Motorola and Verizon Wireless say they've successfully completed a 5G NR data transmission test between the Moto Z3 paired with a 5G Moto Mod and Verizon's network. Motorola announced the Moto Z3 for Verizon in August along with a Moto Mod capable of adding 5G to the Z3. While the Z3 went on sale over the summer, Motorola and Verizon said the 5G Moto Mod wouldn't arrive until 2019. The test demonstrates that the Mod does indeed bring 5G service to what Motorola and Verizon marketed as the "first 5G upgradeable phone." The companies performed this test in Providence, R.I., using Verizon's 28 GHz spectrum. The 5G Moto Mod relies on Qualcomm's Snapdragon X50 5G modem with QTM052 mmWave antennas. The companies used the publicly available Motorola Moto Z3. Motorola says the Moto Z3 will be the "first smartphone with access to Verizon’s 5G network" when that network launches. Verizon is expected to launch mobile 5G service during the early months of 2019. It launched fixed 5G in October. Verizon competitors AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile are all clamoring to be first to offer mobile 5G. AT&T recently revealed its first mobile 5G product, the Netgear Nighthawk hotspot. Sprint says it is working with LG to bring a 5G-capable phone to market.
Best Buy recently added the Motorola One to its web site. The phone, available for pre-order, costs $400 and will begin to ship November 9. Motorola had not previously announced plans to sell the phone in the U.S. The Motorola One runs the Android One platform, which means it will recent regular security updates from Motorola. It ships with Android 8.1 Oreo, but will receive Android 9 Pie soon. The phone doesn't have bloatware and ships only with essential apps from Google. The Motorola One has a 5.9-inch HD+ screen with a 19:9 aspect ratio. It packs dual 13-megapixel cameras on the back and an 8-megapixel camera on front. Photo modes include portrait, cinemagraph, time-lapse, 4K video capture and Google Lens. Google says the 3,000mAh battery supports TurboPower charging. The Motorola One is based on a Snapdragon 625 processor with eight cores at 2 GHz. The phone has 64 GB of internal storage and supports microSD memory cards up to 256 GB. The Motorola One is sold unlocked with support for AT&T and T-Mobile.
Motorola Solutions today announced the Talkabout T800 walkie talkies and accompanying mobile application. The concept is to let outdoor adventurers keep in touch — and, more importantly, share precise location data — when cellular networks are not available. In order to use the T800s effectively, owners need to install the Talkabout mobile app on their iPhone or Android device and then connect their phone to the T800 via Bluetooth. The Talkabout app then uses the T800 as a modem for sending messages and location info over the radio. Users can send current locations, designate meeting spots, and alert others when leaving specific areas. The message function handles single and group messaging, and messages can be sent silently for safety purposes. The location features do require some planning, as users will need to download the maps ahead of time through the Talkabout app. Maps can be saved in various formats and shared with others easily. Moreover, the app can be used to control hardware features of the T800, such as selecting channels, setting tones, adjusting weather alerts, and so on. Motorola Solutions claims the walkies have plenty of power. A push-to-talk power boost option can be turned on to extend the radios' range by increasing transmitter output while also conserving battery life. Motorola says this creates reliable two-way radio comms with a range of 35 miles and data/messaging range up to 20 miles, based on terrain and conditions. The radios themselves are rugged and rated IPX4 for protection against splashing and rain. The T800s include access to seven NOAA weather channels and four VHF channels in order to get constant, up-to-date weather reports. Motorola included an emergency alert feature that sounds a siren or spoken/incidental sounds to seek assistance or warn of danger. These are controlled by the Talkabout app. Last, the T800s include an LED flashlight for night-time use. The walkie talkies ship with rechargeable batteries, USB-based chargers, and an assortment of clips and stickers. The Talkabout T800 come in a pair for $110 and are available to ship today.
