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.
Motorola's new Droid Turbo 2 for Verizon aims to entice power users with two-day battery life, a powerful camera, and fast performance on Verizon's LTE 4G network. Motorola claims the Turbo 2 is more or less unbreakable thanks to what it calls "shatter shield" technology. Read on for Phone Scoop's first impressions of this Droid sequel.
Motorola and Verizon today announced the Droid Maxx 2, which claims to offer people "maximum battery life" thanks to the 3630mAh power cell. The Maxx 2 provides 48 hours of use, and the TurboCharge feature can provide 8 hours of battery life after just 15 minutes plugged into a charger. The Maxx 2 isn't as rugged as the Droid Turbo 2, but still offers a 21-megapixel camera, 5.5-inch full HD screen, Snapdragon 615 processor, 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage, interchangeable rear shells, and memory card slot. The Droid Maxx 2 goes on sale this week for $16 per month with a Verizon installment plan.
Verizon Wireless and Motorola today announced the Droid Turbo 2, an Android smartphone that claims to be shatterproof. Motorola says its engineers and designers built a rugged handset from the inside out over the course of several years. The shatter shield technology has 5 layers that absorb shock and protect against breakage. The first is a rigid aluminum core, followed by a flexible AMOLED display, with a dual-touch layer for redundancy, and an interior shield that won't crack or shatter. The Turbo 2 is the first Droid that can be customized via Moto Maker, which offers a wide variety of materials and colors for personalization. Motorola claims the 3760mAh battery provides 48 hours of use and the TurboPower charge delivers 13 hours of up time after being charged for just 15 minutes. The Turbo 2 has a 5.4-inch quad HD screen, 21-megapixel main camera, 5-megapixel front camera, and Snapdragon 810 processor. The Droid Turbo 2 will cost $26 per month for the 32GB version and $30 per month for the 64GB version.
Verizon Wireless today tweeted a fuzzy photo — and a clearer video — of a Droid handset that resembles the Motorola Moto X. The company has a Droid-branded event taking place Oct. 28 and it is highly probable the device pictured today is the one Verizon intends to announce at that event. The photo is accompanied by text that reads, "Introducing the perfect phone for imperfect people." This implies the phone might be tough or rugged in some capacity. Previously Droid handsets have had Kevlar construction. Verizon didn't reveal any more details about this yet-unnamed smartphone.
Boost Mobile today announced a trio of inexpensive handsets, including the Huawei Union. The Union has a 4.5-inch screen, 1.1GHz quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of storage. It includes a 5-megapixel camera, 2,000mAh battery, and support for memory cards up to 32GB. The Huawei Union runs Android 5.1 Lollipop and costs $79.99. Boost Mobile also announced pricing for the HTC 626s and the Motorola Moto G (3rd Gen), which cost $129.99 and $149.99, respectively. All three smartphones go on sale today.
The CTIA today announced that a number of member companies have agreed to take on additional measures to help prevent cellphone thefts. Following recommendations made by the FCC, wireless companies will make anti-theft tools available to all consumers that also respect consumer choice and privacy. All new phones made after July 2016 will "make readily available to the authorized user an option that allows the authorized user to enable or disable the anti-theft solution at any time that the smartphone is connected and is in the authorized user's possession." Beyond this baseline tool, consumers will have the option to use other, third-party solutions to locate, wipe, or reinstate their devices if they so wish. Companies that have agreed to this include Apple, Asurion; AT&T; BlackBerry; Google; HTC; Huawei; LG; Microsoft; Motorola; Samsung; Sprint; T-Mobile USA; U.S. Cellular; Verizon, and ZTE. In response, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said, "CTIA members' ... enhanced voluntary commitment to adopt anti-theft features and educate consumers demonstrates their resolve in combatting it. I am hopeful that this new voluntary commitment will make a meaningful difference for consumer safety. As the enhanced commitment recognizes, these solutions work only if they are adopted widely. The FCC will remain vigilant in this area by pushing for further improvements to the theft-prevention toolbox, and also by monitoring closely whether the efforts of industry and others are producing meaningful results." Apple's iOS and Google's Android already contain features that let device owners find and protect their mobile devices. The FCC hopes allowing people to download and use the protective measure of their choice will help encourage consumers to make broader use of the tool.
