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Moto Razr two-for-one deal leaves us with questions, plus more tech news today

You want a Razr for $1500? No? How about two? Motorola can explain. Plus 10 more things in tech you need to know today!

Published onMay 4, 2020

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip vs Motorola Razr half folded open

Your tech news digest, by way of the DGiT Daily tech newsletter, for Monday, May 4. Yes! May the fourth!  (DGiT Daily was published that iconic crawling text as an optional read!)

1. Surprise BOGO: Motorola goes Razr crazy

Today, if you’re Stateside, you’ll wake up to a no-strings surprise deal from Motorola for one of its premium smartphones of 2020: A buy one $1,500 Motorola Razr, get another one free deal.

  • Reminder: it’s the new flip-phone from Motorola that debuted earlier this year.
  • It’s a direct offer from buy one get one free, no credit or delayed payback, and so on.
  • Still Verizon-only. And US-only.
  • I haven’t seen this $1,499 BOGO deal in any other countries aside from the US, and I checked widely.

I’m not sharing this because I think everyone should rush out and get one. Or two, as it were.  The Moto Razr did not review well. The rival Galaxy Z Flip did, and the $1,380 Samsung is asking for its flip-phone did not seem as ridiculous given the specs, build-quality, and performance, both relatively and absolutely.

What matters is that this is not a good sign.

  • The Razr is and was an outlier. Motorola probably didn’t pencil in super high sales given the price-point: $1,500 is rich gravy even for gadget guys that want to show off something cool that no-one else has.
  • But maybe really no-one else does have a Razr.
  • That’s seemingly forced Motorola to go 50% off Razrs within three months of it going on sale.
  • Of course that reflects on the Razr badly. It’s noteworthy.
  • More importantly, it’s yet another viewpoint into poor smartphone sales hitting the industry.
  • Sales estimates of the Samsung Galaxy S20 – not official, just estimates – are super low.
  • Even Apple reported lower iPhone sales versus the same period last year, recording a drop of $2.1 billion in revenue. (A crazy number, except in the world of Apple.)
  • A new Canalys report suggests that smartphone sales are down 13% globally.
  • Which isn’t a surprise: economic downturn, mass job losses, and uncertainty all mean holding on to your old phone for longer, or buying something that does the job rather than all the bells and whistles makes sense.
  • How this impacts the industry more widely is the big question. Will companies retreat from this new $1000 line in the sand that had been broken? Will we see stagnation as innovations are held for when the market picks up again?
  • There is one interesting narrative though. For a long period, people have been increasingly searching best rather than cheap. Although Google data is influenced by loads of deeper factors, Benedict Evans makes a point on Twitter worth thinking about:
  • Have a look at that search here on Google Trends, and try your country, and as others have done, add the term free for further comparisons. Fun!

2. Pixel 4a: It’s Google’s time to shine. “The universe is conspiring in helping Google achieve success.” (Android Authority).

3. Not all 120Hz smartphone displays are made equally. This excellent deeper dive touches on why higher-refresh rate screens do not automatically mean better quality displays, at all. There’s also a good look at why dedicated display processors, found in flagship chips, are an important part of a higher-fresh rate smartphone display. In short, mid-range phones with 120Hz screens don’t sound too great (Android Authority).

4. Best gaming routers: Say goodbye to Wi-Fi lag (Android Authority).

5. Video: Tim Cook delivers virtual commencement address to Ohio State graduates. Putting every Apple product line in the video shot is classic curation, but worth a listen if you’re after some inspiration (YouTube).

6. MacBook Pro 2020 leak reveals key specs: Intel Ice Lake CPU, possible shift from 13-inch to 14-inch (Tom’s Guide).

7. Reports: Intel to buy urban transit startup Moovit for $1B to boost its autonomous car division (TechCrunch).

8. Uber will require drivers and riders to wear face masks in the US, and may roll out tech to ensure drivers are wearing masks as well (Gizmodo).

9. LockBit, the new ransomware for hire: You’ve probably never heard of LockBit, but that’s likely to change (Ars Technica).

10. The man feeding a remote Alaska town with a Costco card and a ship (The Hustle – plus fun discussion on HN too: “Rural Croatia too, except it’s a truck that comes to all of the villages 3x/week with staple items. Plays ridiculously stereotypical Croatian music through a loudspeaker to announce arrival.”).

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