Motorola has a long and storied history in the mobile technology arena, from producing some of the earliest brick-like cell phones decades ago to rolling out the super-thin Razr phones in the early 2000s. Motorola was even one of the driving forces behind Android’s surge in popularity with the original Droid. Now, Motorola is a subsidiary of Lenovo, and it’s looking to recapture its glory days. Motorola VP of Global Product Dan Dery has confirmed that the company is indeed working on a folding phone, and it’s probably going to be a modern take on the Razr.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Dery says that Motorola is planning to release a foldable phone, and it’s not going to be coming to market later than its competitors. Samsung aims to launch the Galaxy Fold in April, so Moto’s phone can’t be that far from completion. We know that Moto and Lenovo have been toying with foldable display technology for a long time — it demoed a concept phone that morphed into a bracelet a few years back.
But what of the company’s first consumer foldable? Dery didn’t offer specifics, but he spoke at length on his feelings about foldable screen durability. He says Motorola has been testing foldable OLEDs with a plastic cover, which is necessary as foldable glass is currently nonexistent. Phones with plastic displays look nice enough on the first day, but Dery says they pick up scratches over time.
Motorola’s reported foldable phone approach might prevent at least some damage to the display. In a patent from last year (pictured at top), the company showed a device that looks like the original Razr clamshell phone. There’s a screen on the outside, but there’s no keypad when you open it. Instead, you get a large foldable OLED display that works like a conventional smartphone. This approach to the foldable phone doesn’t come with as many potential hiccups as Samsung’s or Huawei’s, both of which fold out into tablet-like devices. Android doesn’t have the best history with tablet support.
Dery also said the company was exploring a dual-folding “Z-hinge” concept, but that won’t be Moto’s first foldable. The idea here is to make the folded device a standard smartphone shape with an unfolded area about three times the size. The technology to make that viable doesn’t exist yet, but maybe the world is ready for some Razr clamshell nostalgia.
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