Lenovo is pulling out all the stops this year. While it’s no stranger to big launch events, this company is hosting a Tech World keynote on June 9th that promises a little bit of everything, including Motorola’s latest flagship phones and the first commercially available device using Google’s Project Tango mapping technology. But what exactly are we going to see? And are there any wild cards in store? We’ve rounded up the leaks and rumors to give you a good idea of what to expect when Lenovo and Moto take the stage in San Francisco this Thursday.
This is the main reason why you’re here, isn’t it? You’re probably wondering how Motorola will follow up the Moto X Pure Edition, especially now that Lenovo is putting more of its mark on the iconic phone brand.
From all indications, the answer is to drop the Moto X name completely… along with some of the things you associate with Motorola’s top-of-the-line smartphone. You might instead see the Moto Z Play and Style, a pair of 5.5-inch devices that would focus on personalization even more than you’ve seen with past Moto phones. You’ll reportedly get modular backplates (MotoMods) that let you change the functionality of the phone — JBL speakers, a projector and even a Hasselblad-branded camera would be just a quick swap away. However, you’d lose the curvy back that made the Moto X so easy to grip, and a fingerprint reader on the front would do away with Motorola’s historically compact front bezels.
If the rumors are accurate, Lenovo would repeat the split between high- and low-end models. The Moto Z Style, like the Moto X Pure/Style, would be the star of the show with its quad HD display, 32GB of storage, 3GB or 4GB of RAM and an 0.2-inch thick body. It’s likely to pack a speedier Snapdragon 820 processor, too. The Moto Z Play, meanwhile, would be for the budget crowd with a 1080p screen and choices of either 16GB of storage and 2GB RAM or 32GB of space and 3GB of RAM. Verizon is expected to have at least one Droid-branded variant, although it’s not clear what you’ll get besides flashier designs (metallic hues may be the main theme) and lots of carrier branding.
In a sense, the other high-end device due at Tech World is no mystery at all: Lenovo already promised to formally launch its Project Tango-powered smartphone at the event. The large (under 6.5 inches) device will revolve around Tango’s signature 3D mapping tech, which should both measure your environment and bring augmented reality worlds to your screen. The exact nature of what you get might be up in the air, however. Lenovo has promised a sub-$500 price, a summer release and a Snapdragon processor, but the finished design and performance haven’t been nailed down. We’d expect at least a few changes to the prototype Tango phone teased back in January.
Sorry to dash your hopes, but one of the biggest stories for Tech World is what isn’t happening. Despite Lenovo and Motorola fueling expectations of a RAZR revival at the show, they warn that they’re “not re-releasing” the iconic clamshell. That video really exists to remind you of Motorola’s ability to change the cellular landscape, apparently.
Not that this comes as a total shock. Outside of Japan and the occasional smart flip phone, the RAZR’s form factor doesn’t have a huge following in 2016. The once ubiquitous name doesn’t mean that much in the 12 years following its launch (even the Droid-branded models didn’t last long), and Lenovo isn’t in a financial position to gamble on cellular nostalgia. The Motorola team may need to sort out its future before it dwells on the past.
What else? Lenovo has promised “freshly minted concepts” from its labs, so you should see some out-there technology that grabs headlines. Whether or not the tech translates to shipping products is another matter, but Lenovo is no stranger to bringing clever ideas to fruition.
Besides that, it’s hard to know what’s coming. We wouldn’t count on smartwatches when the second-generation Moto 360 is less than a year old. Lenovo might use this mid-year media gathering as an opportunity to announce new PCs, although the phone focus makes that seem less probable. The one certainty is that you can’t rule out a surprise or two: Lenovo is fond of pulling rabbits out of its hat.