Motorola today voiced its support for Android 6.0 Marshmallow in a blog post and outlined some of the changes headed to its devices. First and foremost, Motorola will update the following handsets to Android 6.0 Marshmallow: 2015 Moto X Pure Edition, Style, and Play; 2014 Moto X Pure Edition in US, Latin America, and Europe: Moto G 3rd edition, 2nd edition, and 2nd edition with LTE; Droid Turbo, Moto Maxx, and Moto Turbo; and the Google Nexus 6. Motorola said it is in no hurry to deliver Android 6.0, however, and will do so only when everything is fully prepared. When Marshmallow does arrive, it will drop several Motorola-specific features. For example, the "Do Not Disturb" most in Android 6.0 is similar in functionality to Motorola's Moto Assist app. As such, Motorola will remove Moto Assist from handsets being updated to Marshmallow. Similarly, Android 6.0 adds new backup, reset, and data-transfer functions, so Motorola will pull Motorola Migrate and Moto Connect from its Marshmallow phones. "Both of these products were valuable in their time but the world has moved on and they no longer add enough value to justify taking up space in your device," said Motorola. The company said it will have more news to share in the weeks ahead.
Google today said it will begin pushing Android 6.0 Marshmallow to Nexus devices during the week of Oct. 5. Existing handsets, such as the LG-made Nexus 5 and the Motorola Nexus 6, will be able to install the brand new operating system from Google. The Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P will ship with Android 6.0 on board. Android 6.0 Marshmallow brings a number of new features to the platform, including Google Now On Tap. Google's improved voice assistant is more aware of context when users make requests, and will automatically offer up certain types of information. Google Now is also accessible via voice command even when the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P are locked. Marshmallow adds fast scrolling and faster search, as well as new animations and new notification behaviors. Further, the app drawer will learn which apps people use throughout the day and offer suggestions each time they open the drawer. Android 6.0 introduces a new permission model, and allows people to remove more unwanted apps. Marshmallow was first detailed by Google in May. The company did not say exactly when it will be released.
Best Buy has added the Motorola Moto X Pure Edition to its selection of smartphones. Best Buy is offering the 16GB and 32GB variants in several different colors — including bamboo — for $399 to $475, depending on options. The Moto X Pure Edition is sold unlocked and is compatible with AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless.
Motorola set the standard for Android Wear watches with the Moto 360. Now they're back with a refresh. It's very similar to the previous model, but with a new strap system that makes it look more like a traditional watch. Following the lead of Apple - and everyone else - it now comes in two sizes. How is it in person? Read on.
Motorola today showed off several new versions of the Moto 360 smartwatch, which cater to both active and professional lifestyles. The Moto 360 now comes in two sizes: 42mm (1.37-inch screen) and 46mm (1.56-inch screen). The 360 by 360 pixel circular displays have a slim 3mm bezel and offer a full-round screen. Consumers can choose from several different finishes, including stainless steel, and a variety of quick-release straps. Motorola will allow people to build their own via Moto Maker. The wearables run Android Wear 1.3 and are compatible with both Android phones and the iPhone. They are powered by a Snapdragon 400 processor with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage. The larger size has a 400mAh battery and the smaller size has a 300mAh battery. Both sizes measure 11.6mm thick and include Bluetooth and WiFi. The Moto 360 Sport adds GPS for tracking workouts and a brighter screen for easier outdoor use. The Moto 360 can be preordered beginning today and ships in late September. The Moto 360 Sport will ship later this year. Prices range from $299.99 to $429.99.
Motorola's official Google+ page said that U.S. consumers will be able to order the Moto X Pure Edition beginning Wednesday, Sept. 2. The phone can be customized via Moto Maker and starts at $399.
Google today released an Android Wear application for iOS devices that makes the iPhone compatible with Google-based smartwatches. The Android Wear app works with the iPhone 5, 5s, 5c, 6, and 6 Plus as long as the phones are running iOS 8.2 and up. Android Wear allows iPhone owners to check their information at a glance, such as calls, messages, and notifications; set and follow fitness goals, such as tracking steps or heart rate; and also receive timely information about flights, traffic, calendar appointments, and more. Android Wear for iOS supports "OK, Google" voice-based queries, as well. Google says the LG Watch Urbane is the first Android Wear smartwatch to support iPhone compatibility, and that all future devices, including those from Huawei (pictured above), Asus, and Motorola, will also support iOS. Many of these manufacturers are expected to debut new smartwatches this week at the IFA trade show in Berlin.
T-Mobile has clarified its stance on Band 12 support in handsets that operate on its network. "We require phones using Band 12 on T-Mobile to support E911 and VoLTE in order to be certified on our network," said T-Mobile in a statement provided to Fierce Wireless. "We do this in the interest of our customers' overall experience and safety." T-Mobile does not, however, force phone makers to support Band 12. "Every OEM has the option to support VoLTE and E911 or not. It's their decision, though obviously, we hope that every OEM will choose to support these features and get certified on our network." The issue at hand is one of safety. Handsets that include Band 12 but don't also support VoLTE and E911 can run into roaming issues that may prevent 911 emergency calls from connecting properly. This would violate FCC regulations and might impact the outcome of emergency situations. The issue came to light when it was discovered the Moto E doesn't support VoLTE, E911, nor Band 12.
