in the Settings app. Motorola does things differently and I like how I can change or customise the elements of the external display directly from that display itself, or from the inner display too. I also like how fluidly the outer display works, which is something both Samsung and Oppo’s current clamshell foldables fall short on.

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It’s also possible to play regular casual games on the cover display in fullscreen

 

This external display on the Motorola Razr 40 Ultra also reminds me of a Nintendo Gameboy Advance or a Playdate when playing games. Motorola has included a bunch of preinstalled mini games which are very addictive and entertaining, and have been designed to take advantage of the external display. It’s also possible to play regular casual games such as Subway Surfers on it without any problems.

Unlike any other vertical folding smartphone available in India, Motorola’s MyUX lets users view notifications and even run full apps on the external display. There are even per-app settings when transitioning from the external display to the internal one or vice versa, which is downright impressive and works beautifully with a majority of third-party apps that I used.

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Instagram running in full-screen mode (left) on the external display versus default view (right) which avoids the cameras

 

While the two floating cameras in the cover display do give the Razr 40 Ultra a futuristic look, they do get in the way of apps. To avoid this Motorola lets the user choose whether they want to view any app in fullscreen or the default view which cuts out the two cameras leaving behind a rectangular display (like on the previous Razr 2022) for apps. While this is still a minimal view, it is impressive as to how much work I could get done on it, because these are indeed full-blown apps running on the cover display.

However, there are restrictions when using note-taking apps like Evernote or the like, where you simply cannot select text from a note on the external display, because the keyboard pops up, blocking your view and selection.

Motorola Razr 40 Ultra performance

When it comes to benchmarks, the Motorola Razr 40 Ultra performs as expected for a Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1-powered device. The phone scored 9,76,130 points in AnTuTu and 1,826 and 4,703 points in Geekbench’s single and multi-core tests, respectively.

Gaming performance was surprisingly good for a foldable device. The phone does get warm after five minutes of playing Call of Duty: Mobile at ‘Very High’ graphics and framerates (with all settings enabled), but I did not notice any drop in performance while gaming.

The only app that really managed to heat up the device was the camera. Using the camera app for just five minutes was enough to get this device uncomfortably hot. What makes things worse is that once the device reaches this peak temperature, performance of the camera app takes a hit, with sluggish behaviour when capturing images and stutters in video recordings that would otherwise (under the right conditions), record smoothly.

The dual speaker setup sounded quite immersive, both when gaming and watching movies. I did find the left speaker slightly louder than the right one (when held horizontally).

The main display on the Motorola Razr 40 Ultra is a pOLED panel with a full-HD+ resolution and offers a 165Hz maximum refresh rate and a 360Hz touch sampling rate. The 22:9 aspect ratio main display measuring 6.9 inches diagonally and feels sufficiently broad (when held vertically) for viewing content and reading text. It is sufficiently bright outdoors but the colours seem a bit jarring at the default ‘Saturated’ colour setting. I preferred the ‘Natural’ setting as it was closer to accurate. The new hinge also makes the display crease barely noticeable.

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The Motorola Razr 40 Ultra’s main inner display is sharp and vibrant

 

One detail I did notice is that the display frequently drops to 1Hz which is good for battery life, but seemed to be capped at 120Hz most of the time. The only instance when you can force the display to 165Hz is in games, using Motorola’s Gametime tools. Motorola claims that the main display supports HDR content but this was only supported in the YouTube app as Netflix did not recognise the same.

In terms of durability, the Motorola Razr 40 Ultra’s folding display does not feel as tough as Samsung’s ultra-thin glass on the Galaxy Z Flip 4, but is still better than the Find N2 Flip which was quite delicate. In my two weeks of usage which also included plenty of gaming, I only managed to get one minor dent on the Razr 40 Ultra’s display, which was barely visible.

The external display has a 1:1 aspect ratio, measures 3.6 inches diagonally, and has an impressive resolution of 1,066 x 1,056 pixels with a crispy 413ppi that is the same as the internal display. It offers a 144Hz refresh rate which dynamically changes depending on the content being viewed. In my experience, it generally refreshes between 60Hz, 90Hz and 120Hz, and only touches 120Hz when playing high-end games like Call of Duty: Mobile. While the reflective nature of the outer display makes it slightly duller than the internal one, it still gets sufficiently bright outdoors.

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Call of Duty: Mobile works just fine on the cover display. Switching between both displays is also possible when gaming

 

Battery life is impressively good for a phone that is this slim. Given how useful the outer display is, I also ended up opening the phone less frequently. The Motorola Razr 40 Ultra lasted 18 hours and 27 minutes in our video loop test with the display’s refresh rate set to High. With casual use, the phone can easily last a whole day and a bit more. I often ended a day with around 25-30 percent left even after 45 minutes of intense gaming, which seemed to be the only major source of battery drain (after the camera) which did not seem optimised enough.

