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February 25, 2024
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Lenovo ThinkPhone by Motorola review: business class

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After a pair years of lackluster flagships, Motorola has lastly launched a high-end telephone that is smart. To my nice shock, it’s a tool geared closely towards ThinkPad-owning enterprise clients. I’ve been tricked into liking an enterprise telephone.

The ThinkPhone’s full authorities identify is the Lenovo ThinkPhone by Motorola, which is foolish and I can’t repeat it from right here on out. It has just a few issues going for it that latest mainstream, high-end Moto units like 2022’s Edge Plus have come up brief on: a full IP68 water-resistance score, a wholesome four-year safety replace coverage, and a wise $699 asking worth. There’s additionally a succesful Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 chipset and a giant 6.6-inch 1080p OLED with a smooth-scrolling 144Hz refresh charge. These are all substances for a really good telephone, no matter enterprise you’re in.

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On prime of all that, there’s Motorola’s Prepared For PC, a set of continuity options that work with Home windows PCs and is correct at residence with Lenovo’s ThinkPad enterprise laptops. The units pair mechanically, and you’ll run telephone apps in your PC, use the telephone as a webcam, and use a shared clipboard to repeat and paste between the 2, amongst different issues. And naturally they share the identical design language, proper all the way down to a crimson facet key on the ThinkPhone that’s paying homage to the ThinkPad’s signature crimson TrackPoint nub. 

Altogether, it makes for a darn good gadget that’s particularly interesting if you happen to’re a ThinkPad devotee. I can’t fairly advocate it to only anybody on the lookout for a pleasant Android telephone when the Google Pixel 7 is proper there, but it surely’s a assured step in the appropriate route for Motorola.

The ThinkPhone encompasses a powerful construct and ThinkPad-like styling.
Picture by Allison Johnson / The Verge

The ThinkPhone is IP68 rated, so identical to the remainder of the flagship class, it’s loads proof against mud and immersion in recent water. Motorola additionally calls the telephone “MIL-STD 810H-tested,” that means it ought to stand as much as among the similar environmental stressors that navy tools is usually uncovered to — stuff like vibration, salt fog, and excessive temperatures.

Word that, not like an IP score, there’s no official certification for the 810H navy customary — it’s only a listing of suggestions that Motorola says it examined in opposition to, and Motorola doesn’t even specify which of them it examined in opposition to or how effectively the telephone dealt with them. (Lenovo says it tests some ThinkPads to similar standards but in addition says that “Abuse, like that contained in MIL-STD 810G testing, just isn’t coated beneath Lenovo’s customary guarantee,” so take all these claims with a giant grain of salt.) 

In any case, the ThinkPhone is as powerful as any mainstream flagship I’ve examined this yr, with a sturdy aluminum body, Gorilla Glass Victus on the entrance, and an aramid fiber inlay on the rear panel like Lenovo’s ThinkPads. It appears to be like and feels good and business-y.

I actually just like the crimson key. You may customise its conduct: a single press can launch an app or app characteristic of your selecting, and a double press can provoke a ThinkPad integration characteristic. I set the one press to launch the app I take advantage of to signal my little one out of daycare, and it saves me treasured moments of fumbling with my telephone whereas one other father or mother is ready in line behind me. I’ll be genuinely unhappy to let go of this characteristic once I transfer on to a different telephone. 

The crimson facet secret’s surprisingly useful.

On the coronary heart of the ThinkPhone is a Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 chipset, which Qualcomm launched within the second half of 2022 as a step-up model of the 8 Gen 1. It’s not the very newest chipset — that may be the 8 Gen 2 — but it surely’s extra energy environment friendly than the usual Gen 1, and within the ThinkPhone, it’s greater than succesful. It’s paired with 8GB of RAM, which is loads for holding each day duties working easily. 

The ThinkPhone’s display is a big 6.6-inch OLED panel with 1080p decision and a prime refresh charge of 144Hz. It’s shiny sufficient to see in shiny daylight, and that top refresh charge offers a {smooth} look to animations and scrolling. There’s an in-display fingerprint sensor that’s speedy and dependable, even with moist fingers. Two thumbs up.

The 5,000mAh battery, which is as large as they arrive, and battery stamina are likewise superb. After a day of average use, I often had someplace between 40 to 50 p.c within the tank. That bodes effectively for the battery-hungry duties like lengthy hotspot classes that ThinkPad homeowners will doubtless use it for. I wouldn’t really feel comfy pushing it right into a second day, however if you happen to forgot to cost up in a single day, it wouldn’t be disastrous. There’s a 68W wired charger within the field that’s quick sufficient to cost up a ThinkPad, too, and the ThinkPhone helps 15W wi-fi charging. 

The ThinkPhone isn’t being offered by any of the three main carriers within the US, simply by means of Lenovo and Motorola immediately. The telephone helps 5G on all three main networks. There’s no assist for super-fast, hard-to-find mmWave, which is ok. Extra importantly, it helps mid-band 5G, together with Verizon’s C-band (I can decide up an Extremely Wideband sign in my kitchen) — that’s the great things that’s sooner than LTE however not as scarce as mmWave. 

The telephone runs Android 13 out of the field, and Motorola says it can get three years of OS updates and 4 years of safety updates. That’s just a little higher than the 2 years of OS upgrades and three years of safety patches that Motorola’s been providing for latest mainstream units, and it’s nice to see a stronger assist coverage right here. It’s not fairly the 5 years of safety updates you’ll get from a Google or Samsung flagship, but it surely’s actually acceptable. 

Determine that one out, hackers.

