Late on Wednesday, Motorola officially announced its new Razr foldable smartphone. The company hopes its flexible display phone will compete with the Samsung Galaxy Fold. It also believes that it’s time to bring back its Razr brand with its new handset. And that’s not surprising — the original Motorola Razr V3 mobile phone was a massive hit in the pre-smartphone era.
Launched in 2004, the Razr V3 had some big differences over other mobile phones of that era. One was that it had a relatively thin profile for its time. It was also made of aluminum, with a color 2.2-inch screen covered in glass. Even the keyboard on this phone looked very cool. Indeed, the design resembled something out of a sci-fi movie from that decade. Its stylized flat buttons, combined with its electroluminescent light, made it look like an upgraded Star Trek communicator. Part of the reason for the slim design was that some parts of the phone, including the antenna, were placed in its thicker “chin”. That part of the phone was solid, which allowed its flip screen to be thinner.
Originally, the Motorola Razr V3 was on the expensive side, at least for phones of that time. It originally cost $500 in that era. However, Motorola wasn’t marketing the Razr V3 to the normal consumer. Instead, it promoted its use to the fashionistas of that decade. In 2005, a version of the phone was even put into gift bags for some attendees of that year’s Academy Awards.
The iTunes connection
While the Razer V3 started out as an expensive phone, Motorola started lowering the price of the handset soon after its launch. In late 2005, a new variant of the phone, the Razr V3i, was launched. It had a number of feature improvements, including a better display and camera. Most notably, it supported Apple’s iTunes. Users could download as many as 100 songs from their iTunes account to the phone. This feature was included nearly two years before Apple launched the first iPhone.
In all, the combined versions of the Razr V3 sold 130 million units, making it the best selling mobile phone with a clamshell design.
The end for the Razr V3, and its (possible) comeback
In 2007, soon after the introduction of the iPhone, Motorola launched the next generation Razr phone, the Razr 2. It had many improvements over the original Razr, but it launched at a time when the iPhone was taking the lead in mobile phone design and sales. Not even a cool TV commercial for the phone, which showed two people engaging in a fight using the Razr 2 as a weapon, could keep it from being a sales disappointment.
In 2011, Motorola tried to revive the Razr brand again, this time as part of its Droid smartphone lineup. The Droid Razr was not a sleek-looking flip phone. However, it was a thin (for its time) Android smartphone that still had a thicker “chin” at the bottom. It came with some solid features, including a 4.3-inch display and Kevlar material on the back. It still wasn’t enough for the new Razr. Neither it nor its successors like the Droid Razr HD could compete with more popular smartphones like the iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy S series.
Now, Motorola is bringing the Razr back again. This model brings back the classic clamshell flip phone design combined with a full Android smartphone and a flexible display. It looks very much like the original Razr V3. Like the original, the new Razr will be pretty pricey when it launches in early 2020. It will cost about $1,500.
Motorola clearly hopes this retro design will appeal to many people that are looking for something different in their next smartphone. Will the new Android-based Razr be enough to bring back all those millions of consumers who bought the Razr V3 in the mid-2000s? Only time will tell.