Involved about foldable telephones’ sturdiness? Here is how Motorola exams the Razr hinge


That is one in every of 4 upcoming Motorola Razr telephones getting opened and closed as soon as each 4 seconds. Over the course of 10 days, the telephones will likely be opened and closed 200,000 occasions.

Patrick Holland/CNET

For my overview of the most recent Motorola Razr, which is now out there, I examined the up to date foldable cellphone for 10 days in September. Often once I opened or closed the cellphone, an onlooker would react with disbelief. One girl working behind the register of a espresso store’s to-go window truly gathered her (masked and socially distanced) co-workers and requested me to indicate them how the Razr folded in half. After I demonstrated the display screen folding like paper, her response was: “That’s superb. The place do I get one?”

And that is the “magic” of foldable telephones at their core. They seemingly do the unattainable by letting you’re taking one thing rectangular and inflexible and fold it into one thing smaller than a drink coaster. That magic comes from years of design, testing and revisions. And the engineers and designers who labored on the upcoming Motorola Razr know it is something however magic to make a 6.2-inch cellphone fold in half.

However all that work might be simply overshadowed. The overview models of 2019’s Samsung Galaxy Fold raised the flag about how folding screens would work in the actual world. Plenty of them had defects that allow mud or different particles get beneath the display screen and wreak havoc. Any considerations individuals had about folding shows had been immediately amplified.

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Motorola Razr: We obtained a peek at how the display screen is examined


Then in February 2020 after months of delays, Motorola launched its Razr (2019) with a foldable display screen and CNET’s video workforce examined the show’s sturdiness. My colleague Chris Parker used a FoldBot and tried to open and shut the cellphone 100,000 occasions. After 27,000 folds the Razr (2019) wasn’t in a position to be examined additional. Reflecting on that check and the way SquareTrade modified its FoldBot to deal with the Razr, Parker concluded:

“Does [it] really feel like a sturdy, resilient cellphone that may stand as much as prolonged real-world use? To me it does.”

These incidents may make you surprise if foldable screens are sturdy. And if that’s the case, how do we all know? Jeff Snow, common supervisor of innovation merchandise at Motorola, thinks it is pure to ask sturdiness questions on foldable screens. 

“The brand new factor in regards to the cellphone is the truth that the display screen folds open and you may gentle it up,” stated Snow. “Persons are not used to telephones with these folding screens. So the questions of their minds are, ‘Is it going to final?’ ‘What number of occasions can I truly do this motion?'”

Motorola claims the display screen on its upcoming, up to date Razr (2020) might be folded 200,000 occasions. To present you an thought what number of occasions that’s, you might open and shut the cellphone 100 occasions a day for 5 years and nonetheless not hit that quantity.

To indicate me how the corporate decided and examined the variety of occasions the upcoming Razr’s display screen may very well be folded, I visited a lab at Motorola in Chicago — whereas carrying a masks and social distancing — to satisfy Snow and Tom Gitzinger, director and principal engineer of innovation and structure for Motorola. I obtained to see for myself how Motorola exams the display screen on the upcoming Razr. 

Motorola’s display screen folding machine lab

In a room that appears like a school black field theater are quite a lot of lights all targeted on a roughly 10-foot-wide machine. There’s a digicam on a tripod pointing on the machine which provides the whole area an odd tv present vibe. On the highest of the waist-high machine on their backs, are 4 Razr (2020) telephones. The machine totally opens and closes all 4 telephones on the similar time time and again.


Listed here are two of the 4 telephones mid-close on the display screen fold check machine.

Patrick Holland/CNET

All through the design and manufacturing course of, Motorola makes use of related machines to check the folds on the Razr (2020). In contrast to the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip, which is designed to be opened to a wide range of positions, the Razr is constructed to both be totally open and flat or utterly closed. And in contrast to the Foldbot, Motorola’s machine makes use of a wire to open the Razrs completely flat and an arm to shut them shut. The wire is skinny sufficient to nestle between the 2 halves of the cellphone when it is closed.

To recreate these 200,000 folds in lower than 5 years’ time, the machine totally opens and closes the telephones as soon as each four seconds. There’s a calming high quality to listening to 4 telephones shut closed each four seconds. It is like a soft-sounding metronome. It takes Motorola 10 days to fold every cellphone 200,000 occasions with this machine.

Homeowners’ suggestions helps enhance the brand new Razr

Over the previous six months Motorola reached out to individuals who personal the Razr (2019) to learn the way they use the cellphone. Based on Snow, Razr house owners open and shut their telephones on common 40 occasions a day. And “tremendous customers” (the 99th percentile), common 100 occasions a day. Therefore, Motorola designed the Razr (2020) to deal with 200,000 folds.

“We’re not altering the parameters of testing,” stated Snow. “However we wish to ensure that we’re understanding individuals and exceeding their expectations.”

The display screen and hinge enable the Razr to fold in half

The cellphone’s “zero hole” design, display screen and hinge permits the Razr to realize a excessive degree of display screen sturdiness. The latest Razr (2020) largely makes use of that very same design because the Razr (2019) albeit with tweaks. Actually, if you wish to study extra in regards to the hinge have a look beneath at a video I made final 12 months about its design and the way it permits the Razr (2019) to fold flat.

The display screen itself is made of 5 completely different layers after which sprayed with a tough coating. When the layers are mixed the display screen has a thickness of 355 microns (3.5 millimeters). To present you a way of how skinny that’s, the Motorola Edge Plus makes use of an identical OLED panel stack for the curved edges of its display screen which is 3 times the thickness of the Razr’s show stack.

And it is not simply the show that’s folding in half. There are a selection of connections together with the 4 5G antennas that must traverse the hinge. And like different foldable telephones, the battery within the Razr is definitely two batteries, one on every finish. Not solely does this assist with steadiness, nevertheless it provides one other degree of complexity as each have to attach by the Razr’s hinge mechanism.

How Motorola addressed the squeak/creak

After I reviewed the Razr (2019) in February, it suffered from a squeak/creak. It was like a muffled crunching sound however loud. Throughout my time with the up to date Razr (2020), the squeak/creak was principally absent till Friday — my eighth day with the cellphone. And when it did squeak, it was a quieter sound, extra like breaking in a pair of recent leather-based boots. Gitzinger defined the noise by evaluating it to a bag of potato chips.

“You’ll be able to’t presumably open a potato chip bag with out making a noise. It is tremendous skinny. It is much more crunchy and crinkly than one thing like this [the foldable display]. However the identical precept applies,” stated Gitzinger. “You have obtained this large, vital floor that strikes round, and it is pushing air that creates a number of the noises. We had been in a position to eradicate different noises by placing in some previous friction adhesives and tapes and surfaces to allow the whole lot to slip previous each other a bit extra simply.”

I requested a pal how they felt in regards to the squeak/creak on the newer Razr (2020) they usually stated it did not trouble them. I assume relating to display screen notches, foldable display screen creases and now foldable cellphone squeaks, some individuals will get used to those issues whereas others will likely be irritated.

Solely time will inform

With the enhancements made, Motorola is assured in regards to the retooled Razr’s sturdiness. Actually, the corporate runs 40 completely different lab checks to check each the design and high quality of the cellphone throughout growth and manufacturing.

That stated, the true indicator for a way sturdy the display screen on the Razr (2020) or any foldable cellphone is time. Till then, identical to magic, foldable telephones require a bit of religion.

For extra particulars make certain to take a look at my overview of the 2020 Motorola Razr.

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