The hinge on Motorola's new Razr 'broke' after 27,000 folds in a durability test

Cal Jeffrey

TS Evangelist
Staff member

CNET snatched up a Razr yesterday and live-streamed a durability test (conclusion video below). It put the phone in a device called "FoldBot" with a goal of reaching 100,000 folds. Unfortunately, the shiny new phone came nowhere close to 100,000 folds. At about 27,000 (roughly four hours in), the hinge mechanism broke. For comparison, when CNET performed the same test on the Galaxy Fold, it withstood 14 hours and 119,380 activations.

While the screen was undamaged and still functioned, the clamshell would no longer close smoothly. In fact, FoldBot could no longer close the phone since it is designed not to use too much force.

With Americans checking their phones an average of 80 times per day, 27,000 hinge activations amounts to less than one year of use. However, it's worth mentioning that these tests are not a fair representation of actual usage. Cramming a year's worth of use into four hours is extremely stressful on the phone. Heat is generated with each activation and is not allowed to dissipate as it would under normal conditions.

Additionally, CNET admitted that the FoldBot might not have been aligned entirely right for the Razr since it was originally designed for its Galaxy Fold test. "It's hard to say if it's a factor of the machine not being quite tuned properly to hold the phone," said CNET's Chris Parker.

He explained that SquareTrade, the company that made the FoldBot, did what it could to modify the machine for the Razr using only spec numbers. It did not get a chance to put an actual phone in the device to test its calibration.

The takeaway: Will the phone last more than a year? At 27,000 consecutive folds without a pause, it is highly likely that the Razr's hinge will endure many more openings than that with proper care. So, yes the Razr will probably last more than a year.

Will it last as long as the Galaxy Fold? Maybe. Without knowing if the FoldBot was at fault for the breakage, it is hard to make a fair judgment on the Razr's comparative durability.

We'll keep our eyes peeled for future durability reviews, but the real test will be the response of early adopters over the course of the few months.

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rrwards

TS Addict
I like the idea of this testing, but why do any of it without first calibrating it for the device you're testing? Is it really just to be the first to do it? In my line of work, having results means nothing if your equipment wasn't properly calibrated first.
 

netman

TS Evangelist
Why US reviewers always jump into the folding test of these foldables versus actually review the OS and software performance of the the phone...?!!! Why is it always the phone hinge mechanical faults...?!!! I bet there is something wrong about that folding machine he is using that put a lot of stress on the hinge of the phone...!
Update: after looking at the machine and where he fastens the phone on it I am convinced now either the machine design is a flaw or the guy doesn't know how to use it...!!! For starters, the center-line of the machine rotational disks does Not line up with the center-line of the phone hinge...! Why!? Also the machine folding point on the stationary fold is too close to the hinge and only half-way to the hinge (instead of at the outer side) on the rotating fold... This would explain the too much stress at the hinge with constant operation...! Actually the phone did great with 27,000 folds under these conditions...!
 
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kira setsu

TS Maniac
Why US reviewers always jump into the folding test of these foldables versus actually review the OS and software performance of the the phone...?!!! Why is it always the phone hinge mechanical faults...?!!! I bet there is something wrong about that folding machine he is using that put a lot of stress on the hinge of the phone...!
Update: after looking at the machine and where he fastens the phone on it I am convinced now either the machine design is a flaw or the guy doesn't know how to use it...!!! For starters, the center-line of the machine rotational disks does Not line up with the center-line of the phone hinge...! Why!?
what gets me is that I cant remember the last time I watched a phone review that actually covers call quality...
 

Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
ROFLMAO ...... now if they had made it cheaper, say around $250 a copy the darn thing probably would have lasted forever!
 

MilwaukeeMike

TS Evangelist
Actually the phone did great with 27,000 folds under these conditions...!
They never mention the relative measures though, do they. It would be nice to say 'The way machine was setup, we expected it to break after 2000-3000 folds, but it lasted 27000!'

 

PEnnn

TS Guru
Why US reviewers always jump into the folding test of these foldables versus actually review the OS and software performance of the the phone...?!!! Why is it always the phone hinge mechanical faults...?!!!
Because people are / will be paying an outrageous price just for the fold!!
 

amghwk

TS Guru
Stop all this "folding" nonsense. This is clearly a marketing impulsion that went wrong. Horribly wrong.

But as long as there' are suckers who are ready to drop their money on illogical techs, companies will continue to make more money.
 

GregonMaui

TS Addict
So, the Samsung, which they did right with right bot, lasted only slightly more than a year! yay! that's way more than I ever got on a Samsung device before. oh wait!
 

CTatts

TS Rookie
But... the Razr didn't stop? The folding machine just couldn't fold anymore? This is so ****ing misleading.
 

