Although foldable phones are unlikely to make a dent in the smartphone market until 2021 according to TrendForce, we’re already seeing most major smartphone manufacturers experiment with them this year. Samsung was the first big player to announce a foldable with the inward folding Galaxy Fold, while Huawei wowed audiences at MWC 2019 with its outward folding Mate X. TCL and Xiaomi have shown off their respective foldable phone prototypes, while LG is biding its time until the market matures. These device makers all envision the foldable as a smartphone that unfolds into a tablet, but Motorola has another vision for the form factor: bringing back the flip phone.
In the middle of January, The Wall Street Journal published a report that Motorola will be bringing back its iconic Razr brand using foldable display technology. The phone is said to launch on Verizon at a starting price of $1,500. A week after the publication of this report, a registration with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (via The Verge) possibly revealed the design of the upcoming Razr phone revival. The renders shared as part of the registration revealed a device with a long screen that folds inward. A secondary screen on the top of the rear of the device can be seen, which suggests the device will be a dual-screen folding phone like the Galaxy Fold. Motorola’s VP of Global Product, Dan Dery, confirmed that the company is working on a smartphone with a foldable display, but did not share any details on the actual device. Thanks to our own source, we can confirm some software details about the upcoming Motorola foldable.
First, we can confirm that Motorola is indeed working on a smartphone with two displays. However, we don’t know its marketing name. Given what we know about its software, though, it’s safe to say that the clamshell design description is accurate, so it’s probably a Razr comeback as The Wall Street Journal reported. We have a fairly good idea about what the device’s specifications will be, but we don’t have enough evidence yet that links the Verizon-branded Motorola device, code-named “Voyager” internally, with the software features that we know Motorola is working on for its dual-screen foldable. We will follow-up with another article if we can confirm the specifications of “Voyager.”
In any case, we’ve learned some details about how the foldable phone’s secondary external display will work. From what we know so far, it doesn’t seem like you’ll have access to the entire Android experience when the device is folded. Indeed, Motorola has restricted which apps can “access display on flip,” according to our source. Currently, only certain pre-installed system applications like Moto Display, Moto Actions, and of course, the Moto Camera app, can display content on the “closed display.” Here’s a brief summary of some things you can do with the “closed display” based on what we know so far about the device’s current progress in development:
- When unfolded, the “closed display” can act as a trackpad. Right now, the trackpad functionality is limited to scrolling web pages in Google Chrome and scrolling the apps timeline.
- Up to 6 Quick Settings tiles will be displayed on the “closed display.” It’s unclear to us if Motorola will allow the user to scroll to see more tiles, however.
- When in the camera app, the user can tap on the primary display to capture a photo, or swipe up on the primary display to zoom in. Presumably, this will help the user take selfies when holding the phone with the camera pointed toward the user. A countdown timer can also be shown through the dual screen.
- If the user triggers Google Assistant while the phone is flip closed, then the Assistant animation can be shown if the user chooses to enable it. Otherwise, the user will be prompted to “flip open to unlock” using their password or PIN.
- Motorola is testing having the Moto Display app show a clock, pulsing notifications, and controlling media via the external display.
- The user may be able to have a separate wallpaper showing on the “closed display.”
That’s all we know so far about the upcoming device. If we learn more about “Voyager,” we’ll let you all know.
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