Motorola debuted some products that were expected and one that wasn’t. We figured to see new dual-core smartphones for 4G networks, as well as an Android tablet, but now about a phone that docks into a laptop shell to be your full-fledged computer?


This time last year, Sanjay Jha offered a half-hour speech to a small group of reporters in a bar and introduced a pair of marginal phones. What a difference 12 months can make: As CEO and chairman of the Motorola Mobility spinoff, Jha spoke to a standing-room only CES crowd in a large conference room and introduced multiple products that set the stage for his company’s mobile future. A new Android tablet, several dual-core smartphones and accessories that will turn the smartphone into a modular computer are shaping the path Motorola Mobility is taking. Here’s a short run-down of the new products.

Motorola Atrix 4G. The phone has two 1 GHz cores, a generous 1930 mAh battery, 1 GB of RAM, and a fingerprint reader to unlock the device, which uses a qHD display, or 960 x 540 resolution. Atrix 4G is headed to AT&T’s HSPA+ network, which should provide a broadband speed boost over existing 3G handsets. Even with these specs, “it only replaces about 80 percent of a computer,” said Jha. That’s where the small HD dock with 3 USBs, HDMI out, wireless keyboard and mouse come into play, bringing a large-screen experience to the phone. Atrix can also be docked into a laptop-like shell called a lapdoc; the phone powers an 11.6-inch display for up to 8 hours, making for a modular notebook form factor completely run by the phone’s internals.

Motorola Cliq 2. This is a refresh of the Cliq, which was one of last year’s CES introductions. The 3.7-inch touchscreen with Android 2.2 runs on a beefier 1 Ghz processor than its predecessor and offers improved MotoBlur widgets to track friends on social networks. Although I originally found MotoBlur to be more of a battery drain than a benefit, consumers appear to disagree: Jha said that Motorola has close to 6 million MotoBlur subscribers. The Cliq 2 is available on Jan. 19 for T-Mobile customers.

Motorola Droid Bionic. This is another dual-core, 4G smartphone, but uses Verizon’s LTE network for data with fallback to 3G or EVDO. The device is all screen: 4.3-inches worth, with the same qHD resolution as the Atrix 4G. Typical of a phone in this class, Bionic can pipe video to an HDTV through an integrated HDMI jack and will record or playback 1080p content. Video chat will also be supported through a front-facing camera. Jha said the Droid Bionic will appear in the second quarter on Verizon’s network, which is when Verizon originally said consumers would see LTE handsets.

Motorola Xoom. This looks to be the first Android Honeycomb tablet for Verizon, available near the end of the first quarter, although it will only work on the carrier’s 3G data network at first. Jha said the Xoom is upgradable to 4G after launch, but didn’t discuss details. The 10.1-inch tablet uses a laptop-like 1280 x 800 resolution and has two cameras: a 2-megapixel sensor in the front for video chat over Wi-Fi, 3G or 4G and a 5-megapixel rear camera for stills and 720p video recording. As noted in Wednesday’s introductory video of Honeycomb, video chat will be supported directly in Google Talk. Xoom will also function as a mobile hotspot, capable of sharing an Internet connection with up to five devices over Wi-Fi.

Given that many of the tablets and dual-core phones launching at CES were expected, the early surprise this year so far is the Atrix 4G and its modular docking system. On one hand, it’s very promising because the phone becomes the central point of processing, graphics and content. That can reduce the pain of syncing data and media to a set-top box or other computing device; since the Atrix 4G laptoc accessory is essentially a terminal, there’s no need to move content.

But the accessory also runs a separate operating system based on Linux, so there’s an open question on support and upgrades for that component. I’ll ask Motorola about that when I get a closer, hands-on look at their new lineup. Even with that question, it’s clear that more powerful smartphones continue to close the gap on traditional computers as consumers become more mobile.

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

You’re subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

  1. Verizon’s LTE Network Getting 10 Devices by June: Mobile Technology News « Thursday, January 6, 2011

    [...] only does the new Tab gain a faster network, but the CPU is quicker too, running at 1.2 GHz. Also in the Verizon LTE device lineup are the Motorola Droid Bionic 4G handset and Xoom Android tab…, both of which were announced earlier in the show. Rounding out the device list are netbooks with [...]

  2. Motorola Atrix 4G on Video: a Graphical Powerhouse: Mobile Technology News « Wednesday, January 12, 2011

    [...] the many new handsets debuting at last week’s CES, the Motorola Atrix 4G commanded much of the attention. The smartphone uses a high-resolution 960 x 540 display powered by Nvidia’s Tegra 2 and will [...]

  3. Android This Week: Froyo Updates; Fragmentation Fights; Xoom Pricing: Mobile Technology News « Saturday, January 22, 2011

    [...] If true, that price likely represents an off-contract, unsubsidized price for the Motorola slate, which will initially use Verizon’s 3G data network, but will be upgradable for the operators …. Even with traditional subsidies then, the Xoom could end up costing more than a comparably [...]

  4. 5 Reasons The Atrix Laptop Dock is a Tough Sell at $499: Mobile Technology News « Thursday, February 3, 2011

    [...] no mistake: I still believe that Motorola’s Laptop Dock was one of the most innovative and forward-thinkin…. There’s no question the company is pushing the envelope in terms of mobile computing. The [...]

  5. A $799 Xoom Shows Why Apple’s Component Hedging Works : Mobile Technology News « Monday, February 7, 2011

    [...] 10.1-inch tablet was the talk of the town at last week’s Google Android Honeycomb event and made a splash at last month’s Consumer Electronics Show as well. When the Xoom launches it will be a Verizon Wireless exclusive, immediately capable of [...]

  6. Will the Next iPhone Have a 4-inch Screen?: Apple News, Tips and Reviews « Wednesday, February 16, 2011

    [...] touted phone from last month’s CES for example used a larger display — and several offer a new qHD resolution, or 960×540, which to most folks will look nearly as good, if not as good as an iPhone [...]

  7. Motorola Atrix 4G: Great Android Phone, Media Center; Sub-Par Laptop: Mobile Technology News « Tuesday, February 22, 2011

    [...] Atrix 4G, arguably the talk of last month’s Consumer Electronics Show, is now available from AT&T. The smartphone, which the carrier sells for $199 with 2-year [...]

Comments have been disabled for this post