Motorola has confirmed plans to launch a foldable smartphone "no later than everybody else in the market", suggesting the long-rumoured handset will be unveiled in the coming months, following the Samsung Galaxy Fold, Royole Flexpai and the Huawei Mate X.
The flexible flagship is expected to take the form of a reimagined Motorola Razr, with the same flip-phone design – albeit with a single, foldable OLED screen inside, rather than a physical keypad and small colour screen. And now, thanks to a new leak courtesy of popular forum and blog XDA Developers, we have our first clues about exactly how the Android operating system will work on the forthcoming foldable.
Like the Galaxy Fold before it, the 2019 Motorola Razr will have two separate displays – the foldable OLED inside the clamshell design, as well as a smaller touchscreen on the outside that can be used when the handset is folded away. The latter was present on previous versions of the Razr flip-phone design and used to display the date and time, caller ID, and notifications.
According to the latest report from XDA Developers, this external screen will not be able to run every Android app installed on your smartphone. Instead, Motorola is believed to be limiting the touchscreen to a select few system apps, like Moto Display, Moto Actions, and the Moto Camera app. That is a very different approach to the Samsung Galaxy Fold, which treats its 4.6-inch so-called Cover Display as a traditional smartphone screen that runs anything the larger folding screen can – albeit it's limited to two app multi-tasking, not three like the 7.3-inch Flex Display.
As well as core system apps, the external display on the Motorola Razr can be used to show up to six Quick Settings tiles. These will be similar to those in the dropdown available at the top of the display on all Android smartphones and will allow users to quickly toggle Airplane mode and the like without interrupting whatever they're doing on the main screen. According to XDA Developers, it’s unclear whether Motorola will allow users to scroll to see more than the six tiles displayed on the screen at any one time.
Elsewhere, whenever the Google Assistant is triggered with the wake phrase "OK, Google" or "Hey Google" while the Razr is flipped close, the Assistant animation will be shown on the external display to notify users that the handset has heard the command. This option can be disabled in the settings, in which case the user will simply be prompted to “flip open to unlock” with a passcode, pattern or PIN.
XDA Developers believes that users will be able to set separate wallpapers for the main foldable display and the smaller touchscreen on the outside of the clamshell.
Whether the all-new Motorola Razr actually makes it onto store shelves later this year remains to be seen. According to Motorola VP Dan Dery, the Lenovo-owned company has explored a slew of potential foldable products over the years, some of which have since been discarded entirely.
So, it's possible we will never see a finished foldable phone from Motorola. Still, if the firm is talking a big game about getting a handset into customers' hands "no later" than its rivals, it must be pretty chuffed with the progress of whatever it has been working on inside the R&D department.
Lead image credit: Yanko Design