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Motorola to return to the premium flagship market with a 5G phone

Motorola to return to the premium flagship market with a 5G phone
Heading into 2009, it seemed that iOS and the iPhone were on an unstoppable path to the top of the smartphone world. But then on January 8th of that year, a new phone was unveiled that was aimed directly at the iPhone. It featured a new operating system and a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. But somehow, the Palm Pre never caught on with consumers. Instead, that November, the iPhone finally met its match with the Motorola DROID. The first phone to carry Android 2.0, the DROID became a huge hit and Android now reportedly has 85% of the global market.

Motorola continued to build flagship models, including the popular DROID X with its massive 4.3-inch display (for 2010, anyway). But Motorola soon lost the early leadership of the Android market. Despite developing the modular Moto Mods and the ShatterSheld display on 2016's Moto Z Force, by 2018 the Moto Z line no longer included a flagship model and Motorola was making its bread from the low-end budget-priced models it was selling. The company is now the fourth-largest smartphone manufacturer in the U.S., turning a profit and is beginning to feel its oats. The new mid-range Motorola One phones offer some interesting camera specs including the Ultra-wide camera on the Moto One Action that records video in portrait for viewing in landscape.

According to CNET, Motorola is so confident that it plans on returning to the premium flagship market again. Motorola's global marketing chief Francoise LaFlamme says that the company is going to offer a 5G phone, but it won't be sold at budget prices. As the executive points out, "If you put out a $399 5G phone, you're going to have to sacrifice a lot of the elements that people value," LaFlamme says. Right now, the Moto Z4 and Moto Z3 can support 5G but both require the purchase of a 5G Moto Mod. At Verizon, you can buy the former for 24 monthly payments of $10 if you add a new line; otherwise, the handset will cost you $500. Toss in another $350 for the 5G Moto Mod and you're up to $850. You can buy the 5G upgradeable Moto Z3 instead of the Moto Z4 for $480, but that works out to a small $20 savings. With this in mind, we could see Motorola offer a 5G premium flagship in the range of $800-$900. That certainly would be very competitive compared to the $1,300 that the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G and Galaxy Note 10+ 5G cost. It would also be a challenger to the $1,000 LG V50 ThinQ 5G and $840 OnePlus 7 Pro 5G offered by Sprint.

Motorola will also give us a trip back in time courtesy of its new Android-powered RAZR

Of course, the Motorola phone that everyone in the states is looking forward to this year is the rumored foldable Motorola RAZR. One of the most popular phones in the pre-smartphone era, the Motorola RAZR was the clamshell feature phone that everyone had to have. Sometime this year we could see a smartphone version of the RAZR driven by Android. Instead of turning from a smartphone into a tablet, the RAZR will open from a pocketable device into a tall and thin 6.2-inch or 6.5-inch smartphone with an aspect ratio of 22:9.

Motorola is making a shrewd move by capitalizing on the warm and fuzzy nostalgic feelings brought on by the original RAZR. And if production is limited to 200,000 units as rumored, Motorola is almost guaranteeing that the device will be sold out. Pricing of the new RAZR is expected to be in the neighborhood of $1,500.

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