Motorola not interested in playing the phablet game for its latest phones

In a time where companies are racing to bring out the biggest smartphones they can, Motorola is sitting back and taking a different approach. The company doesn’t believe in this whole phablet movement, as it will apparently stick to its guns in making a phone that has a size that’s “just right.” Those were the words of Jim Wicks, the chief of design for Motorola, as spoken to PC Mag.

This news came as Jim Wicks revealed Motorola is finally working on smartphones that has Google’s influence. The smartphones that have come out since the acquisition — such as those in Verizon’s DROID line — were projects that had to be fulfilled and pushed through the pipeline before Google could help Motorola pump out something it can be proud of. Motorola says its new smartphones embrace Android in its unadulterated form, which would hint that it is going with pure, stock Android ala the Nexus phones we’ve come to know and love.

This is great news, because as great as Motorola’s hardware has been it was always the software holding them back. Things greatly improved with the latest skin being used on top of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, but it still paled in comparison to the smoothness and cleanliness a stock experience provides.

Motorola is also sticking to its belief that the current arms race in mobile phone specifications is silly, saying it will focus on user experience more than how many megapixels, gigabytes, gigahertz and megabits it can market. That’s a fresh change of space for the Android world, for sure, and it’s one route we wouldn’t mind seeing other OEMs take.

All of these qualities will shine in a new product line that will be slim in terms of device count, a strategy that HTC has employed for 2013 and the HTC One line. Motorola will focus on fewer devices in order to ensure they get the proper attention they need in both quality assurance and marketing. It sounds like a new day at Motorola indeed, and if we’re lucky it might not be long (we’re expecting to see their latest, what we know to be the “X” phone, by the time Google I/O kicks off) before we see the fruits of Google and Motorola’s great new relationship.

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  • http://twitter.com/Defenestratus Defenestratus

    Thats too bad..

    Gnote3 for me!

    • TareX

      Indeed. I only understood the need for a phablet when I found myself juggling between my phone and tablet with apps scattered in between, and horrid battery life on the former. I want a single device with a +3000mAh battery to last comfortably through the day, and I don’t want to have to carry a second device along. It’s the Note 3 vs Togari for me.

      • commonsenseamerica

        TareK – I am glad YOU WANT something like that. But what I WANT also counts. YOUR TASTES are not MY TASTES.

  • phoenix_fire

    this is the news i’ve been waiting for. hopefully the phones they produce are good and interest me. if so, i may have a difficult decision to make between the htc one and whatever phone motorola puts out.

  • http://twitter.com/PhaseBurn PhaseBurn

    I’ve owned a plethora of Android devices over the years (something like 15 phones, and 4 tablets), including the Moto Atrix, Xoom, and Droid (among other non-Moto devices such as all the Nexuses (One, S, Galaxy N, 4, 7, and 10), Galaxy Tab, HTC Evo, and many more), and to be perfectly honest, I’ve never used a Moto phone or tablet that I found to be above “meh”. The Xoom was the first Android tablet, so it holds a special place in my heart, but it was heavy, clunky, and I readily gave it up for my Galaxy Tab when I got it from Google IO. The Droid was the first Eclair phone, but the keyboard was clunky, the slider was stiff, and though it pained me at the time (I liked having a hardware keyboard vs not), I ditched it for my Nexus One in December when it came out. The Atrix I used for work purposes, and it was the only device of theirs I owned with Blur on it (and let me tell you, I don’t think I’ve ever slapped Cyanogenmod on a device nearly that fast!). So while this is welcomed news for sure, in any of that respect, their hardware (while decent, I guess) has just never appealed to me for other reasons. If Moto and Samsung made the exact same phone, spec-wise, I’d very likely opt for the Samsung device because it will just fit in my hand better, or not be as heavy, or cause me other qualms (assuming of course I can throw CM on both). Moto needs a lot more than just “embracing Android in its unadulterated form” to get me back as a customer.