Epic Games today made its popular Fortnite game available without an invitation. The app has been available in beta since August, though an invite was required for access. Epic Games has dropped the need for an invitation and most anyone can download the game. Fortnite is not available in the Google Play Store. Instead, people interested in the game will need to go to Epic's web site to download an installer. The installer then puts the game on the phone. The game started as an exclusive to the Samsung Galaxy Note9 and was later discovered to have a major security flaw in the installer (since patched). Fortnite is best played on high-end devices that have Android 8 Oreo installed. Some compatible phones include the Samsung Galaxy S7, S8, and S9 series; all Google Pixel phones; the LG G5, G6, G7, V20, and V30; the Asus ROG Phone and 5Z; the Essential Phone; the Huawei Mate 10, Mate 10 Pro, Honor 10, and Honor Play; the OnePlus 5, 5T, and 6; the HTC 10, U Ultra, U11+, U12+; the Sony Xperia XZ1, XZ2, and XZ3 series; as well as a handful of others from Xiaomi, ZTE, Nokia, and Lenovo.
Motorola has made the Moto E5 available in the U.S. Best Buy is selling the phone with Simple Mobile service for $99.99. The Moto E5 features a 5.7-inch 720p screen and it is powered by a Snapdragon 425 processor with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The phone accepts microSD memory cards up to 256 GB. The E5 ships with Android 8 Oreo and Moto Display for smart notifications and Moto Actions for shortcuts. The main camera has an 8-megapixel sensor at f/2.0 with autofocus, an LED flash, HDR, slow-motion, and full HD video capture. The front camera has a 5-megapixel sensor and selfie light. Other specs include a 4,000mAh battery with a 10W rapid charger included in the box. For connectivity, it has an FM radio, 3.5mm headphone jack, Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, and LTE. Neither Motorola nor Best Buy indicated if the E5 will be sold unlocked or with service from a different carrier.
AT&T today said it has launched what it calls 5G Evolution in 99 new markets, bringing the total of pre-5G markets to 239. AT&T is on track to reach its goal of 400 markets by the end of the year, and nationwide coverage during the first half of 2019. The company says its 5G Evolution technology — which is not 5G NR — can deliver theoretical speeds up to 400 Mbps to properly equipped phones. AT&T expects to launch true 5G mobile service in a dozen markets by the end of the year, with another seven joining the list in early 2019. Further, AT&T has expanded its LTE-LAA footprint to parts of 20 markets and expects to reach 24 by December. LTE-LAA can push speeds to a theoretical max of 1 Gbps. A handful of phones sold by AT&T are LTE-LAA capable, including the Samsung Galaxy S8, S9, S8+, S9+, Note8, Note9, and S8 Active, as well as the LG V30 and V35, the Motorola Moto Z2 Force Edition, and the Netgear Nighthawk Mobile Router. AT&T's first real 5G NR mobile device will be a mobile hotspot.
Owners of the Motorola Moto Z series phones won't get the keyboard Mod they were promised earlier this year. The Livermorium Slider Keyboard Moto Mod, an attachment that would have given the Moto Z family a physical QWERTY keyboard for typing, has been cancelled. The Indiegogo campaign was fully funded, but the company behind the keyboard cited several reasons for scrapping the Mod including engineering challenges, low volume of Moto Z phones in the market, and, more importantly, the inability to scale production affordably. The company says those who backed the campaign will receive a full refund via PayPal.
Google's Project Fi has slashed prices on most of the devices it sells. First, those who purchase the Pixel 2 XL can receive $250 in credit towards Project Fi service, which can cover at least 8 months of basic connectivity. Fi this week rolled out big price drops for the LG G7 ThinQ and the LG V35 ThinQ. The G7 has dropped from $749 to $449, while the V35 has dropped from $899 to $599, both representing savings of $300 with a new Fi activation. Fi has also discounted the Motorola Moto G6 from $249 to $199, and the Moto X4 from $399 to $249. These savings are available for a limited time and/or while supplies last. Google's Project Fi relies on T-Mobile, Sprint, and WiFi to provide coverage. Twenty dollars per month buys talk and text, and data costs $10 per gigabyte.
Motorola today announced the Motorola One and Motorola One Power, two inexpensive phones that run the Android One platform. Motorola says these phones will be among the first to be updated to Android 9 Pie, and will receive security/feature updates for three years. The phones aren't saddled with bloatware and include only essential apps from Google. One such app is Google Lens, which can help people identify places and things using the camera.
