New Moto Razr hinge dies after 27,000 folds

FoldBot holding 2019 Razr stress test. (Photo: CNET)

During a CNET test, the 2019 Motorola Razr stopped folding after 27,000 folds.

After only being released recently in the US, CNET’s torture tests raise questions about the 2019 Motorola Razr’s durability.

CNET recently conducted a folding torture test on the 2019 Motorola Razr phone. The CNET team used a FoldBot machine to simulate multiple folding cycles. The result? Motorola’s device stopped folding correctly after about 27,000 folds. The hinge creaked loudly and became stiff. CNET was hoping for at least 100,000 folds.

It’s interesting to note CNET used the same FoldBot to put the revised Galaxy Fold under a similar test. That phone held up to about 120,000 folds before giving up the ghost. Motorola’s nostalgia packed 2019 Razr achieved less than a quarter of Samsung’s results.

The 2019 Razr phone. (Photo: Motorola)

There is considerable worry about foldable phones in general. The technology is exciting and brings new form factors to the market. But, I think consumers would much prefer traditional devices that work rather than new tech that can’t handle the pressure.

Unlike larger folding devices, folding phones must perform thousands of folding cycles using smaller parts. The new devices from Samsung, Motorola and Huawei also have folding OLED displays that must bend along with complex hinge mechanisms. However, unlike Huawei or Samsung’s offerings, the Motorola mimics the old V3 Razr from 2004. It closes vertically instead of the horizontal folding on the other devices. The screen on the 2019 Razr lifts around the hinge when closing, revealing a huge gap that you can see right through. These are growing pains as foldable phones are new. Folding tech will get better as they mature.

The Galaxy Fold stood up to 120,000 folds. (Photo: Samsung)

Samsung’s Galaxy Fold debuted with a myriad of physical flaws, forcing a mini-recall of review units and a subsequent re-release. And now it seems Motorola’s Razr phone is more form over function.

Back in 2016, Apple claimed users unlocked their iPhones about 80 times per day. Statista’s 2018 study largely coincides with this figure. It suggests some users unlock their phones about 79 times per day. If you do the math (79×365), that’s 28,835 unlocks a year. That’s above CNET’s testing figures. That seems to suggest that the hinge mechanism on the  2019 Razr wouldn’t last a full year. That, of course, is a premature conclusion to a simulated torture test. Users could use the Razr’s second screen to check notifications and the time.

The Motorola Razr has flexible OLED screen that lifts when closing. (Photo: BBC)

Despite the apparent failure, it’s important to note that sticking a device into a folding robot and subjecting it to repetitive, arduous, folds doesn’t capture real-world use. And it’s NOT indicative of the overall durability of Motorola’s new Razr. The FoldBot was pretty aggressive at times, rapidly opening and closing the device. No one would subject their new, stylish phone to such exaggerated, hours-long bends.

Only real-world use will prove how sturdy the 2019 Razr is, and if the gorgeous flexible display can stand the test of time. I hope so, for Motorola’s sake. The new Verizon exclusive costs US$1,500.