Lenovo puts the legendary ThinkPad brand to the line: Introducing the ThinkPhone

You’ve heard of the ThinkPad, the legendary laptop brand known for its durability, aggressive utilitarian business design and bright red pointing stick. Now getting ready for the Lenovo Think… Phone? ThinkPhone. The phone is supposed to be for business use.

ThinkPad was originally IBM’s laptop brand before being acquired by Lenovo, and Lenovo also owns Motorola, which used to produce a lot of unflattering mid-range smartphones. Nobody really seems to know how to judge this, and they’ve officially settled on the clunky “Lenovo ThinkPhone by Motorola”. That’s okay, because there’s a lot of Motorola DNA to this phone – it looks like a generic Motorola phone from the front, and the back is woven Kevlar with the ThinkPad-style “ThinkPhone” logo, complete with red dot. “I”.

And speaking of design markings, though there’s no need for a pointing stick here, there’s a “Red Lock” side button, which does its best to emulate the look of the nubbinTrackPoint. This is not a power button, but a customizable button that you can program to launch apps or other features.

Specs could be better. It’s launching in the “coming months” with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 – several Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 phones have already been announced and will be hitting the market by then. There’s 8GB or 12GB of RAM, options for 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB of UFS 3.1 storage, and a 5,000mAh battery. The display is a 6.6-inch 60Hz OLED, which is likely to extend battery life a bit. It has IP68 water resistance, Wi-Fi 6E, in-display fingerprint sensor, 15W wireless charging and 68W wired charging. There are three rear cameras (too much for a business phone, right?): 50 MP main camera, 13 MP ultrawide and sensors depth. There is also a 32 MP front camera. You might expect ThinkPad phones to have a microSD slot, removable battery, docking station, or some other unique hardware feature, but you’d be wrong.

Lenovo’s press release talks about many of the company’s software features, but none of them seem unique. Under many brands, I saw Secure Element, which comes standard with a Qualcomm chip, a suite of Android for Work fleet management features, and a rebranded version of Motorola “Ready For”. Ready For is now “Think 2 Think” and connects the phone to a Windows PC wirelessly. You’ll see phone notifications in the Windows panel, unified clipboard, drag-and-drop file support, and an easy hotspot feature. The phone also comes with pre-installed Microsoft 365 apps.

Is it just me, or not enough “ThinkPad” on the ThinkPhone? The hardware looks like a Motorola phone with a new back panel. Replicating the famous ThinkPad square design instead of featuring the rounded corners of Motorola phones would go a long way. Just look at the Galaxy S22 for an example of how boxed phones can get. Go for the flat screen and keep the curved back and you have a very square yet comfortable phone.

Design aside, it doesn’t seem like a lot of the ThinkPad’s good business-oriented features have made it onto the ThinkPhone. Ask someone why they bought a ThinkPad, and they’ll probably list (in some order) TrackPoint (N/A on ThinkPhone), design (no), serviceability (no), large battery (no), keyboard (phones used to have keypads , but nothing), and port selection (none), neither of which really worked on this phone. “Durability” will also be listed. Is it sustainable? The back isn’t glass, but the front is still Gorilla Glass, so I’m not sure that matters. ThinkPad is meant to be a brand for business, which means it aligns with design decisions that encourage business use at the expense of superficial consumer concerns like “style.” The ThinkPad is not the Lenovo Slim laptop it was renamed, hence the ThinkPadPhone it shouldn’t be a rebranded Motorola device. It was a good idea – phones usually have different features and are aimed at different markets – I just wanted to produce meaningful enterprise-grade hardware.

ThinkPhone will be in “United States, Europe, Latin America, Middle East, Australia, and select countries in Asia in the coming months.” No word yet on pricing.

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