Verizon Wireless today began accepting preorders for the Motorola Moto Z Droid and Moto Z Force Droid, which will reach stores on July 28. The Moto Z costs $624 ($26 per month) and the Z Force costs $720 ($30 per month). Verizon customers may trade in their current flagship smartphone for up to $300 to put toward either Moto Z handset, or older phones for up to $200. Verizon Wireless also shared pricing details on the Moto Mods modular accessories that attach to the back of the Moto Z and Z Force: the JBL SoundBoost speaker costs $80, the Moto Insta-Share Projector costs $300, the Tumi power pack costs $60, the Kate Spade New York power pack costs $90, and Incipio's rear plates cost $15 each. The Moto Mods attach to the Moto Z and Z Force via magnets and enhance the capabilities of the phone. Verizon said that, for a limited time, customers who purchase one Mod with their Moto Z will receive 20% off any additional Mods they buy. The Moto Z and Z Force are Android smartphones. Each has a 5.5-inch quad HD screen, Snapdragon 820 processor with 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage, USB-C with QuickCharge, and fingerprint reader.
H2O Wireless, an MVNO that operates on AT&T's network, has increased the data available on its prepaid service plans. The company offers plans that range from $30 to $60, all of which include unlimited talk and text in the US and unlimited text to more than 50 international destinations. The $30 plan includes 500 MB of 3G data and the $35 plan includes 500 MB of LTE data per month. The data improvements impact H2O's more costly plans. The $40 plan jumps from 1 GB to 3 GB, the $50 plan jumps from 2 GB to 4 GB, and the $60 plan jumps from 3 GB to 4.5 GB. The company offers a 10% discount on monthly plans when customers sign up for auto-pay, so the $60 plan, for example, would cost $54. H2O sells a variety of older Android handsets, such as the Samsung Galaxy S5, the original Moto X, and others. Customers may bring their own unlocked, compatible GSM device if they wish.
Verizon Wireless today said customers can trade in an old flagship smartphone for up to $300 off a new flagship smartphone. The promotion is limited to certain handsets. For example, only the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, S6, and S6 edge/edge+; HTC M9; Apple iPhone 6; and LG G4 and V10 are eligible to trade-in for $300. The phones must be in good working order and good cosmetic condition. Other phones traded in will receive a lesser amount to be determined by Verizon. The program also requires customers to activate a new line, upgrade, or switch to Verizon and then purchase a new device on a monthly payment plan. Customers can use the $300 toward the Apple iPhone 6S or 6S Plus; HTC 10; LG G5; Samsung Galaxy S7, S7 edge, and Note 5; and the Moto Droid Turbo 2 or Maxx 2 .(Customers interested in the Turbo 2 or Maxx 2 are allowed to trade-in phones with broken screens.) Verizon suggests customers perform the trade-in at Verizon's stores, where credit for the value of the trade will be applied immediately, but the company is also offering the promotion through its web site. New customers will receive the $300 via a gift card, while existing customers will be given an account credit. Verizon's didn't say how long the trade-in program will run.
Amazon today announced a new promotion that will allow Amazon Prime subscribers to buy unlocked handsets at reduced prices. The first two phones eligible for the promotion include the Motorola Moto G4 (pictured) and the Blu R1 HD. Amazon said the Moto G4 will cost $150, rather than $200, and the Blu R1 HD will cost $50, rather than $100. There's a big catch, however; people who buy these phones will be required to watch ads. "The breakthrough pricing on unlocked smartphones is supported by personalized offers and ads," explained Amazon, "including deals and product recommendations, displayed on the phone's lockscreen. When a customer sees an offer, they can tap to learn more about it or simply unlock their phone to dismiss." Amazon uses a similar model to discount the price of its own Kindle-branded e-readers. Both the Moto G4 and Blu R1 HD go on sale July 12. For a limited time, Prime subscribers can get an additional $25 off the G4, dropping the total price to $125.
