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printed January 23, 2018
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Verizon Fires Back at T-Mo with BOGO Of Its Own

Yesterday, 5:18 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless said customers can save big on select smartphones with a new buy-one, get-one offer that kicks off January 23. New and existing customers who add a new line of Verizon Unlimited service will be able to buy the Google Pixel 2, Samsung Galaxy S8, Motorola Moto Z2 Force, or LG V30 and get a second one for free. In order to qualify for the offer, both devices will need to be purchased on a monthly installment plan. The BOGO deal also requires a trade-in, the value of which can be put toward the purchase price of the new phones. Verizon will cover the cost of the second phone via monthly bill credits over the course of 24 months. Customers won't be able to mix and match: the second phone must come from the same manufacturer as the first, though people can opt for the larger Pixel 2 XL or Galaxy S8+ and cover the difference in cost on the second device. The Verizon BOGO deal counters a similar one launched by T-Mobile earlier this month.


Google Debuts 'Bill Protection' - Effectively Unlimited Data - for Project Fi

Jan 17, 2018, 1:13 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jan 17, 2018, 1:58 PM

Google today rolled out a new plan for its Project Fi wireless service that lets people use more mobile data at a lower cost. Since launch, Project Fi has charged $10 per gigabyte, pro-rated so people pay for exactly the amount of data they use. For example, those who consumed 2.3 GB in a given month were charged $23. This system works well for those who use data sparingly, but it adds up quickly for heavy users. Moving forward, the new Bill Protection plan caps the monthly mobile data expenditure at $60, no matter how much is used. People who exceed 6 GB of data in a given month will still be able to use high-speed data, but once they reach 15 GB in a single billing period they may experience slower speeds. Customers who need more than 15 GB of high-speed data per month can continue to pay the $10-per-gigabyte rate if they wish. Moreover, the unlimited plan still pro-rated data. People who use 1.4 GB of data in a month — even if they're using Bill Protection — will be charged $14 for that data. Last, Bill Protection applies to roaming in more than 135 countries and with data-only SIMs in tablets or laptops. Google says Bill Protection is rolling out today to individual and group plan subscribers. Project Fi is compatible with Google's Nexus and Pixel smartphones, and the Moto X4.


Hands On with the Livermorium Keyboard Slider Moto Mod

Jan 9, 2018, 8:45 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jan 9, 2018, 9:49 PM

Motorola's partner Livermorium announced plans to bring its $99 slide-out QWERTY keyboard to market. Is this the accessory or your typing dreams? Here are our impressions of the latest Mod for the Moto Z family of smartphones.

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Keyboard Mod for Moto Z to Arrive this Winter for $99

Jan 9, 2018, 4:45 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola today announced the pending availability of the Livermorium Slider Keyboard Moto Mod, an attachment that gives the Moto Z family a physical QWERTY keyboard for typing. The keyboard slides out and can tilt the handset up to 60 degrees for miniature-laptop-style typing. The Livermorium was initially an Indiegogo project and has since gained the support of Lenovo and Motorola. The slide-out keyboard will be available later this winter for $99. Motorola continues to encourage developers to support the Moto Mod program. Motorola is taking submissions for Moto Mod concepts and those whose ideas are selected will receive a Moto Z handset, the Moto Mod Development Kit, and support from Indiegogo.


Vital's Moto Mod Takes A Complete Health Picture

Jan 9, 2018, 2:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Lenovo and Vital USA today announced the Vital Moto Mod, a modular attachment for the Moto Z line of smartphones that can measure a range of health stats. Vital USA says the Vital Modo Mod can monitor heart rate, respiratory rate, pulse oximetry, non-contact body temperature, and blood pressure. The Mod works with the Vital App, a HIPAA-compliant application, to parse the data and create a complete health picture. The mod includes a finger cuff with an inflatable bladder along with other sensors to make the measurements. Vital USA says the measurements take about three to five minutes to complete, and they are then stored in the app where they can be shared and/or analyzed. The company claims all five measurements are made as accurately as they might be with dedicated medical equipment. Pricing and availability were not immediately disclosed.

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Top Five Budget Handsets of 2017

Dec 31, 2017, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Not everyone has the means or the desire to spend $1000 on a smartphone. There's good news: phone makers spent 2017 shoring up their ranks of budget-friendly devices, which now offer an incredible amount of performance for the dollar. These are the top five sub-$200 handsets of the year.

