Motorola is looking at what it might take to release an upcoming iteration of its Razr-branded folding smartphone with a modular design, based on patents recently filed with the USPTO.
Spotted by Dutch tech site LetsGoDigital, the design is striking in its contrast to the current Motorola Razr. But the most obvious change is detailed in the documentation associated with the patent. Rather than keep everything centered around a folding screen that fits neatly in-pocket, Motorola is approaching the design direction of Razr with a focus on making the phone as useful to as many people as possible.
Setting aside overall design, the phone isn't fundamentally different than the current Motorola Razr. It features a screen on the outside and another, flexible display, on the inside. But, when the device is folded, the apparent primary camera setup sits on its own modular partition at the top.
The component complains both front and back cameras as well as another on the top edge. The former two are fisheye style lenses, hinting at 360-degree photo taking. But that isn't part of the hinge. Motorola describes the component as modular, meaning that it can be swapped out for others as needed.
When the device is opened up, the hinge folds out to reveal a tall aspect ratio display while the camera housing mod remains straight. That places it at a perpendicular angle to the now unfolded display panel. The housing can then serve as a stand to prop up the device or a grip while it's being used.
The design modular Motorola Razr documentation also hints that those will be 12-megapixel sensors, likely 'quad pixel' sensors for better light and detail capture. An IR-based facial recognition sensor may be included as well, although these are still patents and not set in stone.
Stepping past the retro design of today
The overall design of the device differs quite a bit from the current Motorola Razr too. Motorola appears to be iterating on the retro design to bring it into the modern era of smartphones. That equates to smoothly curved, chamfered edges on all sides. The company also incorporated a slight notch in the design to make opening and closing the device easier.
Alongside those changes, Motorola has slimmed down the overall look. It's also gotten rid of the enormous chin found on the current variant. It is still relying heavily on bezels in the design and there is still subsequently plenty of chin and forehead. But it's a big step forward from the old-school look that's available now.
Motorola is also considering going further with modularization. A second design mentioned in the patent would utilize two displays instead of a single flexible panel. That may or may not be equally conceivable since it depends on a vertical hinge and folds the opposite direction but is something Motorola is considering.
That design might and others mentioned may also eventually allow for swappable components, taking advantage of the fact that the two displays. Namely, Motorola is looking at the possibility of offering a keyboard to swap out for one of the displays.
This may not come at all
It isn't immediately clear what users might be able to expect from a modular Motorola or even if it would ultimately be branded a Razr device. Most likely, those will follow a similar design and purpose as mods found on Motorola's other smartphones. That would point to camera mods, speaker mods, battery mods, and possibly projector mods. But there are mods for much more that could be up for consideration.
Other recently spotted patents have hinted at an entirely different gadget that ships with a plethora of side-panel gesture and touch buttons, similar to what's found in current Pixel devices. So it isn't possible to determine when or if Motorola might launch a device based on the one shown in the recent patents.