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printed May 27, 2017
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Consumer Cellular Picks Up the ZTE Avid 916 and Moto G5 Plus

Wednesday, 3:15 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Consumer Cellular recently added the ZTE Avid 916 and Motorola Moto G5 Plus to its roster of Android-based smartphones. The Avid 916 (pictured), a variant of the ZTE Grand / Champ, includes a 5.5-inch 720p display, 1.3 GHz Snapdragon 210 processor, and 8 GB of internal storage. The phone has an 8-megapixel main camera with 720p HD video capture and a 2-megapixel front camera. The phone includes Bluetooth 4.2, WiFi, GPS, and LTE. It supports microSD memory cards up to 64 GB and ships with Android 5.1.1 Lollipop. The phone costs $80. The Moto G5 Plus, which Motorola released earlier this year, is available for $200 or four payments of $50. It has a 5.2-inch full HD display, 12-megapiel camera, and runs Android 7.0 Nougat.


Google Updates Daydream to Version 2.0 Euphrates

May 18, 2017, 11:57 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated May 18, 2017, 12:20 PM

Google today provided some insight on its Daydream virtual reality platform and says a new version of Daydream will soon make its debut. Daydream 2.0 Euphrates targets standalone VR headsets and is powered by Android O. The entire experience is handled in virtual reality. Daydream 2.0 updates the home experience for standalone headsets and smartphones. Euphrates includes a new dashboard that will appear on top of any app and lets people remain in VR even when checking settings, reading notifications, and multitasking. Euphrates also adds Google Cast support, allowing people to pick a destination and cast from Daydream to other devices such as television sets. Daydream 2.0 makes it possible to capture screenshots and then share them via social networks. Google said there are eight Daydream compatible handsets right now, and it expects that number to increase significantly by the end of the year thanks to new entries from LG, Motorola, Asus, and others. Google believes tens of millions of Daydream devices will be in the market by the end of the year.


Google Says Samsung Galaxy S8 to Get Daydream

May 17, 2017, 1:53 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said Samsung will update the Galaxy S8 and S8+ handsets later this summer in order to make them compatible with Google's Daydream virtual reality platform. Daydream is Google's year-old VR service that runs on select handsets. It includes a dedicated VR headset. Google also mentioned that a forthcoming flagship handset from LG will be Daydream compatible. Google is working with partners such as Qualcomm, HTC, Lenovo, and others to create more standalone Daydream headsets that should arrive later this year.


Motorola Debuts the Entry-Level Moto C and Moto C Plus

May 15, 2017, 10:49 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated May 15, 2017, 11:35 AM

Motorola today unveiled two low-cost Android smartphones, the Moto C and Moto C Plus (pictured). Both phones are intended to serve as entry-level handsets for first time and/or cost-conscious buyers. Shared features include Android 7 Nougat, 3.5mm headset jacks, MediaTek 6737 processors, Bluetooth 4.2, and GPS. Some of the Moto C's specs include a 5-inch FWVGA display, 2,350mAh battery, LTE 4G, 5-megapixel camera with LED flash, 2-megapixel front camera with selfie flash, and a 1.1 GHz quad-core processor with 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of storage. The C Plus has a larger 4,000mAh battery and higher-resolution 720p HD 5-inch screen. It also improves the main camera sensor to 8-megapixels with LED flash, but keeps the 2-megapixel selfie camera. The Moto C Plus includes a 1.3 GHz quad-core processor with 1 GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage, and supports microSD memory cards. The devices will ship in Latin America, Europe, and Asia Pacific later this spring. Motorola said neither phone will be made available to U.S. buyers. The Moto C is priced at approximately $110 and the Moto C Plus is priced at about $130.