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Verizon's Moto Z2 Force Scores Android 8 Oreo Upgrade

Dec 22, 2017, 9:08 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today began rolling out the Android 8 Oreo system update to the Motorola Moto Z2 Force. In addition to the core Oreo features, including notification dots and picture-in-picture, the update makes improvements to productivity, performance, and notifications. For example, apps should now run quicker and smoother. The update also include Google's new rounded emoji characters and a new calling screen in the phone app. The update can be downloaded and installed over the air.


Android Go Updated with Oreo

Dec 5, 2017, 3:56 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today rolled out Android 8.1 Oreo and with it a version specifically for its Android Go platform. Android Go represents a simplified variant of Android for low-powered handsets. Specifically, Android 8.1 Oreo Go Edition makes optimizations to memory management so apps run better on hardware with 1 GB or less of RAM. The platform supports more targeting options for developers, which means they can cater their apps to specific hardware features. Android Go with Oreo also includes rebuilt and optimized apps from Google to ensure they use less memory, less storage, and less mobile data. Last, Google Play on Android Go Oreo devices will provide greater visibility for apps that are optimized for the Go platform. The first Android Oreo Go handsets are being released in India. One of the only Android Go devices available to U.S. consumers is the Project Fi variant of the Moto X4. Google did not say if or when the X4 will receive his particular software update.


December’s Android Security Patch from Google Arrives

Dec 4, 2017, 4:51 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today made its monthly security patch available to some Android devices. December's patch plugs a handful of security holes. Google found a dozen or so vulnerabilities, most of which were classified as moderately dangerous, or able to execute code remotely. Google is pushing a patch dated December 5 to resolve these issues. Google said the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel C, Nexus Player, Nexus 5X, and Nexus 6P devices will receive the December security patches directly over the air. The factory images will be available for download from Google's developer web site shortly. As far as Google knows, none of these security holes have been exploited. Google has already supplied the patches to its handset partners.


Motorola Rolls Out Savings On Smartphones And Mods

Nov 22, 2017, 8:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola is running a sale this week on a number of its products. Through Monday, November 27 the Moto Z is reduced from $499 to $399, the Moto Z2 Play is reduced from $499 to $399, the Moto X4 is reduced from $399 to $339, and the Moto E4 is reduced from $199 to $169. Motorola is also offering 25% of all Moto Mods. Moreover, most purchases made through Motorola.com qualify for free shipping.


US Cellular Offering Free iPhone 8, Galaxy S8, or LG G6

Nov 20, 2017, 1:09 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

U.S. Cellular today announced a holiday offering that will provide customers with a free flagship smartphone. The company will give customers a free Samsung Galaxy S8, iPhone 8, LG G6, or Motorola Moto Z Force when they sign up for an unlimited plan between November 22 and November 27. Customers will need to trade-in a recent flagship, such as the Galaxy S6, iPhone 6, or V20, to score the free phone. The free handset will be comped through monthly rebates over a period of 30 months. Customers who don't have a device to trade in can get a reduced-cost flagship for a monthly payment of just $10 in addition to the unlimited plan. U.S. Cellular's unlimited plan costs $70 for a single line, though multi-line discounts are available. U.S. Cellular offers up to 22 GB of high-speed data per billing cycle. Customers who exceed that limit will see speeds reduced to 2G for the remained of the month. The company is also offering discounts on Google Home, LG Tones, and Parrot Drones during its holiday sale. Last, customers who refer a family member or friend who signs up for service can score a $50 reward.


T-Mobile Says Gigabit LTE Available to Select Phones

Nov 9, 2017, 12:31 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Nov 9, 2017, 12:32 PM

T-Mobile today said more customers around the country should have access to faster wireless speeds. The company has reached several new milestones with respect to its wireless network. First, it has doubled its LTE-Advanced footprint to more than 920 markets. The company has deployed a trio of LTE-A technologies, including carrier aggregation, 4X4 MIMO, and 256 QAM, in 430 of those markets. Gigabit LTE relies on a combination of these three LTE-A technologies along with certain on-device components and proper backhaul. Together, these technologies are able to improve spectral efficiency, reduce congestion, and deliver the highest-possible speeds to handsets. Only a few devices equipped with the Snapdragon 835 processor with X16 LTE modem can access Gigabit LTE, including the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Note8, the Motorola Moto Z2 Force Edition, and the LG V30. T-Mobile customers who own these devices and live in the 430 markets with carrier aggregation, 4X4 MIMO, and 256 QAM may be able to tap into Gigatbit LTE download speeds (800 Mbps). Gigabit LTE is a stepping stone to 5G and T-Mobile plans to keep moving forward. The company is prepared to launch LTE-License Assisted Access (LTE-LAA) later this year. LTE-LAA makes better use of unlicensed spectrum on small cells. T-Mobile did not provide a timeline for these network upgrades.