You also have to remember that this phone (with its adaptive battery optimisation) needs a break-in period of about three days before it can start delivering the above mentioned figures. The external display can also be a lifesaver in situations when you are low on battery as it takes up less power and you can get almost everything done on it.

Charging the device is also sufficiently fast with the phone managing a 50 percent charge in 30 minutes, and completing the charge in an hour and nine minutes. While wireless charging is available, the Motorola Razr 40 Ultra only charges up at 5W making the charging process quite slow compared to the Galaxy Z Flip 4’s 15W charging capability.

Motorola Razr 40 Ultra cameras

The Motorola Razr 40 Ultra has two rear-facing cameras embedded into its cover display. This includes a 12-megapixel primary camera with OIS and a 13-megapixel ultra-wide which has a 108-degree field of view (FOV) and can also capture macro photos. Selfies are handled by a 32-megapixel camera which is embedded into the inner folding display. Both the front and rear camera systems are capable of capturing video at 4K 60fps.

The dual displays enable a couple of tricks for the camera app. The rear cameras, when folded, can also be used for capturing selfies. These can be captured in a squarish 1:1 ratio or the usual 4:3 ratio as well. Next up, the cover display can also be used as a viewfinder, and lastly, the external display can also be propped up in tent mode to capture selfies or selfie videos, hands-free.

Motorola Razr 40 Ultra daylight camera samples (tap to see full size)

 

In daylight, images from the primary camera have good details, but with slightly limited dynamic range. This is visible in the shadows and when you point the camera towards the direction of the light. Still, the camera’s HDR system handles darker areas better than the brighter areas, which often get clipped in odd lighting situations. Overall, the images have a slightly contrasted look. Colours are also saturated, but some may prefer this. I also noticed minor purple fringing in brighter scenes.

Motorola Razr 40 Ultra low-light camera samples (tap to see full size)

 

In low light, photos look surprisingly good using Night mode. I preferred using it compared to the primary camera’s Auto mode as it delivered better dynamic range and managed to maintain sharpness despite longer exposure times. In street-lit scenes dynamic range is excellent, while finer details with grass and other foliage seems to be on the lower side. Colours too are quite good when compared to the Auto mode photos. However, dimly-lit scenes show visible noise in the darker areas.

Motorola Razr 40 Ultra ultra-wide-angle camera samples (tap to see full size)

 

The ultra-wide angle camera does a fine job of capturing photos in daylight. These appear sufficiently sharp and with good colours and dynamic range. In fact the ultra-wide camera is a lot more consistent when it comes to colours, shot-to-shot, compared to the primary camera. Lens barrel distortion is under control as well. Details are also quite good. However, in low light, details take a hit and the camera struggles to focus even in street-lit situations leading to softer or out-of-focus images at times. Tapping the screen to lock focus before shooting results in better images.

The ultra-wide-angle camera also doubles up as a macro camera. It captures some really impressive photos with good colour and dynamic range and gets you really close to the action.

Motorola Razr 40 Ultra selfie camera samples (tap to see full size)

 

Selfies come out looking sharp, clear and are well exposed with accurate edge-detection. However, the results are the exact opposite when shooting at night, with mostly flat textures that resemble an painting. I preferred using the primary camera for shooting selfies as the results were obviously better in all types of lighting conditions.

Shooting videos at 4K 30fps is the sweet spot with good details and stabilisation. However, the auto-exposure adjustment is a bit of a problem so it appears as though the video is flickering. Shooting at 4K 60fps made the videos appear a bit contrasted with less detail. The framerate was also not stable and kept fluctuating while shooting. The Razr 40 Ultra is also capable of recording HDR10+ video at 4K 30fps, but these aren’t stabilised and come out quite choppy among other problems.

Recording video in low light was not a good experience. 4K 30fps footage came out dark, contrasted and noisy. The stabilisation was not good either and there was also the same exposure-related problems I spotted when capturing daylight footage. 4K 60fps footage looked even darker and nosier, but showed a steadier framerate.

Verdict

Motorola has a real winner in its hands with the Razr 40 Ultra. It attempts to innovate in a market segment that is loaded with cutting-edge technology and manages to pull it off without any noticeable gimmicks. Its cover display is by far the best we have currently, although that could quickly change. The fluid display and software optimisation also makes this cover display one of the most practical user experiences of its segment. It has a capable set of cameras and also offers a macro mode. 

Of course, the Razr 40 Ultra is not without flaws. The heating issue when using the camera app is the primary one. But at Rs. 89,999, it is still hard to find a foldable which is oozing with so many features, and looks slick while pulling it all off. The new flagship Razr should appeal to a lot of premium Android users who are looking for something new and refreshing in a smartphone.


From the Nothing Phone 2 to the Motorola Razr 40 Ultra, several new smartphones are expected to make their debut in July. We discuss all of the most exciting smartphones coming this month and more on the latest episode of Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.
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