    • http://www.phandroid.com Quentyn Kennemer

      Their devices have been engineered quite exceptionally as of late. They’ve come a long way from the original DROID. I’m surprised the ATRIX wasn’t, at the very least, tolerable for you. I didn’t think that was a bad looking/feeling phone at all.

      • http://twitter.com/PhaseBurn PhaseBurn

        I don’t care how a phone looks, I care how it feels, and how it functions. It felt rough in my hands – specifically, the material they used to craft the back. Not sure if it was some glass/kevlar blend, but it felt brittle and cold to the touch. The location of the fingerprint sensor was abominable, and thankfully I never used it – I don’t see how I could have, given it’s angular placement. Pushing it down (it was also the power button) was next to impossible to do one handed. Even using both hands, it took more dexterity than I usually am capable of. The volume buttons were stiff and seemed, at least to me, to require excessive force to use, even if they were in the right place.

        I have similar feelings about the RAZR Maxx HD. The back plate is made from similar material (if not the same as the Atrix), though I haven’t tried using one before so I can’t say if it has the same shortcomings in other areas – I placed one in my hand, and gave up right away when it felt like the same material used for the Atrix. I don’t have a single problem with plastic backed phones, so long as the plastic has a warmish and/or softish feeling to it – Moto’s phone backs could cut glass they’re that cold and hard.

        Ideally, a teflonesque coating would go a long way toward mitigating the “feeling” of their devices, not to mention add some form of dirt protection. I rather like that sort of texture on my phones. I know, I could get a case, but I’m just as picky about my cases, too.

      • bmg314

        Just my opinion, but taking inflation into account (for lack of a better term) I think moto has actually regressed, with the exception of battery. What I mean by that is, if you could measure the original droid by the same standards as today’s motos, I think the droid would come out far and away the winner.

    • OptimusL

      “Meh” is douchey? As opposed to your annoying use of “derp”?

    • Megatron_Don

      i may be wrong but I think that the xoom was not the first android tablet. I had the galaxy tab the 7 inch one and that didnt run honeycomb. the xoom was the first 10 inch and honeycomb tablet but very first having android i Think and I say again THINK that the galaxy tab was first.

      • http://twitter.com/PhaseBurn PhaseBurn

        You are correct, there were a few other tabs (Galaxy Tab was the first from a major manufacturer, though there were several other Chinese tablets before), but they all shipped with the phone UI and version of Android. None of them were sanctioned by Google, and only the Galaxy Tab had access to the Marketplace (now, the Play store) at the time. I was referring to Honeycomb and the tablet specific UI, as the Galaxy Tab and the knockoffs were literally just larger screen phones.

  • Matthew Pellerito

    Google and Motorola should work together to not really create a skin, but to test some of the future software upgrades. This would give Google the opportunity to get some real life testing out of the possible software upgrades prior to it being rolled out into a major software update. For example I could see Google trying out a multi-screen view on this similar to what Samsung has done and then once they determine everything works correctly they can build it directly into the next software upgrade. Or testing some smaller things to help improve battery life would be nice.

    • http://www.facebook.com/wynkoop2000 Bob Wynkoop

      .

  • scoter man1

    Finally, a company that might fit in my pocket!

  • reznorfan0

    Yeah, i’ve never been happier with a phone than I am now with my Note 2, maybe when I can upgrade again I will look at moto devices. I still have fond memories of my OG droid with it’s hw keyboard and that wonderful little gamegripper complementing the experience….the good old days.

  • Fred G. Vader

    Sounds awesome to me I just hope Google doesn’t have them handicap the storage on the phones like they have done with the nexus line. Micro sd slots or 32+gb of on board storage are a must!

    • Butters619

      IIR the rumors said SD slot. And I know Moto recently has been really about their SD slot. Hopefully Google doesn’t mess that up

      • NIGHTSCOUT

        Geez…. sentence structure much?

  • Michael

    I loved everything about my Atrix except Blur. Once I had CM on it the phone was a dream. I only got rid of it because of the cyber Monday deal for the One XL for $0.01. I’m excited to see what they come up with. The hardware and all of the accessories made that phone as future proof as possible for the longest time. It was still besting new phones a year after it’s release with minor tweaks.

