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5 Tips for Using the Motorola Razr 2023’s Cover Screen

The Motorola Razr 2023 is the first widely available $700 clamshell foldable, and comes with compromises that help keep the price lower than its $1,000 counterparts.

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Most notably, the external display that stretches across the full top half of the back of the Motorola Razr Plus 2023 and Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 has been shrunk down to a thumbnail-size outer screen on the Razr 2023.

The 1.5-inch screen still has enough space to show basic information and app notifications, as well as offer interesting shortcuts and features. Here are five tips for using the Razr 2023’s cover screen to its full potential.

A hand holds the Motorola Razr 2023 folded up with a notification on its outer screen that says "twist twice to open camera."

Want to take a selfie with the Razr folded closed? Just twist your wrist twice while holding the phone.

Patrick Holland/CNET

1. Selfies

The best use for the Razr 2023’s outer display is to help take a selfie with the phone folded up, that lets you use the 64-megapixel main camera to take higher quality photos than the 32-megapixel shooter above the full inner display. Twist your wrist twice while holding the phone to open the Camera app.

Admittedly, the external screen is too small to preview everything that the main camera would capture, so you’ll mostly be using it to center the photo. Keep in mind that the external screen is oriented horizontally but shoots vertically, so if you want a wide selfie rather than a tall one, you’ll need to counterintuitively rotate the phone sideways. 

A hand holds the Motorola Razr 2023 and its small outer screen shows a preview of what the camera sees -- a man's face.

The Razr 2023’s outer display only shows a fraction of what the camera actually captures.

David Lumb/CNET

Also keep in mind that using the outer display defaults selfies to 4:3 resolution, which cannot be changed. As a cute detail, you can turn on a feature for an animated cartoon to wave on the small screen to get kids’ attention while taking a photo.

Motorola Razr 2023

Voice recording is one of several panel shortcuts to choose from.

James Martin/CNET

2. Pick your panel shortcuts

While you can’t access every app or feature from the external display, you can select from a small number of shortcuts and arrange them in “panels” in any order. In addition to the home panel with the clock, date and battery, you can add panels for audio recording, calendar events, contacts, media (what music is playing), timer and the weather.

Some of these are more useful than others, but they all fit the “quick access and info” mission of the outer display. And the contacts tab is handy for making quick calls to your favorite people.
To set up, go into the Settings app, select External Display. Then tap on Panels. From there you can pick which panels you want to be active and arrange them in your preferred order.

3. Make calls while the phone is folded closed

The aforementioned contacts panel lets you sift between contacts that you can call while the phone stays folded closed. Contacts have to be marked as favorites, so you’ll need to go through your list of friends and family to mark them ahead of time to call them from the external display.

A hand holds the Motorola Razr 2023 unfolded, which shows half a list of clockfaces to choose from: digital numbers, analog-style watch faces, and fun animated characters.

In the phone’s settings, you can choose which clockface is on the external display.

David Lumb/CNET

4. Change your time and date home panel

The default home panel lists time, date and battery percentage, but you can change the clock face. Head to Settings, tap External Display then Clockfaces to pick one that’s more your style. There are a variety from different digital fonts to classic analog watch faces. There’s even a few with animated characters that are fun for kids.

Motorola Razr 2023

With a simple chop-chopping gesture, you can flick on your flashlight without unfolding the phone.

James Martin/CNET

5. Flip open your flashlight

OK, this isn’t quite using the display, but it is a trick to use while the phone is folded closed. If you need to switch on the flashlight, just perform the other signature Motorola gesture: hold the folded-up Razr and make a chopping motion twice. To turn it off, chop twice once more.

In addition to the cover display, the Motorola Razr 2023 is a solid foldable phone at an attractive $700 price compared to its pricier competitors. Check out my full Razr 2023 review to learn more about the tradeoffs Motorola made to keep the phone affordable. 

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