Qualcomm today said its top-of-the-line processor, the Snapdragon 820, is ready to power Project Tango hardware. Qualcomm initially supported Project Tango with the Snapdragon 652, which required a number of software optimizations. This is why the recently-announced Lenovo Phab 2 Pro Project Tango handset runs on the Snapdragon 652 rather than a different chip. Qualcomm retuned the 820 to match the 652's software optimizations. Specifically, Qualcomm says the Snapdragon 820 now offers "high accuracy, uniform time stamping of multiple sensor data streams, efficient processing without the need for external co-processors, and leading camera and sensor processing technology" — all needed for Tango. Qualcomm plans to support Tango with more of its Snapdragon 600 and 800 tier processors over time.
Motorola today said its fourth-generation G series smartphones will go on sale beginning July 12. The G4 will cost $199 and the G4 Plus (pictured) will cost $249. The phones will be sold by Amazon.com, Best Buy, BrandsMart, B&H, CarToys, Fry's, MicroCenter, Motorola.com, Sam's Club, and Walmart. Further, Republic Wireless will offer both phones with its service starting July 28. The Moto G4 and G4 Plus are sold unlocked with support for most U.S. carriers, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless.
Jim Wicks, Motorola's head of design, plans to leave the company for a faculty position at Northwestern University, according to Crain's Chicago Business. Wick has led Motorola's design team for a dozen years, and has been with the company for more than 15. He's responsible for handsets such as the RAZR and Droid. "We greatly appreciate Jim's contributions in leading a consumer experience design team that delivered standout, iconic, and award-winning industrial design and user experiences for Moto's mobile and wearable products," said Lenovo in a statement provided to Crain's. Lenovo owns Motorola. The company said Ruben Caetano will take Wicks' place in Lenovo's Chicago office. Wicks' departure follows closely that of former Motorola CEO Rick Osterloh, who defected to Google earlier this year.
Motorola and LG have said their first-generation Android Wear smartwatches won't be updated to the newest version of the wearable platform from Google. Both companies recently shared the news via their official Twitter accounts. The two wearables were first announced in 2014 and were among the first wave of smartwatches to run Android Wear. Motorola and LG did update the wearables to Android Wear 1.2 in 2015, but it appears that's as far as they will go. Moreover, LG says it has discontinued the LG G Watch in favor of newer models. Android Wear 2.0 adds a number of features and requires fresh hardware for WiFi and cellular connectivity. Android Wear 2.0 is available to developers, but won't be released to the general public until later this year.
Lenovo showed off what it claims is the first Project Tango smartphone, the Phab 2 Pro. This gigantic Android smartphone boasts four cameras to help it capture and create augmented and virtual reality content. Here are our initial impressions.
Motorola's new Droids take a modular approach that, at first glance, is compelling. Motorola hopes people will buy into the idea of enhancing their Moto Z Droid and Moto Z Droid Force with hot-swappable modules that add speakers, power, and more to the phones. Here is a first look at these exclusives for Verizon Wireless.
Neither the Moto Z Droid nor the Moto Z Droid Force has a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. Instead, the two phones adopted the USB-C standard for charging and audio output. When asked why it made this decision, Lenovo executives said its new phones are a "platform for the future" and that USB Type-C is defining that future. The decision means the phones will be compatible with future Moto Mods, for example, and other accessories the company creates down the road. Lenovo also noted it could not have made the phones as thin or simple as they are with the headphone jack. This was purely a "future-focused decision," said Lenovo, but "to ease the pain, we've included a USB-C to 3.5mm dongle in the box."
Lenovo executives today said the company plans to continue making its current lineup of handsets, called the Moto X, Moto G, and Moto E. It believes firmly in targeting the high-, mid-, and low-end segments to meet the varied needs of different markets. Lenovo developed the new Moto Z phones based on the X, but the company will still carry the X series forward. Lenovo implied the next version of the X may include features found on the new Z phones.
Lenovo's Moto unit said the Moto Mods, which attach to the new Z Droid and Z Droid Force smartphones, will be forward compatible with future devices. Lenovo said it has settled on a basic design size and shape for its smartphones that it will carry forward so forthcoming handsets will be able to use the existing set of Moto Mods. Moto imagines people will share and swap the Mods as needed. Moto plans to release a developer kit this summer so third-party companies can create their own Moto Mods.
