Motorola’s endless emboldens will only make it less relevant

Although Motorola may not have as much influence in the smartphone space as Apple and Samsung, the company does have a big influence on the US market. By the numbers, Motorola is third most popular smartphone manufacturer in generalsecond largest prepaid phone maker and largest seller of unlocked handsets.

The problem lies in the fact that, as part of the company’s efforts to capture more of the market following the collapse of LG MobileMotorola rolled out too many phones too quickly while providing little long-term support. And while the Moto G series of phones have earned a reputation for offering great value in recent years, that legacy is starting to deteriorate as things like camera quality and support for basic features like NFC stalled. In short, Motorola needs to slow down and shape up.

Just look at the dizzying number of Moto G handsets that have been released in the last two years. At CES 2021, Motorola launches 4 new phones including the second-generation Moto G Stylus, the revived Moto G Play, the Moto G Power, and the Moto One 5G Ace – the latter is just a rebranded version of Moto G 5G from 2020. Then in the summer, Motorola released a Moto G Stylus (this time with 5G) followed by Moto G Pure last fall.

Moto G Stylus 5G
With the rate at which Motorola’s new G series phones are released, it becomes extremely difficult to keep track of all of them and the slight differences between them.

Chris Velazco / Engadget

More recently in February, Moto decided to update the G series with another version of the Moto G Stylusand just this week Motorola is back to announce two more additions in Moto G Stylus 5G and Moto G 5G. And these aren’t the likes of the Moto G Power 2022, which will actually be released in November 2021. At this point, if you’re baffled by the vomiting of the new Moto G phone, rest assured that you not the only one. It’s like some twisted smartphone version of Cap’n Crunch’s Oops! All kinds of berriesexcept that instead of delicious fruity treats, it’s an endless string of indescribable plastic handhelds.

Meanwhile, some of Motorola’s most interesting phones like 2020 Razr was tiredly waiting for the update, only received one half-refreshing added a slightly faster chip and support for 5G. Quite often, it seems Moto has released low-cost phones without 5G, just so the company can launch a “new” model six months later. Even then, it’s often just sub-6GHz 5G, only increasing customer confusion about current cellular standards. And while Moto is standing still, Samsung has dominated the foldable phone market with devices like Galaxy Z Flip 3Not only is it cheaper than the Razr, but it also has a better screen and better camera.

Motorola Edge Plus Review Photo
When Motorola produced its first flagship phone in years with the Edge+ 2020, our lasting impression was that it was perfectly fine.

Chris Velazco / Engadget

Another big problem with recent Motorola phones is the lack of software support. Last year, Samsung announced that it will provide four years of security updates to a wide range of Galaxy devices, including older phones and tablets like the S10 and Tab S6. Then only one a few months ago, Samsung has bolstered its software support once again by offering four generations of Android upgrades to all of its 2021 and 2022 flagship phones. And on Pixel land, Google also ramps up its efforts by promises five years of security updates for the Pixel 6 (though you’ll still only get three years of OS upgrades). And all of this still pales in comparison to the iPhone, with Apple providing at least five years of security and operating system updates to its handsets.

Then we come to Motorola, which even on its most recent flagship – the 2022 Edge+ – offers only two major OS updates and three years of bi-monthly security patches. And if you switch to its more affordable handsets, things get even worse. For example, the newly announced Moto G Stylus 5G and Moto G 5G will only receive a single OS upgrade. It’s also not a one-time situation, as during a press conference about those phones, a Motorola representative confirmed that the general policy for the entire G family usually only applies to one model. major Android OS update.

Despite the $1,000 price tag, the 2022 Edge+ really delivers a flagship experience.
Meanwhile, this year’s Edge+ doesn’t live up to its $1,000 price tag.

Sam Rutherford / Engadget

Worse still, in the same meeting, a Motorola executive appeared to be justifying the poor update policy by recounting a conversation they had with an auto service driver. Motorists own a Moto G device and lament that their device seems to constantly prompt them to install some kind of update. Now that I can certainly empathize, it sometimes feels like everything you own is constantly in need of a patch. But that’s not a good reason to drop support for a device after a year or two. If owners don’t want to install updates for whatever reason, that’s their choice, but they should at least have the option.

Perhaps my biggest concern about Motorola’s direction is its lack of innovation and support for basic features. Take for example the Moto G Stylus, which has no NFC. I mean, it’s 2022. Basically, everywhere now supports some form of contactless payment, which requires NFC. But if you buy a budget Moto phone, it’s too bad. And it’s not just the Moto G Stylus, as the Moto G 5G announced this week There’s also no NFC. The company also frequently fails to equip its handsets with significant water resistance, which is usually just enough protection from splashes but falls far short of the IP67 or IP68 ratings you get on competing devices. .

Also, when I consider Moto Edge + back in March, I was appalled with its camera. This is a $1,000 phone that makes low-light photos that look like they’ve been taken from a $500 phone. I even noted in my review that it seems Motorola is going backwards when it comes to offering a device with a lower resolution main camera than its predecessor, while lacking a dedicated telephoto lens. .

In low light, Motorola's Night Sight Mode really struggled to compete with Samsung's Night Mode.

Sam Rutherford / Engadget

Motorola told me they put macro cams on their phones instead of demand from customers who like to take close-ups. And that may be true. But I also know that it will cost more to put a telephoto camera on a phone and I have a suspicion the hidden camera could be bigger. motivation. While Apple, Google, and Samsung are making great strides when it comes to low-light performance and computational photography, what I’ve seen from Moto’s latest fake flagship is second-best.

The sad thing is it’s not like this. There are a few things I still appreciate about Moto devices. They have close builds of Android and Moto Actions, and gestures like cutting in half to turn on the phone’s flashlight are often quite handy. But those little perks are easily overshadowed by the tendency to involve too many iterations while returning too few values.

However, it is not too late to reverse all this. Certainly, the company will need some leadership and strong will to forgo short-term sales to focus on long-term growth and development. Improving photography on mobile devices is not easy. Just ask OnePlus ‘Pete Lau, who used to very boldly talked about his desire to increase the speed of photography on the company’s phones. But unless Motorola wants to be the next HTC, it needs to reduce the clutter and focus on releasing a small number of higher quality devices with the software support that customers deserve. .

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