Info & Phones News
The Samsung Galaxy A80 has a unique triple-camera module that normally faces rearward. but is motorized so it can can slide up from the metal frame and spin around to face forward, for selfie mode. Samsung announced the phone today and plans to launch it by the end of May. The camera design allows the 6.7-inch, full-HD, AMOLED display to cover the whole front without a notch. The camera module includes a 48-megapixel main camera, 8-megapixel wide camera, and 3D depth camera. The 3D depth camera enables live focus (portrait effect) for video. The large 3,700 mAh battery can charge quickly with 25W charging. The fingerprint reader is built into the display. It comes with a generous 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage, although it does not support memory cards. The A80 will be available in black, gold/pink and white/blue. Specific pricing and launch countries were not announced.
Google is removing the relatively insecure Voice Match security option from existing Android phones. Previously, older Pixel and Moto phones offered the option to secure a phone with voiceprint and fully unlock it by saying "OK Google". But the method wasn't very secure; it could be fooled by a recording of the owner's voice. When users update to the newest version of the Google app, this option will be replaced by a new, limited Google Assistant interface on the lock screen. Its options include accessing certain email results, calendar events, contacts, reminders, and shopping lists. But other Assistant features like playing music will be unavailable without fully unlocking the phone via a different method.
Motorola VP of Global Product Dan Dery confirmed this week that the company is working on folding phones and has "no intention of coming later than everybody else in the market". In an interview with Engadget, Dery also confirmed that the company is working on devices that fold inward, protecting the display, as well as potential dual-hinge devices.
Moto's new g-series phones bring up-to-date features, upgraded specs, and clean Google software to three models ranging from $200 to $300. This year's series moves to a notched-screen design, steps up to a Qualcomm Snapdragon 632 processor, and supports USB-C across the board. They will all launch with Android 9 (Pie). All three will eventually come to US carriers, most by this spring.
- Moto g7 play: The most affordable at $199, it has a 5.7" HD display, 3,000 mAh battery, fast charging, fingerprint reader, 13 megapixel camera, 2 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage, memory card slot, 3.5mm headset jack, and FM radio. It will be available from Boost, Virgin, US Cellular, Ting, and Republic, as well as unlocked from most major retailers.
- Moto g7 power: The main feature is its huge 5,000 mAh battery, which Motorola claims will last for three days. It builds on the specs of the g7 play, stepping up to a larger 6.2" display, 3 GB of RAM, and a higher-quality 12-megapixel camera. It will be available for $249 from Verizon, T-Mobile, Metro, Cricket, Xfinity Mobile, Republic, Ting, and Consumer Cellular, as well as unlocked from most major retailers.
- Moto g7: Higher-end but with a normal-size (3,000 mAh) battery, this flagship of the g series has a curved glass back, full-HD 6.2" display with a smaller notch, 4 GB of RAM, 64 GB of storage, 4K video capture, and dual cameras for portrait effects. It also has a more advanced camera app, with new features like automatic group smile capture, hi-res digital zoom using multiple frames, hyperlapse video, and RAW output. The camera also integrates with YouTube Live and Google Lens. It will be available unlocked from most major retailers for $299 this spring, followed by launches with Google Fi, Republic Wireless, and Ting.
Unicode 12, the annual release for 2019, includes a wide variety of new standard emoji. Many focus on accessibility, including wheelchair, motorized wheelchair, person in wheelchair, probing cane, person with probing cane, deaf person, guide dog, service dog, ear with hearing aid, and mechanical limbs. Other new emoji include yawning face, pinching hand, ice cube, yo-yo, axe, drop of blood, adhesive bandage, stethoscope, ringed planet, chair, straight razor, safety vest, parachute, diving mask, kite, hindu temple, sari, and ballet shoes. New animals include skunk, otter, sloth, flamingo, and orangutan. New food emoji include butter, onion, garlic, waffle, falafel, oyster, and juice box. Emoji of people holding hands has also been expanded with greater diversity. Annual emoji releases typically reach phones when major new OSes are released in early fall.
