Lenovo is leveraging two of its most iconic acquisitions to create its first business-focused smartphone; designed to carry on the torch once held by the likes of BlackBerry; meet the newly-unveiled ThinkPhone by Motorola.
The ThinkPad brand is well-established within the industry, having long-served businesses with their hardy, no-nonsense designs, strong battery life, capable hardware, and once-legendary security. Now, Lenovo is hoping that it can distill the same qualities that define these noteworthy notebooks into a phone; meant to serve as the perfect partner for business users.
With the exception of the occasional affordable handset or high-end gaming phone, Lenovo itself has generally taken its foot off the pedal when it comes to competing in the smartphone space – under its own name, at least.
Having acquired Motorola from Google back in 2014, the company has continued to build up this iconic legacy brand, delivering some of its most capable devices in years in 2022; with the Motorola Razr 2022 and Edge 30 Ultra being among the best Motorola phones currently out there. It’s thought that this momentum – paired with Lenovo’s ownership over both Moto and the ThinkPad brand – is what led to the creation of the ThinkPhone.
The device itself carries a similar layout of cameras and external components to the latest consumer-focused Motos – like the new Moto X40, which just launched in China – but boasts a hardier design, thanks to an aluminum frame, fronted by Gorilla Glass Victus and backed by ThinkPad X1 Carbon-inspired Aramid fiber.
The whole device is also IP68-certified against dust and water ingress, as well as boasting the latest MIL STD 810H compliance, with 1.25 meter drop resistance.
On the inside, it’s as potent as any late-2022 flagship, with a 6.6-inch 144Hz pOLED display, a Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 chipset paired with up to 12GB of RAM and up to 512GB of storage, and a 5,000mAh battery that supports 68W fast charging. The camera system holds promise too, with a 50MP main sensor, capable of up to 8K video recording.
Of course, all of this near top-shelf hardware means nothing if the software experience can’t back it up, but thankfully it looks as though Motorola has taken steps to deliver some added value for business users.
As with consumer-focused Motos, the ThinkPhone benefits from a generally clean user experience – Android 13 out of the box, with the promise of three years of OS updates and four years of security updates (monthly security updates for three years, with bi-monthly updates in the fourth), which is better than most of Motorola’s other phones.
It goes deeper, however, with a dedicated security chip in Moto KeySafe and the AI-supported Moto Threat Defense software, as well as fleet management tools for IT departments to handle scores of ThinkPhones simultaneously.
Motorola’s desktop-like Ready For experience – found on many of its best consumer-focused phones – has been built upon with Think 2 Think too, which offers tighter integration with your companion ThinkPad.
This includes automatic hotspot connection, a unified clipboard and notifications, drag-and-drop file management between devices, access to the ThinkPhone’s apps and user experience from your ThinkPad, and webcam support on PC via the ThinkPhone (allowing for use of its superior camera sensors).
With the cherry on top being the Red Key – a programmable (red) side button that supports single and double-tap gestures to quick-launch your choice of shortcuts or apps.
Analysis: what about the rest of us?
Lenovo and Motorola are clearly looking to make a splash in the business market with the ThinkPhone. Many of its consumer-ready smartphones are already fit for a lot of business use cases, but exclusive aspects of the ThinkPhone – like its dedicated security chip, advanced Ready For implementation in Think 2 Think, extra-hardy design and dedicated shortcut key collectively – give it something of an edge over other enterprise-ready rivals.
Beyond the fleet device management support, however, these differentiators are all inclusions that would be just as welcome on Motorola’s consumer-ready smartphones.
You can already buy hardy Motos – like the latest Motorola Defy – and powerful entrants, like the aforementioned Ultra, but the ThinkPhone is the only device that fuses performance and durability to this degree in Motorola’s current portfolio, and the fact that the average customer is locked out of buying such a device seems like a real shame.
The ThinkPhone is set to launch in the coming months, across various markets including the US, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Australia and select Asian countries, with pricing to be revealed at a later date.
We’re just hoping that even if the ThinkPhone doesn’t dress down and find itself on consumer store shelves down the line, that at least the smarts behind it find their way into the wider Motorola lineup.