Moto Smart Speaker Goes On Sale November 13 for $150

Nov 6, 2017, 10:52 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola today said the Moto Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa will become available over the coming week. Amazon, Best Buy, and Motorola will each kick off pre-orders for the modular attachment starting November 7, with general sales commencing November 13. The device will be available from Verizon by November 16. Motorola is charging $150 for the smart speaker, which lets Moto Z owners access Alexa when on the go. The Smart Speaker can be used to play music and interact with Alexa just like at home with an Amazon Echo speaker. The mod includes its own battery that can deliver up to 15 hours of listening without impacting the phone's power source. It includes a charging dock that works together with the Moto Z to provide a nightstand mode with active Alexa listening. It is compatible with all Moto Mod handsets, including the newer Moto Z2 Play and Z2 Force.


Motorola Bakes Amazon's Alexa Into Speaker Mod for Moto Z

Oct 18, 2017, 9:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola today announced the Moto Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa, a new modular attachment that lets Moto Z owners access Alexa when on the go. The Smart Speaker includes four microphones and Motorola says it can detect voices and respond to requests in most environments. The Smart Speaker can be used to play music and interact with Alexa just like at home with an Amazon Echo speaker. Moto Z owners can ask Alexa for the news headlines, directions, commute details, calendar appointments, list items, and more. In addition to voice responses, the Moto Z can display information, such to-do lists and weather reports, directly on the screen. The speaker includes its own battery that can deliver up to 15 hours of listening without impacting the phone's battery. It includes a charging dock that works together with the Moto Z to provide a nightstand mode with active Alexa listening. The Moto Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa will be available for $150 starting in November. It is compatible with all Moto Mod handsets, including the newer Moto Z2 Play and Z2 Force.


Amazon to Sell Moto X4 Via Prime Exclusives

Oct 18, 2017, 9:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 18, 2017, 9:42 AM

Amazon today said it will soon offer the Motorola Moto X4 through its Prime Exclusives program. Devices sold under the Prime Exclusives banner are offered at a discount in exchange for viewing ads on the lock screen. The phone will be available for preorder starting today for $330, a discount of $70 off the full list price of $400. Amazon is offering both the black and blue colors and says the phone will start shipping on October 26. The Moto X4 is a mid-range phone with dual cameras, including a 12-megapixel main camera with PDAF, and a 120-degree wide-angle second camera with 8-megapixel resolution. The LCD screen measures 5.2 inches with full HD resolution. The phone is rated IP68 for water-resistance, and has a metal frame with Gorilla Glass on the front and back. The X4 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 processor and the 3,000 mAh battery supports Turbo Charging. Motorola says the Moto X4 will be generally available in the U.S. for pre-order beginning October 19 at Best Buy, BestBuy.com, B&H, Fry's, Jet.com, Motorola.com, Newegg, Republic Wireless, and Ting. Like the Amazon variant, Motorola expects its retail partners to ship the standard Moto X4 beginning October 26


Google's Project Fi Pushes Back Moto X4 Deliveries

Oct 11, 2017, 7:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google's Project Fi has informed some customers via email that their Motorola Moto X4 handsets won't arrive when initially expected. Google says Motorola ran into production delays with the phone, which means the first wave of deliveries will be delayed. The device is now expected to ship between October 18 and October 25. Google apologized for the inconvenience and said those trading in devices will still have 30 days to do so after they receive their Moto X4. The Moto X4 is notable because it is the first non-Nexus, non-Pixel handset compatible with Google's Project Fi wireless service. It is also the first Android One handset to be sold directly to U.S. consumers.


Motorola Moto G5S Plus Hits Stores September 29

Sep 21, 2017, 12:34 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola today opened up pre-orders for the Moto G5S Plus handset. Consumers can order the phone from Best Buy, B&H, Fry’s, Motorola.com, New Egg, Ting, and Walmart.com. The G5S Plus boasts a metal unibody design, 5.5-inch HD display, and a 3,000mAh battery. It includes a dual 13-megapixel arrangement with features such as selective focus, and black-and-white image capture. The G5S Plus adds an LED flash to the front of the phone for improved lighting via the 8-megapixel selfie cam. The phone includes the latest software features from Motorola, including Night Display and Quick Reply. The device will ship starting September 29. The Moto GS5 Plus comes in gray or rose gold. The 32 GB version costs $229 and the 64 GB version costs $299.