  • xdapao3

    no phablet, no sale.

    it’s very simple for me.

    • Frogskins

      Choice is a wonderful thing

      • xdapao3

        It is. A pity I see no viable alternatives to my Note II and didn’t see any for my Note as well.

        • Chad Vincent

          HTC Butterfly/DNA?

          • xdapao3

            Integrated battery = instant deal breaker.

            Apart from that, it has a 5″ display, the Note II’s is 5.5″. The DNA is an S3/S4 competitor not a Note competitor.

            And I am not even going to talk about the S-Pen and the Note II SW features unique to Samsung flagships…

    • kascollet

      Even simpler : guess which 4″ screened device is the most sold smartphone on earth ?

    • Jillxz

      Well , there’s one thing for certain , if it does not have at least a 4.8 inch screen , I will never buy one. I know most tech people and geeks like stock android. But I do not. Never have. I will be willing to bet my bottom dollar that Google will ruin Motorola and end up selling it.

  • slogoodland

    Wow, y knot,all the other kids r doing it wtf is Motorola waiting 4 the second comin of christ lets get ur shiitt on the shelfs JESUS!

    • Sean Royce

      Good spelling there.

  • bakdroid

    Its about time someone wakes up and says bigger is not better. This size war is BS! I do not want to hold a f*%king tablet to my head to make a call. I want a nice size like 4.5 to 4.7 with no bezel. That is perfect. Anyone who says a phone needs to be 5+ is a moron!

    • emajem_666i

      Ignorance…… Anyone who likes the color red is a moron!

      • Michael Lee

        That’s a false analogy, but I see where you’re coming from. OP shouldn’t have been so bitter about it.

      • Megatron_Don

        plus 1 from me sir. nicely stated.

    • Elisha Christopher

      Way to go you selfish, self-centered prick. Anyone who post such comments are an even bigger moron and ignorant!!

    • MrDSL

      Anyone who likes 4.5 to 4.7 is a douche!!

    • ghostface187

      I personally like the 4.8 in screen on my s3

    • M0nk

      Not going after a market that covers 25% of all high end Android phones sales is being a moron. Even Apple understanded…

    • bmg314

      Why do I have to be a moron? O.o

    • Megatron_Don

      you can show your hate for a device but to make a statement like that please add “in my opinion”

  • Jordan Caviness

    Good because it is about quality, not quantity.

  • Wesley

    With Google’s influence I hope we will not see smaller batteries and no sd card slot…

    • Sean Royce

      Just because Google owns them doesn’t mean they take charge of absolutely everything, they still have their original staff.

  • Cory Skelton

    If they want to tempt me away from the Galaxy S line they better have 32+ gb of onboard storage AND micro SD slot.

  • King_James_The_Wicked

    Bring on the Google Goodness… I am ready for something Moto

  • josh nolan

    i did not believe it in either as an apple person…that is until I got the Note in my hand…and I owned the razr HD MAX….and really its on screen navigation buttons were stupid because if playing a game… it was very…very easy to hit the home button in the middle of a game…so motorolla…tighten up

  • Elisha Christopher

    Too bad moto, I have been waiting for sometime now for you to come up with a phone with substance and a screen 5″- 5.5 inches, and you announced the possibility of “no phonblet”! Hmmm! looks like I will join the G pro movement….. I am grossly disappointed.

  • phinn

    Good. I think a smartphone around the size of the iPhone 5 or RAZR M is perfect. Galaxy Nexus is about as big as I’d imagine going. And… stock Android!

    • No_Nickname90

      My E4GT is 4.5. That seems to be just right. The HTC One is 4.7. I’m thinking I can tolerate that.

  • Bizzle9

    I thought the Razr-M was so close to being perfect. Update and elongate the screen, ditch the Verizon tramp stamp, add stock Android and I think they’d have success.

    • NIGHTSCOUT

      Screen wasn’t large enough for me. Also, the double chin was horrid.

      • Bizzle9

        Agreed. I’d like to see them elongate the screen to cover the entire face. Leaving only one “chin”.