The Lenovo Moto Z Droid and Z Droid Force, announced today, will be exclusive to Verizon Wireless when they go on sale later this summer. Verizon said preorders will kick off in July, but hasn't yet said exactly when the phones will reach stores. Moto said the two phones will eventually be sold unlocked in September. Consumers will be able to buy them directly from Motorola's web site.
Motorola today showed off the Z Droid and Z Droid Force handsets, which are compatible with magnetic modules that attach to the back. The Z Droid and Z Droid Force will have access to a handful of Moto Mods at launch, but Motorola hopes other companies will make Mods, too. Motorola plans to make an SDK available to companies so they can design and develop their own Mods for the Z Droid line of phones. Motorola has already partnered with JBL, TUMI, and kay spade new york.
Motorola today announced two new smartphones, the Moto Z Droid and Moto Z Force Droid, both of which adopt a modular design that allows users to enhance them with attachable accessories. The phones are spiritual successors to last year's Turbo 2 and Maxx 2 handsets, but take on new design language in addition to support for the Moto Mods modules. Unlike LG's G5, which features modules that insert into the bottom of the phone, Moto Mods attach to the back of the Moto Z Droid and Moto Z Droid Force magnetically. This allows owners to swap the modules more easily, and without requiring device reboots. The first batch of modules includes JBL SoundBoost stereo speakers, Moto Insta-Share Projector, and battery packs from TUMI and kate spade new york. Shared features between the phones include 5.5-inch quad HD screens, Snapdragon 820 processors, fingerprint readers, 5-megapixel selfie cameras, USB-C ports, and water-repellent coatings. The run Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
- Moto Z Droid: The Z Droid is thin and light with an aluminum body, 13-megapixel camera, and 2,600mAh battery with rapid charging.
- Moto Z Force Droid: This hardier handset makes use of second-generation Shatter Shield technology from Motorola for an unbreakable screen. Motorola says its new Shatter Shield tech is thinner, stronger, and has narrower edges. The Z Force improves the battery to 3,500mAh with rapid charging, and bumps the camera up to 21 megapixels.
Lenovo today announced the Phab 2 Pro, a smartphone aimed at helping people capture virtual and augmented reality content. It builds on the foundation set by the first Project Tango tablet, but is a smaller and more refined device. Lenovo designed the Phab 2 Pro in partnership with Google, which heads Project Tango. The device is a premium handset with an aluminum design, a 6.4-inch quad HD display, and a Snapdragon 652 processor with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage. The phone has four cameras: an 8-megapixel selfie camera, a 16-megapixel main camera, a depth camera, and a motion-tracking camera. Lenovo says these latter two are core to helping create virtual/augmented reality content. The phone includes Dolby Atmos sound and is able to capture audio with Dolby 5.1 for more immersive sound. The Phab 2 Pro includes a 4,000mAh battery with rapid charging. It runs Android and will be available in September at Best Buy stores for $499.
Verizon Wireless said it will discontinue its $2.99 Visual Voicemail service come July 8. All customers who use the Visual Voicemail app will be transitioned to Verizon's free, basic voicemail service. Verizon says customers won't lose their existing voicemails, but may need to make room in their voicemail inbox, as well as reset their voicemail greeting. The list of phones impacted by the change is significant, including old and new models from BlackBerry, Casio, HTC, Kyocera, LG, Motorola, Nokia, Pantech, and Samsung. Verizon did not say why it is discontinuing the Visual Voicemail service.
Motorola today announced the fourth-generation Moto G, which is a trio of handsets rather than a single phone. All three devices, which include the Moto G, Moto G Plus, and the Moto G Play, run Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow and feature slimmer designs than previous generations. The phones share a variety of functions, such as support for LTE, Bluetooth, GPS, WiFi, sensors, and micro USB. The first two phones both include 5.5-inch full HD screens, 1.5 GHz Snapdragon 617 processors with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage.
- Moto G: The main model includes a 13-megapixel main camera with an aperture of f/2.0, dual-LED flash, and HDR. The front camera captures wide-angle, 5-megapixel images and boasts a display-based selfie flash. Both can capture full HD video. The Moto G ships with a 3000mAh battery and supports Quick Charge. Consumers can personalize the G via Moto Maker.
- Moto G Plus: The G Plus carries over most features from the G. It chiefly steps up the main camera to 16 megapixels and allows for greater customization of RAM and storage. It also adds a fingerprint reader for security.