Google Brings the Moto X4 with Android One to Project Fi

Sep 20, 2017, 10:57 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google's Project Fi just scored its first non-Nexus / Pixel handset. The company added the Motorola Moto X4 to the selection of devices compatible with Project Fi, which is Google's low-cost MVNO. The Moto X4, announced earlier this year, joins the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Pixel, and Pixel XL in Project Fi's lineup. Perhaps more importantly, the Moto X4 will run the Android One variant of Android. This represents the first time an Android One device is being made available in the U.S. Android One is Google's slimmed-down version of Android for inexpensive devices. The idea is to provide a core Android experience that performs well no matter the hardware's possible limitations. It includes Google Assistant, Google Duo, Google Play Protect, and the latest updates to Android Oreo. In fact, Google committed to updating the Android One Moto X4 to (previously unannounced) Android P. The Moto X4 for Project Fi sports a stylish design with a metal frame and curved glass, plus a 16-megapixel selfie camera and dual rear cameras, with one wide-angle lens. It also has a 5.2-inch screen, Snapdragon 630 processor, memory card slot, water resistance, 3.5mm audio jack, and USB-C connector. It supports Motorola's TurboPower rapid charging. The Android One Moto x4 is priced at $399, and comes in black and blue. It is available pre-order on the Project Fi web site starting today. Google said it will accept trade-ins of older Nexus phones for those wishing to upgrade.


Motorola Commits to Updating High-End Phones to Android Oreo

Sep 14, 2017, 3:27 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola today said it will update a significant number of its smartphones to Android 8 Oreo. Those devices on deck for the latest version of Android include the 2016 Moto Z, Z Droid, Z Force Droid, Z Play, and Z Play Droid, as well as the 2017 Moto Z2 Play, Z2 Force Edition, X4, G5, G5 Plus, G5S, and G5S Plus. It appears that Motorola's E and C series devices will not be updated to Oreo. Motorola said that in addition to the core Oreo code and Google Play Protect, the updates should improve handset speed, battery life, multitasking, text selection, notifications, and autofill behaviors. The updates will arrive on a per handset basis beginning later this fall.


Hands On with the Moto X4

Aug 31, 2017, 7:20 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Sep 1, 2017, 7:45 AM

Motorola's new iconic phone fills the gap in their lineup between the flagship Z series, and the more affordable G series. Its focus is style and camera. It's not a flagship, but it has the design of one, thanks to a metal frame and curved glass front and back. It also has dual cameras, and an industry-leading 16-megapixel selfie camera. We checked it out. Read on for our first impressions.

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Moto X4 Sports Dual Cameras + 16 megapixel Selfie Camera

Aug 31, 2017, 2:08 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Aug 31, 2017, 2:14 PM

Motorola/Lenovo today announced the Moto X4, the company's new feature-filled, stylish mid-range phone. It has dual cameras, including a 12 megapixel main camera with PDAF, and a 120-degree wide-angle camera with 8 megapixel resolution. The dual cameras are capable of selective focus for a bokeh effect. The camera software can also recognize landmarks, food, and scan codes. It also has a whopping 16 megapixel selfie camera, making it one of the only phones with higher resolution on the front camera. The LCD screen clocks in at 5.2 inches and Full HD resolution. Uniquely, the X4 can stream music simultaneously to up to four different Bluetooth devices. It's rated IP68 for water-resistance, and has a metal frame with Gorilla Glass on the front and back. The camera module on the back has a distinctive "watch face" design. It also includes the Amazon Alexa voice assistant. The front-mounted fingerprint reader integrates with a new Moto Key feature to offer single-sign-on for mobile websites and your desktop PC. The X4 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 processor paired with either 3 or 4 GB of RAM (depending on market.) The 32 or 64 GB of internal storage is expandable with memory cards up to 2 TB. The 3,000 mAh battery supports Turbo Charging. It will come to Europe in September for 400 Euros, with more markets — including the U.S. — to follow later in the fall.


Google Details Final Release of Android 8.0 Oreo

Aug 21, 2017, 3:37 PM   by Rich Brome

Google today announced the final release of Android 8.0, and also named this version "Oreo". Members of the Android Beta program will receive an update to the final version today. Nexus and Pixel users will receive the update "rolling out in phases over the next several weeks". Google has been working with all of its partners to enable updates for other phones. In the coming weeks and months, other manufacturers will roll out the update to many recent phones. By the end of the year, phones from Essential, Huawei, HTC, Kyocera, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, Sharp and Sony will have Android 8.0 Oreo. The update includes some minor new features, such as picture-in-picture and improved auto-fill, plus many important improvements for developers and overall performance.


