Motorola Razr phone propped up

24 hours with the Motorola Razr+: Pushing it to the limit

There’s a lot of hype surrounding the Motorola Razr+ — a lot like when the first version of the phone came out way back in 2004. 

The Razr+ is a sort of unusual smartphone in that it features a flip phone design that harkens back to the early days of cellular technology. The flip phone design means it’s got two screens: a smaller external one that you can use while the phone is closed and the bigger internal one to use when it’s flipped open.

It’s a nostalgic device that combines the modern need for speed with the classic design trends of the early aughts. With all the wistful Y2K inspiration in today’s media, it’s no surprise that a smartphone developer like Motorola would try their hand at something that calls back to simpler days, when flip phones reigned supreme. 

It’s not quite the same as flip phones of old, but it gets the job done. (via GIPHY)

If you’ve been following the hype around it, you’ve also likely heard Motorola’s claims that the Razr+ has the largest external display on any flip phone ever. That seems to be the main selling point for this phone, but at US Mobile, we haven’t really seen anybody push it to its limits and test out its other features. 

So, I decided to put it to the test. For 24 hours, I would only use the Motorola Razr+’s external screen, to see if it could meet all of my personal and professional needs. There was just one rule: no unfolding the phone to use the bigger internal screen.

Watch the video below or read on to see how it fared in the challenge.

Preparing for the challenge

After getting my hands on the Razr+, I quickly noticed that the external home screen doesn’t mirror the one inside, so I had plenty of freedom to personalize it separately.

And that I did.

I spent a few minutes testing out the phone’s different widgets and playing around with the various clockfaces before settling on a custom home screen design that I thought would suit my needs best. I installed my US Mobile SIM card before embarking on my 24-hour challenge.

The challenge begins

At 2:00 p.m. sharp, the challenge began. 

Now, as I mentioned earlier, there was only one rule to this challenge: I could only allow myself to use the phone’s external screen display. No unfolding it to make use of the large internal screen. And it was pretty hard not to break that one rule.

The Struggles

Despite the satisfyingly compact nature of the phone, the challenge started out with a handful of difficulties. It was difficult to adjust to the unusually large chin bezel, which also houses the phone’s two cameras at the bottom. Typing on the external screen took some getting used to, — eventually, my fingers got the hang of it, but it was definitely an awkward experience to begin with. The default font size of the phone was also a bit challenging for me to read, but I tried to make due for as long as I could.

Perhaps the biggest hurdle to overcome early on was the inability to access the Settings app from the external screen. I noticed this about an hour into the challenge, when I tried to connect my Bluetooth headphones to the device to listen to some music.

Knowing I wouldn’t be able to make it very far into the challenge without my music, I decided to open up the flip phone — thereby breaking the challenge’s only rule one hour into things — to access the Settings app and connect the device to my headphones. And while I was there, I figured I might as well go ahead and adjust the font size to make it a bit easier on my eyes.

Making Strides

After getting over these initial roadblocks, the phone really wasn’t too shabby at all. Watching YouTube videos on the compact screen offered a surprisingly engaging experience. The smaller size of the phone’s external screen made it easy to multitask between the digital world and real life seamlessly — it was rather pleasant being able to prop the phone up at a comfortable viewing angle while doing other tasks, like pouring a cup of coffee or doing my morning yoga routine.

The compact nature of the Razr+ was super satisfying, sort of like a high-tech passport (another colleague in the office commented that it felt like holding a Nintendo Game Boy Advance SP). The external screen is small — about half the size of the one on the inside — but not too small.

While some might say bigger is better, I felt that the smaller screen made me feel less tempted to doom-scroll throughout the day. That, in turn, left me more grounded and focused on my day-to-day life. To put it simply, it was a nice breath of fresh air after being immersed in our chronically online culture for so long.

For gaming enthusiasts, the Razr+ offers a mixed bag of experiences. Simple games with bold graphics, like Sonic the Hedgehog, felt natural and enjoyable. Even Pokémon GO worked pretty well, despite the tiny text. And the phone also comes preloaded with a handful of fun minigames that call back to the flip phone minigames that were common on the flip phones of the early to mid-2000s. They’re a fun and cheeky touch — it’s clear that the folks at Motorola are really leaning into the flip phone nostalgia here.

More hardcore gamers will probably not be satisfied with the external screen on its own, however. Games that require extensive reading or intricate gestures might not be the best fit for the small external screen (for those, you’ll want to flip the phone open and use that gargantuan internal screen). Nevertheless, the Razr+ excels in running all apps at full speed, and with some experimentation, you ought to be able to find some quick gaming options for when you’re on the go.

Reflecting on the challenge

Can you get by with the Motorola Razr+’s external screen alone? Not really.

By the time I wrapped up my 24-hour challenge with the Motorola Razr+, it was pretty clear the external screen alone was simply not practical for all tasks. If you need to access the phone’s Settings or do more intensive reading on the phone, you’re going to have no choice but to flip it open and use the bigger internal screen. 

But I suppose that’s sort of the phone’s entire purpose — it’s designed to be flipped open and snapped shut. Sure, you can probably get by with just the external screen, but if you limit yourself to accessing just one of the two screens provided to you, you won’t get a chance to experience all that the phone has to offer.

And that’s ultimately what I enjoyed most about the Motorola Razr+ — the flexibility that it offers. I really value the level of personalization and choice that the phone brings to the table. For that reason, I believe it’s a worthwhile purchase for anybody who’s looking to upgrade to a brand new device in the Android ecosystem.