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Motorola Making Gains in U.S. Market

Today, 9:23 AM   by Rich Brome

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.


Hands On with the Moto g6

Today, 9:00 AM   by Rich Brome

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.

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Motorola Updates Affordable Lineup for 2018

Today, 9:00 AM   by Rich Brome

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.

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Researchers Suggest Phone Makers Mislead Consumers About Security Patches

Apr 12, 2018, 1:19 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Offering Two Free Months of Service to Switchers

Apr 12, 2018, 8:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Kicks Out Fresh Stereo Speaker Mod for Moto Z Phones

Apr 11, 2018, 8:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Names New President, Says New Phones On Deck for April

Mar 26, 2018, 12:38 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 26, 2018, 12:59 PM

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 Confirms Some Layoffs, But Says Moto Z Phones Safe

Mar 10, 2018, 10:06 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


FTC Wants Mobile Industry to Be Better At Security Updates

Feb 28, 2018, 11:50 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The current state of mobile device security patches is lacking, according to a new report issued today by the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC studied how Apple, BlackBerry, Google, HTC, LG, Microsoft, Motorola, and Samsung support their devices over time. "Our report found significant differences in how the industry deploys security updates and that more needs to be done to make it easier for consumers to ensure their devices are secure," said Acting Director Tom Pahl. The agency notes that many devices are updated infrequently, if at all, and that manufacturers often fail to deliver on promises. It wants phone makers and carriers to improve the situation. The agency suggested each does a better job of explaining mobile device security to consumers (i.e., make it clear to them that the updates are important and worth installing). The FTC also recommended that phone makers consider issuing security patches as stand-alone updates, rather than bundled with general OS upgrades. The FTC noted that companies that make their own operating system, in this case, Apple and Google, are often better at providing timely updates for a longer period of time. The FTC is calling for members of the mobile industry to find a way to bring clarity to consumers and more rapid security updates.


Google's ARCore 1.0 Released to Public, Google Lens Hits More Handsets

Feb 23, 2018, 11:27 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today made ARCore 1.0 available to developers and the public, bringing augmented reality to some 100 million smartphones around the world. Handsets compatible with ARCore include Google’s Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, and Pixel 2 XL; Samsung’s Galaxy S8, S8+, Note8, S7, and S7 edge; LGE’s V30 and V30+; Asus’s Zenfone AR; and OnePlus’s OnePlus 5. More devices from Samsung, Huawei, LG, Motorola, Asus, Xiaomi, HMD/Nokia, ZTE, Sony Mobile, and Vivo will be compatible with ARCore later this year. The 1.0 release gives developers an updated set of tools to create virtual content. For example, it features improved environmental understanding that lets people put virtual objects on surfaces like posters, furniture, toy boxes, books, cans, and more. The refreshed Android Studio Beta supports ARCore in the Emulator, so developers can get to work right away. Some of the first brands to offer ARCore content include Porsche, FC Barcelona, and Sotheby's. Google says it is expanding the availability of the Google Lens Preview, which lets you take a picture and gather information about what's in the image. Google says Lens will hit all Google Photos English-language users over the coming weeks. Further, Google is going to add Google Lens to its Google Assistant on select Android flagship devices. Lens lets people create contacts from business cards, recognize plants and animals, and add events to their calendar by taking photos.


Android Messages with RCS to Reach More Phones On More Carriers

Feb 23, 2018, 10:33 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google says its Android Messages app is on the upswing thanks to new RCS-based tools and growing support from phone makers and wireless network operators. To start, brands now have more power to interact with consumers thanks to RCS business messaging. Google says brands can "send more useful and interactive messages" to their customers with photos, videos, and links for purchasing. A number of companies have been testing RCS business messaging via Google's Early Access Program. Some include 1-800 Contacts, 1-800-Flowers.com, Booking.com, SnapTravel, and Subway — all on Sprint in the U.S. Google says more businesses will be deploying richer messaging via the Android Messages app over the coming months. The Android Messages app has gained a lot of traction with phone makers and carriers, and more support is on the way. Moving forward, Alcatel, BlackBerry, Transsion, Blu, Positivo, Multilaser, Mobiwire, Azumi, and Essential will all preload Android Messages as the default SMS/messaging app. A number of phone makers already offer Android Messages, including Huawei, LG, HMD Global, HTC, Kyocera, Motorola, Sony, and ZTE. The app has a growing footprint with carriers, as well. Google says America Movil, AT&T in Mexico, Celcom Axiata Berhad, Freedom Mobile, Oi, Telia Company, and Telefonica have joined Deutsche Telekom, Globe Telecom, Orange, Rogers Communications, Sprint, and Telenor in their commitment to launch RCS messaging. Sprint is the lone U.S. carrier to go all-in with Google's RCS and Android Messages. AT&T and Verizon each offers its own RCS-based messaging client for Android handsets. Google believes this new momentum for RCS and Android Messages will eventually mean a better messaging experience between people, brands, and more.