- Motorola One: This phone features a 5.9-inch HD+ screen with a 19:9 aspect ratio. It packs a dual 13-megapixel camera on the back and an 8-megapixel camera on front. Photo modes include portrait, cinemagraph, time-lapse, and 4K video capture. Google says the battery supports TurboPower charging. The Motorola One is based on a Snapdragon 625 processor with eight cores at 2 GHz. The phone goes on sale in Europe, Latin America, and Asia in the coming months for €299.
- Motorola One Power: This phone stretches the screen to 6.2 inches with full HD+ resolution and a 19:9 aspect ratio. Motorola claims the phone has two days of battery life, and can deliver 6 hours of performance after being charged for just 15 minutes. The phone is based on the Snapdragon 636 platform with eight cores at 1.8 GHz. Motorola says the One Power has 64 GB of internal storage, and it supports microSD cards up to 256 GB. The One Power will initially be sold in India starting in October. Motorola didn't say if the phone will be made available in other markets.
Motorola today said it plans to update a handful of its phones to Android 9 Pie beginning later this fall. The phones on deck to receive the updated platform include the Moto Z3, Z3 Play, Z2 Force, Z2 Play, X4, G6 Plus, G6, and G6 Play. Motorola said the distribution of Pie will depend a bit on the carrier and country. Android 9 Pie was made available to Google's own Pixel phones earlier this month. Other phone makers that have committed to providing Pie include Essential, Sony, and OnePlus.
Sprint today announced that together with LG it will bring its first 5G mobile phone to market during the first half of 2019. Sprint said the "innovative handset" is being "built for the country's first mobile 5G network." Sprint claims its forthcoming 5G network will allow customers to download full-length HD movies in seconds instead of minutes, and stream graphic-heavy videos and games without delays or lag-time. Specifics concerning the device were not provided. Sprint plans to launch its 5G mobile network in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix, and Washington, D.C. Sprint says more 5G devices are in development and will be announced over time. All the major carriers are rushing to be first to launch 5G. AT&T expects to offer a 5G mobile hotspot by the end of the year, while Verizon Wireless and Motorola will offer a 5G Moto Mod to the recently-announced Moto Z3 smartphone early next year.
Motorola and Verizon Wireless hope consumers will buy into the idea of upgrading their Moto Z3 phone with a modular 5G attachment some time next year. The Mod promises to bring a 10x improvement in data download speeds without sapping the battery too much. How are Motorola and Verizon making this work? We'll tell you.
The latest entry in Motorola's Moto Z series of devices is the Z3, a thin slab that's compatible with Moto Mods modular attachments. The Z3 is an improved version of the Z3 Play thanks to a better processor and camera configuration. More importantly, owners will be able to upgrade the phone to 5G on Verizon's network early next year. Here's our first look.
Motorola today announced the Moto Z3, what it calls the first "5G upgradable" phone. The phone itself is a warmed-over version of Motorola's modular phone. The Z3 is, for all intents and purposes, a hot-rodded version of the recently announced Z3 Play. The Z3 has a 6-inch AMOLED full HD+ display with a 2:1 aspect ration. Motorola improved the processor by adopting the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor. The phone has 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of built-in storage and supports memory cards up to 2 TB. The Z3 has two 12-megapixel cameras on the rear with portrait/bokeh tools. Where the Z3 Play has two full-color sensors, the Z3 has one color sensor and one monochrome sensor for depth sensing, contrast, and true black-and-white imaging. The user-facing camera has a 5-megapixel sensor. Motorola says the 3,000mAh battery supports TurboCharge and lasts all day. Other features include splash resistance, USB-C, Bluetooth 5 with aptX HD, face unlock, dual-band wifi. The phone runs Android 8 Oreo and will be updated to Android P later this year. It includes Moto Actions, Moto Display, and Motorola's swipe-based navigation tool at the bottom of the display. Verizon will begin selling the Moto Z3 on August 16. The phone will cost $20 per month, or $480 at full retail. Verizon will knock $300 off the price of a Moto Z3 to those who switch to Verizon and trade-in their old phone. Pricing and availability for the 5G Moto Mod will be announced later this year. Verizon expects to launch fixed-wireless 5G in a small number of markets, including Houston, Los Angeles, Sacramento, late this year. Verizon says its mobile 5G network will go live in early 2019.