Moto Gamepad Mod Hits Verizon Aug. 25 for $80

Aug 10, 2017, 7:41 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Aug 10, 2017, 10:12 AM

Verizon Wireless recently provided details on the availability and cost of the Moto Gamepad Mod for the Z2 Play and Z2 Force smartphones. The Gamepad, available for preorder via Verizon's web site, will ship by August 25. Verizon said the Gamepad will be available online and in stores. The phone snaps in magnetically via the Mod connector. The pad features a standard set of gaming buttons and joysticks positioned on either side of the screen, in addition to a 3.5mm headset jack and USB-C port for charging. The Gamepad includes its own 1.035mAh battery, so it won't suck juice from the phone and in fact can provide the Z handset with up to 8 hours of gaming time. The Gamepad will cost gaming enthusiasts $79.99. The Moto Gamepad Mod is a Verizon exclusive, as is the new JBL SoundBoost 2 speaker Mod.


Amazon Prices the Motorola Moto E4 Plus at $140

Aug 3, 2017, 2:44 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Amazon has added the Motorola Moto E4 Plus to its lineup of Amazon Prime Exclusive handsets. The phone is available for preorder today, with shipments kicking off Aug. 11. Amazon lists the 16 GB model of the phone at $140 and the 32 GB model at $160. These represent $40 in savings when compared to purchasing the phone outright from Motorola or other retailers. Amazon Prime Exclusive handsets are discounted because owners agree to view advertisements on the lock screen. The Moto E4 Plus is also available today from Best Buy, B&H, Fry's, Newegg, and Motorola.com for $180 (16 GB) and $200 (32 GB). The Moto E4 Plus boasts a metal design, and improves the screen size compared to the standard E4 to 5.5 inches (still 720p HD) and the battery to a massive 5,000mAh. The phone ships with a 10W charger for rapid power-ups. The E4 Plus also packs a 13-megapixel main camera with f/2.0 aperture, LED flash, and autofocus, and a 5-megapixel front camera with selfie flash.


Motorola Debuts 'S' Variants of the Moto G5 and G5 Plus with Metal Bodies, Bigger Screens, Better Cameras

Aug 1, 2017, 8:49 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola today announced the Moto G5S and the Moto G5S Plus, special editions of the G5 and G5 Plus it revealed earlier this year. The G5S features an aluminum unibody design with a larger 5.2-inch full HD display and higher-capacity 3,000mAh battery with rapid charging. The G5S also improves the main camera from 13 megapixels to 16 megapixels with PDAF, and adds an LED flash to the front for better selfies with the 5-megapixel, wide-angle camera. The G5S Plus (pictured) adopts a metal unibody design, pushes the full HD screen from 5.2 inches to 5.5 inches, but carries over the 3,000mAh battery of the G5 Plus. The most significant change involves the camera, which switches from a single 12-megapixel shooter to a dual 13-megapixel arrangement with features such as selective focus, and black-and-white image capture. Similar to the G5S, the G5S Plus adds an LED flash to the front of the phone for improved lighting via the 8-megapixel selfie cam. Both the G5S and G5S Plus adopt the new Motorola multi-purpose fingerprint reader that can also be used for navigating the user interface. The phones include the latest software features from Motorola, too, including Night Display and Quick Reply. The G5S costs about $295 while the G5S Plus costs about $350. They will go on sale in the U.S. this fall.


Motorola Moto E4 Plus Goes On Sale Aug. 3 for $180

Aug 1, 2017, 8:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola today said the Moto E4 Plus, which it announced in June, will reach various sales channels later this week. The unlocked variant will be available from Amazon, Best Buy, B&H, Fry's, Newegg, and Motorola.com starting August 3 for $180. Verizon Wireless plans to sell its own version of the Moto E4 Plus on August 3 too, though Verizon's pricing wasn't immediately available. Sprint, Ting, and other U.S. retailers will stock the Moto E4 Plus beginning August 11, with Republic Wireless to follow August 14. Motorola will also sell an Amazon Prime Exclusive version of the Moto E4 Plus, though pricing on the Amazon model wasn't announced. The Moto E4 Plus boasts a metal design, and improves the screen size compared to the standard E4 to 5.5 inches (still 720p HD) and the battery to a massive 5,000mAh. The phone ships with a 10W charger for rapid power-ups. The E4 Plus also packs a 13-megapixel main camera with f/2.0 aperture, LED flash, and autofocus, and a 5-megapixel front camera with selfie flash.