Intel Targeting 2019 5G Launch in Phones and PCs

Feb 22, 2018, 9:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Intel today announced a range of efforts in the 5G space, including its timeline for bringing new Intel-powered 5G devices to market. The company says it has been developing 5G technology for some now, including virtualized network functionality and software defined networks. It is relying on the 3GPP 5G NR spec and is working with vendors and partners to create an ecosystem of products to support 5G as it rolls out. One of the primary pieces of the 5G puzzle is Intel's recently announced Xeon D-2100 system-on-a-chip (SoC) processor. It can handle intensive compute and network workloads demanded by 5G at the network edge. Further, Intel has partnered with China's Unigroup Spreadtrum and will pair a Spreadtrum processor with its own XMM 8000 5G modem. Intel expects to see phones packing the combined Spreadtrum/Intel SoC during the second half of 2019. PCs with embedded 5G are on the horizon, too. PC makers Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Microsoft all plan to enable their mobile computers to support 5G connections with the Intel XMM 8060 modem. Intel and its partners will have some concepts on display at the forthcoming Mobile World Congress trade show. They also expect to bring these concepts to market during the second half of 2019.


Google Highlights Phones It Recommends for Business Users

Feb 21, 2018, 12:53 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today announced the Android Enterprise Recommended program and an initial batch of handsets that meet the qualifications. Google says the Android Enterprise Recommended program “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. Further, device makers must commit to offering security patches to unlocked devices for a minimum of three years. Some of the initial devices that meet the requirements — and are thus recommended for business users — include the Google Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, and Pixel 2 XL; the BlackBerry KEYone and Motion; the Huawei Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro; the LG V30 and G6; the Motorola X4 and Z2 ; the Nokia 8; and the Sony Xperia XZ1, XZ Premium, XA2, and XA2 Ultra. Google says it will update the requirements with each new Android platform release to “raise the bar to ensure we are delivering the best experience for our enterprise customers.”


Qualcomm Reveals Artificial Intelligence Engine for Devs

Feb 21, 2018, 7:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Qualcomm today announced the Qualcomm Artificial Intelligence Engine, a package of hardware and software components meant to help developers bring AI-assisted apps and services to Qualcomm-powered handsets. The AI Engine is supported on the Snapdragon 845, 835, 820, and 660 mobile platforms, though it shines brightest on the 845, which has its own AI processing built in. The AI Engine relies on three core hardware components: the Hexagon Vector Processor, the Adreno GPU, and the Kryo CPU. On the software side, Qualcomm's AI Engine runs on the Snapdragon Neural Processing Engine, software that was created so developers can target the exact core they want powering their apps. The NPE supports Tensorflow, Caffe and Caffe2, and the Open Neural Network Exchange for developers. The AI Engine supports the Android Neural Networks API, which is baked into Android 8 Oreo, and gives developers access to Snapdragon hardware directly through the Android operating system. Last, the AI Engine banks on the Hexagon Neural Network Library so developers can run AI algorithms directly on the Hexagon Vector Processor. This powers machine learning and accelerates AI operations. Qualcomm says the sum of all these parts is real-time responsiveness, improved privacy, and enhanced reliability on the supported Snapdragon mobile platforms. Phone companies including Xiaomi, OnePlus, Vivo, Oppo, Motorola, Asus, ZTE, Nubia, Smartisan, and Blackshark were among the first to commit to using the AI Engine on future handsets. Qualcomm will be demonstrating the technology at the forthcoming Mobile World Congress trade show.


Motorola Debuts 5 Gorilla Glass Mods for Moto Z Phones

Feb 1, 2018, 8:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

People who own one of Motorola's Mod-friendly smartphones can snap up one of five new Style Shells to adorn the back. Where the original shells were generally made from nylon, these new shells are made from Gorilla Glass. Each has a unique pattern to give the phone a little visual pizzazz. The Style Shells are compatible with the Moto Z2 Force, Z2 Play, and other Motorola handsets. They cost $29.99 each and are available from Motorola's online store.


