Motorola’s 2016 line-up: Fingerprint sensors for all, phones 5 inches + (Update: Motorola clarifies)

by: Matthew BensonJanuary 14, 2016

lenovo motorola logo mwc 2015 6

Update (1/14): It was originally reported that Chen Xudong, SVP of Lenovo, said in an interview that all Moto-branded devices launched in 2016 would come to market with embedded fingerprint sensors. However, thanks to a recent statement sent to Android Authority from Motorola, we now have some clarification regarding the original comments:

Xudong was referring to products specific to the China market. We’ll share more information about our 2016 products at a later time.

As of now, that’s the only word we’ve received regarding Mr. Xudong’s statement. It should be noted that this doesn’t necessarily rule out the inclusion of fingerprint sensors on Moto-branded devices in other markets, but at least now we know what Lenovo’s SVP was talking about in the original interview.

Original post (1/12): It seems that the recent Tech Sina interview with Mr. Chen Xudong has far more to offer than news that Google services will be re-entering China sometime in 2016. The SVP of Lenovo, and President of Lenovo China and Asia Pacific had some exciting news to offer about his company’s plans for Motorola’s product line.

  1. All Moto-branded devices to launch in 2016 will come with embedded fingerprint sensors.
  2. All Moto-branded products to launch in 2016 will have screen sizes of 5 inches, or larger.
  3. Moto-branded products will see their design fine-tuned to suit the needs of customers in both the East and West.
  4. Lenovo and Moto’s UI will be merged into a brand new UI to be unveiled in 2017.

This news comes after conflicting reports broke last week that claimed Lenovo was phasing out the Motorola name. In the end, the company itself clarified the issue as to say there will be no more products specifically branded as “Motorola”, rather all devices released will continue to use the “Moto” branding as has been the case for years now.

Along with all this news however, it was also reiterated that the Moto brand itself will be used for higher-end smartphones, with Lenovo’s own Vibe brand serving to encompass lower-end, “budget” devices. 2016 will see no more than 15 models released, split between the two brands.

motorola lenovo logo


Given the significance of these four key points, it is prudent to consider each one individually:

Fingerprint sensors

With respect to fingerprint sensors, the idea that all Moto phones will include them makes perfect sense, especially given that the brand itself will now be used for higher-end devices. Considering that at one point the Nexus 6 was originally going to have a fingerprint sensor, it’s probably say to say Motorola has been experimenting with the tech for use in its Moto line, and the company itself did release the Atrix 4G some years back.

It should also be mentioned, of course, that there had been numerous rumors of fingerprint sensors gracing new products throughout last year when it looked like the Moto X Pure Edition (2015) was going to have one.

Size situation

With respect to the size factor issue, this should not come as a surprise either given that Motorola has systematically been enlarging its smartphones over the past few years. Given that Lenovo’s own Vibe brand will handle the lower-end segment of the market, it it highly unlikely there will be another Moto E. It’s highly possible that even the Moto G itself will be discontinued, and the default “entry” level Moto line in 2016 will be something more akin to what the Moto X Play was last year.

The problem however, at least in theory, is that Motorola has brand recognition in countries like the USA, yet Lenovo on the other hand – as a smartphone OEM – does not. Offering Moto Maker on the Moto G was another major upgrade in terms of the business strategy for the series. If Lenovo does indeed seek to release a similar product but with Vibe branding, it is likely to be overlooked simply out of sheer unfamiliarity. Then again, if the sales of the Moto G in North America were quite poor, the lack of presence may be a minimal one at best.

moto g turbo edition india

Modified design

Motorola has been altering the design of its Moto series with each passing year, and 2015 saw perhaps the most dramatic changes yet. While the shape itself has essentially remained the same, there have been minor tweaks. Given that Mr. Xudong apparently likes the overall design of the Moto series, it is unlikely there will be any dramatic changes in store, rather continued minor modifications.

Moto Metal

Indeed the leaked image (above) which appeared last month and claimed to be the Moto X (2016) may offer a good idea what kind of changes are in store, provided the picture was genuine.

UI changes

This detail is likely to instantly incite anger in anyone who cares about UI and buys Motorola products. Since the very early days of Android, Motorola has been making devices. Back then, the company had a custom made skin called MOTOBLUR that drew the hatred of many. When Google purchased the company and it was finally revealed that the Blur was just a forgotten splotch in favor of an almost-stock experience, fans were unlimitedly pleased.

