There’s a question mark about battery life in smaller foldable phones, especially clamshell shape devices like the upcoming Motorola Razr.
Reviewers haven’t had a chance to properly test out the Razr yet and the Lenovo-owned company is staying tight-lipped about when review units will go out. But, just based on the specifications, the 2510mAh battery doesn’t inspire confidence.
The Razr ultimately folds out into a 6.2-inch phone – other handsets that size have batteries around the 3500mAh mark. It appears that Motorola’s solution for this is to focus on providing as much functionality as possible through the “Quick View” display on the outside of the device, which is presumably significantly less power hungry. The press materials also talked about disconnecting and taking “a break from distractions”.
It may be that Motorola has some magic trick up its sleeve that results in long battery life, but I doubt it. The design reality of these devices is that large, clunky, non-malleable components have to be packed into a smaller space – which means something has to give. In this case: the battery size.
If Samsung is indeed launching a clamshell foldable phone next February to compete with Motorola, what can it do to solve the battery conundrum? The Korean company is typically a safe pair of hands when it comes to battery life in its smartphones, so it will have to find a solution to keep that crown.
The simplest option is likely a thicker phone with a battery either side of the hinge. However part of the appeal of clamshell phones is that they’re compact and pocketable in a way current generation phones simply aren’t – tinkering with that formula might not be wise.
Another cruder alternative is an add-on battery case that perhaps comes free with the device, but this doesn’t sound like something design-obsessed Samsung would do. There’s also an outside chance that the new, reduced size, battery protection module could free up some space, but it’s not clear how much (or if the new tech will make it into Samsung’s next phone).
I’m not entirely sure how Samsung – or any other company making foldable phones – solves this riddle. Frankly, at this stage, it looks unsolvable. But something does need to be done, because next generation clamshell phones will likely be one of the most popular foldbale designs available. The response to the announcement of the Razr is an early indication of that. If they uniformly – across multiple brands – have poor battery life then their existence might be short lived.