Motorola has in recent days updated its camera and gallery applications. The camera app brings QR and barcode scanning to some of Motorola's older handsets, such as the Moto X (2nd Gen.), Moto X Pro, DROID Turbo, and Moto Maxx/Turbo. The gallery app's primary new feature is the ability to move photo albums to microSD memory cards, which the newest Moto X and Moto G smartphones support. Both apps are free to download from the Google Play Store.
U.S. Cellular recently made the third-generation Moto G smartphone available from its web site. The carrier is charging $0 for those who sign a contract, $129 for those who prefer prepaid service, or will finance it for $8.99 per month under an installment plan. The Moto G has a 5-inch 720p screen, 13-megapixel camera, and support for LTE 4G. U.S. Cellular is only selling the black version. Consumers who want to customize the colors will need to order the phone through Motorola's Moto Maker web site.
Sprint today expanded its Direct 2 You service to the metropolitan areas of Minneapolis/St. Paul, Orlando, Phoenix, St. Louis, San Antonio, and Seattle. The service is live in these cities and the surrounding areas. With Direct 2 You, a Sprint technician brings the store experience directly to the homes of customers who purchase a new phone. Customers still receive the same benefits as buying in stores, such as setting up a phone, transferring content, and device tutorials. Sprint's Direct 2 You service is offered free of charge. Sprint said more cities will be added throughout the year. It is already offered in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Tampa, and Washington, D.C. Sprint is also offering special promotions to Direct 2 You customers. Beginning today, people who complete a Direct 2 You appointment will receive a free gift, such as Motorola Bluetooth headphones or Harmon Kardon Bluetooth speaker. The promotion also includes a chance to win a cruise for two, or a paid-for trip to the Super Bowl next year. Every Direct 2 You customer will be entered to win a $250,000 cash prize if they post a picture of themselves with their Direct 2 You tech to Twitter or Instagram.
Motorola has revealed the depth of job cuts being made at its Chicago headquarters and they run quite deep. The firm will eliminate 500 positions, or about 25% of its staff, as its parent firm, Lenovo, restructures amidst weak sales. Motorola said the job cuts are "across all functions, affecting all departments." A spokesperson said, however, that Motorola "will maintain a substantial employee base there, as well as our labs and design facilities." Motorola said other job sites will see headcount reductions as well, but it did not provide specific details. Lenovo announced plans to trim its workforce by 3,500, or about 10%. Lenovo is focusing cuts on white collar jobs, and not those of its manufacturing facilities. Lenovo saw PC shipments drop about 9% in its most recent quarter, while smartphone shipments from Motorola dropped 31%. Lenovo said it will continue to rely on Motorola "to design, develop and manufacture smartphone products."
Lenovo today said it plans to reduce its headcount by as many as 3,200, or about 10%, as it looks to reduce expenses. The company reported earnings and said sales across its various business units dropped by 9% during the quarter. Lenovo's Motorola unit saw a significant drop in shipments, which plunged 31% to 5.9 million phones during the quarter. The company blamed the poor performance on competition in emerging markets. Even though Motorola's sales sank, Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanqing expressed confidence in the division "I still believe mobile is a new business we must win. I still believe this acquisition was the right decision. Except Apple and Samsung, there is no third strong player. I believe that will be Lenovo." Motorola recently released the Moto G in the U.S., and plans to release the Moto X next month. Lenovo acquired Motorola from Google last year for about $2.9 billion.
Motorola took to its Twitter account today to tease the arrival of the Moto X Pure Edition. The company said the phone should land in the U.S. on Sept. 3. Pricing stats at $399.
TextNow today announced the availability of the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the LG Volt, two new additions to its roster of handsets. TextNow is selling the Galaxy S5 for $399 new or $299 refurbished. The LG Volt is just $13.99. Both handsets are more than a year old. The company said its phones, starting with the Moto G, are now available at all Fry's Electronics location. Moreover, TextNow will soon accept cash payments at more than 10,000 varied retail locations around the country, including Gates Petroleum, Sunoco, NMart, and Circle K stores, among others. TextNow Wireless offers all customers unlimited talk and text and up to 500MB of 4G data for $18.99 per month. TextNow runs on Sprint's cellular network but defaults to WiFi whenever possible. TextNow Wireless already offers a number of new and refurbished Sprint devices, including the LG Optimus F3, Samsung Galaxy S3, and Samsung Galaxy S4.