This stock-like UI is also likely to have contributed to the rapid turn-around in which Motorola was able to update the Moto X Pure Edition (2014) to Lollipop back in 2014. While 2015’s Moto X Pure had a somewhat longer wait to meet with Marshmallow, things would presumably have been even more delayed had a major UI layer been placed on top.


Lenovo has a very unique take on the Android UI, for example doing away with the app launcher drawer entirely. Just how these two skins could merge is a mystery, and perhaps a worrying one for some. It would not be unthinkable to imagine Lenovo simply placing Moto Actions on its Vibe devices, though in light of the lower-spec sentiment, this would seemingly be difficult.

To this end, a merged UI that meets both half way could get the best of both worlds, but in all likelihood it will only serve to upset many fans in North America or Europe. In Asia however, where there is fierce competition – especially in China – the new UI could serve to make the Moto devices more special and coveted than a simple stock product.

samsung galaxy s7 review aa (7 of 20)See also: Best Android phones (January 2016)647

Wrap up

As news of Lenovo’s changes to the Motorola brand continue to stream out, week by week it’s possible to get a better understanding at what the year to come may ultimately offer up. The question will become just how much – or how little – Lenovo ultimately modifies the formula which had been established during the company’s tenure as a Google owned entity.

  • DUdG

    Here in asia almost all of the lenovo users uses theme/launcher as lenovo’s UI is so ugly and we are not liking it for its lacked of app drawer…

    • Avieshek Rajkhowa

      Why do people even buy that thing

  • person

    Rip moto.

  • jdt1986

    Just as I was becoming invested in the Moto G series… If they ditch the stock look and feel, I’ll be looking elsewhere for my next phone…

    • Avieshek Rajkhowa

      Samsung J-series would be suitable for u, with sAMOLED screen

      • Lóránt Birtalan

        He wants a stock look, who on the earth would use a samsung if he wants a stock look?:))

        • Avieshek Rajkhowa

          People vying for stock-android are more ab’t performance than looks. I don’t think the latest version has any boring looks, plus u can use nova launcher or alike.

          • TheAtomicBrainFart

            Believe me when I say we are more about looks. Samsung has, by far, the ugliest UI I’ve seen short of MIUI. Nova doesn’t help with the rest of the UI either. I love my stock status bar, pull down menu, software buttons, and other UI elements and wouldn’t take a Samsung phone no matter what.

          • Avieshek Rajkhowa

            QiKu – Q Terra than?

          • Lóránt Birtalan

            Not really, you can find quite fast phones with skins (khmm, S6, Note 5 etc, but as you can see, the looks are a big factor) I had an S5, had the touchwiz until I got home then rooted, opened the bootloader and put a CM on it. I cant stand anything else than stock or MIUI.

      • Samsung? Too much bloatware and Lagwiz.

        • Avieshek Rajkhowa

          Actually, it’s true but the particular J5 with Snapdragon, I’m finding no lag but regular updates

      • RiTCHiE

        LOL@ samsung! QSamsung is becomming the biggest joke on the phone market and this dude says you need to buy 1? Dont listen to them sheeps man they only know iphones or samsung.

        • Avieshek Rajkhowa

          And wh’t do I call u, Cat? Useless beings, as if I’ve wrote a poem on Samsung

    • Scott Harris

      Unless you buy some off the wall brand far as I’m aware, the only phones that come with stock or virtually 100% stock is the Nexus line

      • Avieshek Rajkhowa

        That’s the thing, there’s no other than Nexus but there’s a price difference with a Moto G and a Nexus

        • Scott Harris

          Yep. It’s a shame. Google needs to start taking control of their OS better. These skins the manufacturers are using are a cancer

          • Avieshek Rajkhowa

            Wh’t I feel is that skins shl’d be made downloadable similar to nova like launchers from the playstore. If users want it, they’ll get it, instead of interefering the stock android.
            Most build a skin in order to get the most out of the camera.

          • Karly Johnston

            I think every phone should have a dual boot to factory ROM or AOSP.

          • Avieshek Rajkhowa

            Nah, playstore version would incite competition and they can really consume the reviews

    • Avieshek Rajkhowa

      Well, since everbody is so vested, how ab’t QiKu – Q Terra, u can even uninstall default apps

    • Abhijeet

      :( , Same here. Replaced my 1st gen with 3rd this year. If (and only if) the stock moto g goes away, i say its time to save some money, put it in long term term investment, and then buy the prev. gen. Nexus with whatever is left.

      So maybe in 2017, i’ll buy Nexus 5(wh)Y with android Nuh-uh-uh instead of moto g 5th gen and then upgrade it to android Oompa-loompa which then definitely will be supported up to android Punk-ass and android Q-tip, which is one more upgrade than what moto g would get. Problem solved.