Motorola Offering Free Projector Mod with Moto Z2 Force Purchase

Jul 25, 2017, 2:14 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola today said consumers who purchase the new Moto Z2 Force at any time between now and September 10 will receive a free projector Moto Mod. Consumers can buy the Z2 Force via any channel, such as a wireless carrier, electronics store, or Motorola.com. Consumers then need only send the phone's IMEI number to Motorola, which will ship the projector free of charge. The Insta-Share Projector, released last year, is capable of projecting 70-inch images and video in high definition onto any flat surface. The projector includes its own battery and kickstand for finding the right angle. The projector normally costs $299.


Motorola Shows Off 360-Degree Camera Moto Mod

Jul 25, 2017, 2:04 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola today revealed a new modular accessory along with the Moto Z2 Force: an attachable 360-degree camera. The camera can capture 360-degree images and 4K video, as well as 150-degree shots from either the front or back. The 360 Camera Moto Mod comes with its own photo-editing software so people can customize the images to fit their particular sharing needs. The camera can also stream live 360-degree video across social media channels, such as Facebook and YouTube. The snappable mod goes on sale with the Moto Z2 Force on August 10. It costs $299.


Hands On with the Moto Z2 Force

Jul 25, 2017, 12:32 PM   by Eric Zeman & Rich Brome

Motorola today announced the Moto Z2 Force, the company's newest flagship phone. The phone sports a durable ShatterShield display, thin metal design, dual cameras, and of course supports the company's Moto Mods system of snap-on accessory modules. We took it for a quick spin and have some first impressions to share from our hands-on time with it.

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Moto Z2 Force Drops 'Droid' Branding On Verizon

Jul 25, 2017, 11:50 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola announced the Z2 Force today, which replaces both the Z and Z Force from last year. The phone will be sold by most U.S. carriers, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless. Motorola said the Verizon variant will not include the "Droid" branding that was found on last year's phones. Motorola is sticking with a single device name across carriers. Verizon did not provide comment on the name change. Motorola plans to sell the phone unlocked from Motorola.com, but there is no single unlocked model, according to Rudi Kalil, vice president and general manager at Motorola. Kalil said Motorola will offer unlocked variants for each carrier due to the specific cellular radio requirements for forthcoming 1 Gbps service that's under development from the carriers. The Moto Z2 Force is available for preorder today and will ship starting August 10.


Motorola Reveals the Moto Z2 Force Flagship with Shattershield

Jul 25, 2017, 10:14 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jul 25, 2017, 11:37 AM

Motorola today announced the Moto Z2 Force, its flagship handset for 2017. The Z2 Force carries over the Shattershield nearly unbreakable display from last year's phone. It is a slim handset boasting a metal chassis and compatibility with Motorola's system of Moto Mods accessories. The display measures 5.5 inches and offers quad HD resolution. The phone is powered by a Snapdragon 835 processor with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage. The new dual-camera array includes two sensors (one standard, one monochromatic) in the single raised module with two-tone flash. The cameras capture 12-megapixel images and allow for true black-and-white photography as well as selective focus for blurred backgrounds. Other specs include a wide-angle, user-facing camera with CCT flash for more accurate skin tones. The device includes Motorola's TurboPower charging with all-day battery life. Motorola says a 15-minute charge delivers 8 hours of battery life. This year's phone includes Motorola's standard nano-coating to protect the inner components from water damage, but the Z2 Force is not fully waterproof. It includes Motorola's multi-function fingerprint sensor as well as Moto Display with quick reply and Moto Voice with "show me" commands. The phone will be available in gray, black, and gold colors. The phone will be sold by most U.S. carriers and is available for preorder starting today. Motorola said the Moto Z2 Force hits stores August 10. It runs Android 7 Nougat.


Google Says More Daydream VR Phones Are On the Way

Jul 25, 2017, 7:08 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the company's handset partners have new Daydream-compatible devices in the pipeline and there should be a total of 11 such phones available by the end of the year. At the moment, only four phones are able to use Google's virtual reality headsets, including the Pixel and Pixel XL, ZTE Axon 7, Motorola Z, and Huawei Mate 9. It's not clear if Pichai was including the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+, which are primed to receive Daydream compatibility through a software update. The figure likely does include Google's 2017 Pixel devices, whatever they may be. Daydream has certain hardware requirements, particularly where the display is concerned. For example, the display must be between 4.7 and 6 inches, must have a 60 Hz or greater refresh rate with low-persistence mode, and must have at least full HD resolution, with quad HD preferred. Companies including Motorola, HMD Global, Samsung, Sony, Huawei, and LG all have major device announcements lined up between now and early September. It is possible these forthcoming handsets will be among those supporting Google Daydream.


