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Motorola’s Razr fails a fold test after just 27,000 folds

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CNET’s FoldBot may not have been properly calibrated

Motorala’s Razr survived less than four hours in CNET’s folding machine.
Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

Motorola’s new Razr stopped being able to fully fold after just over 27,000 folds and around three-and-a-half hours in CNET’s “FoldBot” folding machine. Problems were discovered after the team took the phone out of the machine to check it for the third time, after which they realized it was struggling to fold. When they finally did manage to close it, the hinge appeared to have fallen out of alignment. However, despite the folding problems, the phone’s screen was still fully functional.

There are a few caveats about CNET’s test that are worth mentioning. First is that the “FoldBot” machine they used was having problems with the phone for a while before they officially ended the experiment. From the stream, it appeared to only be partially closing the phone at some points, which may have been a sign that the hinge was already having problems prior to the 27,000 fold mark. CNET host Chris Parker also noted that the machine may have not been properly calibrated to fold the Razr, as the company setting it up didn’t have a phone to test it with.

If we make the assumption that a person checks their phone between 80 and 150 times a day, and we assume CNET’s test wasn’t flawed, this particular Razr would have failed after between six and 12 months of use. Motorola hasn’t said how many folds it expects the Razr to be able to survive, but noted that it should survive two years. It also offers a one-year warranty for “defects incurred during normal use.”

As you’d imagine, Motorola isn’t too happy with the results, and sent us a statement late Friday challenging CNET’s methodology:

SquareTrade’s FoldBot is simply not designed to test our device. Therefore, any tests run utilizing this machine will put undue stress on the hinge and not allow the phone to open and close as intended, making the test inaccurate. The important thing to remember is that razr underwent extensive cycle endurance testing during product development, and CNET’s test is not indicative of what consumers will experience when using razr in the real-world. We have every confidence in the durability of razr.

Motorola also shared this video that it’s calling “the real razr flip test”:

This is the second folding torture test that CNET has performed on a foldable, after it put the Galaxy Fold through its paces in October last year. That time, Samsung’s phone survived around 120,000 folds before its screen broke. That’s a lot longer than the Razr, although it still fell short of the 200,000 folds promised by Samsung.

CNET only tested a single device, making its result far from conclusive. But others have also raised issues with the Razr build quality. Multiple reviewers have been posting videos of the way Motorola’s handset creaks and groans as it folds, and a video from BBC News showed how it’s possible to lift the plastic screen off the handset, which could have implications for dust and dirt getting into the device.

Either way, it’s not a good look for a premium $1,499 device, and suggests that manufacturers still have a long way to go to before foldables can become anything other than an early-adopter curiosity.

Update, 8:51PM ET: Added a statement from Motorola challenging CNET’s methodology, and a video showing “the real razr flip test.”