  • Scott Harris

    Well I’ll never buy another Moto phone then. Glad I have decided to go back to Team Nexus. Why on earth these phone manufacturers feel the need to skin Android to a horrible death I have no idea.

    • jdt1986

      I abandoned the Nexus line in 2014 and 2015 due to severe overpricing. I bought a Nexus 4 for just over $400 AUD back in 2013. The cheapest 5X (the 16GB one) was going to set me back $659 AUD (thanks, but no thanks). Hopefully the Nexus team and their manufacturing partners will come back with something more suitably budget (in line with the Nexus 4 and Nexus 5) in 2016 or 2017.

      • John-Phillip Saayman

        The new Nexus 5 now costs the same in USA as the old Nexus 5.

    • Love Gambler

      Well, I hated black and blue Vanilla UI, hut just love it after the material design came. Now I feel the same, no over UI is needed on Android now

  • mokomeat

    Info for those cave-dwellers in the west: Here are the Lenovo models that are equipped with fingerprint sensor: Vibe P1, Vibe X3, K4 Note and ZUK Z1.

  • shreyans

    Man , lenovo u just had one job to let motorola survive and what you did was choke it to its very death very well bitch …. I bought Motorola devices for mainly : front facing speakers and its smooth near stock ui with slight hint of motorola …. If you destroy motorola , i willl find you and kill you

    • Avieshek Rajkhowa

      Blessings of Liam Neeson

  • Sri Kama

    Motorola by Lenovo will have BOTH UI.
    You will be able to select the CLEAN UI (stock) or the SIMPLIFY UI (no app drawer).

    • Hunter Miller

      I hope this happens.

    • Abhijeet

      1st gen. moto g was released in Nov 2013 and got supported till Q3 2015. Having both UIs will make the installed image and future upgrades something in the range of 1.5GB, leaving even lower space on internal storage, and, potentially decreasing the software support and upgrade period to maybe an year or less.

  • vmxr

    15 models :0 3 to 4 models are enough every year

    • Mojo Jojo


  • Avieshek Rajkhowa

    I thought Motorola was ab’t stock android

  • Steven G

    Well, good job Lenovo. You killed your only cash cow in the smartphone industry.

    • Karly Johnston

      It was losing $400 mil a year so what cash cow are you referring to?

      • Steven G

        It would be a potential cash cow in the US if they keep the stock look of previous Motos, but since they’ll be slapping some of their Vibe UI on the Motos, and not a lot of people in the US like skinned UIs too much, it might ruin their entry. If they don’t make enough money from Motorola, it’ll be sold yet again.

        • Karly Johnston

          Motorola has already been gutted twice now. Google kept all the good patents and Lenovo fired all the engineers. All that is left is the brand and Lenovo doesn’t see more than a label in that.

          • Steven G

            Good point. I guess Moto is dead.

          • Mojo Jojo

            Wow!? Really? I was thinking of buying one this year. Shame!

  • RichardReich

    How frustrating! I’d own the Moto X Pure now, instead of a Nexus 5X, if it had a fingerprint reader. But without very near stock Android, there’s zero chance I’ll get the 2016. Idiots!

    • Hunter Miller

      Well the new ui comes out in 2017 so Motorola phones should still have stock Android. So i recommend you buy the 2016 model because that’s probably going to be the last Motorola phones with stock Android

      • Scott Harris

        Yes, but once the new UI rolls out, it will very likely be included in any Android OS updates for all their phones…

        • Avieshek Rajkhowa

          Simple, Don’t update it

          • Scott Harris

            Which is a stupid concept. You’ll never hear that with iPhones unless one has a pretty old iPhone that can’t really handle the new iOS.

          • Avieshek Rajkhowa

            If u’ve no problem with the iPhone why argue for android. The only reason ‘m using an android for now ‘coz the prices in India are as much as $1200 and here there are no carrier options like in the US i.e. buy the unlocked version at that price

  • CleanlinessisnexttoFordliness

    Bane Voice: Google… Take control of your OS..

    Seriously though, Google needs more stock android than just on nexus.

  • Noah Swanson

    The whole reason I have bought moto phones was because of the stock feel but if that ditch it and do things like merge homescreen and app drawere then bye bye moto!!!

    • Rain

      LG Smartphones are now on sale only at AndroidSmartphoneDeals;com

  • Dan McSweeney

    The only thing that should be merged with Lenovo UI is a dustbin.

