2016 is quickly shaping up to be the year of the modular mobile. Back in February, LG unveiled its G5 flagship which features a swappable modular bay allowing users to change the device’s battery and add on accessories. Now it seems Motorola, too, plans to make use of a modular design language with its 2016 Moto X flagships, as reported by Venture Beat’s Evan Blass, AKA @evleaks.
The story itself is a follow-up to an enigma that has started to unravel since this past Sunday. On Mother’s Day, HelloMotoHK posted three device pictures (seen above), with the initial understanding that two devices were being depicted. Evan Blass, however, took to Twitter to proclaim that in fact, the seemingly similar sibling shots were indeed all separate devices, with a promise to reveal more the following day. As tomorrow has become today, let’s see what he has to say.
According to the report, Motorola is planning to launch two separate Moto X devices in 2016 – much as it initially had the Moto X Style and Moto X Play last year. Details are also becoming more clear, with Venture Beat including preliminary spec suggestions for each:
Moto X Vector Thin:
Essentially the follow-up to the Moto X Style, the product is said to have a 5.5-inch QHD AMOLED display, a 2.0GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 Quad Core SoC, 3GB or 4GB of RAM, 32GB of on-board storage, and a 13-megapixel rear camera with laser auto focus and optical image stabilization. It will be the thinner of the two devices at just 5.2mm thick, but that lithe build will restrict its battery size to just 2,600mAh.
Moto X Vertex:
Essentially the follow-up to the Moto X Play, the device is said to feature a 5.5-inch FHD AMOLED display, a 2.4Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 Octa Core SoC, a choice of either 2GB RAM and 16GB of on-board storage or 3GB RAM and 32GB of on-board storage combinations, and a 16-megapixel rear camera with laser auto focus and phase detection auto focus. Due to it’s relatively thicker nature (7mm) it will include a 3,500mAh battery.
Much as LG has its “Friends” so to is Motorola said to have “Amps”. By making use of the 16 small gold-colored circles on the back of the device, which are reportedly connection pins that facilitate the modular backplates. According to Venture Beat:
Motorola has at least six modules, called “Amps,” planned for launch, including a simple colored backplate that ships free with both handsets. The more interesting ones will be, of course, sold separately, both from Moto as well as third-party manufacturers. The first-party modules available at launch allegedly include stereo speakers; a battery pack; a camera grip with flash and optical zoom; a pico projector; and a rugged cover with wide angle lens attachment.
Those concerned with the clear camera bulge on the back will be relieved to hear that the report mentions they “will actually sit flush when there are Amps attached.”
A Release Date?
Currently, it is unknown as to when these mysterious Motos will be released. It had been suggested that August 24th was likely to be the candidate given the fact the simulated screens in the leaked press renders are depicting the date. However, a new report by Droid-Life is claiming that they will debut on June 9th at Lenovo Tech World. Given that the Moto G (4th Edition) is expected to make its official debut in India later this month, it would make sense to follow-up on that initial Moto-mentum with the announcement of the flagship devices.
Venture Beat also made mention of Verizon variants of these phones, believed to be called the Droid Turbo 3 and Droid Maxx 3. These would presumably also be announced around the same time.
In Android Authority’s initial report yesterday, the idea of a removable back-panel was made reference to, partially in seeking to explain how the DROID variant could have such a colorful back as well as how the Moto Maker process might work with these products, which are expected to be made of metal.
Today’s leaked revelation of full-blown modular units – Amps – would be quite a new change in the game for Motorola’s product strategy. It will also, likely, have a somewhat chilling effect on the LG G5, which as Venture Beat points out,
This modular system, and the one introduced by LG with the LG G5, are undoubtedly similar and will prompt comparisons in the press. And despite being first to market, LG is very likely going to come out on the losing end of these evaluations. Focusing so tightly on offering a removable battery seems to have hamstrung the Korean manufacturer into a form factor not nearly as well-suited for the task as Motorola’s.
Just in the initial report of what Motorola itself is said to be offering at launch – “stereo speakers; a battery pack; a camera grip with flash and optical zoom; a pico projector; and a rugged cover with wide angle lens attachment” – the more slim pickings by LG seem to pale in comparison. Both companies could stand to get considerable support from third party developers.
The overall concept of a modular design as applied to the Moto X series is likely to draw a lot of attention to the products, and perhaps Motorola’s parent company, Lenovo, as well. The approach is decidedly different from what most everyone else is doing, and will serve to better provide users with a “core” product which can be enhanced by the user at any time with the purchase of the add-on accessories.
With its seemingly more comprehensive approach to modular design, Motorola may also be the real start of a new trend in smartphone design, one that rivals may seek to eventually emulate. Perhaps LG, as well, will stand to benefit as even should the collective feel its G5 was a “half baked” implementation of the modular process, it was (1) first, and (2) has already started the realization of such hardware functionality which thereby puts it on an immediately more advanced path than any competitors who would only now begin to start development.
Today’s report – assuming it pans out – is truly is a bombshell, at least as far as Motorola leaks go. The idea of a brand new approach to design language is, in and of itself, a big change (or upgrade depending on one’s perspective), and the customer-centered approach to components and functionality is a seemingly logical progression of what Moto Maker has been. Indeed it would solve the more basic problem of Moto Maker’s availability, namely that it’s not present in many markets around the world.
Today’s news also seemingly justifies the much-mentioned oddity as to why Motorola would place a fingerprint sensor on the front of its device, instead of making use of the “dimple”, which itself, is clearly not present on the leaked Moto X product pictures.
What do you think? Does this potential pair of Moto X handsets truly excite you? Leave your comments below!