Verizon Fires Back at T-Mo with BOGO Of Its Own

Jan 22, 2018, 5:18 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless said customers can save big on select smartphones with a new buy-one, get-one offer that kicks off January 23. New and existing customers who add a new line of Verizon Unlimited service will be able to buy the Google Pixel 2, Samsung Galaxy S8, Motorola Moto Z2 Force, or LG V30 and get a second one for free. In order to qualify for the offer, both devices will need to be purchased on a monthly installment plan. The BOGO deal also requires a trade-in, the value of which can be put toward the purchase price of the new phones. Verizon will cover the cost of the second phone via monthly bill credits over the course of 24 months. Customers won't be able to mix and match: the second phone must come from the same manufacturer as the first, though people can opt for the larger Pixel 2 XL or Galaxy S8+ and cover the difference in cost on the second device. The Verizon BOGO deal counters a similar one launched by T-Mobile earlier this month.


Google Debuts 'Bill Protection' - Effectively Unlimited Data - for Project Fi

Jan 17, 2018, 1:13 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jan 17, 2018, 1:58 PM

Google today rolled out a new plan for its Project Fi wireless service that lets people use more mobile data at a lower cost. Since launch, Project Fi has charged $10 per gigabyte, pro-rated so people pay for exactly the amount of data they use. For example, those who consumed 2.3 GB in a given month were charged $23. This system works well for those who use data sparingly, but it adds up quickly for heavy users. Moving forward, the new Bill Protection plan caps the monthly mobile data expenditure at $60, no matter how much is used. People who exceed 6 GB of data in a given month will still be able to use high-speed data, but once they reach 15 GB in a single billing period they may experience slower speeds. Customers who need more than 15 GB of high-speed data per month can continue to pay the $10-per-gigabyte rate if they wish. Moreover, the unlimited plan still pro-rated data. People who use 1.4 GB of data in a month — even if they're using Bill Protection — will be charged $14 for that data. Last, Bill Protection applies to roaming in more than 135 countries and with data-only SIMs in tablets or laptops. Google says Bill Protection is rolling out today to individual and group plan subscribers. Project Fi is compatible with Google's Nexus and Pixel smartphones, and the Moto X4.


Hands On with the Livermorium Keyboard Slider Moto Mod

Jan 9, 2018, 8:45 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jan 9, 2018, 9:49 PM

Motorola's partner Livermorium announced plans to bring its $99 slide-out QWERTY keyboard to market. Is this the accessory or your typing dreams? Here are our impressions of the latest Mod for the Moto Z family of smartphones.

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Keyboard Mod for Moto Z to Arrive this Winter for $99

Jan 9, 2018, 4:45 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola today announced the pending availability of the Livermorium Slider Keyboard Moto Mod, an attachment that gives the Moto Z family a physical QWERTY keyboard for typing. The keyboard slides out and can tilt the handset up to 60 degrees for miniature-laptop-style typing. The Livermorium was initially an Indiegogo project and has since gained the support of Lenovo and Motorola. The slide-out keyboard will be available later this winter for $99. Motorola continues to encourage developers to support the Moto Mod program. Motorola is taking submissions for Moto Mod concepts and those whose ideas are selected will receive a Moto Z handset, the Moto Mod Development Kit, and support from Indiegogo.


Vital's Moto Mod Takes A Complete Health Picture

Jan 9, 2018, 2:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Lenovo and Vital USA today announced the Vital Moto Mod, a modular attachment for the Moto Z line of smartphones that can measure a range of health stats. Vital USA says the Vital Modo Mod can monitor heart rate, respiratory rate, pulse oximetry, non-contact body temperature, and blood pressure. The Mod works with the Vital App, a HIPAA-compliant application, to parse the data and create a complete health picture. The mod includes a finger cuff with an inflatable bladder along with other sensors to make the measurements. Vital USA says the measurements take about three to five minutes to complete, and they are then stored in the app where they can be shared and/or analyzed. The company claims all five measurements are made as accurately as they might be with dedicated medical equipment. Pricing and availability were not immediately disclosed.

