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Opinion: Lenovo is Slowly Tearing the "Moto" Brand Down

Back in August of 2011, Google announced that they were buying Motorola. The smartphone manufacturer that had been having quite a bit of financial difficulty in recent years, Google wanted to save it. However, something that many industry analysts were worried about, was how this purchase would affect Google s partners which use Android on their mobile devices. There were many rumors that Samsung wasn t happy with Google owning one of their competitors, even though the search giant continuously noted that Motorola is its own separate entity and not ran by Google. Less than three years later, Google sold Motorola Mobility to Lenovo1. Now Google bought Motorola for $12.5 billion in 2011, and sold it for $2.91 billion in 2014. That s a pretty big difference for the same company.

It s worth noting here that the deal with Lenovo did not include any of the patents that Motorola owned which Google cited as a big reason for them picking up Motorola. Google also separated Motorola Mobility from Motorola Solutions. Where Motorola Solutions created radios and such, while Motorola Mobility did all sorts of mobile products like smartphones, smartwatches, etc. So the Motorola that Lenovo bought was indeed much smaller, hence the smaller price tag.

When Lenovo announced they were buying Motorola, the reaction was sort of a mixed bag. Some were happy that Motorola would be able to flourish under Lenovo, something they couldn t do under Google, due to competition. But then that made Motorola an American company into a Chinese one. Additionally, many hardcore Android fans were worried about what might happen to Motorola. Would they just be absorbed by Lenovo? Or would they be able to be their own brand or company under the Lenovo umbrella?

There were many questions that needed answering, and many of these questions weren t answered until 2016. About two years after the acquisition was complete. One of the big questions was whether Motorola would continue to exist. Earlier this year at Mobile World Congress, news broke that Lenovo was getting rid of Motorola and will keep Moto as their brand. So instead of having the Motorola Moto Z it s the Lenovo Moto Z , which makes a bit more sense, and it also means that the name doesn t sound redundant. But that did mark the end of an era. After all, Motorola was one of the first phone makers, having been founded in September of 1928 (although that was Motorola, Inc.

which was essentially killed off in 2011 when it became two companies, Motorola Mobility and Motorola Solutions). But it was the beginning of Lenovo phasing the Moto team into their company. After releasing some pretty decent smartphones in 2015, which continued somewhat the direction that Google had been taking the company in. Moto released some pretty different smartphones in 2016.

Under Google, Motorola had simplified their smartphone lineups. Going from having an exclusive line at each of the major US carriers (Atrix for AT&T, Photon for Sprint, Droid for Verizon, T-Mobile rarely carried any Motorola smartphones), to having just the Moto X, Moto G, Moto E and whatever Droid smartphones Verizon wanted. Now, under Lenovo, it appears that they are going in the opposite direction. In 2013, the company launched two smartphones that were not exclusives, a.k.a. Droid-branded. The following year, that went up to three, and in 2015 the company launched five smartphones.

Three of which were in the Moto X lineup. Essentially taking the Moto X from just one device to having the Moto X Play, Moto X Style (branded as the Moto X Pure Edition in the US) and the Moto X Force (the international variant of the Droid Turbo 2 for Verizon). Now in 2016, that number has grown even further. With three Moto G smartphones, a Moto E smartphone, and so far, two Moto Z smartphones (although the Moto Z Force is only for Verizon). Blurring the lines for each of these smartphones, making it difficult to determine what markets and segments each one is destined for. On the one hand, having more options is always a good thing, but many of these smartphones compete with themselves. That s not all that Lenovo has changed about Moto either.

After the Moto Z and Moto Z Force launched2 (still exclusive to Verizon, until around September), the Moto team announced that they would not be doing monthly security updates. This caused many to freak out, perhaps prematurely. Instead, what Moto and Lenovo is doing with these security updates, is instead of pushing out a new OTA every month, they are bundling them together and pushing multiple patches out at once. This is actually probably a better idea than pushing out a new OTA every single month for every single device. Google has proved to be the only one that can actually do this, and that s largely due to the fact that they aren t messing around with the carriers. Meanwhile, Moto, Samsung, LG, HTC and others are. Samsung has shown that they can get these updates out every month, but not a single phone has gotten the update every month. Right now it s a bit too early to tell how quickly and how often these updates will come out for Moto s smartphones. But keep in mind that they did just push the May 2016 security patch to the Moto X Pure Edition in late July.

