(Pocket-lint) - The foldable phone market took a giant leap this year when Samsung launched the Galaxy Z Flip 3. With this phone we finally had a flexible smartphone that didn’t really cost more than a normal flagship, had decent specs and a cute design. But how does it compare to the other folding flip phone from Motorola?
The RAZR 5G launched roughly a year ago, and uses the power of nostalgia to tempt those of us who remember the original RAZR from back in the day. So, should you give in to that nostalgia, or are you better off going with the Samsung?
- Flip 3: 166 x 72.2 x 6.9 mm (unfolded) - 86.4 x 72.2 x 17.1 mm (folded)
- RAZR: 169.2 x 72.6 x 7.9 mm (unfolded) - 91.7 x 72.6 x 16 mm (folded)
- Flip 3: 183 grams - IPX8 water resistance
- RAZR: 192 grams - Water-repellant coating
Both of these phones have a lot going for them in their design. Stripping it down to basics, the benefit is that they both allow you to fold a smartphone in half so that it’s easy to carry around in smaller spaces.
When it comes to looks, the RAZR goes after that iconic look of the original RAZR. And it does look really cool. The combination of the curves and angles gives it a completely different look to the straight-edged approach from Samsung. Those generous curves on the front and back also mean it feels nicer to hold as well.
When it’s shut, the RAZR top and bottom half sit completely flush with each other, which is very satisfying. But that does come with its problems. We found it harder to open one handed than the Samsung, which has a slight gap. Also, it means the display inside ends up being bent in a rounded fashion and that creates not one, but three creases. It has this almost ripple like effect, instead of the single crease in Samsung’s.
Plus, the hinge on the outside has exposed cog-like gears on the edges which not only makes it untidy, but gives dust and other grime a place to build up over time. Samsung’s is much neater.
The other advantage to Samsung’s hinge design is that - not only is it smoother and quieter - it holds itself upright, so you can use it stood up on your desk for things like taking selfies and video calls if you want to. Motorola’s doesn’t do that, and has developed a bit of a squeaky noise over time.
What’s more, with its IPX8 water resistance rating, the Flip 3 is more likely to survive being dropped in water than the water-repellant coated RAZR.
The other negative with Moto’s design is the chin. It looks cool, and yes it’s kind of iconic for RAZR, but it gets in the way quite a lot when using the phone.
One last thing: fingerprint sensors. Both have physical sensors, but again, Samsung seems more practical. We often found that we'd accidentally triggerthe Moto sensor on the back just by picking up the phone. Plus, it’s in quite an awkward position, and it’d often fail to read a finger multiple times and require a PIN input. Samsung’s is a bit easier to use, being on the side, and rarely - if ever - failed.
- Flip 3: 1.9-inch - 260 x 512 Super AMOLED
- RAZR: 2.70-inch - 600 x 800 AMOLED
Moving to talk about cover displays briefly, and it’s here where the RAZR has a bit of an edge. It has a much larger cover screen. And so when the phone is unlocked, it’s easier to do stuff with it.
You can add various apps like YouTube to it, so you can actually watch videos there if you’d like to. It also provides a large monitor for when you want to use it to frame your selfies. The only problem with it is that it acts like the main display, in that it’s almost useless if it’s locked. You can’t really do anything except check notifications with it unless you first unlock the phone.
Samsung’s might be smaller, but for the limited tasks it lets you do, it’s more convenient. You just double tap it to wake up and then swipe to your notifications, or quickly launch into your camera, or access widgets for weather, timer etc. All without needing to unlock your phone.
- Flip 3: 6.7-inch foldable - 1080 x 2640 AMOLED
- RAZR: 6.2-inch foldable - 876 x 2142 P-OLED
- Flip 3: 120Hz, HDR10+ and 1200nits peak
- RAZR: 60Hz
There are quite a lot of differences between Moto’s flippy phone and Samsung’s, but it’s arguably the display on the inside that makes the biggest difference to the user experience. Samsung’s has a lot going for it.