MetroPCS to Sell Motorola Moto E4 from July 31

Jul 17, 2017, 8:32 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jul 17, 2017, 9:32 AM

T-Mobile today said its prepaid unit MetroPCS will offer the Motorola Moto E4 smartphone beginning July 31. The handset features a metal design, 5-inch 720p HD screen, and 2,800mAh battery. It also boasts an 8-megapixel main camera with an f/2.2 aperture, LED flash, and autofocus, and a 5-megapixel front camera with selfie flash. The phone costs $49 (after an instant rebate), but customers who port in to MetroPCS can get the Moto E4 for free. Verizon Prepaid, Sprint, Republic Wireless, and Ting already sell the Moto E4, and it is available unlocked from Amazon, Best Buy, B&H, Fry’s, Motorola.com, and New Egg for about $130. The larger Moto E4 Plus won't reach the U.S. until later this summer.


Motorola Z2 Play Hits Verizon Stores Today

Jun 29, 2017, 9:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless began selling the Motorola Moto Z2 Play handset today. The Moto Z2 Play, announced earlier this month, has a 5.5-inch full HD display and supports Moto Mods. The Moto Z2 Play is powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 626 processor with an Adreno 506 GPU, 3 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of storage. The 12-megapixel camera uses phase-detect and laser-assisted autofocus and has an f/1.7 lens. The front camera has a wide-angle 5-megapixel sensor with front-facing flash and f/2.2 lens. The phone relies on USB-C but still packs a 3.5mm headphone jack. The phone has a 3,000mAh battery and Motorola's rapid TurboPower charger. It runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat with Moto Display and Moto Voice. Verizon Wireless is charging $408 for the Moto Z2 Play, or $17 per month on a payment plan. It comes in gray or gold. Moto Mods, such as the battery pack, projector, and speakers, cost extra. Motorola will sell an unlocked version of the phone with more color and storage options later this summer. For now, the Moto Z2 Play is only available from Verizon.


Amazon Loads Up Its Roster of Prime Exclusive Phones

Jun 27, 2017, 9:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Amazon today added a handful of handsets to is lineup of discounted Prime Exclusive devices. The Prime Exclusive program offers phones at lower prices so long as you subscribe to Amazon Prime (which costs $100 per year) and are willing to view advertisements on the lock screen of your smartphone. The new additions include the Nokia 6, which is discounted to $180; the Alcatel Idol 5S, which is discounted to $200; the Alcatel A50, which is discounted to $100; the Alcatel A30 Plus, which is discounted to $80; and the Motorola Moto E4, which is discounted to $100. All the phones can be preordered starting today. The E4 ships June 30 and the rest ship July 10.


Motorola's Moto E4 Hits Verizon Prepaid June 22

Jun 22, 2017, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 22, 2017, 10:23 AM

Motorola today said its recently announced Moto E4 smartphone will go on sale June 22 in the U.S. The handset will be sold by Verizon Wireless Prepaid online for $70. Motorola also plans to sell an unlocked version the phone for $130 through Amazon, Best Buy, B&H, Fry’s, Motorola.com, and New Egg. The company expects to offer the phone through Amazon's Prime Exclusive program, too, which will allow people to purchase the handset at a lower cost as long as they agree to view ads on the lock screen. The Moto E4 will reach Boost Mobile, Sprint, Flash Wireless, Jet.com, Republic Wireless, Target, and Ting in July. Motorola said the Moto E4 Plus won't reach the U.S. until later this summer.


Motorola Debuts Budget-Friendly Moto E4 and E4 Plus

Jun 12, 2017, 8:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 12, 2017, 8:34 AM

Motorola today announced the Moto E4 and Moto E4 Plus, two low-cost Android smartphones that sit one step up from the entry-level Moto C handsets. Both the E4 and E4 Plus run Android 7.1 Nougat and include Snapdragon 427 quad-core processors with 2 GB of RAM, and 16 GB of storage. Other shared features include wide support for 3G and 4G networks, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, microUSB, 3.5mm headphone jacks, and front-mounted fingerprint readers.

