For the most part, it’s a worthwhile contender, and as a potential alternative to a similarly priced Samsung, it stands its ground very well. It’s a unique design that borrows queues from similarly named laptops – but unfortunately, it lacks the premium aesthetic that similarly priced phones ship with.
The ThinkPhone name is borrowed from Motorola’s owner, Lenovo. Lenovo bought the ‘ThinkPad’ name from IBM back in 2005 and now the name is being reverse-engineered into being a new product for Motorola.
The official name for the phone is ‘ThinkPhone by Motorola’ but that’s a silly name, so I’m not calling it that. I’m doing you a favour here, Motorola.
Here’s what I think about the device.
Motorola doesn’t buck its head up to the $1,000 price point often. A legendary phone company in another life, Motorola’s golden years were spent making flip phones.
Today, Motorola is a mostly budget phone maker, competing with the likes of TCL or Nokia. There are some phones in the Motorola range that approach a premium price point, but these are anomalies for Motorola, best defined by its retro-bait ‘Razr’ foldable smartphone at $1,600 – an expensive device calling back to its flip phone years.
The ThinkPhone is a new standalone device from Motorola, separate from its other products. At the $999 price point, the phone is only available in ‘Carbon Black’, a similar finish to ThinkPads sold by Lenovo. Additionally, the device is only available in Australia with 256GB storage capacity and 8GB RAM – no options to customise.
If you love these options – great. If you don’t – tough, it’s all that’s available. It’s an understandable approach from Motorola, considering that this is the first in what will likely be a range of devices.
Personally, I’m not too thrilled by the pasted-on ‘ThinkPhone by Motorola’ badge on the back of the phone – another characteristic shared with the ‘ThinkPad’ series of laptops. I think it makes the phone look cheap, and unfortunately, when your competition at this price point is the gorgeous Google Pixel 7, the ThinkPad name does nothing for you.
The phone sits in your hand well, and if you go hands-on with the ThinkPhone anytime soon, you’ll notice the ‘Red Key’ on the left side of the phone. A single press of this key opens the Motorola control panel, for customisation and privacy settings, and a double press enables PC streaming, letting you share screens with a Windows computer. A cool feature to have inbuilt, no doubt.
If you’re a business-minded phone user, you might find some use for this, but personally, I found it to be a non-feature, for use in very specific circumstances that were too few and far between to justify the existence of a physical button. The physical button doesn’t need to exist and unfortunately, I think it adds to the ‘cheap’ feeling of the ThinkPhone.
Additionally, the camera bump is small and inoffensive, but it doesn’t look as good as the camera bar on the Pixel range, or the camera array on an iPhone or Samsung.
Using your brain
Never mind my musings on the feeling of the phone, how does it actually perform?
Well, it’s honestly right on the mark. Let’s start with our battery test. Going up against Avengers; Endgame, streaming from Disney+ and starting at 100 per cent, the phone dropped down to 93 per cent in the first hour, 83 per cent in the second and 73 per cent in the third.
This was a terrific result, considering that the display of the device (P-OLED, 1080 2400 pixels at 144hz) is gorgeous. No complaints from me on this front – colour depth was satisfying, matched by rich and loud sound quality.
These features are backed up by a competent hardware configuration. A Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor inside is paired with an Adreno 730 GPU.
Playing both Call of Duty Mobile and League of Legends: Wild Rift, performance was up to my expectations for a $999 phone running the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1. High graphics settings enabled with maximum framerates, running beautifully on the ThinkPhone’s P-OLED display.
I also didn’t have any problems during casual use. Normal social media use on Twitter and Instagram was fluid and fine, without any noticeable hangups.
An IP68 resistance rating is also included, along with a 5,000mAh battery and 68W charging (15W wireless).
Reflect on these photos
For the camera test, I put the Motorola ThinkPhone up against the Google Pixel 7.
Let’s start with a standard wide shot.
Now a macro shot.
Now a wide shot.
Now a portrait shot.
And now a selfie.
Overall, just like with the cameras on a Samsung, the photos on the Motorola ThinkPhone have been edited to raise the colours, while the photos on the Google Pixel 7 are more earthy and natural. I prefer the cameras on the Google Pixel 7, but the Motorola ThinkPhone’s photos aren’t bad at all – they’re just brighter than I would like. Regardless, these are the photos I’d expect at the $999 price point.
Think about it
I recommend the Motorola ThinkPhone as a $999 Android smartphone for its specs and performance, but the Google Pixel range retains the ‘best camera’ crown. Not that the camera is a major selling point for the ThinkPhone, but it is an important feature for smartphone users across every price point.
I hate to say it, but the thing letting the ThinkPhone down the most is the name. Motorola’s commitment to putting the name of this device on the back of the phone makes it seem cheap and like a concept device from some years ago, and not like a $999 device competing in the entry-level premium category.
It’s a perfect phone, but it doesn’t look like one.