TechSummit Rewind #077: Lenovo Tech World

Editor’s Note: This is a special edition of the TechSummit Rewind, focusing on Lenovo Tech World.

Phab line refreshed, includes first consumer Tango-equipped phone

Lenovo Phab 2 Pro

Lenovo announced a range of new smartphones that’re making its way to the U.S. later this year. Starting with the Phab 2 and Phab 2 Plus, they’re updates of last year’s Phab model with 6.4-inch displays, metal construction, and low prices. However, the Phab 2 Pro overshadows them both as the first consumer device with Google’s Tango augmented reality technology.

The Phab 2 Pro features a similar 6.4-inch quad HD display and physical design. The Pro’s powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 processor (compared to MediaTek chips on the Phab 2 and Phab 2 Plus). It has a 16-megapixel camera, 4GB of RAM, a fingerprint scanner, 4000mAh battery, and everything else you’d expect from a modern Android smartphone.

However, the big thing is Tango, which adds a wide-angle camera and depth-sensing unit to the main 16-megapixel shooter. It’s a smaller, improved version of the Tango camera array that’s been available to developers in a table form factor for a couple of years, but functions in the same way.

Using the Tango features, the Phab 2 Pro can map out a physical space, track objects, and project virtual effects in a real-world space. Lenovo is demonstrating its ability with a variety of apps, including VR-style shooting games, an educational app made in partnership with the American Museum of Natural History, and a domino app that lets you set up Rode Goldberg-like machines with virtual pieces.

The Phab 2 lineup will be available directly from Lenovo and select retailers in September. The Phab 2 will cost $199, while the Phab 2 Plus will sell for $299, and the Phab 2 Pro will retail at $499.

Modular Moto Z

Moto Z Lifestyle

The Moto Z, which will be available in two models at Verizon this summer before launching internationally unlocked in the fall, features a new accessory add-on system called Moto Mods. These Mods attach to the back of the phone with magnets and provide a new look, improved audio, a projector, or other extra features.

The Moto Z phone is at the center of the system, whether it’s the standard model or Moto Z Force. The standard Z has a 5.5-inch quad HD AMOLED display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor with 4GB of RAM, 32/64 GB of storage with SD card expansion, a 13-megapixel camera with f/1.8 lens and optical image stabilization, fingerprint scanner, and 2600mAh battery. Motorola is emphasizing the fact that the phone’s 5.2mm thin without Mod accessories and a headphone jack. That means that you’ll be out of luck for private audio listening without Bluetooth or an included adaptor for plugging headphones into the USB-C port.

The Moto Z Force adds a few spec bumps to the Moto Z, including a 21-megapixel rear camera, shatterproof display, and 3500mAH battery. The Force is also a tad bit thicker than the Z, at a still respectable 7mm. Both phones will be Verizon exclusives at launch with Droid branding.

Back to the Moto Mods, which communicate with the phone through a series of pins on the back of the device. The company supplies a single Style Shell Mod with each phone, which can be customized in a variety of materials or finishes like nylon, wood, or leather. Moto Maker will still be available with customization of the phone’s front color, and the metal frame. Motorola expects most customers to at least have a Style Shell Mod on their phone at all times, making the Moto Z a bit more than its naked frame leads you to think.

The SoundBoost Mod, built in partnership with JBL, is a speaker that expands the device’s output with two three-watt drivers and an extra 1,000mAh of battery capacity. For those who just want extra battery, the Power Pack Mod packs in an extra 2200mAh cell in three styles from Incipio, Kate Spade, and Tumi, while the Insta-Share Mod adds a pico projector to the phone and lets you broadcast your phone’s display up to 70 inches with a 480p resolution.

The Mods are integrated with the phone’s software, so when a battery mod is attached to the phone, you can monitor the charge of both the internal battery and the mod’s. The SoundBoost Mod doesn’t require pairing or setup to become a pair of speakers. Mods can be attached and detached on the fly without a reboot.

These Mods will work with future versions of the Z line, that Moto will commit to for at least two generations. Motorola also has a roadmap of Mods for the future, and is offering a development kit for third-party companies to build Mods themselves. Lenovo’s Capital and Incubator Group is setting up a million dollar fund for the individual/company that comes up with the best prototype Mod by Mar. 31, 2017.

 

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