Sprint Likely Switch from Qualcomm to Kodiak for PTT Services

May 5, 2017, 10:47 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint is on the verge of offering a new version of its push-to-talk service, according to the company's web site. Direct Connect Plus, when it becomes available, will allow "a wide selection of feature phones, smartphones, and tablets" to make PTT calls via 3G, 4G LTE, and WiFi. The service will support real-time presence, broadcast calling, desktop-based dispatch operations, corporate administration tools, and Land Mobile Radio interoperability. Sprint's web site says Direct Connect Plus is coming soon. Sprint's existing PTT service is powered by Qualcomm technology, but clues suggest Sprint may be switching to Kodiak Networks as its PTT provider. As pointed out by Fierce Wireless, Kodiak lists Sprint as a carrier partner on its own web site. Moreover, Kodiak plainly says Sprint's Direct Connect Plus service "leverages the Kodiak platform." Neither Sprint nor Kodiak has confirmed the change, but the details shared on the companies' public web sites would appear to spill the beans. Earlier this week, Motorola Solutions announced plans to acquire Kodiak Networks for an undisclosed sum. There's no word if the deal will impact the launch of Sprint's new Direct Connect Plus launch.


Motorola Solutions Acquires PTT Provider Kodiak Networks

May 1, 2017, 12:36 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola Solutions today said it has agreed to acquire Kodiak Networks for an undisclosed sum. Motorola Solutions is the not the Lenovo-owned company behind Motorola smartphones; rather, Motorola Solutions is a separate corporation that handles first-responder and push-to-talk hardware, and wireless networking equipment. Kodiak Networks is a privately-owned company that developed PTT-over-cellular (3G, 4G) technology. Kodiak's tech has been adopted by network operators such as AT&T, allowing modern smartphones to include PTT functionality without requiring the old iDEN-based technology used by Nextel a decade ago. Motorola Solutions said the acquisition is a good fit for its networking business and will help improve its own technology offerings. The deal is subject to traditional regulatory and closing conditions.


Lenovo Says Bug Preventing Moto G Plus from Making 911 Calls On Verizon

Apr 20, 2017, 12:26 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Lenovo issued a notice this week warning that the Moto G5 Plus may not be able to connect 911 calls via VoLTE on Verizon's wireless network. The company has identified the bug and expects to issue a software patch in the next week or so. Until then, Lenovo suggests owners of the Moto G5 Plus disable VoLTE calling. This will enable the G5 Plus to make regular cellular calls to 911, though Lenovo reminds people that this will prevent Verizon customers from using voice and data at the same time.


Moto G5 Plus Goes On Sale March 31 for $230-$300

Mar 24, 2017, 6:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola today said the Moto G5 Plus will be available to U.S. buyers starting March 31. The company is selling two variants of the phone. The first has 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage and costs $229, while the second has 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage and costs $299. The phone will be sold by Motorola itself as well as Amazon, Best Buy, B&H, Costco, Flash Wireless, Frys, NewEgg, Republic Wireless, Target, Ting, and Walmart. Amazon Prime members can score a small discount on the phone, with the 2 GB model costing $185 and the 4 GB model costing $240. The Moto G5 Plus comes in gold or silver. It includes a 5.2-inch full HD display, Snapdragon 625 processor, 12-megapixel main camera, 5-megapixel user-facing camera, and wide support for U.S. LTE networks. The phone runs Android 7 Nougat.


Sprint Rolls Out Gigabit LTE In New Orleans

Mar 9, 2017, 9:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today said it has debuted gigabit-class LTE in New Orleans. The gigabit LTE requires 3-channel carrier aggregation using 60 MHz of Sprint's 2.5 GHz spectrum (Band 41) with 4x4 MIMO and 256 QAM modulation. This is what delivers Category 16 LTE download speeds via TDD-LTE. Sprint showcased the technology in New Orleans on an unannounced flagship smartphone from Motorola that uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor and Snapdragon X16 modem. Sprint plans to rely on its 2.5 GHz spectrum to add capacity and speed to its network around the country. The rollout of gigabit class LTE goes further than what Sprint's LTE Plus service already delivers (which reaches 100Mbps downloads). The gigabit LTE requires a series of incremental upgrades, says Sprint, that rely on the Cat 16 modem, 4x4 MIMO and 256 QAM. Sprint later plans to use massive MIMO and HPUE to boost performance at the cell edge, eventually pushing speeds beyond 1 Gbps. Sprint and Motorola did not say when the yet-to-be-named gigabit class LTE handset will be made available to consumers. The Snapdragon 835 processor and X16 modem aren't expected to be available in volume until April.


