When it comes to foldable phones, most people have qualms when it comes to durability. And for good reason, with the Samsung Galaxy Fold—one of the first smartphones to be available globally—suffering from some serious issues when seeded out to reviewers. Samsung owned up to the design flaws of the Fold, and subsequently spent a few months rectifying the issues before releasing an updated Galaxy Fold. And now that Motorola has released a foldable phone of their own—the classic-looking Motorola Razr—the folks over at CNET saw fit to put both foldables to a durability test, with the help of a machine called the “FoldBot”.
The results aren’t exactly promising, it must be said. The SquareTrade FoldBot machine repeatedly folds and unfolds the phones, with the Samsung Galaxy Fold lasting for around 120,000 folds before it broke down. However, the Motorola Razr suffered a breakdown of sorts after just 27,218 folds. This means that it stopped folding properly, although remarkably, the phone still appeared to be fully functional.
That’s a saving grace of sorts, I suppose. Despite a failing hinge, the Motorola Razr is still functional enough to use, in a way. At the very least, you’ll be able to back up what you need before you send it in for a warranty claim.
Still, it doesn’t really make for good reading as far as Motorola is concerned. If you fold and unfold your device 50 times a day on average, that amounts up to around 18 months of usage on the Razr—which isn’t exactly what you want to hear when you’re spending something like US$1,500 (about RM6,200). For the Galaxy Fold, the rough figure of around 120,000 folds translates to something like 6 and a half years of use with an average of 50 folds/unfolds a day.
The Galaxy Fold stress test was done late last year, while the Motorola Razr was just tested in February. However, Motorola responded to the findings, disputing the suitability of SquareTrade’s FoldBot to test the Motorola Razr:
“[The] razr is a unique smartphone, featuring a dynamic clamshell folding system unlike any device on the market. 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 raised the point that the FoldBot machine is designed to test the Galaxy Fold, while parent company SquareTrade is an American company that offers warranties for consumer electronics. The FoldBot was modified to work with the Razr, which Motorola says is the reason for “undue stress” being put on the Razr’s hinge.
At the same time, I think a caveat to the test is that a human user (especially one that spent a tidy sum on a foldable smartphone) isn’t going to fold their phones with such ferocity, or at such a high frequency. But the machine test still offers an idea about the comparative durability of the Motorola Razr and other foldable smartphones.
For now, I think it’s safe to assume that durability isn’t really a strength of foldable phones—what do you think are the main benefits of foldable phones, and would you still get a Motorola Razr? Let us know in the comments section below.