- Moto G Play: The low-end model steps the display down to 5 inches at 720p HD, drops the processor to a 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 410, lowers the main camera to 8 megapixels at f/2.2, and reduces the battery to 2800mAh. It supports rapid charging, but the charger is not included with the phone.
Republic Wireless today said it has partnered with a new GSM-based carrier to help increase its service availability around the U.S. Republic launched as a WiFi-first service in 2011, and partnered with Sprint so customers could make calls, send messages, and surf the web when away from WiFi. Republic's new carrier partner is likely T-Mobile, though Republic Wireless did not say so directly. Republic will work with both Sprint and T-Mobile moving forward. With the new GSM partnership in place, Republic is set to expand its selection of devices to include some newer, top-tier Android phones. Beginning in July, Republic will offer the Samsung Galaxy S7/S7 Edge, S6, and J3, the Google Nexus 6P and 5X, and the Motorola Moto X Pure Edition — all of which run Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Republic said financing will be available for each handset. Customers will be able to bring their own GSM-based device if they so wish. Last, Republic said it is prepared to roll out new service plans. One such plan costs $20 per month and includes unlimited talk, text, and 1 GB of LTE. Republic will share more details about its new service plans in the weeks ahead.
The FCC and FTC today asked carriers and phone manufacturers how they handle security updates for their devices. The FCC sent letters to AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and other carriers, while the FTC queried Apple, Blackberry, Google, HTC, LG, Microsoft, Motorola, and Samsung. In particular, the agencies want to know: the factors carriers/OEMs consider in deciding whether to patch a vulnerability on a particular phone; data on the specific phones sold in the U.S. since August 2013; the vulnerabilities that have affected those devices; and whether and when the company patched such vulnerabilities. The government said the line of inquiry is to help it further understand how these companies do or do not protect consumers. "Consumers may be left unprotected, for long periods of time or even indefinitely, by any delays in patching vulnerabilities once they are discovered," said the FCC. "To date, operating system providers, original equipment manufacturers, and mobile service providers have responded to address vulnerabilities as they arise. There are, however, significant delays in delivering patches to actual devices — and that older devices may never be patched." Google provides monthly security updates to Nexus-branded Android devices, but individual phone makers lag badly. Apple provides occasional updates.
The U.S. International Trade Commission has agreed to investigate a complaint from Creative Technology / Creative Labs that accuses eight different smartphone makers of infringing on patents. The ITC is prepared to look at phones made by BlackBerry, HTC, Lenovo, LG, Motorola, Samsung, Sony, and ZTE. Creative Labs says these companies are violating a patent related to media playback on mobile devices. The ITC did not say when it might make an initial ruling on the matter. Companies often use the ITC as a venue to settle trade disagreements because the ITC has the power to institute import bans.
Rick Osterloh, former CEO of Motorola, is returning to Google in order to run the company's new hardware division, which includes Nexus and Chromecast. Osterloh left Lenovo last month. Lenovo bought Motorola from Google in 2014. Osterloh will be responsible for working with Google's handset partners in designing Nexus phones and tablets, as well as Chromecast dongles and compatible products. Osterloh's role will also include oversight of Google Glass, ATAP, OnHub routers, Chrome-based PCs and the Android-based Pixel tablet line. Osterloh will serve as a senior vice president and report to Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
Cricket Wireless today announced a new retail partnership with Aaron's that will make Cricket's SIM card starter kit available at about 2,000 Aaron's locations around the country. Aaron's offers goods on a lease-to-own basis. Consumers who lease a smartphone from Aaron's can now activate that phone on Cricket's network right at the Aaron's retail store. Aaron's online lineup of devices includes the Samsung Galaxy S5, Galaxy Note 3, LG G3, and Motorola Moto G. Lease prices are expensive. For example, Aaron's lists the Galaxy S5 retail price at $840. (The Galaxy S5 is available new from retailers such as Amazon.com for $360, unlocked.) Monthly lease costs from Aaron's run $90 per month for 18 months, which totals about $1,620. Finance charges are about $780 in this example. These prices don't include Cricket's service fees, which start at $40 per month.