Verizon Pushing Nougat to Moto Z Droid Play

Mar 8, 2017, 8:06 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless is distributing the Android 7 Nougat system update to the Moto Z Droid Play handset. Nougat includes several marquee features, such as native split-screen multitasking and more granular control over the home screen experience. The Moto Z Droid Play smartphone scores a number of new features with the improved OS. Some include fast app switching, bundled notifications, expanded emoji selection, data saver, and improved doze mode. Nougat users will also enjoy greater control over notifications, the Quick Settings panel, and the main settings tools. Android 7 Nougat is free to download over WiFi. The update is being rolled out over the next few days.


Hands On with the Motorola G5 and G5 Plus

Feb 26, 2017, 1:05 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola introduced the Moto G5 and G5 Plus in Barcelona, the latest in its series of mid-range handsets. Motorola says it polled consumers in order to develop the G5 series' feature set, which include metal designs, good cameras, fingerprint readers, and high-definition screens. We spent a few moments with the phones. Here are our initial impressions.

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Motorola Phones to Gain Access to Amazon Alexa

Feb 26, 2017, 11:10 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Feb 26, 2017, 11:11 AM

Motorola and Amazon today said the Moto Z series of phones will soon have access to the Amazon Alexa voice-powered assistant. Alexa will be enabled through a Moto Mod that is still under development. When attached to the Mod, the Moto Z will act just like an Amazon Echo in-home speaker. Moreover, Motorola said it will bake Alexa directly into its handsets later this year.


Motorola Shows Off New Mods for Moto Z Phone

Feb 26, 2017, 11:06 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola today announced several new Moto Mods that are compatible with the Moto Z series of handsets. The first is a new battery pack with a unique design. The second is an accessory that will charge any battery-powered Mod. The third is a accessory for wireless charging. The last is a gamepad to assist with gaming. It includes directionals, buttons, and pads for interacting with games. Motorola say these Mods will go on sale during the first half go the year. Motorola did not say anything about pricing for these mods.

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Motorola Debuts G5 and G5 Plus

Feb 26, 2017, 10:50 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Feb 26, 2017, 11:42 AM

Motorola today announced the Moto G5 and G5 Plus, the fifth generation in Motorola's line of mid-range handsets. The phones feature metal frames and adopt a design language that vaguely resembles the Moto Z series. Shared features between the two phones include full HD screens, fingerprint readers, Android 7 Nougat, memory card support, water-repellant coating, and good support for U.S. LTE bands.

  • G5 Plus: The larger of the two phones (pictured) has a 5.2-inch display and is powered by a 2.0 GHz Snapdragon 625 processor with 2 or 3 GB of RAM and 32 or 64 GB of storage. The main camera has a 12-megapixel sensor a f/1.7 with double focus pixels, while the selfie cam has a 5-megapixel sensor. The G5 Plus has a 3,000mAh battery with Motorola's Turbo Charging technology. It includes NFC, but the U.S. variant drops this feature.
  • G5: The G5 is slightly smaller thanks to the 5.0-inch screen. It is powered by a Snapdragon 430 processor with 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. The main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor at f/2.0, while the selfie cam has a 5-megapixel sensor. The removable 2,800mAh battery supports rapid charging.
The Moto G5 will not come to the U.S., but the G5 Plus will reach the U.S. in April for $229.