  • Chris Brown

    I’m picking up a HTC One on Friday, but I REALLY like the sound of this strategy for Motorola (and mobile phones in general). My one reluctance with the HTC One was the size but everything else made up for that issue.

    I’ve never been a fan of Motorola phones largely because the product design either came off as cheap, unaesthetic or impractical. But I’ve heard Moto devices have great internals and functionality (sans the Moto UI skin).

    So with a pure Android stock UI, improved product design, a practical phone size and more emphasis on experience over specs makes me believe Moto has a very strong product strategy if they can implement it successfully. Looking forward to see what the new Moto has come up with and see if will capture my attention from the HTC One.

    • Sean Royce

      Cheap and unaesthetic? Are you kidding? I don’t own one, my dad did (Atrix) but every moto phone I’ve seen in the past year or so has been pretty ruggedly built, and they look fine too.

  • surethom

    Thank goodness I don’t like all these phones over 4.8″ screens.

  • Maximillion82

    Glad to hear that blur is gone. Moto hardware was always very good, and now with smooth stock android people are no longer forced to root and run custom OSs to have this experience. When it comes for performance, obviously faster phones run smoother, but if the price is battery life, then I rather see a healthy mix between raw processing power and longevity of juice.

  • Jody Schoolcraft

    Problem for Motorola isn’t just design and feature, it’s being locked to one carrier – Verizon, even the iPhone is on almost all carriers now. I have had interest in a Moto phone but will never go to Verizon. Going back to features, I am not sure that Motorola has the luxury of sitting back. There sales numbers aren’t so good. Hard to argue that a #1 manufacturer (Samsung) has more screen sizes than I care to list and is doing quite well but is somehow doing something wrong.

  • DYNK

    Two words “their loss”
    $

  • NIGHTSCOUT

    Apple also refused to make a bigger screen, look at that that did to their sales

    • Sean Royce

      The difference is that Motorola already broke the 4 inch barrier.

  • NIGHTSCOUT

    How about doing a pilot program Motorola: put out a survey to the Android community, and ask them to make a list of top 10 things they want in a phone. Then combine the most picked 10 features and try selling the phone! What if it works?!?!?!

    • Sean Royce

      If only all manufacturers did that, namely Apple.

    • Megatron_Don

      omg someone give this man a job. we need to make that happen asap. that made my day.

      • NIGHTSCOUT

        And then companies wonder why people don’t buy their phones. Well maybe if you actually ASKED customers what they want……..

        • Megatron_Don

          I’m starting a business and you’re CEO lol

  • Chris Stroemel

    Good.

  • Biancoceleste

    Their latest phones are already almost stock android.

    I personally don’t care for the phablet type devices either. I already have a tablet.

  • KingOliver

    I wish these companies all would just put out 1Smart phone a year…… at least you won’t feel like you got screwed 2 months after you buy a phone.

    • Bao Nguyen

      Samsung and Apple put out 1-2 high-end smartphone a year. The other phones are low-end to middle-range.

  • No_Nickname90

    Thank you!! Specs are not everything. Especially since there isn’t anything that would utilize that. If a game required 1Ghz to run, why would you want a Quad-Core device to run this game? Your device won’t run this game any faster than the single-core. (I know I’m not accounting for RAM and that whatnot, but hopefully you all get the point)

    Hopefully this will make their devices cheaper and they possibly will be able to sell devices as low as $400 or less and still have awesome hardware inside. The Nexus 4 was able to do it.

  • Kyle Cordiano

    I don’t blame them. HTC’s One is fantastic at 4.7 inches as well as the Nexus line of phones.

  • M0nk

    Moto can’t keep up with the competition, so they came with this marketing BS… When you get used to a phablet there is no going back, all other phones are toys for me. More than 30M high end phablets sold and counting…
    Happy Note 2 user, with great 5+ hd screen, ram to spare, 64Gb mSd and removable battery. I really like moto’s quality, but their phones lack lately.

  • http://www.gamefans.com/ Jeremy Davis

    Thank god.