MetroPCS today kicked off several promotions meant to encourage people to sign up for its service. To start, MetroPCS is offering those who switch a $200 discount that can be applied toward the purchase of a new phone. Some phones, including the Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime, LG Stylo 4, Moto E5 Plus, and iPhone SE, would be effectively free after the $200 discount. This deal requires users to subscribe to MetroPCS' Unlimited LTE plan. Second, customers who buy one iPhone can earn a $200 rebate toward the purchase of a second iPhone of equal or lesser value. This promo is good for new and existing customers. Customers who switch to MetroPCS can buy the iPhone 6 for $49. Last, customers who bring their own device to MetroPCS will receive a free month of service. These deals are available online and in stores.
Verizon Wireless today added the Motorola Moto Z3 Play to its list of certified devices. This means the Z3 Play was tested by Verizon in its labs and passed Verizon's network performance requirements. Verizon itself does not sell the Moto Z3 Play, but you can buy the phone unlocked and bring it to a Verizon store for activation. The Z3 Play is available from Motorola.com, Best Buy, B&H Photo, and Amazon starting today. The phone adopts a 6-inch 2:1 screen, and is made form a slim metal-and-glass chassis. It is compatible with Motorola's Moto Mods accessories and includes either a speaker or battery. The phone costs $499. The Moto Z3 Play will be sold by Sprint and U.S. Cellular later this summer.
Cricket Wireless today kicked off sales of the Motorola Moto E5 Supra, which is a renamed E5 Plus. The E5 Supra includes a 6-inch screen, Snapdragon 435 processor, 3 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of storage. It packs a 5,000mAh battery and offers users a 12-megapixel main camera and 8-megapixel front camera with LED flash. The phone runs Android 8 Oreo with Motorola software such as Moto Display and Moto Actions for managing the lock screen and improving usability. The phone is available online and in stores for $180.
Motorola today kicked off general preorders for the Moto Z3 Play phone. People can now pre-purchase the Z3 Play from Motorola.com, Best Buy, B&H Photo, and Amazon. The phone adopts a 6-inch 2:1 screen, and is made form a slim metal-and-glass chassis. It is compatible with Motorola's Moto Mods accessories and includes either a speaker or battery. The phone sells for $499. The phone will be sold directly by Sprint and U.S. Cellular later this summer.
Amazon today made the Motorola Moto Z3 Play and Moto G6 Play, both with Alexa on board, available through its Prime Exclusives program. Phones sold through the Prime Exclusive program have a single sign-in for all Amazon services, such as Amazon Video and Amazon Music. The phones include a number of Amazon apps preinstalled. The Moto Z3 Play (pictured) has a 6-inch screen and is compatible with Motorola's Moto Mods accessories. It features a 12-megapixel main camera with a 5-megapixel secondary camera, and an 8-megapixel selfie camera. The Z3 Play ships with the Moto Power Pack Mod, and Amazon is offering a free Moto Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa for hands-free access to the Alexa assistant. Amazon is selling the Z3 Play for $450 (a $50 discount). The Moto G6 Play is a mid-range phone with a 5.7-inch screen, 13-megapixel main camera and 5-megapixel front camera. Amazon is selling the Moto G6 Play for $190 (a $10 discount). Both phones run Android 8 Oreo and are compatible with AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. Preorders start today, and the phones will ship June 29.
Google today said more phone makers now part of its Android Enterprise Recommended program. The Android Enterprise Recommended program, which was launched in February of this year, "establishes best practices and common requirements for devices and services, backed by a thorough testing process conducted by Google." In order to qualify, devices have to meet a number of specifications concerning their hardware, deployment, security updates, and user help programs. For example, devices approved must run at least Android 7 Nougat, and receive security updates no later than 90 days from their release from Google. A handful of new phones makers and devices are now recommended by Google, making for a total of 39 devices from nine device makers. New entries include the Sonim XP8; Sharp Aquos SH 10-K; Sony Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact; Motorola Moto G6, Moto G6 Plus, and Z3 Play; Huawei P20 and P20 Pro; BlackBerry KEY2; and HMD Global Nokia 3.1, 5.1, 6, 7 Plus, and 8 Sirocco. Several tablets have been certified for Android Enterprise Recommended, too, including the Huawei M5 8.4 and 10.8. Google says it will continue to update the list of devices recommended for business users as more phone makers commit to the requirements of the Android Enterprise Recommended program.
