Metal Moto: New leak shows a possible redesign for Motorola’s 2016 handsets

by: Matthew BensonDecember 16, 2015

motorola lenovo logo

When Motorola first unveiled its current incarnation of product design language, it was with the Moto X, a device once thought to be a superphone and/or the 2013 Nexus. Often branded the “iPhone Killer”, the device that would eventually launch was neither spot-on with super specs nor a freakishly fantastic futuristic flagship. What it was, however, was a superb value for money offering which was pocketable due to its small size, vivid thanks to its AMOLED display, and intelligent thanks to the software enhancements Motorola baked in.


The Moto G (2013)

As time has progressed, not only has the Moto X series expanded – both figuratively and literally – but so too as the company’s offerings, with December 2015 now seeing three different Moto X devices, a Moto G, and Moto E, and two Moto smartwatches. With respect to the smartphones in particular, all are either purely plastic or else a combination of plastic and metal. This may be changing in 2016.

Hot off the proverbial presses in China, a new leak has emerged that purports to showcase a 2016 Motorola device. The source, cnBeta, suggests it might be the Moto X (2016) however at this stage it’s seemingly too early to tell. Do note that the source also has indicated the product pictured here is just a sample production prototype and thus the design is subject to change. With that said, let’s have a look see:

Moto Metal

Three specific talking points arise from this photograph; let’s analyze each:

The camera

First and foremost, the camera module looks gigantic. This may be an indication that Motorola is seeking to further improve the photography elements of its 2016 flagship. While the Moto X Style saw an improved camera sensor over last year’s Moto X, it was still not the first place winner in various camera comparison tests held throughout the year.

The flash looks to be semi-circular and will reside below the camera. In addition, if you look at the above the flash, the word “moto” can clearly be seen. This particular detail slightly elevates the nature of this leak given that it would be somewhat surprising for someone to create a fake image and think to add in that level of detail.

Moto X Pure Edition Camera Samples-64

A picture taken at night with the Moto X Pure Edition (Moto X Style)

The holes

Located towards the bottom of device shown in the image are 16 small, round holes. These are believed to be for the speaker(s) which would imply Motorola might be interested in creating a more premium audio experience. One question to raise however, is if this would mean the front-facing speakers the company has used for so long might be cut, or if this will be simply an additional element.

The frame and design

moto g turbo edition india

2015 saw some new Moto models, but not a major new design.

The frame and body are look to be made of a metallic construction. A banded approach is used, similar to that on the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5S, creating three distinctive “pieces” however it would appear the top and center piece may be fused together whereas the bottom one is a separate one.

The design is also quite different from the Moto products we are used to seeing. Gone is the Moto “dimple” instead replaced by a flat icon. Gone is the contoured, curved rear of recent Motorola products, replaced with a flat back. Absent is any kind of rear-mounted fingerprint sensor module suggesting the company would either include it on the front, or else skip it entirely.

Apple iPhone 5s vs LG G2 aa 5

The iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s also made use of three “panels” for the back


As we said earlier, it is too early to suggest this will be the Moto X (2016), though as with anything, there is always a possibility until proven otherwise. The design seen in this leak would theoretically make it much more difficult to customize such a product in Moto Maker: we could easily imagine several different colors of metal, but due to the total redesign of the phone itself there doesn’t seem to be ample locations where different color schemes could be applied.

Moto G Moto Maker

How might Moto Maker work with a metal phone?

Perhaps different pattern designs might be used, similar to the Limited Edition Moto X Pure Edition handsets. Perhaps that bottom rear piece could be pallet swapped. Maybe the front of the phone would tell a different story.

2016 would spell the fourth year that Motorola would be using the same design provided things don’t change. At the very least, assuming this leak is legitimate, it serves to suggest that next year will feature a totally new looking Moto product. Perhaps more premium, perhaps thinner.

Wrap Up

What do you think of this potential product? Does the premise of a metallic Motorola phone intrigue you? Would you rather have a Moto X 4th generation that looks like this than the Moto X Style? What of Moto Maker? And the fingerprint sensor? Drop us a line in the comments section below to share your thoughts and reactions.

  • Looks beautiful. Just not liking the camera module.

  • Scr-U-gle

    If at first you don’t succeed, copy Apple, Googles real company motto.

    • teomor

      Making a metal phone doesn’t ensure your success. Ask HTC :)

    • Ronald Bernard

      You do realize Lenovo owns Motrola now and not Google right?

      • Scr-U-gle

        Do you know that Lenovo rent the brand from Google? Or that Lenovo also make nexus devices?

    • Airyl

      Haha, you’re funny.