At 6.7-inches, it’s considerably larger than Moto’s 6.2-inch panel and because it pushes right up to the edges and has a uniform bezel all the way around it, it takes up nearly all of the available space. There’s no chin or unusual notch getting in the way at all. Despite that the phone when unfolded is still shorter than the Moto.
Looking at the two side-by-side, a few things become quite clear, but the overall feeling is that Samsung’s screen is better. Moto’s default saturated mode is - as the name suggests - saturated. Colours look dark and unnatural in this setting, whereas switching to boosted or natural just seem to make colours a bit too washed out, with contrast giving it a generally quite harsh appearance.
Samsung’s approach to colour balance is much more pleasant to look at, and also has the benefit of supporting HDR10+ with peak brightness up to 1200nits, so compatible content looks super. Although the longer aspect ratio screen does mean you’ll have to live with either a cropped in image, or one with hefty pillar boxes up the sides.
Performance and battery
- Flip 3: Snapdragon 888 - 8GB RAM - 128/256GB storage
- RAZR: Snapdragon 765 5G - 8GB RAM - 256GB storage
- Flip 3: 3300mAh battery - wireless charging
- RAZR: 2800mAh battery - no wireless charging
There’s probably very little surprising in the performance and battery comparison, because if you read the spec sheets you’ll know the 3300mAh battery in the Samsung is considerably larger than the 2800mAh battery in the Moto. Plus, the Flip 3’s Snapdragon 888 is the top tier processor currently, the Moto’s Snapdragon 765 isn’t.
That’s not to say the Motorola is slow or laggy. It isn’t. There’s just a clear difference in speed and responsive ness comparing it to the Samsung, which is quicker and zippier, and loads graphically intense games in less time. Part of that zippy feel is also down to the faster refresh rate display. At 120Hz you can definitely see a difference when scrolling through the interface on the screen.
It’s a similar story with battery. In standby mode, with the phones locked, the Moto drained much faster than the Samsung. It was also more of a challenge to get it to last until the end of the day even with moderate usage. Samsung’s isn’t the most long-lasting as it is when you start putting more screen time in, but at least with light usage we could almost always get to bed time without needing to plug it in. What’s more, it can also charge wirelessly. RAZR doesn’t.
- Flip 3: Dual 12MP wide and ultra-wide cameras
- RAZR: Single 64MP camera
As we move into cameras, we're sure you’ve sensed something of a trend by now; that Samsung has done the better of job of making this futuristic device most like actually having a great smartphone. It’s the same with cameras.
As is the current trend it features both a main and an ultrawide camera, both 12-megapixels. That immediately gives you an advantage over using the single camera on the Moto. That one is a 64 megapixel sensor. Like most with high pixel counts, it binds that down to 12-megapixel images, so the sharpness and size of the photo is the same as Samsung's. At least, technically speaking.
Real results are quite different. It’s probably no surprise that Samsung’s takes the better photos overall. It seems to make images that look sharper, with more natural colours and depth of field than the Moto and produces better results in low light conditions. We often found the Moto would oversaturate things, and need very little encouragement to produce lens flare.
- Flip 3: From £949 RRP
- RAZR: Around £1300 RRP
- RAZR: Older model now available for much cheaper where you can find it
The Galaxy Z Flip 3's price point is one of its biggest strengths. Not only was it equipped with flagship phone capabilities, it was the first flexible smartphone to bring the price down below the £1000 barrier. That made it about the same price as a regular flagship phone.
RAZR launched at around £1300-£1500, although if you're looking for a good deal you can find them for a lot cheaper in the US.
In the end, the main sense we get having used these two phones is that if you want the best all-round experience, the phone that’s actually really practical to use every day - with decent cameras, flagship level performance and a price tag that won’t make your eyes water - then the Z Flip 3 is the one to go for. It’s better at basically everything than the Moto, and charges you less for it.
But.. if all you really want is a flip phone that looks like a proper flip phone, one that tickles your nostalgia bone, the RAZR is that phone. If you can find one that is. In some markets it's incredibly difficult to get hold of, especially in the UK. In the US, however, it's a different story. There you can pick them up from carriers, and it might not even cost you that much.