If Motorola’s 2019 rehash of the iconic Razr phone is as popular at the cash register as it is online, then the Lenovo-owned company will have pulled off one of the greatest smartphone comebacks I’ve ever seen. It will have also opened the doors for other Android manufacturers to make a comeback.
The headline numbers for companies like Sony and LG on smartphone sales are not good. In the third quarter of 2019 LG revealed a 25% drop in sales compared to the same quarter the year before, whereas Sony shipped just 600,000 units in the third quarter after predicting it would sell 5 million.
In previous years both have enjoyed a more prominent role in the Android arena, but they’ve been squeezed by declining smartphone sales across the board (which includes the big players like Apple and Samsung) – alongside strong competition from Chinese brands like Oppo, Xaomi and Huawei.
You have to wonder what this means for the mobile divisions of both companies and, more importantly, is there a way back? If Motorola’s resurgence is anything to go by, then yes.
First, a quick caveat: we don’t know how many pre-orders Motorola has recorded because it hasn’t released that information (I’ve asked), so we can’t judge popularity on sales, yet.
But there is, palpably, more excitement about the Razr than there has been for any other Motorola I can remember in the last few years. Indeed, there appears to be a lot more interest in the Razr than anything LG or Sony have released in recent years, too.
That’s understandable considering it’s one of the two things: an entirely new technology and a familiar – previously popular – phone making a dramatic comeback. It’s both new and familiar, which is an impressive feat for Motorola to have pulled off.
The form factor of the 2019 Razr is, I suspect, what’s generating the most interest in the phone. The clam-shell shape effectively folds down into half the size of a traditional smartphone. All of the reluctant smartphones owners who switched up to increasingly larger screens now have a way out of that never-ending nightmare for their jeans. It’s pocketable, compact and bleeding edge all at once.
This is a potential roadmap for other Android manufacturers like Sony and LG. After dropping into relative obscurity when it comes to premium smartphones (Motorola has seen a recent sales increase in the US likely thanks to its budget/mid-range devices) – the Lenovo-owned company has found a way back to the top of people’s feeds.
The perceived popularity of the Razr levels the playing field. If sales are good, then breaking back into the conversation – through a single device – has to be inspiring to struggling manufacturers.
Both LG and Sony have the resources to produce foldable technology, indeed LG has been rumoured to be working on something for a few years. In terms of the actual device, there is so little competition that being first to market with something innovative could pay huge dividends. From a rollable phone, to something that folds more than once, there’s scope to pick up a whole new base of customers with one device.
Considering Apple is probably a year or two off from entering the foldable space, as is Google, and Huawei’s Mate X is crippled by the lack of Google services, then there is a good opportunity for bygone Android phone makers to reclaim past glories.