    Sent from my last Moto.

  • Ste

    I really hope they’re really not going to ruin what Motorola did till now. I finally convinced myself to try with The 3rd iteration of the moto x and I’m pretty happy with it. Still there is some work to be done, I hope therefore lenovo is going to start from there and not changing what’s good already.

  • charlie Jason

    I simply do not understand.
    Making your own ugly UI still takes time and budget. What exactly is the point?
    They are spending money to make their products less desirable.

  • Tony Tone

    To change the most redeeming quality (Near stock) of this phone will kill it’s charm for sure… I guess this is what happens when you sell a good innovative company to a company that makes mediocre phones at best and is solely focused on markets other than the US, this is what is to be expected.

  • André Engelbrecht

    This is truly sad. Near stock UI is what made Motorola stand out from the crowd. I will mis you Motorola! Who/what will be able to fill the shoes of the Moto G once Lenovo destroys it? What a pity indeed!

  • T.J.

    And to think, a few months ago I was actually considering the Moto X Pure to be my next phone. It’s a good thing Google had the $50 off deal for the new Nexus phones. It was just the push I needed to got for the 6p. I would’ve been without updates and without the fantastic stock Android.
    I think I’ll stick with the Nexus line for a while.

  • Josh

    Damn it!! Why do people have to mess with what’s good!? Leave the near stock look and feel alone!

  • Jason Wilson

    Every comment here is negative, but we know so little. For all we know the Moto G (my favorite line of phones) might look damn near identical but include:

    -Fingerprint scanner
    -FullHD screen
    -USB Type C
    -3GB RAM
    -Decent CPU/GPU boost
    -Near stock Android

    I expect the price to come in at about $250, which is a slight bump from the 2015 model but well worth the price if it includes all the goodies. The only thing we have to fear is a crappy Lenova UI but they might not roll that out till 2017 or never apply it fully to the Moto line.

    • jdt1986

      I don’t care about the name it goes by, as long as it sticks to the near-stock Android look and feel, and is a similar price to previous Moto G models.

      • Jason Wilson

        Personally I thought the price was a tad too low. The OnePlus X showed us how much you can get out of $250 and that’s a solid price for a great phone. I don’t want the Moto line skimping because they feel they have to be at that $189 price point. Maybe they should keep the Moto E line for that price range, just bump it to 5″. Then take the Moto G line and keep it at 5″ but have the more premium specs/features.

        • jdt1986

          I’m in Australia, $250 USD SHOULD (in a fair world) equate to about $350 AUD (based on current rates), which I would be happy to pay… But we keep getting slammed with unfair prices here.

  • ®yan C

    Always listen to the ski instructor

  • Rohit Raja

    Please lenovo, dont screw up motorola, stock android is the best android…

  • Avieshek Rajkhowa

    Okay, so wh’t would you recommend in place of Moto G?
    How ab’t QiKu – Q Terra? no bloatware, ability to uninstall stock-apps, magnesium-alluminium alloy body, 1.4mm thinnest bezels and much more at a competent price.

  • John-Phillip Saayman

    Well this puts the brake on my plan to switch to Motorola.. New ui, no way

  • alex

    Wow. Now I understand why most companies have only a handful of people as their public facing reps.

  • nebulaoperator

    Frot facing speakers and near stock Android. That bitch ruining every best thing Moto has.

  • It is going to be awhile until we actually get a look at a finished 2016 Moto phone so I am not going to lose my mind over this. I will remain calm and will take a “wait and see” approach. The only thing I read that was positive was the inclusion of a fingerprint sensor though. And now…..that might not be happening for customers outside of China. Even if it does happen, if Lenovo skins the UI and loads it down with crapware….I won’t buy it and I think they will see their world wide Moto sales take a big tumble. There is one thing I have noticed about some of the larger Chinese smartphone manufacturers….they don’t seem to have a very good understanding of the market outside of China. Xiaomi has shown that they are oblivious to the needs and wants of the western markets by stating that all of their phones will be shipped with locked bootloaders and then making it painful to get an unlock code. Just an example of another Chinese phone maker that really wants to expand their base into the western markets and is doing everything to ensure that that expansion fails.

  • Heil Shitler

    Chinese ruins everything.

  • Rishabh

    They have already begun mixing the 2 UIs with the Lenovo K4 note and Vibe P1 and the likes, which are often laggy and illfitted. I used to love Moto. Their Spec sheets might not always be the best in the price range, but they make some beautiful, long lasting and interesting devices. My Moto G 1st gen is still fully functional.