  • Moto E4: The Moto E4 features a metal design, 5-inch 720p HD screen, and 2,800mAh battery. It also boasts an 8-megapixel main camera with an f/2.2 aperture, LED flash, and autofocus, and a 5-megapixel front camera with selfie flash.
  • Moto E4 Plus: The Moto E4 Plus (pictured) relies on a metal design, too, but improves the screen size to 5.5 inches (still 720p HD) and the battery to a massive 5,000mAh. The phone ships with a 10W charger for rapid power-ups. The E4 Plus also packs a 13-megapixel main camera with f/2.0 aperture, LED flash, and autofocus, and a 5-megapixel front camera with selfie flash.
Motorola says the E4 and E4 Plus will be available in a gray or gold starting later this month. The Moto E4 will cost $130 and the E4 Plus will cost $180.


Motorola Debuts New Round of Moto Mods to Accompany the Moto Z2 Play

Jun 1, 2017, 9:06 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola today provided details about a handful of new modular attachments for the Moto Z2 Play and other Moto Mod-compatible handsets. The Moto GamePad snaps onto the back of Moto's phones and provides dual control sticks, a d-pad, and four action buttons. The GamePad includes its own built-in 1,035mAh battery and costs $80. The JBL SoundBoost 2 is a new attachable speaker that provides 10 hours of playtime. The SoundBoost 2 is water-repellant, comes in red, black, or blue, includes a kickstand, and has an improved shape for better hand fit. It costs $80. The TurboPower Pack is a snap-on battery mod for quickly recharging Moto handsets on the go. Motorola says it can add an extra day of battery life when kept in place one time, or can provide a rapid recharge at 15W when users need to power up in a hurry. It costs $80. Last, the Moto Style Shell with Wireless Charging combines a shell case and battery in one Mod. It costs $40. Motorola said all the new Moto Mods will be available when the Moto Z2 Play launches later this summer. The new Mods will be backward compatible with all Moto Mod handsets, including the Moto Z, Z Force Droid, Z Play, and Z Play Droid.


Motorola Moto Z2 Play Is Thinner, Lighter Than the Original

Jun 1, 2017, 8:52 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 1, 2017, 8:55 AM

Motorola today announced the Moto Z2 Play, a second take on the company's popular mid-range flagship. Like the original, the Z2 Play has a 5.5-inch full HD display and supports Moto Mods. At 5.9mm thick, the phone is a full millimeter thinner than its predecessor. In order to achieve this, Motorola cut the battery capacity from 3,510mAh to 3,000mAh. Despite the significant drop in capacity, Motorola claims total battery life is unaffected. Thanks to TurboPower, just 15 minutes of charging stuffs 8 hours of life into the battery. Another significant change is found in the fingerprint sensor, which now doubles as a trackpad for on-screen navigation. In terms of specs, the Moto Z2 Play is powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 626 processor with an Adreno 506 GPU, 3 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of storage. The 12-megapixel camera now relies on phase-detect and laser-assisted autofocus with dual focus pixels and an f/1.7 lens for better low-light performance. The front camera has a wide-angle 5-megapixel sensor with front-facing flash and f/2.2 lens. The phone relies on USB-C but still packs a 3.5mm headphone jack. It runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat with Moto Display and Moto Voice. Verizon Wireless will be the only carrier to sell the Moto Z2 Play in gray or gold later this summer. The phone will cost $499. Motorola will offer the Moto Z2 Play directly to consumers through its Moto Maker web site with the option to improve RAM to 4 GB and storage to 64 GB. Motorola will sell the Moto Z2 Play in gray, gold, blue, and black.


Consumer Cellular Picks Up the ZTE Avid 916 and Moto G5 Plus

May 24, 2017, 3:15 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Consumer Cellular recently added the ZTE Avid 916 and Motorola Moto G5 Plus to its roster of Android-based smartphones. The Avid 916 (pictured), a variant of the ZTE Grand / Champ, includes a 5.5-inch 720p display, 1.3 GHz Snapdragon 210 processor, and 8 GB of internal storage. The phone has an 8-megapixel main camera with 720p HD video capture and a 2-megapixel front camera. The phone includes Bluetooth 4.2, WiFi, GPS, and LTE. It supports microSD memory cards up to 64 GB and ships with Android 5.1.1 Lollipop. The phone costs $80. The Moto G5 Plus, which Motorola released earlier this year, is available for $200 or four payments of $50. It has a 5.2-inch full HD display, 12-megapiel camera, and runs Android 7.0 Nougat.


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