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