(Pocket-lint) - The folding phone market is well and truly alive, seeing the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Fold in 2019, followed by the freshly invigorated Moto Razr, which will go head-to-head with Samsung's second folding phone, the Galaxy Z Flip.
So which folding phone is best?
- Razr: 172 x 72 x 6.9mm (open); 94 x 72 x 14mm (closed), 205g
- Z Flip: 73.6 x 167.3 x 7.2mm (open); 73.6 x 87.4 x 17.3mm (closed), 183g
The Moto Razr and the Galaxy Z Flip both hinge around the same design, that's a clamshell, with a horizontal folding display. Both have articulated hinges, the big difference being that the Moto Razr carries some retro design elements from the 2004 Razr it apes.
That includes the classic Razr chin, which gives some form to the phone, while the Samsung is a lot more symmetrical, with the two sections effectively the same size. The Razr, on the other hand, has a smaller top section.
The Razr has a stainless steel frame, while the bottom section on the rear gets a textured finish and the top houses the second display so has a glass finish. That's pretty different to the Samsung phone, which is said to have Gorilla Glass 6 on the rear of both sections.
There will be some differences in the hinge too. We've seen the Razr a couple of times and on close inspection you can see how the supporting central section of the open phone drops down, while the pOLED (plastic OLED) screen doesn't fold, per se, instead expanding into the hinge to allow a slightly softer arc - while letting the frame seamlessly fit together.
As we say in our initial review of the Z Flip, the hinge has a really satisfying action and is quite similar to the Razr. The spine neatly folds away when the phone is opened. The outside of the Z Flip has a glossy glass finish (it was rumoured to have Gorilla Glass on the outside but that's unconfirmed) and is a bit of a fingerprint magnet.
Overall, Samsung's phone is a little shorter and lighter, despite having a larger display.
- Razr: 6.2-inch, 2,142 x 876, 21:9, pOLED, 373ppi; 2.7-inch 600 x 800, 4:3
- Z Flip: 6.7-inch, 2,636 x 1,080, 21.9:9, AMOLED, 425ppi; 1.1-inch 300 x 112
The Razr's Flex View display goes up against Samsung's Infinity Flex. While Motorola has used a plastic surface, Samsung is using ultra-thin glass (UTG) as a coating for protection. That probably means the Z Flip is a little better protected.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip also has a crease in the display, which Samsung says is a "natural characteristic" - while there's also a centred in-display camera cutout at the top - the Moto, on the other hand, has a notch.
Samsung also has the advantage in size. Despite the dimensions of these phones being close, not having a chin on the phone (as dictated by the Razr's design) means it can sport a display that's 0.5-inch larger.
Samsung is also pushing a greater resolution, having ensured that its display is full HD+. If you look at the pixel densities, Motorola is at 373ppi, while Samsung is at 425ppi. Basically, Samsung's display is going to be technically better. The Z Flip is Samsung’s first-ever 21.9:9 ratio phone, too.
Of course, there's a lot more to the display than just the specs, but Samsung also has a long history of delivering great displays.
When it comes to the second display, the Razr is a much more usable size. There's actually some substance to it, whereas Samsung's external display is more like a notification window, even though you can use it to see what a selfie would look like. The Razr therefore offers a better closed-phone experience.
- Razr: Qualcomm Snapdragon 710, 6GB RAM, 128GB storage, 2,150mAh
- Z Flip: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+, 8GB RAM, 256GB storage, 3,300mAh
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip is said to come with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+ with 8GB of RAM - that's essentially a flagship 2019 phone load-out.
This is paired with 256GB of storage, but with a 3,300mAh battery, there's every chance that Samsung's phone might last longer than the Razr with its 2,150mAh battery. We look forward to testing the Galaxy Z Flip out for this.
Despite seeing the Moto, that's one thing we've really not had the chance to test - battery life, but several reports have pinned it as rather poor. Both phones support 15W fast charging.
The Razr comes in with surprisingly mid-range specs. The Snapdragon 710 with 6GB RAM isn't bad hardware, it's plenty powerful, but it does set it at a disadvantage compared to the more powerful Samsung - especially as these two phones are rumoured to be within the same sort of price bracket.
Both of these phones support eSIM - while the Moto uses it as a primary SIM, the Galaxy Z Flip uses it as a second SIM.
- Razr: Rear - 16MP, f/1.7, 1.22µm; front - 5MP, f/2.0, 1.12µm
- Z Flip: Rear -12MP, f/1.8 + 12MP, f/2.2; front - 10MP, f/2.4
The Razr gets a 16-megapixel main camera and it's just a single unit, mounted on the "lid" of the phone. You can flip the phone open to use it as the main camera, or use the second display to use it for selfies.
The internal camera on the Razr is 5-megapixels, sitting in that notch at the top of the display.
The Z Flip has a pair of cameras on the rear of the phone, the 12MP lens offering a wide-angle, which we always enjoy. What's not clear is if these are last year's cameras, or the newer sensor reportedly going into the Galaxy S20 - we suspect it's an older sensor.
Certainly, it looks like Samsung is going to offer more options with its camera, but we do like that Motorola went with a simpler approach and there's beauty in the symmetry that comes from that single rear camera.
Samsung wins on the front camera though, as we much prefer the punch hole front camera to the notch of the Razr - and it obviously beats it on the megapixel count too.
Price and availability
- Motorola Razr: Available from 4/19 February, $1,499.99/UK on EE contract
- Samsung Galaxy Z Flip: Available 14 February, $1,380/£1,300
When it comes to pricing, things are a little obscure. In the US, Verizon has the Moto Razr on pre-order for $1499.99; in the UK you can't buy it outright, you can only get it from EE - and that's on a 2-year contract from £94 a month - so it's expensive.
While it's currently on pre-order, it will be available from 4 February in the US, 19 February in the UK.
Samsung announced the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip on 11 February, alongside the Galaxy S20 family of devices. The Galaxy Z Flip will be available from 14 February - quite the Valentine's gift.
We've had the US price confirmed at $1,380 - that's not exactly cheap, but it's in the same sort of ballpark as Motorola's folding phone, the Razr.
In the UK, it will be priced at £1,300, as revealed by Currys PC World and Carphone Warehouse. Alternatively, you will be able to buy it as part of a plan from the latter, for £79.99 upfront and on a plan worth £75 per month with unlimited data
That we have two folding phones appearing within the same sort of timeframe is exciting. Certainly, the Moto Razr has won a lot of fans thanks to its appearance and we have to admit that having played with the phone on a couple of occasions, the nostalgia value around this form and design is huge - it's really desirable.
The Samsung Z Flip might not look quite as good, and the external display might be too small to be of any practical use compared to the Razr. But the hardware load-out is more appealing - in most aspects of the Z Flip's specs, Samsung has the edge.
And, as the Samsung is cheaper than the Moto Razr, it's going to represent better value for money. The Moto Razr really has to sell itself on its design and unfortunately, with Samsung coming to market so close to the Motorola, it might be that little bit harder to sell the Razr.