Lenovo today said Rick Osterloh will leave the company amid an internal reorganization. Osterloh has headed Motorola's efforts within Lenovo since the Chinese firm acquired Motorola from Google in 2014. The company is shifting its internal business groups. The PC unit will now include phablets, tablets, and PCs running Android, Chrome OS, and Windows. This unit will be led by Gianfranco Lanci, who is president and COO at Lenovo. The rest of the mobile business, including Motorola- and Lenovo-branded smartphones, will be led by company presidents Xudong Chen and Aymar de Lencquesaing. Lenovo announced new branding efforts for its smartphones earlier this year. The company is de-emphasizing the Motorola brand, shortening it to just Moto. Neither Lenovo nor Osterloh specified the reasons behind his departure.
Motorola has begun testing a rollout of Android 6.0 Marshmallow for the Verizon-branded Droid Turbo 2. Motorola said it will keep an eye on the soak test for a few days and, if everything runs smoothly, begin delivering the update to all users in earnest.
At an event at Mobile World Congress this week, Motorola unit President Rick Osterloh gave an update on the integration of Motorola Mobility into Lenovo, and gave new information on some future plans. The mobility unit of the company is now profitable. The company has integrated Motorola and Lenovo mobile design, engineering, and manufacturing teams, combining best practices from both. Former Motorola designers are working on an all-new, unified design language for the company's Vibe line of phones, while continuing to work on new Moto X, Moto G, and Moto E models. The company also plans to expand Moto Maker to allow even greater customization of phones, although there are no plans to bring a Moto Maker assembly facility back to U.S. soil. Moto and Vibe will continue as separate brands, each with a unique identity and focus. Moto phones are intended to be innovative phones for "trend-setters", while the Vibe line will continue to focus on value. The company is integrating hardware and software platforms in all "behind the scenes" aspects, however. This will allow it to consolidate component procurement and achieve better economies of scale across both the Moto and Vibe lines. The company expects to present a "fully converged" portfolio of Moto and Vibe phone models by mid-summer 2016. The company is still working on a more unified brand strategy for the longer term.
Qualcomm today said it has signed a new patent licensing agreement with Lenovo, which will use Qualcomm's 3G and 4G wireless technology in future mobile devices. The patents will appear in both Lenovo- and Motorola-branded devices and cover technologies specific to the China market. Qualcomm said it has agreed to royalties that are inline with the terms set by China's National Reform and Development Commission. Last year, Qualcomm settled an investigation with China regarding its licensing policies for nearly $1 billion. Lenovo will use Qualcomm's technology to develop, manufacture, and sell 3G and 4G handsets, including tri-mode (LTE-TDD, TD-SCDMA, and GSM) devices. Terms of the deals were not disclosed. Qualcomm signed a similar deal with Xiaomi, Haier, Tianyu, and QiKu late last year.
Republic Wireless, an MVNO that operates on Sprint's network, says it has signed a deal with a GSM-based carrier and will expand service with a GSM smartphone later this year. Republic's SVP of sales Lon France told Fierce Wireless the device will be a high-end Motorola handset, though he didn't name the exact model nor the new carrier partner (likely T-Mobile). The company will also introduce a new version of its WiFi calling app when GSM-based services become available. The company is targeting March or April for the GSM launch
Lenovo plans to phase out the Motorola brand from its phone lineup. Lenovo will now put its own name on all of its phones and related products. The company will still use "Moto" as a line brand, so phones like the Moto X will now be called the "Lenovo Moto X", making "Moto" a brand for high-end devices, while Lenovo's existing "Vibe" will designate lower-end Lenovo phones. The company will also keep using the iconic circular "M" logo on Moto phones. Lenovo bought Motorola Mobility from Google two years ago. Motorola Solutions continues to exist as a separate company making radio equipment for the public safety industry and related products and services.
Verizon Wireless plans to make a special Star Wars edition of the Motorola Droid Turbo 2 available for purchase beginning Dec. 11. Shoppers will be able create their own Turbo 2 via Motorola's Moto Maker web site or inside Verizon retail stores. The Star Wars-themed customizations include movie-matched color palates, rear shells, and wallpapers for several of the characters. Verizon didn't immediately disclose pricing for the special edition handset.