More Carriers and Phone Makers Agree to Adopt Google's RCS-Based 'Android Messages' Service

Feb 24, 2017, 7:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said more wireless network operators and handset manufacturers will use Android Messages, its RCS-based messaging service, as the default SMS/MMS tool on their phones. (Android Messages was previously known as Google Messenger.) Some of the features of RCS, which is a global standard, include group chat, high-resolution photo sharing, advanced calling features, and read receipts. It has been improved lately with more interactive tools, such as the ability to check into flights. Google says a number of brands plan to use RCS in order to enhance their own services and help spur adoption. Some of the brands include Walgreens, Baskin-Robbins, FICO, Gamestop, Sonic, Subway, and Time. Moving forward, the Android Messages app with RCS will be preloaded by LG, Motorola, Sony, HTC, ZTE, Micromax, HMD Global, Archos, BQ, Cherry Mobile, Condor, Fly, General Mobile, Lanix, LeEco, Lava, Kyocera, MyPhone, QMobile, Symphony, and Wiko, along with Google's own Pixel and Android One devices. Further, Google was already working with carriers Sprint, Rogers, and Telenor, and today added Vodafone, Orange, Deutsche Telekom, and Globe. Notably absent fro the list of phone makers is Samsung, while AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon have also yet to commit. Phones with Android Messages on board will still be able to interact with Samsung handsets and those running on non-Sprint networks of course, but will lose the advanced features available via RCS. Samsung, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon haven't said if or when they might adopt Google's Android Messages, though T-Mobile and Verizon already use their own RCS-like messaging platforms.


Verizon Rolls Out Trade-In Offer to Match New Unlimited Plan

Feb 13, 2017, 8:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today announced a promotional trade-in offer that will give a free flagship-class phone to those who switch from other carriers. The offer requires users to select Verizon's new $80 monthly unlimited plan. It also requires a working trade-in that is fully paid off. Customers will need to port their number in from a competing service provider. Customers can then select the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, Google Pixel, Moto Z Droid, Moto Z Force Droid, Samsung Galaxy S7, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, or LG V20. Verizon will provide up to $792 toward the cost of the phone spread out over 24 months. In order to get one of the above phones for free, switchers will need to trade-in the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, Samsung Galaxy S6, Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+, Samsung Galaxy S7, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Samsung Note 5, LG G5, LG V20, or the HTC 10. Customers who have an older phone to trade, such as the Apple iPhone SE, Samsung Note 4, Samsung Galaxy S5, LG G4, LG V10, or HTC M9, will need to pay $5 per month for the "free" phones being offered by Verizon. Verizon Wireless didn't say how long this promotion will be available.


Virtual Reality Comes to the Web Thanks to Chrome

Feb 9, 2017, 1:32 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today made it possible to view web-based virtual reality content through its Chrome browser. The latest version of Chrome for Android devices supports VR, and Google says a number of its partners have begun to add VR content to their web sites. For example, Sketchfab has more than one million 3D scenes available that range from video games to works of art. The Chrome-based VR content requires a Daydream-compatible smartphone and Daydream VR viewer. Daydream handsets are limited to Google's own Pixel and Pixel XL, the Nexus 6P, Moto Z, and ZTE Axon 7. People who don't have Daydream phones can use their mouse or finger to pan around 3D content directly in the browser. Google says it plans to bring web-based VR support to its Cardboard viewer in the months ahead.


Motorola Announces Moto Mods Finalists

Feb 9, 2017, 1:21 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola today highlighted a dozen developers whose ideas have been accepted as potential Moto Mods. Motorola has been working with developers for several months to bring more Mods to the modular ecosystem compatible with its Z-branded smartphones. The 12 finalists have launched crowd-funding campaigns via Indiegogo and Motorola expects to name the top 10 designs in March. Some of the Mods include a wireless charger, solar charger, digital walkie-talkie, digital recorder (pictured), smart wallet, smart remote, and more. The Mods range widely in price and the campaigns vary between 30 and 60 days. As per the norm, early backers will receive a discount off the expected full retail price.