Cal Jeffrey

TS Evangelist
Staff member
I, and others at TS, have never found these tests to be very representative of a phone's actual durability. As I mentioned in the article, repetitively folding the device without a pause puts an inordinate amount of stress on the hinge. It creates a lot of heat and it is inevitable something within the mechanism will break way before it would in real-life use. Remember repeatedly bending wire until it snapped when you were a kid? Coupled with the fact that the machine was designed with a different phone in mind, one that the manufacturer actually had a test device to precision engineer it, and this one was a modification of that machine WITHOUT a test device to make sure everything was aligned properly, makes this test entirely unfair and invalid imo.

I would like to see a folding test done properly to have a better idea of how the Razr stands up to such abuse compared to say the Galaxy Fold, the upcoming z Flip, and others. It will still not be representative of actual use, but does give an idea of the comparative quality of machining.

That said, if the Razr could withstand 27,000 fold under this type of misuse/abuse it can surely last much much longer under normal working conditions. It's hard to gauge exactly how many normal day-to-day folds it could withstand, but it is surely waaaaaaay more than 27,000 -- perhaps even double or triple that. which means at least 2-3 years of use (personally I think more, but I don't want to go too far out on the limb). This is typically within the range of how long people keep their smartphone before trading up.
 

Squid Surprise

TS Evangelist
Why US reviewers always jump into the folding test of these foldables versus actually review the OS and software performance of the the phone...?!!! Why is it always the phone hinge mechanical faults...?!!!
Because, if it wasn’t for the “fold”, this is just another cheap Android smartphone worth maybe $200.

Since they want $1500 for it, it’s only fair to review the “fold” - would you pay that much for a phone that MIGHT last a year, but probably won’t?
 

netman

TS Evangelist
Because, if it wasn’t for the “fold”, this is just another cheap Android smartphone worth maybe $200.

Since they want $1500 for it, it’s only fair to review the “fold” - would you pay that much for a phone that MIGHT last a year, but probably won’t?
Ok, there should have been two issues here:

One is the hinge folding test to reach a Cnet (not even the manufacturer?!) goal of 100,000 times which was the focus of Cnet...

The second issue which the Cnet did not even mention a word is durability of the screen after multiple folds which should have been the focus of the test to begin with...

The mechanical hinge performance nowadays is given since hinges were designed and implemented decades ago with the introduction of laptops, notebooks, etc. Because of laptops and notebooks the technology of hinge design is available by most manufactures, and for phones it is most likely over-design for extra durability and sound structure. Therefore the test should have covered the folding screen durability which did not and the point goes back to my comments in my first post.....
 

Squid Surprise

TS Evangelist
Ok, there should have been two issues here:

One is the hinge folding test to reach a Cnet (not even the manufacturer?!) goal of 100,000 times which was the focus of Cnet...

The second issue which the Cnet did not even mention a word is durability of the screen after multiple folds which should have been the focus of the test to begin with...

The mechanical hinge performance nowadays is given since hinges were designed and implemented decades ago with the introduction of laptops, notebooks, etc. Because of laptops and notebooks the technology of hinge design is available by most manufactures, and for phones it is most likely over-design for extra durability and sound structure. Therefore the test should have covered the folding screen durability which did not and the point goes back to my comments in my first post.....
The test might have been flawed - the article already said it was - but all hinges are NOT created equal! And if they can redo the test properly, I’d want to know what happens after 100,000 folds....

Want to know how a “normal” smartphone performs after being taken out of a pocket 100,000 times? They perform perfectly!

The addition of “folding”, which many still argue is an answer to a question no one asked, needs to NOT make the phone useless after a year.... especially at $1500!
 

Danny101

TS Evangelist
I, and others at TS, have never found these tests to be very representative of a phone's actual durability. As I mentioned in the article, repetitively folding the device without a pause puts an inordinate amount of stress on the hinge. It creates a lot of heat and it is inevitable something within the mechanism will break way before it would in real-life use. Remember repeatedly bending wire until it snapped when you were a kid? Coupled with the fact that the machine was designed with a different phone in mind, one that the manufacturer actually had a test device to precision engineer it, and this one was a modification of that machine WITHOUT a test device to make sure everything was aligned properly, makes this test entirely unfair and invalid imo.

I would like to see a folding test done properly to have a better idea of how the Razr stands up to such abuse compared to say the Galaxy Fold, the upcoming z Flip, and others. It will still not be representative of actual use, but does give an idea of the comparative quality of machining.

That said, if the Razr could withstand 27,000 fold under this type of misuse/abuse it can surely last much much longer under normal working conditions. It's hard to gauge exactly how many normal day-to-day folds it could withstand, but it is surely waaaaaaay more than 27,000 -- perhaps even double or triple that. which means at least 2-3 years of use (personally I think more, but I don't want to go too far out on the limb). This is typically within the range of how long people keep their smartphone before trading up.
I suppose one could count how many times they do this each day for a week and calculate a norm for a month, a year, and extrapolate their personal risk. Just looking at a phone by picking it up or pulling it out of your pocket could count as an instance.
 
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