Motorola, who has been owned by Lenovo for quite a while now, announced the ThinkPhone at CES 2023 and while it has garnered a lot of excitement, it is specifically targeted at corporate customers and Motorola has no plains to sell it to general consumers. This might potentially make it hard for the average person or ThinkPad fan to acquire the device.
When asked, Motorola said that although it understands consumers would benefit from the phone’s functionality, it has no specific plans to make it a consumer product.
It would appear that the ThinkPhone will not be a consumer product anytime soon and instead is part of Motorola’s, and I suspect Lenovo’s strategy to break into the corporate phone market. What better way to do that than to build a phone to work perfectly with the corporate fleet of laptops you already have? Most of the features that are detailed in the specification sheet at the end of this post certainly gear it toward corporate needs. The absence for example of a microSD card makes sense on a phone that you want to manage and worry about being stolen or data compromised.
ThinkPad fans around the world for years have imagined or created their own rendition of the ThinkPhone so hopefully, in time, these devices will make their way into the hands of fans that would like to see what an official ThinkPhone can do. You can see some examples below.
Device availability for Motorola can be hit or miss and according to the official press release, this is what we can expect:
“Lenovo ThinkPhone by Motorola will be available in the US, Europe, Latin America, Middle East, Australia and select countries across Asia in the coming months. For pricing, customers can contact their local customer representative.”
So tentatively, it will not be available in my region unless Canada is included in the US, which traditionally does not occur. The downside of being a small market is it doesn’t make sense to deploy all devices to such a small customer base. In short, this device might be off-limits to non-corporate customers and Canadians alike.
One question that does come to my mind is, the ThinkPhone concept has been around for quite a while with rumours going as far back as the Windows Phone era, so why is 2023 the year of the ThinkPhone? My only guess is that strategists at Motorola and Lenovo see the need to provide a corporate-level solution for smartphones that work well with their existing line-up of products. While many have compared this phone to a new spiritual BlackBerry (a corporate first phone) and believe there will be consumer demand; as I mention below, there isn’t a set of features that are going to disrupt the phone market as BlackBerry did. So in the meantime, I imagine it will mostly remain a business device as there are similar consumer products in existence from Motorola’s own lineup. If any other information comes my way as to why this might be I will update this section accordingly.
While the specs are excellent, depending on the cost that the ThinkPhone will be sold for, there isn’t anything ‘show stopping’ that they needed to wait for to develop looking at what is on offer. That isn’t to say that the ThinkPhone won’t be a great and reliable device, but part of me wishes that there was a bell or whistle that helped it really stand apart as a debut device. The red button that calls back to the iconic TrackPoint cap is a nice touch, but something more would have been nice to see.
Overall I’m pleased to see this device exist and I hope it is successful. I also hope that success leads to future versions of the device that might be easier for somebody like me to try out.
For those wanting to know more about the technical details, then be sure to check out the ThinkPhone Specifications sheet that has been released.