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Top Five Budget Handsets of 2017

Dec 31, 2017, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Not everyone has the means or the desire to spend $1000 on a smartphone. There's good news: phone makers spent 2017 shoring up their ranks of budget-friendly devices, which now offer an incredible amount of performance for the dollar. These are the top five sub-$200 handsets of the year.

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Verizon's Moto Z2 Force Scores Android 8 Oreo Upgrade

Dec 22, 2017, 9:08 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today began rolling out the Android 8 Oreo system update to the Motorola Moto Z2 Force. In addition to the core Oreo features, including notification dots and picture-in-picture, the update makes improvements to productivity, performance, and notifications. For example, apps should now run quicker and smoother. The update also include Google's new rounded emoji characters and a new calling screen in the phone app. The update can be downloaded and installed over the air.


Android Go Updated with Oreo

Dec 5, 2017, 3:56 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today rolled out Android 8.1 Oreo and with it a version specifically for its Android Go platform. Android Go represents a simplified variant of Android for low-powered handsets. Specifically, Android 8.1 Oreo Go Edition makes optimizations to memory management so apps run better on hardware with 1 GB or less of RAM. The platform supports more targeting options for developers, which means they can cater their apps to specific hardware features. Android Go with Oreo also includes rebuilt and optimized apps from Google to ensure they use less memory, less storage, and less mobile data. Last, Google Play on Android Go Oreo devices will provide greater visibility for apps that are optimized for the Go platform. The first Android Oreo Go handsets are being released in India. One of the only Android Go devices available to U.S. consumers is the Project Fi variant of the Moto X4. Google did not say if or when the X4 will receive his particular software update.


December’s Android Security Patch from Google Arrives

Dec 4, 2017, 4:51 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today made its monthly security patch available to some Android devices. December's patch plugs a handful of security holes. Google found a dozen or so vulnerabilities, most of which were classified as moderately dangerous, or able to execute code remotely. Google is pushing a patch dated December 5 to resolve these issues. Google said the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel C, Nexus Player, Nexus 5X, and Nexus 6P devices will receive the December security patches directly over the air. The factory images will be available for download from Google's developer web site shortly. As far as Google knows, none of these security holes have been exploited. Google has already supplied the patches to its handset partners.


Motorola Rolls Out Savings On Smartphones And Mods

Nov 22, 2017, 8:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola is running a sale this week on a number of its products. Through Monday, November 27 the Moto Z is reduced from $499 to $399, the Moto Z2 Play is reduced from $499 to $399, the Moto X4 is reduced from $399 to $339, and the Moto E4 is reduced from $199 to $169. Motorola is also offering 25% of all Moto Mods. Moreover, most purchases made through Motorola.com qualify for free shipping.


US Cellular Offering Free iPhone 8, Galaxy S8, or LG G6

Nov 20, 2017, 1:09 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

U.S. Cellular today announced a holiday offering that will provide customers with a free flagship smartphone. The company will give customers a free Samsung Galaxy S8, iPhone 8, LG G6, or Motorola Moto Z Force when they sign up for an unlimited plan between November 22 and November 27. Customers will need to trade-in a recent flagship, such as the Galaxy S6, iPhone 6, or V20, to score the free phone. The free handset will be comped through monthly rebates over a period of 30 months. Customers who don't have a device to trade in can get a reduced-cost flagship for a monthly payment of just $10 in addition to the unlimited plan. U.S. Cellular's unlimited plan costs $70 for a single line, though multi-line discounts are available. U.S. Cellular offers up to 22 GB of high-speed data per billing cycle. Customers who exceed that limit will see speeds reduced to 2G for the remained of the month. The company is also offering discounts on Google Home, LG Tones, and Parrot Drones during its holiday sale. Last, customers who refer a family member or friend who signs up for service can score a $50 reward.