AT&T today said fire, medical, police, and other first responders now have more access to its FirstNet network. FirstNet has been available for purchase by agencies, but hasn't been directly sold in stores. Beginning today, any verified first responder can walk into one of AT&T's 5,300 retail shops and initiate service with a new device. The retail availability of FirstNet will be a boon to first responders who volunteer and/or aren't issued communications devices by their agency or local government. A fairly wide number of phones are compatible with FirstNet, including the Samsung Galaxy S8, S8 Plus, S8 Active, Note 8, S9, S9 Plus, and J3; Apple iPhone 6/Plus, 6s/Plus, 7/Plus, 8/Plus, and X; LG V35 ThinQ; Motorola Moto G6 Play; Sonim XP5S and XP8; BlackBerry KEYone; and the Nighthawk LTE Mobile Hotspot Router. The public safety network is available nationwide in its own, reserved spectrum (Band 14). First responders may also sign up for FirstNet service using AT&T's web site.
Motorola's third-generation Z3 Play is a capable mid-range device that checks off most features needed on a modern phone. It packs a 6-inch 2:1 screen, a metal-and-glass design, all-day battery life, advanced cameras, and of course compatibility with Motorola's existing Moto Mods accessories. If you're looking to update your Moto Z device, the Z3 Play makes a play for your wallet. Here are Phone Scoop's first impressions.
Motorola today announced the Moto Z3 Play, its third-generation Mod-compatible mid-range phone. The Z3 Play carries over the general size and shape of previous Z-branded phones in order to maintain backward compatibility with the Moto Mod snap-on accessories. The Z3 Play has a 6000 series aluminum frame with Gorilla Glass on both the front and back. The phone boasts a 6.01-inch AMOLED screen with a 2:1 aspect ratio and full HD+ resolution that fills much of the face with no notch. Motorola moved the fingerprint reader from the chin to the right edge of the phone in order to make room for the screen. The Z3 Play is powered by a Snapdragon 636 processor with 4 GB of memory and 32 GB or 64 GB of storage. Motorola opted for a dual-camera array on the rear with a dual-LED flash. The main camera has a 12-megapixel sensor at f/1.7 and it is accompanied by a 5-megapixel depth-sensing camera. This system supports features such as portrait/bokeh, spot color, cinemagraphs, cut-out mode, panorama, time-lapse, slow-motion, face filters, and a card/QR code reader. The front camera has a semi-wide-angle, 8-megapixel sensor at f/2 with screen-based flash and portrait shooting. Motorola says it has upgraded the phone's audio powers with a 24-bit DAC, 7-core DSP, and four mics for better far-field voice recognition. The phone packs a 3,000mAh battery with support for Motorola's TurboCharge rapid charging. Other features include splash resistance, USB-C, Bluetooth 5 with aptX HD, face unlock, dual-band wifi, and support for microSD memory cards. The phone runs Android 8 Oreo and will be updated to Android P later this year. It includes Motorola's gestures, Moto Actions, Moto Display, and a new swipe-based navigation tool at the bottom of the display. The phone will be sold unlocked from Best Buy, Walmart, Target, Fry’s, B&H Photo, and Amazon.com, and via Sprint and U.S. Cellular. Preorders start June 21 and it should reach stores June 29. The phone will be sold in two bundles: Moto Z3 Play with the Motorola battery mod or Moto Z3 Play with the Motorola stereo speaker mod. The bundles cost $499.
Cricket Wireless today kicked off sales of the Moto E5 Cruise, a rebadged version of the Moto E5 Play. The Moto E5 Cruise has a 5.2-inch display with 720p HD resolution and a 16:9 aspect ratio shape. The Snapdragon 427 processor is accompanied by 2 of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The cameras are 8 megapixel on back with full HD video capture and 5 megapixel up front. The E5 Cruise has dual-band Wi-Fi, a fingerprint reader, and gesture shortcuts. It packs a 2,800mAh battery and is resistant to splashes. Cricket is selling the Moto E5 Cruise for $99.99.
