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Is this ThinkPad-inspired phone the best for business users? It sure looks like it

The Lenovo ThinkPhone by Motorola should appeal to all Android users, but these key features make it stand out for the enterprise in particular.
Written by Kerry Wan, Senior Reviews Editor
The Lenovo ThinkPhone on a table
June Wan/ZDNET

When it comes to smartphones, manufacturers seem to have this preconceived notion that everyone wants a glass slab with aluminum railings, multiple camera lenses, and a design that only gets harder to wield after you throw a case on it. Just look at the iPhone 14 Pro Max or the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra.

Also: Change this Android setting to instantly make your phone feel twice as fast

Then, there's the Lenovo ThinkPhone by Motorola -- yes, that's the actual name -- that I'll respectfully refer to as Motorola ThinkPhone for the rest of this article. It was first introduced at CES in January, where I went hands-on with the ThinkPad-inspired handset and was left with a feeling of positivity. 

After years of selling forgettable Moto G series phones in the low to mid-range markets, Motorola was showing glimpses of playfulness again that even a tech enthusiast like myself couldn't help but admire. And with the new ThinkPhone, the company has mapped out a feature set that should appeal both to enthusiasts and business users alike. Here's the breakdown.

View at Motorola

To start, you're getting the standard wave of flagship ingredients with this Android phone: 128GB base storage (configurable up to 512GB), up to 12GB of RAM, 5,000mAh battery, IP68 rating, and a dual camera array consisting of a 50MP wide lens and 13MP ultrawide. 

Motorola ThinkPhone lockscreen

The 6.6-inch OLED display ramps up to 144Hz refresh rate.

June Wan/ZDNET

Had I hidden the name of the phone in this article, you'd have had a hard time guessing which manufacturer or model the specs are referring to. But that tells me that Motorola wants to compete with the likes of Samsung, OnePlus, and even Google with this phone which, in the spirit of competition, I fully support.

Also: Motorola's handy Bluetooth device adds satellite messaging to your iPhone or Android

Unfortunately, the January unveiling of the ThinkPhone meant that Motorola was only able to leverage last year's Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset instead of the newer, more powerful Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, found on 2023 flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S23 series and OnePlus 11

Based on ZDNET's testing of the 8 Gen 2, Motorola may have missed a big opportunity here to bring significant efficiency gains to the ThinkPhone. Still, the handset has been capable enough of running my usual list of work apps like Slack, Outlook, Zoom, Google Sheets, and more.

Here are the features that make it a dream phone for power users at work. 

1. An iconic design comes to mobile

Here's where the Moto really stands out though. From the mappable Red Key that pays homage to the ThinkPad's classic TrackPoint button to the Kevlar backing that gives the phone a more rugged feel without adding much bulk, this is as close to a "ThinkPad phone" as it gets. There's really no other handset quite like it.

The iPhone 14 Pro, Motorola ThinkPhone, and Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra beside eachother.

The iPhone 14 Pro (left), Motorola ThinkPhone (middle), and Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra (right).

June Wan/ZDNET

In the hand, the phone has a manageable form factor with its 6.6-inch OLED display and shockingly thin 8.26mm size. The grippier texture on the back helps, too, keeping the device from slipping out of my hands as I was taking pictures. But even if it did slip, Motorola touts its Gorilla Glass Victus display for drop protection from up to 1.25 meters and a MIL-STD 810H certification, meaning it can withstand some of the harshest weather conditions.

Also: Best Android phones you can buy

All this is to say that the ThinkPhone is one of the few devices that I actually want to use without a case. The grip is that reassuring. If you're not as daring, Motorola does bundle a smoke-gray cover in the box for protection. 

2. A slew of security features for the enterprise

Some key business and security features to highlight with the ThinkPhone include Motorola's own ThinkShield platform which taps into Android OS Core Security, built-in hardware protection, and more. 

Also: Four ways to secure your remote work setup

IT professionals can also leverage Zero Touch for mass distribution and Moto OEMConfig and Moto Device Manager to control what features and settings end users have access to. And for updates, Motorola tells me the ThinkPhone will receive three years of OS upgrades and four years of security updates. It's great to see more manufacturers going beyond the underwhelming two-year update cycles. 

3. Destined for ThinkPad users

The cherry on top for the ThinkPhone is its software integration with ThinkPads and other compatible Windows computers. Motorola calls these seamless features Think 2 Think experiences, and they include: 

  • Instant Connect: The phone and PC will discover each other when nearby and connected to the same Wi-Fi network.
  • Unified Clipboard: Users can copy or capture text and images (shown in the GIF above) from the ThinkPhone and paste them instantly onto the PC.
  • File Drop: Similarly, files can be transferred across devices through a dedicated sharing hub.
  • Advanced Webcam: PC users can leverage the ThinkPhone's rear cameras for higher res video output during conferences and meetings.
  • Instant Hotspot: A one-click toggle lets PC users seamlessly dial into the ThinkPhone's mobile connection. 

A demo of instant photo transferring via copy and paste.

June Wan/ZDNET

Three months after its launch at CES, the Motorola ThinkPhone is officially on sale through select B2B channels in the U.S. and can also be purchased unlocked through Motorola and Lenovo for $699. At that price, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more business-focused device that checks most, if not all, the boxes a power user would need.

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