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Moto Gets a Performance-Driven Makeover at Google

CHICAGO -- Motorola took the wraps off three new Verizon Wireless exclusive Droid smartphones on Tuesday that embody what the company is all about post Google acquisition: performance and simplicity.

The acquisition hasn't been about locking down the best of Android as a lot of Moto's competitors feared. Rather, Mark Oliver, Motorola's senior director of product management, said it was about optimizing the customer experience with the devices.

That starts with its three new additions to its Droid line upcoming out in August, including the Droid Ultra, the thinnest LTE smartphone on the market, Droid Maxx with 48-hours of battery life and the Droid Mini, a smaller version of the other two. (See Verizon's New Droids Last Longer, Browse Faster.)

"Now that we are owned by Google and share a vision with Google about bringing a better consumer experience, the focus is, how does the end user experience this? Is it simple; easy; fast? Does it really make their life better?" Oliver told Light Reading during a hands-on demo.

The handsets are its first to feature the Motorola X8, a new 8-core system on a chip (SOC) that Oliver called the "post-Google architecture" that, again, is "not just about specs for specs sake, but truly optimizing for what the user needs." Those needs include quad-core graphics, low-power processing and voice-commands via Google Now.

Even though it stressed performance is key, Moto did introduce some Android functionality that will be exclusive to its own devices. That includes Droid Zap, a feature that will let anyone with one of the three new Droids swipe up on the device to share photos, videos or songs automatically with any another Android device. The companies also revealed Monday that Moto would be the only handset manufacturer to make devices under the Droid moniker. The pair's relationship dates back to 2009 when Moto built its first Droid smartphone for the carrier, but Monday's launch makes the tie-up exclusive. The agreement, and marketing that's bound to come with it, is good news for Moto, a one-time market leader that has had a tough time competing against other Android makers like Samsung Corp.. (See Verizon's Attack of the Droids.)

As Verizon's flagship partner, Motorola will also be ready to meet its needs in future devices and built these three to be "future proof." Oliver said Moto will begin offering voice-over LTE (VoLTE)-capable handsets when the LTE network is ready for them.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

Sarah Thomas 7/24/2013 | 7:03:04 PM
re: Moto Gets a Performance-Driven Makeover at Google If you want a qwerty keyboard, BlackBerry is increasingly the best choice and one of the only real contenders. Will that be enough to save it?
spc_isdnip 7/24/2013 | 6:15:49 PM
re: Moto Gets a Performance-Driven Makeover at Google Asking existing users what they want will tell you to do more of the same. Moto is, like most phone makers, slavishly copying Apple. They're ignoring us who detest St. Steve's fondleslabs and touchy-feely style of hand-eye coordination testers.
Unfortunately, most of the keyboard-equipped phones at VZ now are pretty low end junk. The BB Q10 is interesting but apparently still can't *dial* with its keyboard, which is insane.
I'd still like a smarter version of the old Samsung Alias 2.
Sarah Thomas 7/24/2013 | 2:40:57 PM
re: Moto Gets a Performance-Driven Makeover at Google Ah yes, no keyboards for Moto. Oliver said they did a lot of focus groups and talked to the existing Droid user base to come up with the look, feel and size of the device. They must not have been keyboard fans. The keyboard on the first Droid was so cramped and hard to use, I thought. I wonder if there's a group of users who'd like an improved version though.
MordyK 7/23/2013 | 11:02:24 PM
re: Moto Gets a Performance-Driven Makeover at Google I was waiting to see one with a portrait Keyboard AKA Blackberry Android :)
Sarah Thomas 7/23/2013 | 7:56:52 PM
re: Moto Gets a Performance-Driven Makeover at Google To be clear, the X8 may be post-Google architecture, but it's not developed by Moto or Google. It's custom for them, is the official line, but it's based on a variation of Qualcomm's Snapdragon chipset. It's also not 8 cores if you want to get into that marketing debate: http://arstechnica.com/gadgets...
Sarah Thomas 7/23/2013 | 7:41:36 PM
re: Moto Gets a Performance-Driven Makeover at Google I was really impressed with the new devices. The kevlar coating gave them a sleek finish and felt nice. Maybe I've spent too much time with the huge Galaxy Note, but I appreciated their size and weight. While they were all about simplicity, the new features are quite impressive too -- the voice control works even if the phone is locked, and the picture sharing can go to multiple devices at once. Oh yeah, and two days of battery life! I think that's important to more than just high-end business users.
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