Yesterday was the official release date for the Motorola Razr on Verizon Wireless. Or was it? By the end of an entire day spent searching for this nostalgia-inducing phone, I was feeling pretty duped.
The Razr is arriving not long after Samsung’s Galaxy Fold fiasco, so there are naturally going to be questions about how it’ll hold up over time. The Verge decided to try to buy one, and I traversed much of Manhattan and hit over a dozen Verizon stores on Thursday in hopes of finding a store that had even a single $1,500 Razr unit for sale. My search proved fruitless. Launch day units did exist, but they were incredibly difficult — impossible, almost — to come by.
Eli Blumenthal, a reporter at CNET, managed to track down the Razr at a Verizon store in upper Manhattan. But by the time I hurriedly Ubered over there, they were gone. Most other locations I visited said they’d never received any units to sell beyond the floor demo device meant to let customers try out the Razr’s folding screen. And after seeing some worrying early impressions, try it I did.
My biggest critique after holding a store unit today is that you can feel the hinge mechanism behind the screen when just sliding your finger around. And ya can hear your finger brushing against whatever’s back there.
Sounds of it opening/closing don’t bother me though. pic.twitter.com/4eoIRFBkxG
— Chris Welch (@chriswelch) February 7, 2020
Verizon employees said the fastest way to get Motorola’s new phone would be ordering it online, but the Verizon website now estimates that new orders might not ship until March 3rd. And the option for in-store pickup that was present yesterday has now disappeared completely. Verizon now lists the Razr as “available online only.” When I tried the stock-checker tool throughout the day yesterday, I never found a single store with Razr availability, so I’m pretty sure it was broken from the start for this phone.
As annoying as it is, this situation isn’t all that unique to Motorola or the Razr. Back when the Pixel was still a Verizon exclusive, finding the model you wanted on release day at a store was a frustrating challenge. Carriers and phone makers are clearly prioritizing preorder customers nowadays; Motorola wound up delivering the Razr several days early to people who got their orders in right away, which led to a teardown before the phone was even for sale in stores.
But should it really be this hard for walk-in customers to buy a very expensive, fancy new phone? Samsung and Apple always ensure that their stores, carriers, and retail partners have at least enough stock to cover the first wave of launch day customers.
I wouldn’t expect Motorola and Verizon to have that level of supply for a niche $1,500 phone — a phone that’s still among the first with a folding display — on day one. The Galaxy Fold wasn’t particularly easy to buy when it was finally released, either. There’s plenty of interest in foldable phones, but no one’s lining up to buy them. That’s all the more reason Motorola should’ve been able to get this right. Two or three Razrs per store (at least in Manhattan of all places) seems like a reasonable way to accommodate whatever demand might be there.
But Motorola and Verizon couldn’t pull it off.
Yes, the new Motorola Razr is technically now available. But its failure to actually launch just leads to more questions about Motorola’s confidence in the product and makes it seem like the company just wanted to beat Samsung’s second try at a foldable phone to market.