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2024 has been a nasty yr for Motorola. Can it flip issues round?

A close-up of the Motorola "M" logo on the Motorola Edge (2024).
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

If there’s one smartphone firm that I simply can’t shake in 2024, it’s Motorola. After such a robust 2023, this yr has been oddly bumpy for the corporate. Whether it’s due to poorly-received finances handsets or mind-boggling software program selections, I’ve raised my complaints about Motorola a lot this year.

Thankfully, after an enormous latest product launch and an opportunity to sit down down and speak with two of the corporate’s executives, I’m feeling a bit higher about Motorola than I used to be earlier this yr. I actually don’t assume issues are excellent, and there’s loads of room left to enhance, however I additionally don’t assume issues with Moto are fairly as bleak as I initially feared.

I’m not prepared to surrender on Motorola simply but, and I don’t assume you need to both.

The Razr 2024 is simply what Motorola wanted

The Motorola Razr Plus 2024 and Razr 2024 next to each other.
Razr Plus 2024 and Razr 2024 Joe Maring / Digital Trends

There are a few explanation why I’m feeling higher about Motorola — and the primary has to do with its newest smartphone launch. The firm not too long ago introduced the Razr 2024 and Razr Plus 2024 as its two latest foldables. Simply put, I’m actually proud of how the telephones turned out.

Last yr’s Motorola Razr Plus was certainly one of my favourite telephones of 2023. This new mannequin appears like that very same cellphone once more however with some actually necessary upgrades. The hinge feels higher and is less complicated to open, the duvet show is even greater, and the brand new cameras appear actually promising. Combined with strong specs below the hood and a few actually beautiful colours, I’m discovering little to complain about. It additionally nonetheless prices the identical $1,000 as final yr’s mannequin — something we may not be able to say about the Galaxy Z Flip 6.

All of the colors for the Motorola Razr 2024 and Motorola Razr Plus 2024.
Razr Plus 2024 colours (prime) and Razr 2024 colours Joe Maring / Digital Trends

The cheaper Razr appears good, too! The cowl display is a lot greater than final yr’s Razr 2023. Instead of what was primarily a glorified smartwatch display, now you can use it identical to you may the Razr Plus’ cowl display. Its leather-based colours additionally look glorious, it has the identical 50MP primary digital camera discovered on the Razr Plus, and it even has an even bigger battery than its costlier sibling. The better part? It nonetheless prices simply $700. Last yr’s Razr was an unimaginable deal, and the 2024 mannequin appears like a fair higher one.

I’m saying all of this with out having totally reviewed both of the brand new Razrs, and there’s all the time the possibility they gained’t carry out in addition to I’m hoping. But based on my hands-on time with the phones, I don’t have any cause to assume that. Motorola appears to have completed precisely what it wanted to with these telephones — protecting what labored, fixing what was damaged, and protecting costs the identical. Considering how good final yr’s Razrs have been, I can’t wait to see how these new ones maintain up.

Learning from previous software program errors

Someone holding the Motorola Razr 2024.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Motorola seems to have gotten the {hardware}, specs, and value proper with the Razr 2024 household. But that’s not the one cause I’m so excited. Neither cellphone is plagued with the software issues I’ve seen on other Motorola phones this yr, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

The software program on Motorola telephones in 2024 has been … unhealthy. Thanks to app folders riddled with commercials, a brand new default climate app that’s a fair worse ad-filled mess, and a lock display cluttered with articles and different on-line content material, it’s all made Motorola telephones really feel fairly low cost. Thankfully, none of that is current on the Razr Plus 2024 or the Razr 2024.

That’s nice, however what offers? I requested Motorola about this. The firm’s head of AI and software program experiences, Jeff Snow, informed me a part of the reason being to “maintain continuity between the external and internal screens.” He additionally stated, “In the Moto Gs, we’re [Motorola] trying out some software capabilities that we might extend into that tier.”

Motorola Edge (2024) with its Entertainment Folder open.
An ad-filled app folder on the Motorola Edge 2024 Joe Maring / Digital Trends

I imagined this could be the case — check the waters with software program bloatware on the cheaper telephones however preserve it away from costlier telephones. However, after seeing those self same software program issues on the Motorola Edge 2024, I wasn’t certain what to anticipate.

I want Motorola wasn’t messing with this type of stuff in any respect, however on the very least, I’m glad to see there’s nonetheless restraint to not litter flagship-grade telephones with crummy software program. In the case of the brand new Razrs, it makes them really feel so a lot better. Here’s to hoping Motorola will get the message and reconsiders these “software capabilities” on different telephones this yr — flagship or not.

What about software program updates? Well…

Someone holding a Motorola Edge 2024 with the display on.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Bloatware has solely been certainly one of my considerations with Motorola telephones. Software updates are one other one. Unlike the bloatware problem, which has solely popped up not too long ago, software program updates have been a thorn in Motorola’s facet for years.

The new Razr telephones proceed this development. Motorola guarantees simply three years of Android OS upgrades and 4 years of bi-monthly safety updates for each the Razr 2024 and Razr Plus 2024. In a world the place Google and Samsung are promising seven years of software program updates for flagship and midrange telephones alike, it’s a extremely disappointing sight.

I requested Nicole Hagen, govt director of product advertising at Motorola, about this, and she or he informed me, “It’s always an internal debate” and that “it always comes down to balancing.” That “balancing” refers back to the sources Motorola must put towards {hardware}, software program, its new AI instruments, and so on.

Hagen additionally addressed firms like Samsung and Google with their seven-year replace promise. “When we look at the life cycle or lifespan of our devices, it’s not over four years,” she stated. “Our goal is to kind of sustain our products during the life cycle that they have with their users, and we feel that we’re doing that with our policy.”

The Motorola Razr Plus (2024) and Razr (2024) next to each other.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Snow additionally chimed into the dialog, saying that the balancing act additionally has to think about people who find themselves utilizing their telephones, realizing how their present software program works, and being “reluctant to change.”

Personally, I don’t purchase that argument. Can software program updates introduce new options and consumer interfaces that will take a while to get used to? Sure. But that hardly ever occurs with Android updates as of late. Further, it doesn’t excuse Motorola for sticking with such a restricted replace coverage when its rivals are operating circles round it.

Thankfully, it feels like there’s room for this to vary. “It’s something we’re always looking at. Especially as now we’re starting to look at bringing AI features to more phones, how do we extend that to more phones is something we’re looking at as well,” Snow stated.

Motorola has to maintain this up

The backs of the Motorola Razr Plus 2024 in pink and green colors.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Two promising new foldables, indicators of restraint for bloatware, and a minimum of an inkling that Motorola might change its methods with software program updates. While not all of these issues are house runs, they do a minimum of present me that Motorola continues to be price listening to as we make our approach by way of this second half of 2024.

Does all of this excuse the corporate’s many missteps earlier this yr? No. But it does give me extra hope for what the rest of the yr entails. Motorola continues to be churning out strong {hardware} and is seemingly nonetheless able to delivering good software program, too. Both of the brand new Razrs are proof of that, and I desperately hope that’s true of different Motorola telephones we see after this.

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