Google is expanding the selection of phones available from its Project Fi MVNO. The company today said it will soon offer the LG V35 ThinQ, LG G7 ThinQ, and the Motorola Moto G6. The V35 will cot $899, the G7 will cost $749, and the G6 will cost $199. Aside from their ability to connect to Project Fi, these phones will mirror the features of unlocked and carriers variants. The Mot G6 is already available for preorder from Fi, and the G7 and V35 will arrive at some point next month. Before now, the selection was limited to Google's own Nexus and Pixel devices, as well as the Moto X4.
Have your eye on a shiny new phone, but it isn't sold by Verizon Wireless? Did you know that Big Red allows you to bring your own device to its network? There are a few things you need to know, though.
Verizon Wireless today provided more information about the forthcoming availability of the LG G7 ThinQ and the Motorola Moto G6. Verizon will begin taking preorders for the G7 ThinQ on May 24. Verizon is charging $31.25 per month for 24 months, or about $750 in total for the phone. Verizon says customers who finance the phone on a payment plan can score a $100 discount on the total price of the device, which will be applied equally via bill credits over the 24-month payment period. Verizon says this deal is stackable with its other trade-in offers. Verizon didn't say when the G7 ThinQ will hit stores. As for the Moto G6, it will be available online and in stores on May 24. Verizon is charging $10 per month for 24 months, or about $240 in total for the device.
Verizon Wireless today said it will sell the Moto G6 Play, Moto E5 Play (pictured), and Moto G6 phones from Motorola. The G6 Play and E5 Play will be offered by Verizon Prepaid. The E5 Play is available starting today for $95, and the G6 Play will follow soon. The Moto G6 will be sold by Verizon’s standard postpaid service beginning May 24. Pricing for the G6 Play and G6 were not announced. Motorola revealed all three phones last month. The E5 Play is an entry level phone, while the G6 Play and G6 are mid-range devices. All three run Android 8 Oreo.
Google today made several changes to its Google Lens visual search tool. First and foremost, it is adding Google Lens directly to the camera app of Pixel phones. Several other phone makers, including LG, Motorola, Nokia, Xiaomi, Asus, and Sony, will add Lens to their camera apps in the near future. With Lens, Google is relying on machine learning to help power Google searches based on what the camera sees. Google is baking more searching and shopping tools to Lens, making it easy for people to discover where they can buy items such as clothing with a function called Style Match. A feature called real-time results provides instant search results as people move their camera over items. It scans text, images, and other data points to search things such as concert posters, books, and such. The results offer links to more information, videos, images, as well as the ability to make purchases. Google says this update will reach Google Lens on the Pixel in the next few weeks. Google's partner OEMs have not specified exactly when they'll update their own camera apps with Lens.
The Moto e5 Play is the latest truly entry-level phone from Motorola / Lenovo. There's nothing fancy about it, but it does manage to fit in a fingerprint reader and an HD display. We checked it out in person. Here are our first impressions.
AT&T today said it has launched what it calls 5G Evolution in 117 new markets, bringing the total of pre-5G markets to 141. The company says its 5G Evolution technology can deliver theoretical speeds up to 400 Mbps to properly equipped phones. AT&T expects to launch 5G service in in a dozen markets, including Dallas and Waco, Texas, and Atlanta, Ga., by the end of the year. Further, AT&T has expanded its LTE-LAA footprint from three markets to parts of seven markets. LTE-LAA can push speeds to theoretical a max of 1 Gbps. The new LTE-LAA markets are Boston, Sacramento and McAllen, Texas. A handful of phones sold by AT&T are LTE-LAA capable, including the Samsung Galaxy S8, S9, S8+, S9+, Note8, and S8 Active, as well as the LG V30 and Moto Z2 Force Edition. AT&T's LTE-LAA is already available in The Loop in Chicago, Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, downtown LA, and the business district of San Francisco. AT&T plans to deploy LTE-LAA in at least 24 markets by the end of the year.
Sitting in the middle of Motorola's new lineup of affordable Android phones are the Moto e5 Plus and g6 Play. In spite of their odd naming, they share the same design and features. The main difference is that the e5 Plus is larger, and a bit higher-end in specs. Both have a very large battery, a modern all-screen design, a fingerprint reader, and a low price. We took them for a quick spin.
