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Can you use the Razr Plus fully closed? I tried for a day, here's how it went

It might be the best 3.5-inch phone that nobody asked for.
By

Published onJune 22, 2023

There’s no getting around the defining feature of the Motorola Razr Plus — its sizable cover screen. Right now, Motorola’s 3.5-inch panel dwarfs all other foldable clamshells on the market, covering almost the entire top half of the device. Not only is it larger, but it’s more capable, too, allowing you to launch full-featured Android apps without ever opening your phone. It sounds like a great idea, but how well does it work in practice? I challenged myself to use the Motorola Razr Plus for a full day without ever unfolding it. Here’s how it went.

Who needs widgets?

motorola razr plus app drawer
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Motorola saw what Coverscreen OS was doing and decided to join the fun. However, instead of trying to cram apps into a tiny external display, Motorola took advantage of its extra real estate. The ability to open full-featured apps on the cover screen has completely changed how I use the clamshell-style foldable — and how much I use it.

Full-featured cover apps has completely changed how I use the clamshell-style foldable

With previous clamshell designs, the external display was so small that I’d do little more than look at the context of a message, but with the Razr Plus, I can read a message and open a full QWERTY keyboard to craft my response. You can’t always see the message you’re responding to, given the size of the keyboard, but it’s easy enough to minimize the keyboard any time you need to check back for context.

Of course, the real fun of the Motorola Razr Plus cover screen isn’t that you can respond to texts and emails — it’s that you can open any other app. Motorola explained to us that its display is large enough that developers don’t have to optimize apps, thus opening Pandora’s box of potential. As you can see in the image above, I’ve added Instagram, Google Maps, and a few others to my external display app drawer, but it’s all about experimenting to find what works and what doesn’t.

One somewhat unexpected use that took the tech reviewer community by storm is Motorola’s selection of games. Remember firing up classics like Snake on your original Motorola Razr? Well, it lives on — at least, kind of. The popular title is Stack Bounce, where you try to break a stack of colorful platforms as if you were Bruce Lee crossed with PacMan. Tim Schofield is the current king of the stack, with a score that I’ll probably never match — but it’s still a good way to pass the time.

Sure, some Razr Plus cover screen features still work best as widgets, like the ability to check the weather. However, the extra real estate means that the widget experience goes far deeper than on rivals like the Galaxy Z Flip 4. I can check on the hourly and daily forecasts at the same time, rather than choosing one over the other — all without ever opening my phone.

Still a battery cheat code

motorola razr plus spotify
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

One of the other reasons I find myself drawn to the Razr Plus’s cover display is that it takes far less power to keep a 3.5-inch display lit than a 6.9-inch one. That means I can sip power from the 3,800mAh battery rather than chug through it. Conserving that battery life remains an important — and tricky — task, as the Razr Plus needs a charge almost every day. I’ve also noticed that the Razr Plus seems to run a bit warmer than other Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 devices, offering even more incentive to stay on the cover screen.

It’s not like staying on the cover screen means accepting an underpowered experience, either. In fact, both the Motorola Razr Plus’s internal and external displays are excellent. You probably don’t need a 144Hz refresh rate on a 3.5-inch panel, but you have it anyway. It’s tough to go wrong, no matter where you open an app. However, when it comes to tackling simple tasks, the choice feels like whether you want to use a comfortable setting on your flashlight or if you prefer retina-searing brightness. Both will get the job done, but one can keep the lights on much longer.

Both displays are up to the task, but the Razr Plus's cover screen stretches a small battery much further.

Unfortunately, Motorola doesn’t track the external display screen-on time, so I can’t offer you a breakdown of exactly how much more juice you can squeeze from the cover. You can, however, add up the time each of your apps spends running, but you’ll have to keep in mind that the number might not be perfect if you’re using both the internal and external displays.

A few wrinkles to iron out

motorola razr plus cameras
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

As it turns out, it’s not all that hard to rely on the Motorola Razr Plus cover screen for most tasks. I preferred using the 3.5-inch OLED panel to respond to text messages and check emails throughout my day. It’s even helpful if you need to pull up a QR code to get on a train or into a concert — both of which I had the chance to do. However, the Razr Plus still has a few quirks to work out.

For example, while you can use any app installed on your Motorola Razr Plus on the cover screen, you have to give each app permission to display manually. If you want to pull up a boarding pass but haven’t added United Airlines (or whatever other app) to your cover display app drawer, you’ll have to open your phone to access the app. From there, you can close the Razr Plus and tap the Continue prompt or add it to your app drawer, but it’s an extra hoop to jump through.

Apps don't have to be optimized for the cover screen, which results in some... quirky layouts.

Some apps also display better than others, requiring you to press and hold the gestures pill or the recent apps square to toggle between the full-screen and box formats. If you’re using Google Maps, for example, it seems to work best to find directions while only using the smaller portion of the Razr Plus display, but then I prefer the full-screen experience when looking at the map. It can be a tricky adjustment to get used to, but swapping back and forth takes no time at all.

Another slight hiccup is that you can only display six of Motorola’s nine premade tiles at any one time. If you stick with Spotify, the app drawer, and the weather widget right out of the gate, that leaves you with just three more tiles to customize. It feels like Motorola could have arranged its tiles in multiple lines on the display rather than leaving so much empty space, as seen above.

At the end of the day, however, none of these quirks is enough to make me give up on the Motorola Razr Plus. It’s a joy to use both the cover screen and the internal display without feeling like either panel makes major sacrifices. I was already a firm believer in the clamshell form factor, and it feels like the small foldables are finally coming into their own.

What do you think? Would you use the Motorola Razr Plus fully closed for a day? Let us know in the poll below, and pick up your own Razr Plus using the widget.

Would you use the Motorola Razr Plus fully closed for a day?

249 votes
Motorola Razr Plus (2023)Motorola Razr Plus (2023)
AA Recommended
Motorola Razr Plus (2023)
Huge cover screen • Quick 30W wired charging • Dust resistance
MSRP: $999.99
The sharpest Razr to date.
Lightweight, ultra-sleek, and infinitely flexible, the Motorola Razr Plus (2023) flips open to reveal a gorgeous display that looks seamless, feels smooth, and shines bright. Also featuring the largest cover screen on a foldable phone of this form factor, the Razr Plus is offering serious competition to its foldable rivals.