Info & Phones News
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.
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'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'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.
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 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.
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 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
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.
Motorola today said the Moto E4 Plus, which it announced in June, will reach various sales channels later this week. The unlocked variant will be available from Amazon, Best Buy, B&H, Fry's, Newegg, and Motorola.com starting August 3 for $180. Verizon Wireless plans to sell its own version of the Moto E4 Plus on August 3 too, though Verizon's pricing wasn't immediately available. Sprint, Ting, and other U.S. retailers will stock the Moto E4 Plus beginning August 11, with Republic Wireless to follow August 14. Motorola will also sell an Amazon Prime Exclusive version of the Moto E4 Plus, though pricing on the Amazon model wasn't announced. 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 today said consumers who purchase the new Moto Z2 Force at any time between now and September 10 will receive a free projector Moto Mod. Consumers can buy the Z2 Force via any channel, such as a wireless carrier, electronics store, or Motorola.com. Consumers then need only send the phone's IMEI number to Motorola, which will ship the projector free of charge. The Insta-Share Projector, released last year, is capable of projecting 70-inch images and video in high definition onto any flat surface. The projector includes its own battery and kickstand for finding the right angle. The projector normally costs $299.
Motorola today revealed a new modular accessory along with the Moto Z2 Force: an attachable 360-degree camera. The camera can capture 360-degree images and 4K video, as well as 150-degree shots from either the front or back. The 360 Camera Moto Mod comes with its own photo-editing software so people can customize the images to fit their particular sharing needs. The camera can also stream live 360-degree video across social media channels, such as Facebook and YouTube. The snappable mod goes on sale with the Moto Z2 Force on August 10. It costs $299.
Motorola today announced the Moto Z2 Force, the company's newest flagship phone. The phone sports a durable ShatterShield display, thin metal design, dual cameras, and of course supports the company's Moto Mods system of snap-on accessory modules. We took it for a quick spin and have some first impressions to share from our hands-on time with it.
Motorola announced the Z2 Force today, which replaces both the Z and Z Force from last year. The phone will be sold by most U.S. carriers, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless. Motorola said the Verizon variant will not include the "Droid" branding that was found on last year's phones. Motorola is sticking with a single device name across carriers. Verizon did not provide comment on the name change. Motorola plans to sell the phone unlocked from Motorola.com, but there is no single unlocked model, according to Rudi Kalil, vice president and general manager at Motorola. Kalil said Motorola will offer unlocked variants for each carrier due to the specific cellular radio requirements for forthcoming 1 Gbps service that's under development from the carriers. The Moto Z2 Force is available for preorder today and will ship starting August 10.
Motorola today announced the Moto Z2 Force, its flagship handset for 2017. The Z2 Force carries over the Shattershield nearly unbreakable display from last year's phone. It is a slim handset boasting a metal chassis and compatibility with Motorola's system of Moto Mods accessories. The display measures 5.5 inches and offers quad HD resolution. The phone is powered by a Snapdragon 835 processor with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage. The new dual-camera array includes two sensors (one standard, one monochromatic) in the single raised module with two-tone flash. The cameras capture 12-megapixel images and allow for true black-and-white photography as well as selective focus for blurred backgrounds. Other specs include a wide-angle, user-facing camera with CCT flash for more accurate skin tones. The device includes Motorola's TurboPower charging with all-day battery life. Motorola says a 15-minute charge delivers 8 hours of battery life. This year's phone includes Motorola's standard nano-coating to protect the inner components from water damage, but the Z2 Force is not fully waterproof. It includes Motorola's multi-function fingerprint sensor as well as Moto Display with quick reply and Moto Voice with "show me" commands. The phone will be available in gray, black, and gold colors. The phone will be sold by most U.S. carriers and is available for preorder starting today. Motorola said the Moto Z2 Force hits stores August 10. It runs Android 7 Nougat.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the company's handset partners have new Daydream-compatible devices in the pipeline and there should be a total of 11 such phones available by the end of the year. At the moment, only four phones are able to use Google's virtual reality headsets, including the Pixel and Pixel XL, ZTE Axon 7, Motorola Z, and Huawei Mate 9. It's not clear if Pichai was including the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+, which are primed to receive Daydream compatibility through a software update. The figure likely does include Google's 2017 Pixel devices, whatever they may be. Daydream has certain hardware requirements, particularly where the display is concerned. For example, the display must be between 4.7 and 6 inches, must have a 60 Hz or greater refresh rate with low-persistence mode, and must have at least full HD resolution, with quad HD preferred. Companies including Motorola, HMD Global, Samsung, Sony, Huawei, and LG all have major device announcements lined up between now and early September. It is possible these forthcoming handsets will be among those supporting Google Daydream.