Lenovo is finding renewed success for its Motorola phone business in the U.S. market, according to company executives. The company announced four new affordable Android phones today, all of which are being picked up by U.S. carriers. "We are going to be more broadly ranged across all North American carriers in 2018", said company spokesperson Cassandra McCormack. The new g-series phones will be available through carriers and unlocked, while two new e-series phones will be available only via carriers in the U.S.. According to another company executive, they expect to have up to twice as many phones on U.S. carrier shelves compared to last year. The success comes as the company makes several shifts in strategy. The company has doubled down on "Motorola" branding across its whole range, in marketing and on the phones themselves. That's an about-face from the strategy announced in 2016 whereby they planned to phase out Motorola in favor of Lenovo alongside "Moto" for high-end phones and "Vibe" for low-end phones. The company has also expanded its range with more models than last year, hitting more varied price points.
Motorola's g-series phones have a long-held reputation for value and quality. With the 2018 incarnation, Moto is trying harder than ever to bring high-end features and design to a low price point. For $250, you get a metal body, curved glass back, full-HD screen with 2:1 ratio, dual camera with portrait mode and object recognition, USB-C, fast charging, a fingerprint reader, an ultrasonic sensor that lights up the screen as you approach. It also has much better support for U.S. LTE networks than most unlocked phones, including Verizon, Sprint, and newer bands used by AT&T and T-Mobile. How does it stack up in person? Here are our first impressions.
Motorola today announced four new affordable Android phones coming to the U.S. market before mid-year. Spread across the Moto e5 and Moto g6 series, all four new phones share the company's evolved design language that debuted with the Moto X4 last year. They also all sport a fingerprint reader, a clean version of Android 8 Oreo, Moto Actions gesture shortcuts, a water-repellent coating, front cameras with an LED flash, 3.5mm audio jacks, and memory card slots. They have Qualcomm Snapdragon 400-series processors supporting Cat. 6 LTE, and excellent support for all major US networks, including Sprint, Verizon, and band 66.
- Moto g6: The highest-end model of the group, it has a curved glass back, metal frame, and a 5.7-inch full-HD display with 2:1 ratio. It's powered by a Snapdragon 450 processor with either 3 or 4 GB of RAM, and 32 or 64 GB of storage. The 3,000 mAh battery supports fast charging via the USB-C port. The 12-megapixel camera (f/1.8) is aided by a 5-megapixel camera for depth sensing, to create portrait effects. The camera app includes object, landmark, and text recognition, as well as slow-motion and time-lapse modes. An ultrasonic system detects when you approach the phone and lights up the display to show the time and notifications. It will be sold unlocked for $249, and via carriers.
- Moto g6 Play: This more affordable model (at $199) has a rounded polycarbonate back and metal frame. The 5.7-inch display with 2:1 ratio is 720p HD resolution. It's powered by a Snapdragon 427 processor with either 2 or 3 GB of RAM and 16 or 32 GB of storage. The 4,000 mAh battery supports fast charging via micro-USB. The main camera is 13-megapixel camera with PDAF, while the front camera is 8-megapixel. Like the g6, it will be sold unlocked and via carriers. It supports all AT&T bands, include LTE 14, 29, and 30.
- Moto e5 Plus: A larger version of the Moto g6 Play. It has the same design and features, except the battery steps up to 5,000 mAh, the display size is bumped to 6 inches, and it adds laser focusing to the camera. The processor is a Snapdragon 435 and there is just one configuration with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. It will be available in the U.S. exclusively from carriers.
- Moto e5 Play: A lower-end model, similar to e-series models of years past. Its plastic shells pops off to reveal a removable (2,800 mAh) battery. Its 5.2-inch display has HD resolution and a 16:9 aspect ratio. The Snapdragon 427 processor is accompanied by 2 of RAM and 16 GB of storage. (However at least one variant will have a Snapdragon 425 processor that only supports Cat. 4 LTE.) The cameras are 8 megapixel (rear) and 5 megapixel (front), and it can record 1080p video. Like the other models, it has dual-band Wi-Fi, a fingerprint reader, and gesture shortcuts. It will also be available exclusively from carriers.
