Friday, February 7, 2020

Motorola Razr fold test shows it could fail in less than 12 months of regular use

Motorola’s new Razr stopped being able to fully fold after just over 27,000 folds and around three-and-a-half hours in CNET’s “FoldBot” folding machine. Problems were discovered after the team took the phone out of the machine to check it for the third time, after which they realized it was struggling to fold. When they finally did manage to close it, the hinge appeared to have fallen out of alignment. However, despite the folding problems, the phone’s screen was still fully functional.

If we make the assumption that a person checks their phone between 80 and 150 times a day, then this particular Razr would have failed after between six and 12 months of use. Motorola hasn’t said how many folds it expects the Razr to be able to survive, but noted that it should survive two years. It also offers a one-year warranty for “defects incurred during normal use.”

There are a few caveats about CNET’s test that are worth mentioning. First is that the “FoldBot” machine they used was having problems with the phone for a while before they officially ended the experiment. From the stream, it appeared to only be partially closing the phone at some points, which may have been a sign that the hinge was already having problems prior to the 27,000 fold mark. CNET host Chris Parker also noted that the machine may have not been properly calibrated to fold the Razr, as the company setting it up didn’t have a phone to test it with.

This is the second folding torture test that CNET has performed on a foldable, after it put the Galaxy Fold through its paces in October last year. That time, Samsung’s phone survived around 120,000 folds before its screen broke. That’s a lot longer than the Razr, although it still fell short of the 200,000 folds promised by Samsung.

CNET only tested a single device, making its result far from conclusive. But others have also raised issues with the Razr build quality. Multiple reviewers have been posting videos of the way Motorola’s handset creaks and groans as it folds, and a video from BBC News showed how it’s possible to lift the plastic screen off the handset, which could have implications for dust and dirt getting into the device.

Either way, it’s not a good look for a premium $1,499 device, and suggests that manufacturers still have a long way to go to before foldables can become anything other than an early-adopter curiosity.

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