T-Mobile today said its prepaid unit MetroPCS will offer the Motorola Moto E4 smartphone beginning July 31. The handset features a metal design, 5-inch 720p HD screen, and 2,800mAh battery. It also boasts an 8-megapixel main camera with an f/2.2 aperture, LED flash, and autofocus, and a 5-megapixel front camera with selfie flash. The phone costs $49 (after an instant rebate), but customers who port in to MetroPCS can get the Moto E4 for free. Verizon Prepaid, Sprint, Republic Wireless, and Ting already sell the Moto E4, and it is available unlocked from Amazon, Best Buy, B&H, Fry’s, Motorola.com, and New Egg for about $130. The larger Moto E4 Plus won't reach the U.S. until later this summer.
Verizon Wireless began selling the Motorola Moto Z2 Play handset today. The Moto Z2 Play, announced earlier this month, has a 5.5-inch full HD display and supports Moto Mods. The Moto Z2 Play is powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 626 processor with an Adreno 506 GPU, 3 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of storage. The 12-megapixel camera uses phase-detect and laser-assisted autofocus and has an f/1.7 lens. The front camera has a wide-angle 5-megapixel sensor with front-facing flash and f/2.2 lens. The phone relies on USB-C but still packs a 3.5mm headphone jack. The phone has a 3,000mAh battery and Motorola's rapid TurboPower charger. It runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat with Moto Display and Moto Voice. Verizon Wireless is charging $408 for the Moto Z2 Play, or $17 per month on a payment plan. It comes in gray or gold. Moto Mods, such as the battery pack, projector, and speakers, cost extra. Motorola will sell an unlocked version of the phone with more color and storage options later this summer. For now, the Moto Z2 Play is only available from Verizon.
Motorola today said its recently announced Moto E4 smartphone will go on sale June 22 in the U.S. The handset will be sold by Verizon Wireless Prepaid online for $70. Motorola also plans to sell an unlocked version the phone for $130 through Amazon, Best Buy, B&H, Fry’s, Motorola.com, and New Egg. The company expects to offer the phone through Amazon's Prime Exclusive program, too, which will allow people to purchase the handset at a lower cost as long as they agree to view ads on the lock screen. The Moto E4 will reach Boost Mobile, Sprint, Flash Wireless, Jet.com, Republic Wireless, Target, and Ting in July. Motorola said the Moto E4 Plus won't reach the U.S. until later this summer.
Motorola today announced the Moto E4 and Moto E4 Plus, two low-cost Android smartphones that sit one step up from the entry-level Moto C handsets. Both the E4 and E4 Plus run Android 7.1 Nougat and include Snapdragon 427 quad-core processors with 2 GB of RAM, and 16 GB of storage. Other shared features include wide support for 3G and 4G networks, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, microUSB, 3.5mm headphone jacks, and front-mounted fingerprint readers.
- Moto E4: The Moto E4 features a metal design, 5-inch 720p HD screen, and 2,800mAh battery. It also boasts an 8-megapixel main camera with an f/2.2 aperture, LED flash, and autofocus, and a 5-megapixel front camera with selfie flash.
