Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 vs Motorola Razr 5G: battle of the clamshell foldable phones

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It looks like Samsung has finally cracked the foldable phone market, with the Galaxy Z Flip 3 being, in the words of our reviewer, the first “clamshell foldable for the mainstream.”

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But it’s not the only clamshell foldable in town. Motorola went with a similar compact foldable concept for its 2020 Razr Revamp – with mixed results, of course.

So how does the Motorola Razr 2020 stack up to its young upstart rival? That’s what we are here to reveal.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 vs Motorola Razr 2020 Price and Availability

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The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 went on sale on August 27, 2021. The 128GB model costs $999 / £949 / AU$1,499, while the 256GB model will cost you less than $1,049 / £999 / AU$1,599.

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Motorola Razr 2020 was rolled out in September and October 2020, almost a year before the Galaxy Z Flip 3. It was priced at $1,399 / £1,399 (about AU$1,900) at launch, but we’ve seen it for around $1,000 / £850. Late on Amazon.

This means we’re looking at two similarly priced foldable flip phones – which, frankly, doesn’t do either of these devices any favors.

design

Both of these phones adopt the same basic design: a clamshell smartphone that’s a compact square when closed, and a long, thin rectangle when open.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 is a subtle but welcome refinement of the last two generations. The main difference here is a refined aesthetic, but also some under-the-skin reinforcements.

We especially like the new ‘Glassstick’ back and glass camera module surround, which give the phone a more distinctive and cohesive style.

However, we don’t like how high the power button sits on the right edge, especially since it houses a fingerprint sensor. Motorola wins here with its rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, which is very easy to access.

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Both devices are smaller, but the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is more pocketable. Even hoisted it measures a mere 166 x 72.2 x 6.9mm, and weighs in at a modest 183 grams. While slim, the Motorola Razr feels a bit chunky at 169.2 x 72.6 x 7.9mm and measures 192 grams.

Samsung has worked its hinge mechanism to the point where it feels secure enough, and will happily open at multiple angles. By comparison, Motorola’s handset will actually only lock in the fully closed or fully open position, and it feels a bit awkward in operation.

Plus, it lacks Razer’s chunky chin, which feels a bit cheaper and less premium, despite its aluminum frame and twin-glass surfaces.

Display

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

These two phones each have a pair of displays – a larger one on the inside, and a smaller one on half of the outer surface.

We’ll give Samsung a win for the main fold-out display, and Motorola a win for the external secondary display.

The main screen of Samsung is a 6.7-inch AMOLED display with 1080 x 2640 resolution. Motorola’s 6.2-inch P-OLED is noticeably smaller, and at 876 x 2142 it’s even less sharp.

The Galaxy Z Flip 3 screen also wins out for smoothness, with a full 120Hz refresh rate compared to the Razer 2020’s low 60Hz.

As you might expect from Samsung, its main screen is of higher quality than its rival. This is the company that supplies most of the OLED panels in the industry, after all, and that expertise shows.

However, when closed, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 only has to rely on a 1.9-inch AMOLED with 260 x 512 resolution. Motorola Razr 2020 gets a 2.7-inch 600 x 800 screen, which is more useful all-round.

You won’t want to do a lot of heavy lifting on any of these secondary displays, but the Razer is undoubtedly better for previewing messages without even opening the device.

cameras

Motorola Razr

You shouldn’t buy a foldable phone hoping for a top-tier camera experience. It is a big compromise you have to make to get such a futuristic design today.

It should come as no surprise to learn that no device packs a particularly good camera. However, of the two, Samsung’s system is a bit more flexible.

You get 12-megapixel twin cameras here, led by a 1/2.55in wide sensor, and backed by a 12-megapixel ultra-wide. This is aided by Samsung’s robust software provision, but it’s not in the same league as the Samsung Galaxy S21 family.

The Motorola Razr 2020 doesn’t impress either, with only a 48-megapixel 1/2.0in wide sensor. There’s no ultra-wide option here.

Both camera systems are capable of taking good shots, but they lack the comprehensive features and flexibility of even a good mid-range camera system. For the money, it really isn’t very impressive on any front.

Samsung’s foldable 4K can shoot 60fps video, while the Motorola 4K can capture less 30fps footage.

On the selfie front, Samsung offers a 10-megapixel f/2.4 front camera, while Motorola equips you with a 20-megapixel f/2.2 equivalent.

Glasses & Display

When it comes to raw performance, Samsung wins out comfortably. The Galaxy Z Flip 3 packs Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 chip, which is the top Android processor for 2021.

The Motorola Razr 2020 doesn’t even come close to this level of performance. It also doesn’t pack the Snapdragon 865, the Snapdragon 888’s 2020 predecessor, but instead relies on the mid-range Snapdragon 765G from that year.

For a phone that still sells for somewhere in the $1,000 / £850 region, that’s a pretty poor display. We criticized it at launch, and it’s a decision that doesn’t even age.

You probably won’t notice a major performance reduction in typical tasks – and it’s not really a device you want to play a lot of high-end mobile games on anyway. But we’d still expect better, if only to ensure a longer shelf life for your investment. You can bet that the Motorola Razr 2020 will start to feel slow several years before the arrival of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3.

At least both the phones have a good 8GB of RAM. And Motorola has the decency to offer 256GB of internal storage as standard, while Samsung puts it at either 128GB or 256GB.

On the plus side for Motorola, the Razr comes with Motorola’s generally clean take on Android, while the Galaxy Z Flip 3 packs Samsung’s slightly busy One UI. But still, some people like Samsung’s practical approach, and it has led to some useful split-screen customizations (like Flex Mode).

Battery

None of these phones will last more than a day at the stake of battery life. Both are fairly small units – 3300mAh for the Galaxy Z Flip 3, and 2800mAh for the Motorola Razr 2020.

Not surprisingly, we often find ourselves running out of juice before the end of the day with both phones.

Neither phone bundles in the charger, which seems stingy at the prices quoted. We get the perfect stability angle, but it feels a bit cheap.

In terms of supported charging standards, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 wins. It supports 25W wired, while Motorola Razr 2020 only supports 18W wired.

Meanwhile, only Samsung (11W) offers wireless charging. Again, even at a whopping $1,000 / £850 discount, we expected the Motorola Razr 2020 to offer a similar feature.

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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3
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Every foldable phone we’ve reviewed to date has come with its fair share, and these two clamshell devices are no different. It’s still early days for foldables, and compromises will have to be made to get those futuristic form factors at a less-than-extortionate price.

But the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 is really the closest to a mainstream-ready foldable phone. It’s clean, fast, intuitive and well built. The only real compromises are a moderate camera, no dust-resistance, and so is the battery life.

Motorola Razr 2020, on the other hand, is full of compromises. It’s slower than it should be, a bit awkward around the edges, and its core performance is worse than many modern mid-range ‘normal’ phones.

With a price that still feels expensive, even after huge discounts, we can’t recommend it to anyone – and certainly doesn’t get much better than the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3.

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