Google Opens Up Daydream VR to All Developers

Jan 26, 2017, 11:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has made it possible for more developers to create Daydream virtual reality applications for Android devices. Before this week, the necessary tools were limited to a few select Google partners. Now, any developer can publish a Daydream application on the Google Play Store. Daydream apps are called out in a specific section of the Play Store to help make them more visible. The move should eventually lead to a greater selection of virtual reality apps for Google's Daydream platform. Daydream is available to a limited selection of devices right now, including the Google Pixel and Pixel XL, and Motorola Moto Z Droid and Z Force Droid. More Daydream-compatible handsets are expected to arrive this year.


Verizon's Moto Z Droid Scores Security Update

Jan 26, 2017, 8:51 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless has begun distributing a minor system update to the Motorola Moto Z Droid and Moto Z Force Droid. According to the change log, the update applies the most recent security patch (Jan. 1, 2017) and also improves the notification volume. The update is free to download and install over the air.

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Nexus 6 Earns Android 7.1.1 from Google

Jan 7, 2017, 11:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google this week said the Nexus 6 smartphone from Motorola should receive the Android 7.1.1 update in the days ahead. The updated system software installs the new app shortcuts, round app icons, the image-enabled keyboard with new emoji, and various bug fixes. The Nexus 6 does not get some of the best features available to the new Pixel phones, such as Google Assistant. Knowledgable users can manually install 7.1.1 using the factory images available from Google's web site, but the update will be distributed over the air soon.


Google Improves the Selection of Daydream VR Apps

Dec 8, 2016, 11:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has added a variety of new Daydream virtual reality applications and games to the Google Play Store. People who own the Pixel, Pixel XL, Moto Z, and Moto Z Force can access and download the new content directly from their phone. Some of the new titles include Lego BrickHeadz, HBO Now and HBO Go, Netflix, NextVR, and Need for Speed. Last, both the snow and crimson Daydream View headsets are more widely available online in the U.S., U.K., and Australia. The View costs $79.


Motorola: Wearables Don't Have Enough Appeal

Dec 1, 2016, 5:23 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola does not plan to launch new smartwatches alongside the debut of Android Wear 2.0 early next year, reports The Verge. Shakil Barkat, Motorola's head of global product development, indicated the company will not release new hardware once Google's revised wearable platform hits the street. Motorola doesn't "see enough pull in the market to put [a new smartwatch] out at this time," said Barkat, though Motorola may revisit smartwatches down the road. "Wearables do not have broad enough appeal for us to continue to build on it year after year." Motorola's last wearable was the Moto 360 smartwatch, which debuted in September 2015. Since then, the company has focused chiefly on its mobile phones. Motorola hasn't written off wearables completely. "We believe the wrist still has value and there will be a point where they provide value to consumers more than they do today," noted Barkat. Huawei, too, has said it won't make more Android-based smartwatches, and Samsung swore off Android Wear in favor of its own Tizen platform some time ago. Google delayed the launch of Android Wear 2.0 from September to early in 2017.


Motorola Debuts Two New Mods for Moto Z Series

Dec 1, 2016, 1:53 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola today took the wraps off two additional Moto Mods for its Moto Z series of handsets. The first mod is a juice pack from Mophie (pictured) that packs a 3,000mAh power cell and 15W USB-C charging. A series of LED lights indicates how much power is within the juice pack and both the phone and the juice pack will charge when attached to one another and plugged in. The Mophie juice pack is available for preorder for $80 from Verizon Wireless' web site. The second mod is an in-car dock from Incipio. The $65 accessory holds, charges, and connects Moto Z handsets to most cars via the air conditioning fins. When docked, the phone automatically launches Android Auto for safer in-car use. Motorola didn't say when the two new mods will ship. The company did mention that it intends to release an average of four new mods per quarter moving through 2017.


Motorola May Create Project Tango Mod for Moto Z

Nov 30, 2016, 4:41 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Moto Z series of handsets might be given the power of Project Tango through a modular accessory, according to Motorola CEO Aymar de Lencquesaing. Speaking to journalists today Lencquesaing said, "The tablet folks did a phablet and worked with Google, the Tango team, to come out with a Tango phablet." That device is the Lenovo Phab2 Pro. "Going forward, we'll have to address as a group how do we reconcile the products that are at the fringe? We're likely to have a Tango module to basically enable the Z to have Tango functionality." Project Tango as realized on the Phab2 Pro uses a series of cameras to measure the environment and then map over it with augmented reality content. Lencquesaing did not say if a module for the Z is already in the works, nor when such a module might be released.