Motorola’s tackle Android is one in every of my favorites, and it’s proper at residence on the ThinkPhone. There are not any surprises right here — only a easy, pretty clear implementation of Android. The lock display “peek” notifications are glorious, as at all times. They’d be particularly helpful with an always-on show, which the ThinkPhone sadly lacks — doubtless one thing that was left off within the identify of safety and battery life preservation. There’s a brand new Moto Safe app that acts as a hub for safety settings, and it offers you a view of all of the apps which have entry to your digital camera or calendar, for instance. It’s also possible to create a PIN-protected folder right here and disguise it with a decoy app icon and identify. Cute.

The ThinkPhone’s PC integrations all dwell beneath the identify Prepared For, which is an present Motorola characteristic that allows you to solid telephone content material on different shows. It enables you to do a bit greater than what’s potential with any Android telephone linked to a PC with Microsoft Phone Link, which lets you see notifications in your PC, ship texts, make calls, and entry your digital camera roll, however not much more. Prepared for PC options embody:

  • Streaming telephone apps in your PC
  • Unified clipboard
  • Drag and drop file switch
  • Mirroring what’s in your telephone to the PC
  • Utilizing your telephone as a webcam, Continuity Digicam type

Like Microsoft Telephone Hyperlink, Prepared For will present telephone notifications in your pc, however if you click on on them, you’ll be capable to open the telephone app in your desktop and take the suitable motion. Oh, and if you happen to’re so inclined, you possibly can simply absolutely run your telephone’s interface in your pc like just a little distant desktop. The probabilities are just a little overwhelming.

Proudly owning a ThinkPad isn’t a prerequisite for any of those options — they work with any Home windows 10 or 11 PC with the Prepared For app put in. They’re not unique to the ThinkPhone, both; Motorola’s high-end Edge phones support them. From what I’ve seen connecting an Edge 30 Fusion to the ThinkPad, there’s nothing particular that the ThinkPhone does in comparison with some other Prepared For PC-enabled Motorola telephone. That takes among the shine off of the entire “ThinkPad, however telephone” idea, but it surely does imply you’re not lacking out on something with the ThinkPhone if you happen to aren’t a ThinkPad proprietor.   

You may absolutely run your ThinkPhone as just a little distant desktop on a PC related by Prepared For.

All of it works surprisingly effectively, for probably the most half. Copying and pasting between units is seamless, and I’d use this characteristic so much if this was my perpetually telephone and pc. You may drag and drop information to ship them to your telephone, which works easily. I additionally respect the streamlined cellular hotspot connection. As soon as the telephones are paired, you possibly can simply click on an possibility within the PC Prepared For app and begin utilizing your telephone as a cellular hotspot — no digging in settings and getting into passwords. 

There’s some glitchiness if you stream sure apps — movies embedded in issues like an Instagram feed generally look distorted for a second. I additionally had a tough time scrolling with the Thinkpad’s trackpad in sure apps; the standard two-finger scroll is method too quick in Instagram, and it really works higher to long-press and slide your finger throughout the trackpad the best way you do on a telephone display.

The webcam characteristic additionally technically works, however I really favor the built-in digital camera on the ThinkPad I examined slightly than the ThinkPhone’s rear cam. The telephone offers your extra choices for framing and automated topic monitoring, which is good, however the picture appears to be like crunchy and overly contrasty. Including background blur appears to be like okay, however if you happen to apply an excessive amount of, it appears to be like distractingly dangerous.

The ThinkPhone’s rear digital camera array features a 50-megapixel important digital camera with stabilized f/1.8 lens, a 13-megapixel ultrawide that doubles as a macro digital camera, and a depth sensor to assist with portrait mode. I query whether or not we want the depth sensor, on condition that there’s an ultrawide, however in any other case, I’m grateful that this telephone is mercifully freed from ineffective low-res macro cameras and the like. Round entrance, there’s a 32-megapixel selfie digital camera with autofocus.

Like just about each different trendy telephone digital camera, photographs in good lighting look good. Motorola’s picture processing leans towards a contrasty look that I personally favor. There’s a good night time mode for very low gentle, and it really works effectively for non-moving topics. 

There are some gnarly artifacts from his yellow jacket seen on his left facet.

Portrait mode gives three “focal lengths,” which all use the primary digital camera sensor. They’re labeled with full-frame focal size equivalents — 50mm, 24mm, and 35mm — which I respect as a giant nerd. It’s probably not as much as the problem of maintaining with a shifting topic, and I noticed some odd artifacts in a portrait picture of my child. 

However with much less difficult conditions, I really favored the power to change “lenses” together with the excessive distinction processing. It’s not the very best telephone digital camera for $699 by a protracted shot — the Google Pixel 7 and 6A do higher for much less cash — however in any other case, it is a completely effective digital camera for a business-oriented telephone.

The ThinkPhone is a step in the appropriate route for Motorola.

If you happen to’re contemplating the ThinkPhone, you’re most likely a ThinkPad devotee, a purchaser in your firm’s IT division, or only a curious Android proprietor on the lookout for one thing exterior of the Google and Samsung choices. I’ll fortunately advocate the ThinkPhone to individuals in these first two classes, but it surely’s not the best choice for simply anybody exterior of that circle. Motorola and Lenovo know this, too, because it’s not being offered to compete with the mainstream Android flagships. 

It has a whole lot of the appropriate substances for a aggressive high-end telephone however not fairly all the pieces. The Google Pixel 7 will get you a significantly better digital camera system plus an additional yr of safety updates for an MSRP of $599. The ThinkPhone has a nicer, greater display, however personally, I’d take a greater digital camera and maintain the additional $100 in my pocket.

As a substitute of an surprising Samsung killer, I feel what we now have here’s a superb telephone for a small area of interest and an indicator of fine issues to return if Motorola continues down this path. I hope that’s the plan.

Images by Allison Johnson / The Verge

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