Do you like big ThinkPad PCs? You will love the smartphone version

At CES 2023, the Lenovo group just lifted the veil on the ThinkPhone, the mobile version of the popular laptop computer released in the 90s under the IBM brand, before it was acquired by Lenovo in 2005. The goal of Motorola’s owners is business.

At CES in Las Vegas, there weren’t just sexy products. Amidst increasingly bigger screens and connected showers, there are also some more discreet products, aimed at the enterprise. Most of them generally don’t appeal to the media, but “Lenovo ThinkPhone by Motorola” is an exception. Why ? Because it is included in the ThinkPad laptop family which was launched in 1992 by IBM.

Smartphones for business

The name that Lenovo/Motorola chose for their B2B smartphone is no joke. If we can see an ounce of opportunism in it (after all, any smartphone can meet a business need), we can only be enthralled by the mobile version of a range as famous as the ThinkPads. Nobody would talk about a ThinkPhone if it was called the “Motorola Pro”, which Lenovo is very well known for.

This is a Lenovo ThinkPhone from Motorola, whose name is too long. // Source: Numerama

Aesthetically, the ThinkPhone uses code from ThinkPads… which means it’s not very attractive. Forget about the modern and fancy look, the Lenovo smartphone sports a very plastic look, with a big ThinkPhone logo on the back. At least we can’t blame it for looking like any other phone.

Among other points in common with ThinkPads, ThinkPhone has a red button meant to remember the insignia TrackPoint (little red pointer to control the ThinkPad mouse). This is an adjustable lock.

The ThinkPhone acronym is reminiscent of a PC.  // Source: Numerama
The ThinkPhone acronym is reminiscent of a PC. // Source: Numerama

Despite its very lambda design, the ThinkPhone is a high-end smartphone. Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor, Wi-Fi 6E and 5G, reinforced Victus Gorilla Glass, IP68 waterproofing… This smartphone, which has a very high capacity battery (5,000 mAh) even has the luxury of supporting ultra-fast 68W. The charger is clearly compatible with ThinkPad computers, Lenovo’s point.

Of course, all of this comes at a price. At 999 euros, the ThinkPhone is a product in an odd position, as it is too expensive to equip a gigantic fleet. The target is smaller. Lenovo targets professionals who need a secure Android smartphone and already own a ThinkPad.

On the left, ThinkPhone has customizable buttons.  // Source: Numerama
On the left, ThinkPhone has customizable buttons. // Source: Numerama

Ecosystem and security, a guide to seducing companies

How to woo companies with ThinkPhones, when we know they are generally tempted by Apple and Samsung? Lenovo has two ideas:

  • ThinkPhone emphasizes security, with a chip responsible for securing codes and passwords. It also has some pre-installed software to prevent collaborators from installing anything. Finally, the software allows the company’s IT department to remotely access the settings of the lent smartphone. They don’t need to physically handle it.
  • Lenovo relies on “ecosystem” functionality, a bit like Apple, Huawei or Samsung. Copy and paste is shared between ThinkPhone and ThinkPad, tethering is automatic, smartphone notifications appear on the computer, and the smartphone camera can work as a webcam. There’s even an AirDrop replica, called File Drop, for exchanging files.
One of the pre-installed security apps on ThinkPhone.  // Source: Numerama
One of the pre-installed security apps on ThinkPhone. // Source: Numerama

Does Lenovo have a chance to push its ThinkPhone? Given the popularity of ThinkPads in business, why not. If it’s hard to imagine a company that prefers the iPhone changing things up for this smartphone, those with Android devices today could be seduced by this 100% Lenovo integration… provided they have the means. As a reminder, the ThinkPhone will be marketed in France for 999 euros.

Numerama is in Las Vegas for CES 2023

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