- Moto E4 Plus: The Moto E4 Plus (pictured) relies on a metal design, too, but improves the screen size 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 today provided details about a handful of new modular attachments for the Moto Z2 Play and other Moto Mod-compatible handsets. The Moto GamePad snaps onto the back of Moto's phones and provides dual control sticks, a d-pad, and four action buttons. The GamePad includes its own built-in 1,035mAh battery and costs $80. The JBL SoundBoost 2 is a new attachable speaker that provides 10 hours of playtime. The SoundBoost 2 is water-repellant, comes in red, black, or blue, includes a kickstand, and has an improved shape for better hand fit. It costs $80. The TurboPower Pack is a snap-on battery mod for quickly recharging Moto handsets on the go. Motorola says it can add an extra day of battery life when kept in place one time, or can provide a rapid recharge at 15W when users need to power up in a hurry. It costs $80. Last, the Moto Style Shell with Wireless Charging combines a shell case and battery in one Mod. It costs $40. Motorola said all the new Moto Mods will be available when the Moto Z2 Play launches later this summer. The new Mods will be backward compatible with all Moto Mod handsets, including the Moto Z, Z Force Droid, Z Play, and Z Play Droid.
Google today provided some insight on its Daydream virtual reality platform and says a new version of Daydream will soon make its debut. Daydream 2.0 Euphrates targets standalone VR headsets and is powered by Android O. The entire experience is handled in virtual reality. Daydream 2.0 updates the home experience for standalone headsets and smartphones. Euphrates includes a new dashboard that will appear on top of any app and lets people remain in VR even when checking settings, reading notifications, and multitasking. Euphrates also adds Google Cast support, allowing people to pick a destination and cast from Daydream to other devices such as television sets. Daydream 2.0 makes it possible to capture screenshots and then share them via social networks. Google said there are eight Daydream compatible handsets right now, and it expects that number to increase significantly by the end of the year thanks to new entries from LG, Motorola, Asus, and others. Google believes tens of millions of Daydream devices will be in the market by the end of the year.
Google today said Samsung will update the Galaxy S8 and S8+ handsets later this summer in order to make them compatible with Google's Daydream virtual reality platform. Daydream is Google's year-old VR service that runs on select handsets. It includes a dedicated VR headset. Google also mentioned that a forthcoming flagship handset from LG will be Daydream compatible. Google is working with partners such as Qualcomm, HTC, Lenovo, and others to create more standalone Daydream headsets that should arrive later this year.
Motorola today unveiled two low-cost Android smartphones, the Moto C and Moto C Plus (pictured). Both phones are intended to serve as entry-level handsets for first time and/or cost-conscious buyers. Shared features include Android 7 Nougat, 3.5mm headset jacks, MediaTek 6737 processors, Bluetooth 4.2, and GPS. Some of the Moto C's specs include a 5-inch FWVGA display, 2,350mAh battery, LTE 4G, 5-megapixel camera with LED flash, 2-megapixel front camera with selfie flash, and a 1.1 GHz quad-core processor with 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of storage. The C Plus has a larger 4,000mAh battery and higher-resolution 720p HD 5-inch screen. It also improves the main camera sensor to 8-megapixels with LED flash, but keeps the 2-megapixel selfie camera. The Moto C Plus includes a 1.3 GHz quad-core processor with 1 GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage, and supports microSD memory cards. The devices will ship in Latin America, Europe, and Asia Pacific later this spring. Motorola said neither phone will be made available to U.S. buyers. The Moto C is priced at approximately $110 and the Moto C Plus is priced at about $130.
Lenovo issued a notice this week warning that the Moto G5 Plus may not be able to connect 911 calls via VoLTE on Verizon's wireless network. The company has identified the bug and expects to issue a software patch in the next week or so. Until then, Lenovo suggests owners of the Moto G5 Plus disable VoLTE calling. This will enable the G5 Plus to make regular cellular calls to 911, though Lenovo reminds people that this will prevent Verizon customers from using voice and data at the same time.