T-Mobile Says Gigabit LTE Available to Select Phones

Nov 9, 2017, 12:31 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Nov 9, 2017, 12:32 PM

T-Mobile today said more customers around the country should have access to faster wireless speeds. The company has reached several new milestones with respect to its wireless network. First, it has doubled its LTE-Advanced footprint to more than 920 markets. The company has deployed a trio of LTE-A technologies, including carrier aggregation, 4X4 MIMO, and 256 QAM, in 430 of those markets. Gigabit LTE relies on a combination of these three LTE-A technologies along with certain on-device components and proper backhaul. Together, these technologies are able to improve spectral efficiency, reduce congestion, and deliver the highest-possible speeds to handsets. Only a few devices equipped with the Snapdragon 835 processor with X16 LTE modem can access Gigabit LTE, including the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Note8, the Motorola Moto Z2 Force Edition, and the LG V30. T-Mobile customers who own these devices and live in the 430 markets with carrier aggregation, 4X4 MIMO, and 256 QAM may be able to tap into Gigatbit LTE download speeds (800 Mbps). Gigabit LTE is a stepping stone to 5G and T-Mobile plans to keep moving forward. The company is prepared to launch LTE-License Assisted Access (LTE-LAA) later this year. LTE-LAA makes better use of unlicensed spectrum on small cells. T-Mobile did not provide a timeline for these network upgrades.


Moto Smart Speaker Goes On Sale November 13 for $150

Nov 6, 2017, 10:52 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola today said the Moto Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa will become available over the coming week. Amazon, Best Buy, and Motorola will each kick off pre-orders for the modular attachment starting November 7, with general sales commencing November 13. The device will be available from Verizon by November 16. Motorola is charging $150 for the smart speaker, which lets Moto Z owners access Alexa when on the go. The Smart Speaker can be used to play music and interact with Alexa just like at home with an Amazon Echo speaker. The mod includes its own battery that can deliver up to 15 hours of listening without impacting the phone's power source. It includes a charging dock that works together with the Moto Z to provide a nightstand mode with active Alexa listening. It is compatible with all Moto Mod handsets, including the newer Moto Z2 Play and Z2 Force.


Motorola Bakes Amazon's Alexa Into Speaker Mod for Moto Z

Oct 18, 2017, 9:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola today announced the Moto Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa, a new modular attachment that lets Moto Z owners access Alexa when on the go. The Smart Speaker includes four microphones and Motorola says it can detect voices and respond to requests in most environments. The Smart Speaker can be used to play music and interact with Alexa just like at home with an Amazon Echo speaker. Moto Z owners can ask Alexa for the news headlines, directions, commute details, calendar appointments, list items, and more. In addition to voice responses, the Moto Z can display information, such to-do lists and weather reports, directly on the screen. The speaker includes its own battery that can deliver up to 15 hours of listening without impacting the phone's battery. It includes a charging dock that works together with the Moto Z to provide a nightstand mode with active Alexa listening. The Moto Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa will be available for $150 starting in November. It is compatible with all Moto Mod handsets, including the newer Moto Z2 Play and Z2 Force.


Amazon to Sell Moto X4 Via Prime Exclusives

Oct 18, 2017, 9:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 18, 2017, 9:42 AM

Amazon today said it will soon offer the Motorola Moto X4 through its Prime Exclusives program. Devices sold under the Prime Exclusives banner are offered at a discount in exchange for viewing ads on the lock screen. The phone will be available for preorder starting today for $330, a discount of $70 off the full list price of $400. Amazon is offering both the black and blue colors and says the phone will start shipping on October 26. The Moto X4 is a mid-range phone with dual cameras, including a 12-megapixel main camera with PDAF, and a 120-degree wide-angle second camera with 8-megapixel resolution. The LCD screen measures 5.2 inches with full HD resolution. The phone is rated IP68 for water-resistance, and has a metal frame with Gorilla Glass on the front and back. The X4 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 processor and the 3,000 mAh battery supports Turbo Charging. Motorola says the Moto X4 will be generally available in the U.S. for pre-order beginning October 19 at Best Buy, BestBuy.com, B&H, Fry's, Jet.com, Motorola.com, Newegg, Republic Wireless, and Ting. Like the Amazon variant, Motorola expects its retail partners to ship the standard Moto X4 beginning October 26


Google's Project Fi Pushes Back Moto X4 Deliveries

Oct 11, 2017, 7:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google's Project Fi has informed some customers via email that their Motorola Moto X4 handsets won't arrive when initially expected. Google says Motorola ran into production delays with the phone, which means the first wave of deliveries will be delayed. The device is now expected to ship between October 18 and October 25. Google apologized for the inconvenience and said those trading in devices will still have 30 days to do so after they receive their Moto X4. The Moto X4 is notable because it is the first non-Nexus, non-Pixel handset compatible with Google's Project Fi wireless service. It is also the first Android One handset to be sold directly to U.S. consumers.