  • KOLIO

    This all sounds fine as wine,but,until then MOTO,put up or shut up,talk is cheap.Your word is about as substantive as a conceptual rendering………………………………

  • Sean Royce

    If they bring a 4.8 device then maybe I’ll consider it because I’m used to my S3, but I was waiting out on getting a phablet and all these “X-Phone” rumour have excited me

  • Sean Royce

    Nice username to go along with a very ignorant comment.

  • DavidB23

    Glad one company has some common sense. 5″ and above is too big for a phone and too small as a tablet. Hope they keep the trend of huge batteries in a thin design. Id MUCH rather have a phone 2 mm thicker but last two days.

  • Jayshmay

    Nope, no craZy phones please!!!!!!

  • jroc74

    “Things greatly improved with the latest skin being used on top of
    Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, but it still paled in comparison to the
    smoothness and cleanliness a stock experience provides.”

    Disagree with the smoothness part. The difference between my G Nex and RAZR were so small it was almost unmeasurable. In some cases my RAZR was a lil smoother, faster. It took how many updates of the G Nex to get better screen rotation speed? My RAZR rotated smoother and faster out the box.

    I wouldnt say paled in comparison for smoothness. Now that I think about it….I liked the color scheme and icons better on my RAZR. Too much baby blue and big head icons on stock Android on my G Nex.

  • AMbro86

    I don’t mind the abandoning of a spec arms race. But I still hope there are some improvements. I especially hope this is the case in the camera department as it seems the camera has never been Motorola’s strong suit. But I will say that I love my Razr HD, that thing is just all around awesome! Yeah there are some rough specs and a few things that drive me nuts. But mostly I love how sturdy the hardware feels and how I have no scratches or cracks after a couple of drops that would obliterate an iPhone 4S.

  • Trevor T-Rev Duncan Speaks

    Bigger does not always = better, especially for my small hands!

  • Dan H

    So far, the merger has greatly annoyed me. Prior to the Jelly Bean update for my Droid RAZR, the previous versions of Android on the phone had allowed for MAP (message area protocol) for the Bluetooth on the phone, which allowed it to push incoming texts to my car when driving so the car could read them to me without having to take my eyes off the road. Now, supposedly Google asked Moto to remove that feature and it wasn’t included in their Jelly Bean update, and that feature was the reason I went with the phone instead of other models. What really sucks is that so few phones offered that feature, and now the Google/rola alliance is removing quality from existing phones instead of improving. I’m quite leery of ever getting a moto product in the future.

  • Carlo

    Motorola. Give me a phone with: 4 – 4.5 inch HD Screen, 2mp HD front cam, 8+mp HD back shooter, The latest Qualcomm processor, A FULL QWERTY KEYBOARD ALA G1 DESIGN, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, a stock android experience (or MotoBLUR from back in the TMO Cliq days with guranteed 2 full version android updates) , LTE and support for Cricket and Ill be 100% Happy camper. Though if it was only on tmo I would make the move back. Having had the g1,
    Moto cliq , mytouch 3g, iPhone 4S , Galaxy S3, HTC One V, HTC One SV, and the original galaxy s along with an iPhone 5, I finally have determined this to be my dream child… Now answer my wishes MOTO

    • Megatron_Don

      dude!!! top tier phones havent had a physical keyboard since…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….still thinking…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………fuck I cant even remember. I was like you and only wanted a phone with a physical keyboard but now I love virtual keyboard if swype is installed.

    • Bao Nguyen

      Make that at least 4.7 inch

  • Del373

    …not sure how I feel about this. I’ll have to wait and see what they bring to the table in the upcoming months.

  • Aiden

    Honestly if Moto isn’t releasing a phone with a screen bigger than 5″ then I am not interested. I find my GNex screen to me medium sized and am waiting on the Note3 for my next phone.

    • Bao Nguyen

      Agreed! I’m waiting to get the Samsung Galaxy S4, and I’m most excited for Samsung’s YOUM display to be featured on a device(maybe on the Note 3?) A phone that can be folded out to a tablet, and be folded back to a phone. ^_^