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

A new leak out of China has what appears to be the first picture of a metallic Motorola smartphone frame for 2016. Could this be in store for next year?

Published onDecember 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.

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