Motorola Moto G5S Plus Hits Stores September 29

Sep 21, 2017, 12:34 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola today opened up pre-orders for the Moto G5S Plus handset. Consumers can order the phone from Best Buy, B&H, Fry’s, Motorola.com, New Egg, Ting, and Walmart.com. The G5S Plus boasts a metal unibody design, 5.5-inch HD display, and a 3,000mAh battery. It includes a dual 13-megapixel arrangement with features such as selective focus, and black-and-white image capture. The G5S Plus adds an LED flash to the front of the phone for improved lighting via the 8-megapixel selfie cam. The phone includes the latest software features from Motorola, including Night Display and Quick Reply. The device will ship starting September 29. The Moto GS5 Plus comes in gray or rose gold. The 32 GB version costs $229 and the 64 GB version costs $299.


Google Brings the Moto X4 with Android One to Project Fi

Sep 20, 2017, 10:57 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google's Project Fi just scored its first non-Nexus / Pixel handset. The company added the Motorola Moto X4 to the selection of devices compatible with Project Fi, which is Google's low-cost MVNO. The Moto X4, announced earlier this year, joins the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Pixel, and Pixel XL in Project Fi's lineup. Perhaps more importantly, the Moto X4 will run the Android One variant of Android. This represents the first time an Android One device is being made available in the U.S. Android One is Google's slimmed-down version of Android for inexpensive devices. The idea is to provide a core Android experience that performs well no matter the hardware's possible limitations. It includes Google Assistant, Google Duo, Google Play Protect, and the latest updates to Android Oreo. In fact, Google committed to updating the Android One Moto X4 to (previously unannounced) Android P. The Moto X4 for Project Fi sports a stylish design with a metal frame and curved glass, plus a 16-megapixel selfie camera and dual rear cameras, with one wide-angle lens. It also has a 5.2-inch screen, Snapdragon 630 processor, memory card slot, water resistance, 3.5mm audio jack, and USB-C connector. It supports Motorola's TurboPower rapid charging. The Android One Moto x4 is priced at $399, and comes in black and blue. It is available pre-order on the Project Fi web site starting today. Google said it will accept trade-ins of older Nexus phones for those wishing to upgrade.


Motorola Commits to Updating High-End Phones to Android Oreo

Sep 14, 2017, 3:27 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola today said it will update a significant number of its smartphones to Android 8 Oreo. Those devices on deck for the latest version of Android include the 2016 Moto Z, Z Droid, Z Force Droid, Z Play, and Z Play Droid, as well as the 2017 Moto Z2 Play, Z2 Force Edition, X4, G5, G5 Plus, G5S, and G5S Plus. It appears that Motorola's E and C series devices will not be updated to Oreo. Motorola said that in addition to the core Oreo code and Google Play Protect, the updates should improve handset speed, battery life, multitasking, text selection, notifications, and autofill behaviors. The updates will arrive on a per handset basis beginning later this fall.


Hands On with the Moto X4

Aug 31, 2017, 7:20 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Sep 1, 2017, 7:45 AM

Motorola's new iconic phone fills the gap in their lineup between the flagship Z series, and the more affordable G series. Its focus is style and camera. It's not a flagship, but it has the design of one, thanks to a metal frame and curved glass front and back. It also has dual cameras, and an industry-leading 16-megapixel selfie camera. We checked it out. Read on for our first impressions.

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Moto X4 Sports Dual Cameras + 16 megapixel Selfie Camera

Aug 31, 2017, 2:08 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Aug 31, 2017, 2:14 PM

Motorola/Lenovo today announced the Moto X4, the company's new feature-filled, stylish mid-range phone. It has dual cameras, including a 12 megapixel main camera with PDAF, and a 120-degree wide-angle camera with 8 megapixel resolution. The dual cameras are capable of selective focus for a bokeh effect. The camera software can also recognize landmarks, food, and scan codes. It also has a whopping 16 megapixel selfie camera, making it one of the only phones with higher resolution on the front camera. The LCD screen clocks in at 5.2 inches and Full HD resolution. Uniquely, the X4 can stream music simultaneously to up to four different Bluetooth devices. It's rated IP68 for water-resistance, and has a metal frame with Gorilla Glass on the front and back. The camera module on the back has a distinctive "watch face" design. It also includes the Amazon Alexa voice assistant. The front-mounted fingerprint reader integrates with a new Moto Key feature to offer single-sign-on for mobile websites and your desktop PC. The X4 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 processor paired with either 3 or 4 GB of RAM (depending on market.) The 32 or 64 GB of internal storage is expandable with memory cards up to 2 TB. The 3,000 mAh battery supports Turbo Charging. It will come to Europe in September for 400 Euros, with more markets — including the U.S. — to follow later in the fall.


