Three years after the debut of its wildly popular Razr phone, Motorola gave the world the Rizr. While beloved by many, the product never managed to capture the same level of cultural cache as its predecessor. The two devices shared some key design languge, with the Rizr distinguishing itself by way of a display that slid up to reveal the physical keyboard underneath.
A lot has changed in the 17 years since that product’s release, but following the Razr’s resurrection as a foldable, the now Lenovo-owned firm is bringing the Rizr back in concept form. As with the Razr, it’s clear why the company opted to kick the tires on the old brand. You could say the 2023 Rizr is a spiritual successor of sorts to the 2006 model.
The new version trades the sliding action for a rolling screen (get it? “riser?”). We’ve seen proofs of concept for the technology in the past, largely as standalones. The concept is not entirely dissimilar from foldables, in that it’s screen technology designed to fit more phones in less space. By default, it sports a compact five-inch 15:9 screen. When certain apps are opened, gestures triggered or orientation change, it mechanically extends to 6.5 inches with a 22:9 aspect ratio.
It’s a neat trick, for sure. But it’s worth noting that phone makers are increasingly following the lead of car companies by announcing concept devices. It’s a little about gauging consumer interest and a little about showing the public — and shareholders — that your R&D department is doing some innovative work — whether or not said work actually leads to a product in the end. See also: yesterday’s OnePlus 11 concept device.
I will say that Motorola’s parent company, Lenovo, has never been shy about bringing aggressive strange form factors to market, whether it’s an E Ink tablet or the ThinkPad X1 Fold, which is effectively a foldable phone in laptop form.
It does, however, raise plenty of questions, should this thing ever actually hit the market. Given what occurred in the earliest days of foldables, I’d say that durability is on the top of my list. You’ve got to make sure a device you’re selling to the public is capable of repeating that action hundreds of thousands of times.
Will we see a productized version of the Rizr at next year’s MWC? I wouldn’t bank on it. But it’s also nice to see companies thinking outside the same old smartphone slate.
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