Motorola Bringing Nougat and Daydream to Z and Z Force

Nov 21, 2016, 12:26 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola said it will roll out Android 7.0 Nougat to the Moto Z and Moto Z Force starting this week. Both handsets will be updated from Android 6.1 to Android 7.0. Moreover, the update will make the Moto Z and Moto Z Force compatible with Daydream, Google's new virtual reality platform. According to Motorola, the Z and Z Force are the first non-Google handsets certified as Daydream ready. Daydream requires high-resolution screens, quick refresh rates, and fine-tuned sensors for accurate head tracking. Daydream also requires the Daydream VR headset and controller, which are sold separately at Verizon, Best Buy, and Google stores. The Nougat update will start reaching the Moto Z and Moto Z Force globally this week. More information on country- and carrier-specific upgrades is available from Motorola's web site. Motorola did not say if or when the Z Play might receive Android 7.


Motorola Turns to Indiegogo to Kickstart Moto Mods Development

Nov 3, 2016, 8:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola today said it has partnered with crowd-funding service Indiegogo in order to improve the selection of Moto Mods for its Z-series smartphones. Motorola is encouraging creators to share their Moto Mods ideas through its Moto Mods Developer contest. Motorola will reward select entrants with the Moto Mods Developer Kit, which includes a Moto Z phone. With the kit in hand, developers can then bring their prototypes to fruition with a small amount of help from Motorola. Mods that reach the working prototype stage can then apply to Indiegogo for initial funding. Motorola said it and partner Verizon Wireless will assist developers that make it this far by promoting the Indiegogo campaigns. Ten finalists will then have a chance to pitch their idea to Motorola and Verizon directly in Chicago. Winners will move on to production, shipping, and marketing, all of which will be aided in part by Motorola and Verizon. The Moto Z Play Droid, Moto Z, and Moto Z Force Droid are all compatible with Moto Mods, which are magnetic snap-on accessories. So far, some of the available Mods include a speaker from JBL, a camera from Hasselblad, and several battery packs.


H2O Wireless Adds 1 GB of LTE Data to Each Plan

Nov 1, 2016, 9:05 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

H2O Wireless, an MVNO that operates on AT&T's network, rolled out a limited improvement to its service plans. Starting today, all new customers will have access to 1 GB more LTE data across H2O's various plans. The entry level $30 plan now offers 2 GB, while the $40, $50, and $60 plans offer 4 GB, 6 GB, and 7 GB, respectively. The data offer runs through March 31, 2017, after which the extra 1 GB of data will no longer be available and the plans revert to their normal allotments of 1 GB, 3 GB, 5 GB, and 6 GB. H2O Wireless does not charge overages, but will throttle speeds back to 2G once customers use up their data. H2O Wireless offers a 10% discount on monthly plans when customers sign up for auto-pay. H2O sells a variety of older Android handsets, such as the Samsung Galaxy S3, S4, and S5, the Moto X, and a handful of Blu devices. Customers may bring their own unlocked, compatible GSM device if they wish.


Consumer Cellular Adds Moto G4 and G4 Play to Its Device Roster

Oct 12, 2016, 1:53 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Consumer Cellular today added the Motorola Moto G4 and Moto G4 Play to its lineup of Android handsets. Consumer Cellular is selling the G4 for $150 and the G4 Play for $100. The G4 has a 5.5-inch full HD screen and 13-megapixel camera while the G 4 Play has a 5-inch 720p HD screen and 8-megapixel camera. Both phones run Android 6 Marshmallow. Consumer Cellular also sells the older Moto G (3rd ed.) and the Moto E LTE.