Motorola today said the Moto G5 Plus will be available to U.S. buyers starting March 31. The company is selling two variants of the phone. The first has 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage and costs $229, while the second has 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage and costs $299. The phone will be sold by Motorola itself as well as Amazon, Best Buy, B&H, Costco, Flash Wireless, Frys, NewEgg, Republic Wireless, Target, Ting, and Walmart. Amazon Prime members can score a small discount on the phone, with the 2 GB model costing $185 and the 4 GB model costing $240. The Moto G5 Plus comes in gold or silver. It includes a 5.2-inch full HD display, Snapdragon 625 processor, 12-megapixel main camera, 5-megapixel user-facing camera, and wide support for U.S. LTE networks. The phone runs Android 7 Nougat.
Google today said more wireless network operators and handset manufacturers will use Android Messages, its RCS-based messaging service, as the default SMS/MMS tool on their phones. (Android Messages was previously known as Google Messenger.) Some of the features of RCS, which is a global standard, include group chat, high-resolution photo sharing, advanced calling features, and read receipts. It has been improved lately with more interactive tools, such as the ability to check into flights. Google says a number of brands plan to use RCS in order to enhance their own services and help spur adoption. Some of the brands include Walgreens, Baskin-Robbins, FICO, Gamestop, Sonic, Subway, and Time. Moving forward, the Android Messages app with RCS will be preloaded by LG, Motorola, Sony, HTC, ZTE, Micromax, HMD Global, Archos, BQ, Cherry Mobile, Condor, Fly, General Mobile, Lanix, LeEco, Lava, Kyocera, MyPhone, QMobile, Symphony, and Wiko, along with Google's own Pixel and Android One devices. Further, Google was already working with carriers Sprint, Rogers, and Telenor, and today added Vodafone, Orange, Deutsche Telekom, and Globe. Notably absent fro the list of phone makers is Samsung, while AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon have also yet to commit. Phones with Android Messages on board will still be able to interact with Samsung handsets and those running on non-Sprint networks of course, but will lose the advanced features available via RCS. Samsung, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon haven't said if or when they might adopt Google's Android Messages, though T-Mobile and Verizon already use their own RCS-like messaging platforms.
Verizon Wireless today announced a promotional trade-in offer that will give a free flagship-class phone to those who switch from other carriers. The offer requires users to select Verizon's new $80 monthly unlimited plan. It also requires a working trade-in that is fully paid off. Customers will need to port their number in from a competing service provider. Customers can then select the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, Google Pixel, Moto Z Droid, Moto Z Force Droid, Samsung Galaxy S7, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, or LG V20. Verizon will provide up to $792 toward the cost of the phone spread out over 24 months. In order to get one of the above phones for free, switchers will need to trade-in the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, Samsung Galaxy S6, Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+, Samsung Galaxy S7, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Samsung Note 5, LG G5, LG V20, or the HTC 10. Customers who have an older phone to trade, such as the Apple iPhone SE, Samsung Note 4, Samsung Galaxy S5, LG G4, LG V10, or HTC M9, will need to pay $5 per month for the "free" phones being offered by Verizon. Verizon Wireless didn't say how long this promotion will be available.
Google has made it possible for more developers to create Daydream virtual reality applications for Android devices. Before this week, the necessary tools were limited to a few select Google partners. Now, any developer can publish a Daydream application on the Google Play Store. Daydream apps are called out in a specific section of the Play Store to help make them more visible. The move should eventually lead to a greater selection of virtual reality apps for Google's Daydream platform. Daydream is available to a limited selection of devices right now, including the Google Pixel and Pixel XL, and Motorola Moto Z Droid and Z Force Droid. More Daydream-compatible handsets are expected to arrive this year.