A phone that isn t sold at any carriers. So the future doesn t look too bright, unfortunately, for updates.

Things get a bit confusing with Moto and Lenovo when you go to Lenovo s homeland of China. They are selling Moto s smartphones in China, but they aren t the same smartphones. Instead of running a stock version of Android, they are running Lenovo s One UI , which is another new UI for Lenovo. Since they used to use the Vibe UI on their smartphones and tablets. Now, the difference in software is somewhat understandable. After all, Google services are banned in China, and many of the features that Moto has enabled on their smartphones use Google services like Google Now. And that would be basically useless in China, unfortunately. But they could stick to stock Android and include things like Moto Display on their smartphones.

It just makes things a bit more confusing, and sure this is probably a first world problem , but it makes things tougher for those that are covering the industry too. Obviously, it is still a bit early to tell how well these changes for Moto will do for them in the long run. Considering this is really the first year that Moto has released smartphones and products, with Lenovo s influence. But the future doesn t look too bright for Moto, nor their headquarters in downtown Chicago, which they just moved back into in 2014 after having moved to Schaumburg, IL for a number of years.

Motorola has had a special place in many Android users hearts. Whether it was from them picking up the Motorola Droid back in 2009, or maybe the Droid X the following year. Or even the Moto X back in 2013. Motorola has been a big part of Android, and a big part of what has made Android so popular today.

It s been sad to see that Motorola is gone, and we re just left with Moto . Hopefully Lenovo can turn them around and bring Moto back to their heyday. Something that Lenovo appears to be doing a good job with so far, but Moto was deep in the hole when Lenovo bought them, so bringing them back to profitability will definitely take some time.

References

  1. ^ to Lenovo (www.androidheadlines.com)
  2. ^ launched (www.androidheadlines.com)

Sony Xperia XR news and rumors

To say that Sony s mobile brand is one dogged by turbulence is a bit of an understatement: The Xperia division recorded a loss of $544 million for the 2015 financial year. That s partly thanks to tribulations brought on by its parent company s continued restructuring it cut 1,000 jobs in Europe and China early last year. But also to blame are an inexplicable series of management missteps: the Xperia Z3+, one of the first smartphones to sport Qualcomm s Snapdragon 810 chipset, was initially plagued by reports of overheating, and when Sony s latest handset, the Z5, became available in North America an off-contract capacity, it bizarrely shipped without a fingerprint sensor. Sony s desperate for a hit, needless to say. Last month, leaked images showed a previously unrevealed Sony handset that s slightly different from the company s established design language. Now we ve got a few renders, and a name the Xperia XR. Here s everything we know so far.

Design

Notable leaker @OnLeaks has released renders1 of Sony s upcoming handset, which he calls the Xperia XR. Take a look at them below, but keep in mind that we cannot verify any of these images or the name of the handset take everything with a grain of salt.

So, here comes the first one #SONY #XPERIAXR (moniker TBC)Roughly 146.4 71.9 8.1mm pic.twitter.com/gPPhKLsJjw234

OnLeaks (@OnLeaks) August 7, 20165

The smartphone is actually quite similar in looks to the Xperia X there are the same button placements, and the rear camera sits in a familiar place. The top and bottom bezels are a little thick.

Related: Get more out of your stylish Sony with these Xperia X tips and tricks6

But previous images do show that the handset, which GSM Arena reports7 might be the F8331, features geometry that s a little more angular than this year s Xperia X. The aesthetic might almost be described as brutalist: the phone s top and bottom edges terminate harshly at the edges, and there s no sign of the rounded, sloping corners of the type on the Xperia X. Rather, the prototype s longer edges taper at its front and rear, evoking Nokia s Lumia series of Windows Phones. It s not entirely seamless the phone s rear cover sports a discolored tab near its bottom, presumably to accommodate antennas, and a camera and flash dominate the top-left side. The image s source claims the screen is larger than that on the Xperia X.

