The Motorola Rizr concept is my favorite surprise of MWC. Here’s why

It’s very rare to see a surprising announcement in the mobile world these days. Leaks ruin the fun of experiencing things without knowing what they are. That’s one of the reasons why the Motorola Rizr rollable phone concept is my favorite thing out of MWC 2023.

I got a chance to go hands-on with Motorola’s rollable smartphone at MWC, and after using it myself, I’m sold.

Why the Motorola Rizr is so special

The Motorola Rizr rollable features a 5-inch display in a 15:9 aspect ratio. It’s comfortable to hold with one hand. The phone is taller than the folded Galaxy Z Flip 4 or Motorola Razr and Oppo Find N2 Flip. But it makes more sense to me than the flip phone form factor.

With the flipping foldable devices, there is an added step to using your smartphone. You can’t do much on the cover screen, so you need to unfold the devices to use them. But with the Rizr, you get a 5-inch display in a compact form factor, and it does everything that the 6.5-inch rolled-out screen does. You are not limited in any way.

You want to write an email? Check. You want to use it as a full viewfinder for the camera? Done. Do you want to access any and every app? You absolutely can! The best part of the Motorola Rizr is that you don’t need to roll it out to use it. That alone makes more sense to me than a flip device.

Motorola Rizr back.
Prakhar Khanna/Digital Trends

In my short time with the device, I came across several software features that make the most of the rollable display.

For instance, if you are watching a video on the smaller screen in a vertical orientation and rotate it to a horizontal orientation, the display rolls out automatically. You don’t need to fumble with the power button and press it twice in the middle of your YouTube video to make the most of having a rollable device. It also works with Gmail, where tapping on the compose button forces the display to roll out and offers you a larger keyboard to type on.

Moreover, the selfie shooter sits behind the smaller display. If you open the camera and switch to the front one, the Rizr’s display rolls down to unveil the sensor. It is incredibly cool in person. When rolled in, you can also use the rear camera to shoot selfies, thanks to the rolled-up display sitting on the back.

Unfortunately, it’s not ready yet

Motorola Rizr display coming off.
Prakhar Khanna/Digital Trends

The durability of the Motorola Rizr rollable concept phone is still a question. And I’m not talking about IP rating — but the unique rollable screen.

First, it doesn’t have any bottom bezel, so if you drop it, it’s likely to get damaged. Second, I noticed the rollable screen coming off from the hardware. It wasn’t sitting flush with the front part, as you can see in the above image.

The Motorola Rizr rollable phone is still a work in progress, and while I’d love to see it in the market, it isn’t ready to be shipped yet. And it’s likely to take some time before the Motorola Rizr phone makes its way to your pocket. That said, I believe it has the potential for being a mass-market product — and be better than the flip phone form factor.

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