Motorola Discloses Nougat Roadmap

Oct 4, 2016, 3:02 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola today announced which devices will receive Android 7 Nougat in the months ahead. Motorola said it will start with the Moto Z series and Moto G series (fourth generation) during the fourth quarter. Those phones will be followed by the Moto X Pure Edition (3rd Gen), Moto X Style, Moto X Play, Moto X Force, Droid Turbo 2, and Droid Maxx 2. Timing for individual handsets will be announced ahead of distribution.


Lenovo Announces Layoffs, Remains 'Committed' to Motorola

Sep 26, 2016, 4:17 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Sep 26, 2016, 4:17 PM

Lenovo today announced a workforce reduction that will see close to 2% of the company's 55,000 employees losing their jobs. Most of the more-than-1,000 cuts impact Lenovo-owned Motorola. Lenovo said the job cuts are "part of the ongoing strategic integration between Lenovo and its Motorola smartphone business." The company is still working to align its businesses and streamline its product portfolio. The company claims it is "making adjustments in other areas of the business" to manage costs and improve efficiencies. It insists the job cuts are necessary to ensure the company's long-term future. Lenovo said it "is absolutely committed to Chicago and we plan to maintain our Motorola Mobility headquarters there" where it will pursue research and development for its smartphone business. "We expect to take advantage of local talent to continue developing Moto products there." Lenovo bought Motorola from Google in 2014 for $2.91 billion. It has already cut more than 3,000 people from Motorola's payroll. Motorola's most recent handsets are the Moto Z, Z Force, and Z Play, which are sold unlocked as well as via Verizon Wireless under the Droid brand.

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Motorola to Sell Moto G4 Play Starting Sept. 15

Sep 6, 2016, 8:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola today said it will make its low-cost Moto G4 Play handset available unlocked to U.S. buyers beginning September 15. The G4 Play is the least-expensive variant of the G4 family, which also includes the Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus. The G4 Play has a 5-inch display at 720p HD, a 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 410, and an 8-megapixel main camera at f/2.2. The battery holds 2800mAh and supports rapid charging, but the charger is not included with the phone. Other features include LTE, Bluetooth, GPS, WiFi, sensors, and micro USB. Motorola said the G4 Play is available for preorder today from the web sites of Amazon, B&H, and Motorola. The phone sells for $149.99. Verizon Wireless plans to make the G4 Play available to its prepaid customers in the coming weeks. Last, Amazon plans to offer a Prime version of the Moto G4 Play for $99.99. Amazon's lower price requires users to view ads on the lock screen.


Lenovo to Sell Moto Z and Z Play Unlocked In October

Aug 31, 2016, 1:30 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Lenovo today said it will offer unlocked GSM variants of the Moto Z and Moto Z Play handsets later this fall. Pre-orders will kick off on September 15, with availability expected in early October. The Moto Z will cost $700 and the Moto Play will cost $450. Both devices will be compatible with the Moto Mods ecosystem of attachable modules.

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Hands-On with Moto Z Play Droid and Hasselblad True Zoom

Aug 31, 2016, 1:30 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Sep 2, 2016, 3:25 PM

Here are our first impressions of the mid-range Lenovo Moto Z Play Droid smartphone and the new True View camera mod from Hasselblad.

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Hasselblad Announces True Zoom Mod for Moto Droids

Aug 31, 2016, 1:30 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Hasselblad and Motorola today announced the Hasselblad True Zoom mod for the Moto Z Play Droid. Like other Moto Mods, the Hasselblad True Zoom attaches to the rear of the Z Play via magnets. The Hasselblad is a full camera that covers and replaces the Z Play's built-in camera. The True Zoom has its own 12-megapixel sensor with 10x optical zoom lens and optical image stabilization for photos. It can capture full HD video with electronic image stabilization. The mod includes a grip for easy holding, a hardware zoom dial, and physical shutter button. Moreover, the Hasselblad True Zoom has a xenon flash for brighter lighting. Last, the Hasselblad True Zoom has a unique camera application for the Z Play that allows it to shoot in RAW mode. The mod will be compatible with the Z Play Droid out of the box. Motorola says the Z Droid and Z Droid Force will receive a software update on or about September 15 that adds compatibility with the mod. The Hasselblad True Zoom will be available in the U.S. for pre-order starting September 8 and in Verizon stores September 15 for $249.99. For a limited time, when you buy a Moto Mod, Verizon is offering 50% off another Mod of equal or lesser value. The Hasselblad True Zoom will also be sold on Motorola.com for $299.