A Brazilian Motorola web site accidentally posted photos and details of the unannounced Moto G7 series of phones. There will be four versions of the G7. All of them have a headphone jack, fingerprint reader, memory card slot, and Android 9 (Pie). The standard Moto G7 model will have a 6.24" full-HD+ display with a small "drop-style" notch, and dual rear cameras. Inside is a Snapdragon 632 processor paired with 4 GB RAM and 64 GB storage, and 3,000 mAh battery. The Moto G7 Plus model is very similar but has a Snapdragon 636 processor and higher-resolution cameras (16 megapixel main / 12 megapixel selfie). A slightly lower-end Moto G7 Power has a huge 5,000 mAh battery, but has a lower-res (720p) HD screen with a larger notch, less internal storage, a single rear camera, and 3 GB RAM. The cheaper-still Moto G7 Play is similar to the G7 Power but with a smaller 5.7-inch display, 2 GB RAM, and a 3,000 mAh battery. An event is scheduled for Feb. 7 in Brazil where the G7 series is expected to be formally announced.
Motorola will soon revive the RAZR brand for a pricey folding-screen phone for Verizon, the Wall Street Journal reports today. The phone is in testing but could launch as soon as February. The phone would cost roughly $1,500 and be exclusive to Verizon Wireless. Samsung has said it also plans to introduce a phone this year with a screen that bends, allowing the phone to fold in half. Motorola Mobility is owned by Lenovo. The original RAZR was a thin metal flip phone introduced in 2004. Motorola revived the RAZR brand in 2011 for a line of Droid phones that were also exclusive to Verizon. The new "foldable" RAZR has yet to be announced and no other details are available.
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.
Google recently made improvements to its Daydream virtual reality platform that will see its usefulness expand in several ways. First, it is giving the Lenovo Mirage Solo headset the ability to support six degrees of freedom. Together with hand trackers, this allows Mirage Solo users to more accurately interact with virtual worlds. Google says it is using "machine learning and off-the-shelf parts to accurately estimate the 3D position and orientation of the controllers." This means 6DoF can be built into VR headsets at a lower cost. Google gave developers new APIs in order to test this experimental features. The Mirage Solo also gains a see-through mode, allowing wearers to see the real world around them through the headset's cameras. On mobile devices, Google is opening up all Android apps to its phone-based VR experience. Developers can use new tools to add Daydream VR support to their existing 2D applications. Google says its Chrome team recycled existing 2D interfaces from its Chrome Browser Sync to make this possible. Once developers make their apps Daydream enabled, Daydream users will be able to open those apps via their Daydream VR headset and interact with them. Google is calling these features experimental for now.
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.
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.
Google today said its Chrome browser is now accessible from several different virtual reality platforms. First, it is available via Google Daydream, Google's own VR platform for Android devices. People who own a compatible Android phone and Daydream headset can access Chrome. It is also available to the Lenovo Mirage Solo headset. Chrome is positioned on the homepage on these VR platforms. The VR version of Chrome supports incognito mode, saved bookmarks, and other standard browsing functions. It also adds cinema mode, which ensures the best experience when playing web video through a Daydream headset. Chrome is free to download from the Google Play Store.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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 today said a handful of phone manufacturers from China have signed memorandums of understanding wherein they have agreed to purchase RF front ends from Qualcomm worth $2 billion. The companies in particular are Lenovo, Oppo, Vivo, and Xiaomi. The four will spend $2 billion in aggregate on Qualcomm's radios over a period of three years. The RF front end modules constitute power amplifiers, envelope trackers, multi-mode PAs, RF switches, filters, and antenna tuners that work across a rage of cellular technologies. They are the vital piece that connects the phone to the networks. Qualcomm says to-date that these phone makers have been using a component-approach in piecing together their radio solutions. Adopting Qualcomm's entire RF module should make it easier for Lenovo, Oppo, Vivo, and Xiaomi to bring handsets to market.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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 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.