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Lenovo ThinkPhone hands-on: The business phone you might actually buy (Update)
Update, January 13, 2023 (10:12 AM ET): A recent tweet from insider Roland Quandt claims the 256GB with 8GB of RAM version of the Lenovo ThinkPhone by Motorola will sell for €999 ($1,080). Quandt also adds that the ThinkPhone will be sold to non-business customers, but only in certain countries by the end of January.
Original article, January 5, 2023 (11:45 AM ET): When you think of a business laptop, you probably think of a bland but durable, well-equipped device that feels right at home in a cubicle or a boardroom. There’s not much sex appeal there, but it gets the job done. A business phone might give you the same impression — tough and reliable but not super exciting. You might get issued one when you start at a new company, but wouldn’t buy one for yourself. Well, Lenovo might have just changed that perception with a little help from Motorola. We got to check out the Lenovo ThinkPhone by Motorola at CES 2023, and it might be the business phone that goes mainstream.
Business phone, ba ba ba business phone
The Lenovo ThinkPhone by Motorola — yes, its real, full name — is business first, everything else later. It’s loaded with ThinkPad-inspired design cues, software features that integrate seamlessly with the ThinkPad lineup, and a selection of materials that can take a beating.
Instead of the typical glass sandwich, Lenovo chose an aramid fiber — non-branded Kevlar — back panel to top off the Gorilla Glass Victus and aircraft-grade aluminum package. It’s light, but still feels solid in the hand and comfortable to carry through a long workday. The build is polished off with some diagonal branding, a Carbon Black finish, and a programmable red key just to remind you that it’s part of the ThinkPad family.
Who needs a glass sandwich when you can have aramid fiber and a MIL-STD 810H rating?
The 6.6-inch Full HD+ pOLED is bright and sharp, and, importantly for many, is flat. Lenovo doesn’t mention a specific refresh rate, but it felt smooth and responsive during our time with the device, and it’s easy to reach across.
Lenovo’s powerful business-first decisions continue under the hood with a Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor to keep the lights on. It’s backed by up to 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM and up to 512GB of UFS 3.1 storage, though there’s no slot for an SD card. You also get dual-SIM support through a physical dual nano tray and stereo speakers tuned with Dolby Atmos.
The ThinkPhone carries a 5,000mAh battery, which Lenovo boasts is good for up to 36 hours of usage, and the charging is no slouch, either. It packs 68W wired TurboPower, 15W wireless charging, and still comes with a charging brick in the box — a rarity heading into 2023.
Think 2 Think — what do we think?
If you’ve seen a recent Motorola launch, you know how important the company’s Ready For technology is. It allows you to link your smartphone to your PC or TV to share videos or mirror apps and use a mouse and keyboard with your full slate of apps. Think 2 Think is essentially the same idea but with a Lenovo twist. It swaps the “fun” angles like streaming games for business-focused needs like acting as a remote webcam, like in the image above.
In practice, Think 2 Think feels a bit more instinctive than Ready For, and it strikes me as a better use case. Your ThinkPhone automatically pairs with your PC when the two are nearby and on the same Wi-Fi network, and you can open the Think 2 Think features with a double-tap of the red key. You’ll then have access to shared notifications, a shared clipboard, and the same ability to stream an app from your phone. It also supports File Drop, which is kind of like AirDrop and eliminates the need to physically connect your phone to your laptop or email files to yourself.
Think 2 Think is like Ready For, but it gets its hands dirty.
During our time with the ThinkPhone, I found that Think 2 Think lagged a bit at startup but usually caught up after a few seconds. It was only really noticeable if you exited a Think 2 Think feature and then tried to jump back into it quickly. The remote webcam also gives you a pretty tight field of view when used in portrait orientation but is much wider — and more usable — in landscape.
Of course, as a business phone, the ThinkPhone by Motorola comes with a few apps that the average user might call bloat, but the business user might need every day. It’s the first device to take advantage of a new partnership with Microsoft and carry Microsoft 365, Outlook, and Teams right out of the box. You’ll also be able to use the red key to activate the Teams push-to-talk feature, letting your team stay in voice contact when typing isn’t an option. The apps and push-to-talk feature weren’t present on our demo unit, but we were told that they’d be added via an update shortly after launch.
Moto in disguise
While the design cues are unmistakably ThinkPad, and the Think 2 Think features are all about business, the ThinkPhone is a Motorola flagship at its heart. It runs on Motorola’s MyUX, which is light, smooth, and fast, and it comes preloaded with apps like Moto Secure and the very helpful Moto app. MyUX is also one of the few skins that doesn’t come with its own suite of messaging apps, dialers, and browsers, instead relying on Google for its default options.
The Lenovo ThinkPhone by Motorola shouldn’t have much trouble staying current, either. It’s packed with three years of full Android updates and four years of security patches. Since it ships with Android 13 out of the box, that should carry it through to Android 16 and 2027 before it runs out of steam — a better promise than most of Motorola’s own devices carry.
Motorola’s fingerprints are all over the camera experience as well, which we were told has been rebuilt from the ground up. It still relies on the same interface as other Motorola flagships but has been retooled to work better in other apps that request access to the camera. The 50MP primary sensor is sharp, even when binned to 12.5MP by default, and I was impressed with the edge detection while in portrait mode.
The 13MP ultrawide camera offers some flexibility thanks to an additional macro mode, and the 32MP selfie camera rounds things out in a central punch hole. It also bins to 8MP by default, but is still sharp enough for most needs.
Lenovo ThinkPhone by Motorola Specs
|Lenovo ThinkPhone by Motorola
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1
No expandable storage
68W wired TurboPower charging
15W wireless charging
- 50MP wide, 1/1.5-inch sensor, OIS, f/1.8
- 13MP ultrawide, 1/2-inch sensor size, f/2.0
- 32MP, f/2.45
Dolby Atmos support
No 3.5mm headphone port
NA: single SIM
International: 2 nano-SIM
Aramid fiber back panel
Gorilla Glass Victus display
In-display fingerprint reader
3 years of Android updates
4 years of security patches
Dimensions and weight
158.7 x 74.4 x 8.2mm
Lenovo ThinkPhone by Motorola: The business phone for everyone?
I don’t need a business phone — not by any stretch. Nor do I regularly reach for a Motorola (er, Lenovo-branded) flagship unless I’m working on a review. However, the ThinkPhone might change my tune. It offers the right mix of size, specs, and build quality to make you forget that it belongs in an office or a boardroom. Factor in the light, fast software, rebuilt cameras, and solid update commitment, and it might be a worthwhile option for someone who wants a tough phone that doesn’t necessarily need the case.
High-end specs and top-notch materials make the ThinkPhone an interesting option — business or not.
Of course, you might not get the most out of the ThinkPhone if you’re not planning to use Think 2 Think and couldn’t care less about the partnership with Microsoft, but it’s rare to use every last capability of your phone anyway. If the ThinkPhone came with only Motorola branding, I’d call it the most exciting Motorola flagship I’d seen in a while, but instead, it’s the most exciting Lenovo flagship I’ve seen in a while.
We’re still waiting for official pricing and availability on the Lenovo ThinkPhone by Motorola, but we’ll update these impressions once we have that information. In the meantime, the ThinkPhone is confirmed for a wide release in the US, Latin America, Europe, Australia, and select parts of Asia in the coming months.
What do you think, would you buy a business phone for everyday use? Let us know in the poll below, and check out our Best of CES 2023 Awards to see what other tech products we loved at this year’s conference.