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Moto Z Play Droid Does Moto Mods for Less

Aug 31, 2016, 1:30 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola today announced the Z Play Droid, a more affordable Android smartphone that is compatible with the company's Moto Mods system of modular attachments. The Z Play Droid is almost indistinguishable from the Z Force Droid: it has a thick profile with a metal frame and glass front panel. The device scales back specs in order to reduce the price. The Z Play Droid has a 5.5-inch full HD screen. It is powered by a Snapdragon 625 processor with eight cores clocked at 2 GHz. The processor is joined by 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. The Z Play Droid includes a 16-megapixel main camera with laser autofocus and an aperture of f/2.0, while a wide-angle, 5-megapixel selfie camera with LED flash is around front. Like the Z Droid and Z Force Droid, the Z Play Droid has a fingerprint reader, water-repellant coating, and USB-C port. The Z Play, however, adds a 3.5mm headset jack. The Z Play is the first of the new Droids to be compatible with the new Hasselblad True Zoom camera module, which offers 10x optical zoom. The Moto Z Play Droid will be available in the U.S. beginning September 8 at Motorola.com and at Verizon for $17 per month on a Verizon device payment plan. The full retail price is $408.

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Verizon Debuts LTE Advanced with 50% Faster Speeds

Aug 29, 2016, 10:55 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today said it has launched LTE Advanced service in 461 markets around the country, covering some 288 million POPs or 90% of Americans. Verizon's LTE Advanced relies on two- and three-channel carrier aggregation to boost speed and capacity. Verizon says LTE Advanced delivers a 50% improvement in download and upload speeds compared to its traditional LTE network. Close to 40 devices sold by Verizon are compatible with LTE Advanced. Many of the newest phones (Galaxy Note7, Moto Z Droid) will support LTE Advanced out of the box, though some devices will require system updates. Verizon customers can take advantage of LTE Advanced's faster speeds at no additional cost.


Lenovo to Preload Microsoft Apps on Android Phones

Aug 23, 2016, 7:06 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Lenovo has agreed to install Microsoft's core productivity applications on some of its Android-based devices. The apps include Microsoft Office, OneDrive, and Skype. Lenovo said the productivity apps will reach millions of customers over the next few years. The agreement between Lenovo and Microsoft also includes a patent cross-licensing accord, allowing Lenovo to use Microsoft patents on its own devices, as well as those that carry the Motorola brand. Microsoft has patent-licensing agreements in place with most Android device makers. Terms of the arrangement were not disclosed.


Republic Wireless Improves Android Lineup

Jul 28, 2016, 12:26 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Republic Wireless today said it has added nine modern smartphones to its lineup of Android devices. The new phones include the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge ($799), S7 ($699), J3 ($179), and S6 ($549); the Nexus 6P ($499) and 5X ($349); and the Motorola Moto X Pure Edition ($349), G4 ($199), and G4 Plus ($299). Republic customers can pay full price for the handsets, or elect to pay via monthly installments that range broadly from $11 to $48, based on the cost of the phone. Consumers who already own one of these unlocked handsets can pick up a Republic Wireless SIM card starting August 11. Republic's service plans start at $15 per month, which includes unlimited calling, texting, and WiFi data. Plans that include cellular data cost $20 per month for 1 GB, $30 for 2 GB, and $45 for 4 GB.


Verizon Kicks Off Preorders for Moto Z Droid and Z Force Droid

Jul 21, 2016, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jul 21, 2016, 8:19 AM

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.


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