Google is no longer selling the Motorola-made Nexus 6 handset via the Google Play Store. The company is now selling only the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P smartphones, though the Nexus 6 remains available from other retailers, including Amazon.com. Google has also lopped $50 off the price of the Nexus 5X for the holidays. Google is selling the phone for $329, which is $50 less than the $379 retail price.
Motorola is delivering the Android 6.0 Marshmallow system update to some versions of the Moto X Pure Edition. Motorola's David Schuster said Android 6.0 is headed to the Sprint, Verizon, and U.S. Cellular models of the Moto X. Schuster said Motorola has started the Marshmallow soak test for the 2015 Moto X Play in Brazil/India. Motorola is still working to rollout Marshmallow to other devices in its lineup, and will have more information with respect to timing closer to the release date.
GoPhone, AT&T's prepaid brand, today dropped the prices of several handsets. Customers who activate a plan costing $45 or more can snag the ZTE Maven for free, or receive $40 off a small selection of other devices. After the new-line discount, for example, the Asus Zenfone 2E costs $59.99, the Microsoft Lumia 640 costs $19.99, the Motorola Moto E costs $14.99, and the ZTE ZMax 2 costs $89.99. AT&T did not say how long the discounts will be available, but they kick off beginning today.
Motorola today announced availability of the Moto 360 Sport, its fitness-focused smartwatch. The device will reach the U.K. and France first on Dec. 18. The device will become available in the U.S. online starting Jan. 7, and in Best Buy stores nationwide on Jan. 10. The wearable, which has a 1.37-inch screen adapted for outdoor use and GPS for tracking workouts, costs $299. Motorola said the 360 Sport will reach Brazil, Canada, China, Mexico, and Spain later in the new year. The smartwatch runs Google's Android Wear platform.
Cricket Wireless today kicked off a promotions to entice consumers to port their number to Cricket. People who switch to Cricket between today and Dec. 6 will earn a $100 Cricket Shopping Card. The card can be used for monthly service, handsets, and accessories at Cricket stores. Cricket said it will let new customers combine this deal with existing mail-in rebate promos on select phones to save even more money. For example, Cricket is offering the LG Risio, Motorola Moto E, Nokia Lumia 635, and the ZTE Overture 2 for free after rebates. The rebates are available to all customers through Jan. 7. The $100 gift card is only available to new customers.
Motorola today revealed a limited collection of Moto X Pure designs created by Jonathan Adler. Adler made three distinct Moto X handsets that will be available for preorder starting Nov. 24. The Moto X Pure Jonathan Adler edition will go on sale Dec. 3 for $474.99 for the 32GB model. That price is a $25 premium over the standard price via Moto Maker. Motorola didn't say how limited the supply of these unique handsets will be. The Moto X Pure runs Android 5.1 Lollipop and includes a 5.7-inch quad HD screen and 21-megapixel camera.
Motorola's David Schuster today said the 2015 Moto X Pure Edition will receive the Android 6.0 Marshmallow update in the next few weeks. The company is already pushing Marshmallow to the Moto X Style and 2014 Moto X in select markets. Android 6.0 includes Google Now On Tap contextual search; Doze and App Standby for improved battery life; revised volume and Do Not Disturb controls; System UI Tuner and Memory Manager; Expandable Storage, RAM manager, and automatic app backups; as well as improved text selection. Motorola said it will share more information close to the update's release.
Motorola today said it will open a new retail store in Chicago on Nov. 7. The shop will feature Motorola's handset and wearable lineups, along with all the personalization options available via Moto Maker. Customers will be able to touch and feel the various different materials, such as wood and leather, as well as try different-sized smartwatches to see what works best. Consumers will even be able to drop-test the Droid Turbo 2 on concrete and other surfaces. The Moto Shop will be open seven days a week through the holidays and is located on North State Street in downtown Chicago. Motorola is headquartered in Chicago.
The Maxx 2 from Motorola is the less expensive of Verizon's two new Droids, but it is no less compelling. The phone offers incredible battery life, customizable rear shells, and specs to spare. It shares its design with the tougher Turbo 2, but the Maxx 2 isn't quite as rugged. Here is Phone Scoop's early take on the Motorola Droid Maxx 2.