Related: Sony Xperia X review8

It may not be long before Sony blows the lid on its skunkworks phone, though it s scheduled to make an appearance at September s IFA conference in Berlin. And even if it did, it might be bound for destinations overseas: according to leaked documents obtained by Xperia Blog in July9, Sony plans to defocus its mobile business in the United States, India, China, and Brazil in the coming months in favor of alternative East Asian, European, and Middle Eastern countries.

Specs

The design renders from @OnLeaks and the leaked images clearly indicate the phone will have a USB Type-C port, a first for Sony. The former leaker also says the Xperia XR will have dimensions of 146.4 x 71.9 x 8.1 mm. That s slightly larger than the Xperia X it s dimensions are 142.7 x 69.4 x 7.9 mm. A profiteering user of Nju kalo10, Croatia s dominant classified ads website, has listed11 a unit of the unreleased smartphone for sale.

The seller describes it as a new model of Xperia X Performance, and provided a few specifications. According to the listing, the phone features a 5.1-inch display, 23MP rear-facing camera and 12MP front-facing camera, 3GB of RAM, and non-slippery metal housing. A USB Type-C port appears to be on tap and so too does a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Everything else about the Xperia XR remains a big unknown.

Updated on 08-08-2016 by Julian Chokkattu: Added new leaked renders and the name of Sony s next handset.

Article originally published on 07-25-2016.

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References

  1. ^ released renders (twitter.com)
  2. ^ #SONY (twitter.com)
  3. ^ #XPERIAXR (twitter.com)
  4. ^ pic.twitter.com/gPPhKLsJjw (t.co)
  5. ^ August 7, 2016 (twitter.com)
  6. ^ Get more out of your stylish Sony with these Xperia X tips and tricks (www.digitaltrends.com)
  7. ^ GSM Arena reports (www.gsmarena.com)
  8. ^ Sony Xperia X review (www.digitaltrends.com)
  9. ^ according to leaked documents obtained by Xperia Blog in July (www.androidpolice.com)
  10. ^ Nju kalo (www.njuskalo.hr)
  11. ^ listed (www.xperiablog.net)

Apple Watch 2 Will Have GPS and a Larger Battery (If You Still Care)

It’s fair to say that, after years of waiting for the thing, the Apple Watch launched last year to a muted response. It had its fans1, but with estimates that only 12 million were sold in its first year on sale (a decent number by wearable standards, but nothing compared to the numbers Apple’s mobile products normally manage), it was a relatively poor harvest in Cupertino. Apple now turns its attentions to the Apple Watch 2. And, for those few still interested, it seems the company is at least looking to make good on the failings of its predecessor.

Related: One Week Living With the Apple Watch2

According to usually-pretty-well-informed analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the Apple Watch 2 will look almost identical to the first timepiece in terms of its size and overall thickness, but will come packing in some much-needed and oft-requested new features. Key among these will be the inclusion of a GPS tracker.

With the Apple Watch at its best as a fitness device, it’ll allow for untethered runs, free from a phone jostling in your pocket should you want to track a route and distance accurately. A barometer will be onboard for elevation, while a more efficient TSMC chip should keep things from slowing down when an iPhone isn’t available to do the heavy lifting. That TSMC chip has been shrunk down in size too, leaving more room for a larger battery, apparently. The first Apple Watch was very much an overnight charger, squeezing a day’s worth of use out but not much more. Could the next Apple smartwatch stretch to two days of play?

Kuo is pointing to a release before the end of the year, which will likely see the Apple Watch debut alongside the iPhone 73, itself expected to come from behind the curtain around September 7th. Interestingly, he’s anticipating two Apple watch launches the one detailed above, and another with the speedier processor that drops the GPS and barometer in favour of a lower price. Perhaps a sub- 200 price tag could pique the interest of the lapsed Apple faithful?

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References

  1. ^ had its fans (www.gizmodo.co.uk)
  2. ^ One Week Living With the Apple Watch (www.gizmodo.co.uk)
  3. ^ iPhone 7 (www.gizmodo.co.uk)
  4. ^ MacRumors (www.macrumors.com)
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