Google Details Final Release of Android 8.0 Oreo

Aug 21, 2017, 3:37 PM   by Rich Brome

Google today announced the final release of Android 8.0, and also named this version "Oreo". Members of the Android Beta program will receive an update to the final version today. Nexus and Pixel users will receive the update "rolling out in phases over the next several weeks". Google has been working with all of its partners to enable updates for other phones. In the coming weeks and months, other manufacturers will roll out the update to many recent phones. By the end of the year, phones from Essential, Huawei, HTC, Kyocera, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, Sharp and Sony will have Android 8.0 Oreo. The update includes some minor new features, such as picture-in-picture and improved auto-fill, plus many important improvements for developers and overall performance.


Moto Gamepad Mod Hits Verizon Aug. 25 for $80

Aug 10, 2017, 7:41 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Aug 10, 2017, 10:12 AM

Verizon Wireless recently provided details on the availability and cost of the Moto Gamepad Mod for the Z2 Play and Z2 Force smartphones. The Gamepad, available for preorder via Verizon's web site, will ship by August 25. Verizon said the Gamepad will be available online and in stores. The phone snaps in magnetically via the Mod connector. The pad features a standard set of gaming buttons and joysticks positioned on either side of the screen, in addition to a 3.5mm headset jack and USB-C port for charging. The Gamepad includes its own 1.035mAh battery, so it won't suck juice from the phone and in fact can provide the Z handset with up to 8 hours of gaming time. The Gamepad will cost gaming enthusiasts $79.99. The Moto Gamepad Mod is a Verizon exclusive, as is the new JBL SoundBoost 2 speaker Mod.


Amazon Prices the Motorola Moto E4 Plus at $140

Aug 3, 2017, 2:44 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Amazon has added the Motorola Moto E4 Plus to its lineup of Amazon Prime Exclusive handsets. The phone is available for preorder today, with shipments kicking off Aug. 11. Amazon lists the 16 GB model of the phone at $140 and the 32 GB model at $160. These represent $40 in savings when compared to purchasing the phone outright from Motorola or other retailers. Amazon Prime Exclusive handsets are discounted because owners agree to view advertisements on the lock screen. The Moto E4 Plus is also available today from Best Buy, B&H, Fry's, Newegg, and Motorola.com for $180 (16 GB) and $200 (32 GB). The Moto E4 Plus boasts a metal design, and improves the screen size compared to the standard E4 to 5.5 inches (still 720p HD) and the battery to a massive 5,000mAh. The phone ships with a 10W charger for rapid power-ups. The E4 Plus also packs a 13-megapixel main camera with f/2.0 aperture, LED flash, and autofocus, and a 5-megapixel front camera with selfie flash.


Motorola Debuts 'S' Variants of the Moto G5 and G5 Plus with Metal Bodies, Bigger Screens, Better Cameras

Aug 1, 2017, 8:49 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola today announced the Moto G5S and the Moto G5S Plus, special editions of the G5 and G5 Plus it revealed earlier this year. The G5S features an aluminum unibody design with a larger 5.2-inch full HD display and higher-capacity 3,000mAh battery with rapid charging. The G5S also improves the main camera from 13 megapixels to 16 megapixels with PDAF, and adds an LED flash to the front for better selfies with the 5-megapixel, wide-angle camera. The G5S Plus (pictured) adopts a metal unibody design, pushes the full HD screen from 5.2 inches to 5.5 inches, but carries over the 3,000mAh battery of the G5 Plus. The most significant change involves the camera, which switches from a single 12-megapixel shooter to a dual 13-megapixel arrangement with features such as selective focus, and black-and-white image capture. Similar to the G5S, the G5S Plus adds an LED flash to the front of the phone for improved lighting via the 8-megapixel selfie cam. Both the G5S and G5S Plus adopt the new Motorola multi-purpose fingerprint reader that can also be used for navigating the user interface. The phones include the latest software features from Motorola, too, including Night Display and Quick Reply. The G5S costs about $295 while the G5S Plus costs about $350. They will go on sale in the U.S. this fall.


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