    • Sudipta Das Biswas

      Now the first thing is why the f*** u think anybody making a metal unibody is copying Iphone? Second thing is, metal unibody was first introduced by HTC and not Apple…. now if apple introduces leather or wood, will you be the same guy to say apple has copied it? don’t be a dumb fanboy

      • Scr-U-gle

        Unibody was first introduced on the MacBooks.

        Good effort, but I can’t see your eyes because of the face plant you just made androne.

        • Sudipta Das Biswas

          I was speaking of cell phones… its pointless to argue with iSheeps

          • Scr-U-gle

            So you admit they copied apples idea?!?

            Fess up, everything you love has been copied from Apple, from Windows to androne, desktop to smartphone.

            Andy Rubin and Gates admit it, Brin, Page & Eric Shit admit it, it’s just you drones that seem to have an issue admitting it.

          • Sudipta Das Biswas

            Ha ha…. Hey isheep, do u realize the entire concept of mobile phone was copied from motorola… See isheep, am not speaking about others but motorola has always been the one who never copied anyone. They have always been the pioneer. They were the first to introduce fingerprint sensors on mobile phones.. Remember atrix… They were the first to introduce that touchpad, remember charm…

          • Scr-U-gle

            Very funny androne, maybe if you bothered to learn some basics.

            First to introduce non-functioning fingerprint scanners! Check.

            First to be taken out of business by Scr-U-gle. Check!

            Funny how Motorola were successful when they worked for Apple.

            Touchpad, first by Fingerworks, part of Apple and the basis for the iPhone, copied by android, as stated by Andy Rubin and Chris deSalvo.

            Send in the next androne, this moRoid has made enough of a fool of himself.

          • Sudipta Das Biswas

            an isheep will always be an isheep; funny and foolish… ha ha ha… stop speaking abstract… go back to primary school

  • Haik

    What’s with that “moto” in the camera module o.O ? pretty weird placement of a “logo/name”. Also, are you kidding me with those back facing speakers ? :D

  • Ryan Neely

    I’d much rather have wood than metal.

    • Airyl

      Double entendre intended?

      • 404

        i wood rather have wood. woodn’t you?

  • Tarso Sousa

    The 1st photo on this page it’s from 1st gen MOTO G and not from 1st Gen. MOTO X as said!

    MOTO X 1st gen has the speaker on the other side of camera and has smaller holes on it!

  • Tarso Sousa

    Also about the leaked image, i think this only ensure that the body of the phone will be full metal but to me it’s obviously will be covered by some finish material.

  • Faizan Khalid

    Go home Motorola you’re drunk …..I would prefer my first gen moto g over that plus they are going really good with design they have firm grip good fell and strong build l really like what they did with droid turbo 2 and moto g 3

  • Wezi427

    I’m a Nexus 6 owner and I’m a fan of the dimple on the back. If they could some how place a fingerprint reader there that would be nice.

  • dude that is an ugly phone

  • ADofCLE

    I see they are bringing their flat tire from the Moto 360 to the camera/flash housing.

  • ADofCLE

    To those saying this looks ugly etc. Remember what people said about the Nexus 6p. The leaks made the phone looks hideous, and now just about everyone had changed their minds.

    • That’s true for the aesthetics, but I think what’s being criticized here is the functionality. The camera is apparently protruding (which was always a heavily criticized aspect on phones like the iPhone 6 or the Galaxy S6), and the speakers are on the back, which is definitely a step back. Plus, the dimple was incredibly comfortable.

  • Jugo

    That actually looks pretty. Possibly a premium offering, since “X” phones have been in the “flagship killer” category. Wouldn’t be surprised if RAZR branding made a comeback.

  • systemupdate

    It is time to get rid of the dimple I say. Show us see some new designs Moto.

  • Anon

    good call. moto’s design always looked like shit anyways

  • The Watson

    Interesting, but not big on another Trade Dress lift, from Apple. I would assume Moto maker is rather expensive. If not we may get a “metallic shell”. Im also concerned about the creases around camera. The holes are probably a mix. Some for mic, always on, noise and probably additional speaker… Need more leaks honestly. As for whether or not to get one. Depends on spec, sd support, ease of cover removal. The metal is a plus, but not a deal maker, especially tri-tone!

  • Roger

    Does that mean wireless charging will be gone?

  • Keep clam Moto G Alpha is coming with CyanogenOS

  • sans

    If those a rear facing speakers I see, I’m going to be very disappointed with Motorola. Design of the camera is… interesting, but it’s too early to make a real judgement on it.

  • neonix

    Looks pretty fugly to me…

  • pocketdrummer

    Lenovo has officially killed everything that was good about the Moto X. Hopefully Google goes the Pixel route with their Nexus line next time around, because I can’t find a single phone that impresses me anymore.

  • Faizan Khalid

    plz dont make it metal we dont want to sacrifice the sturdiness the phone offers