Many people have written about the X Phone but they are missing the obvious. This article describes what the phone will really be. Many people speculated that Google bought Motorola for their patents. Wrong again you financial analysts. How could Google buy a smartphone company and not create a smartphone? Google has a master plan that we do not know the details to. In an effort to compete with Samsung Galaxy series and the iPhone their first huge project seems to be the X Phone. Interestingly enough Google has their own brand which they have started to invest heavily in - it is called Nexus. So what is the X Phone? Better yet what is its purpose?
A bit of history
Motorola is the company that made Android what it is. Although, the first “Google phone” was an HTC on T-Mobile’s network called the G1/HTC Dream. HTC went to make some incredible phones but has since slipped in profit… I believe due to their User Interface called Sense. Motorola created the Droid 1, which really was loved by most. The introduction of the Droid 1 on Verizon made Android, what it is now. However, in the past year and a half Motorola’s Android phones have garnered mediocre interest. The most compelling phone within that time period has been the Razr Maxx. I believe this phone will be the basis for the X Phone. Its most compelling feature is, the tested, all day battery life.
Lior Ron is the head of this project at Motorola. An interesting choice as Lior a self-proclaimed “product guy” (see Linkedin profile) seems to not have worked on mobile hardware before. He was cofounder for a company called GaitAid which was a medical device. This device has a small box with augmented reality glasses (similar to Google’s Project Glass). He also founder Mapsicle which Google purchased (also an augmented reality program that is integrated with Google Maps). At Google he also worked on Hotpot which was a user recommendation engine for food reviews. This was rolled up into Google Places and then shortly thereafter Google purchased Zagat. So, not necessarily the obvious choice for hardware designer, at first glance, but Google is a formidable chess master in this technology game. And Lior’s previous experience lines up categorically well with Google’s products.
Firstly, I want to visit a statement Larry Page made in Fortune Magazine on Dec. 11, 2012. This will add color to my arguments below. Pay close attention to the underlined areas in his quotes. When asked about a time frame for a Nexus from Motorola he stated: “Maybe I'll talk more generally about that area. The right way to think about it is how do we get amazing products into users' hands in the most cost-effective, highest quality way possible and to the most people. That's what we do as a business, and that's what we've done with Android. Part of the reason why we've done Nexus devices in the past is that we want to build an amazing device that kind of showcases what's possible on Android, gives a way for the programmers to get early builds, does a whole bunch of things that are important. Exactly what we do, which devices we do, what the timing is, how we release the software with them, all those things have been changing.”
When asked will you partner with Motorola for a Nexus device and if so why haven’t you already he stated: “I don't think there's any physical way we could have released a Nexus Motorola device in that sense. I mean, we haven't owned the company long enough.”
What is the X Phone? Or what will it be?
Most of it is speculation, pointing at things that have to be coming down the pike like a better camera. Rumors are flying from all directions; here are some of the most sensible ones and my best guest:
- Better camera
a. Instagram like features to compete with Facebook’s acquisition.
b. Better low light photos
c. Google+ enhancements
d. Better color saturations (Thus far Samsung and iPhone have the best overall photos)
- Longest battery life of any phone (think 36 hours before a recharge is needed).
- Wireless induction charging – Qi technology
- Latest Android (4.3 or 5.0?) but Vanilla/Stock Android.
a. MOTOBLUR is not an Android favorite and would require a huge overhaul
b. New voice commands – expanding Google Now’s reach and power
- Faster cooler processor – heat destroys batteries
a. Quad core
b. 2GB RAM
- DuPont™ KEVLAR® fiber in the back to keep it light weight.
a. Some people are thinking Ceramic. I think they would be smart to move from the plastic that Motorola loves so much.
b. Maybe polished metal.
c. Buttons on back for the camera and possibly volume
d. Ergonomic in design
- Corning® Gorilla® Glass to protect the screen
- 4.3” – 4.5” display size (probably edge to edge – nearly bezel-less)
- Enhanced face and Gesture recognition with Viewdle using a more enhanced front facing camera
a. Face recognition unlock that opens up personalized profiles. We currently see this in the Nexus 10
b. Air swiping
c. Air closing of notifications
- Dustproof. If it falls in dirt, sand gravel and still works.
- Water resistant (submersion proof) – think taking your cell phone underwater for video or pictures. (This is already being done by Motorola - see video).
- World phone
- Sold by Google (Google Play store) in CDMA and GSM versions for every carrier.
a. Google has learned a lot from selling devices and most recently Nexus 4, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10. Supply needs to be high enough to meet demand and financial models need to be optimized to predict future demand so “SOLD OUT” is not something consistently seen in the Play Store.
I believe the phone will be marketed as what the people want and need. Why these aspects:
- Long Battery Life is what everyone gripes about. Think Droid Razr Maxx but as we do more with our phones the batteries need to be stronger or longer lasting.
- Water resistant is for those accidents that we hate and the ability to use your phone on vacation while snorkeling or swimming, think Defy XT.
- World Phone is a no brainer but how can they make this work on different carriers and different mobile systems.
- Faster Cooler battery processor not only means extending battery life with a dustproof form factor could really move us into the video age (think DLNA for Google TV or any TV).
- Better camera and functionality means a whole assortment of accessories and apps which could lead to additional revenue.
- Sold by Google could mean universal update on all X phones in one day. Imagine the possibilities. The carriers would have to agree to such a thing and this is a huge undertaking but would drive revenue huge amounts of revenue to all enthusiasts.
- Customers have been looking for a Vanilla Android phone which would really rival the iPhone and which would create a market for accessories that all could use. This would be the standard for Android. Vendors would focus on this form factor. Forget iHome, a new accessories player would emerge and obtain a huge market share of the mobile accessory market (think Phillips).
As far as a date, to keep this cost effective, let Android’s Key Lime Pie be available and supply chain demands I would say late 3rd Quarter probably around Labor Day. Don’t worry, I’ll keep you posted. Post your thoughts and follow me on Twitter, join NY Android on Facebook or subscribe here, for the non-obvious perspectives.