Security Research Labs says Android phone makers often miss security patches but still tell owners the phones are up-to-date. Researchers Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell examined the code of some 1,200 phones from more than a dozen phone makers for every security patch released during 2017. They discovered phones from nearly all makers missed at least some patches. Phones from Google, Sony, and Samsung ranked fairly well, missing an average of just one patch. Phones from Xiaomi, Nokia, and OnePlus missed between one and three patches per update, while devices from HTC, Motorola, LG, and Huawei missed three to four, and phones from TCL (Alcatel) and ZTE often missed more than four patches per update. High-end devices with processors from Samsung or Qualcomm were more likely to updated properly, while low-cost devices with processors from MediaTek were less likely to be updated properly. Nohl and Lell say what's worse than the missed patches are the phone makers' claims to the contrary. "We find that there's a gap between patching claims and the actual patches installed on a device. It's small for some devices and pretty significant for others," said Nohl to Wired. "We found several vendors that didn’t install a single patch but changed the patch date forward by several months. That’s deliberate deception." The researchers claim this lulls consumers into a false sense of security, though they admit that hacking into Android phones through any of the missed patches is a difficult task at best. In response to the data, Google argued that not all the devices researched were Android certified, and that modern Android phones have other security measures in place to protect them. "Security updates are one of many layers used to protect Android devices and users," said Scott Roberts, Android product security lead at Google. "Built-in platform protections, such as application sandboxing, and security services, such as Google Play Protect, are just as important." Still, Google said it would work with Security Research Labs to investigate Nohl and Lell's findings.
MetroPCS today rolled out a new offer that will give consumers two months of service for free when they meet certain conditions. In order to qualify, new customers will need to port in at least one phone number and select the $50 Unlimited LTE plan, the $60 Unlimited LTE with 10 GB of hotspot data plan, or the $100 4 lines of Unlimited LTE plan. After customers make two on-time monthly payments, they'll be given a $100 prepaid MasterCard, which is enough to cover two months of the $50 Unlimited LTE plan. Further, MetroPCS says new customers can score free phones from LG, Motorola, and Samsung. MetroPCS is owned and operated by T-Mobile. Customers will have to pay a $10 activation fee per new line, as well as sales taxes on new phones. Customers who exceed 35 GB of data per month may see data slowed when the network is congested. Video streams are limited to 480p resolution.
Motorola recently added the Moto Stereo Speaker to its lineup of magnetic mods for the Moto Z series, such as the Z2 Force and Z2 Play. The Moto Stereo Speaker, available from Motorola's web site for $60, features two 28mm drivers, a fold-out kickstand, and support for speakerphone calls. Motorola says the speaker doesn't have its own internal battery and is powered entirely via the attached phone. The Moto Stereo Speaker is a cheaper option than the speaker mods from JBL and Amazon, which cost $80 and $150, respectively. The Moto Stereo Speaker is available in red, black, or blue.
Motorola today announced a change in leadership. Former Motorola President Aymar de Lencquesaing has decided to move on and spend more time with family. Motorola has selected Sergio Buniac, from its Latin American business unit, to take the reigns as President and Chairman of the Board. Buniac has been with Motorola for more than 20 years. The company recently underwent staffing cuts at its Chicago headquarters and other locations. In addition to the leadership change, Motorola said it plans to debut its first products of 2018 next month (April). Motorola is owned by Lenovo.
Motorola this week confirmed that it has released employees at its Chicago headquarters, though it insisted the impact to its handset team was minimal. Moreover, the company sought to quell rumors that its line of Moto Z handsets was in jeopardy. "In late 2017, Lenovo announced a worldwide resource action that would occur over the next several quarters, and impacting less than two percent of its global workforce," said Motorola in a statement. "This week's employment reductions are a continuation of that process. We are reducing our Motorola operations in Chicago, however, this did not impact half of our workforce there and our Moto Z family will continue." Speculation this week suggested that Motorola lopped its phone engineering team by half, and that the Moto Z line was cancelled. Motorola says that's not the case, though it did not provide exact numbers concerning the headcount reduction. Motorola has not introduced new smartphones since the third quarter of 2017 — fully six months ago. The company was expected to show off a refresh to its G series phones at Mobile World Congress, but the phones never materialized. The Moto Z line represents Motorola's top-tier handsets that feature swappable rear modules. The Moto Z2 Play and Z2 Force were introduced last summer.