Updated Sep. 5, 2014 at 7:51 a.m.

Motorola unveils circular smartwatch, updates smartphones

Published: 2014-09-05 06:26:00
Updated: 2014-09-05 07:51:43

Motorola's new smartwatch  Steve Sinclair, Motorola's vice president of product management, demonstrates the new Moto 360 circular smartwatch, the company's first, during an interview, Wednesday Aug. 27, 2014 in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

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Motorola Mobility, which is set to become part of Lenovo later this year, rolled out a circular smartwatch Friday, counting on a more traditional design to win over consumers who have so far shunned other computerized wrist devices.

The company also is updating its Motorola Mobility smartphones - the Moto G and Moto X- which are growing larger. Plus, there's a new Bluetooth headset that enables voice command control of the Moto X phone.

Early reviews were impressive.

Raves The Verge: "The new Moto X could be the best Android phone ever made."

"Just like the first Motorola Moto X, 2014's version by the same name strives to be a design-it-yourself handset that hits the sweet spot in size, price, comfort, and features. This second-generation handset pretty much does the same, but with a larger, 5.2-inch screen and updated specs that can compete with today's phones," reports CNET.

Lenovo's latest products: WRAL TechWire's in-depth reports for Insider subscribers:

Lenovo agreed to purchase Motorola Mobility earlier this year from Google for $2.8 billion. The world's No. 1 PC maker offers its own lineup of smartphones and is rolling out its own wearable technology.

The company plans to sell Motorola-brand smartphones in the U.S. and Western Europe rather than its own brand of phones.

Smartwatches so far have had rectangular faces, a shape that has turned off many consumers, said Steve Sinclair, Motorola's vice president of product management. Motorola's Moto 360 is round and has an all-metal frame, making it look more like a regular watch.

"People don't want to wear a shrunken-down smartphone on their wrist," Sinclair said.

Reshaping the smartwatch still might not be enough to sway consumers' attitudes. Apart from design, smartwatches have had limited appeal because of their small displays and a requirement to have a companion smartphone nearby. Technology companies have yet to make a compelling case for why everyday consumers need them.

Nonetheless, mobile device makers are still pinning their hopes on smartwatches spurring more sales to consumers who already have smartphones and tablet computers and aren't looking to upgrade right away. Samsung and Sony already have smartwatches out, and new models are coming this fall. Apple is also believed to be working on one that could be announced Tuesday.

Friday's debut of the Moto 360 comes a week after LG Electronics Inc. announced its own circular smartwatch, the G Watch R. LG's watch won't be available for at least a month, though, and its price wasn't immediately announced.

Both watches use Google's Android Wear operating system. The system uses voice controls for basic functions, such as reading messages, checking the weather and getting reminders on calendar appointments.

The Moto 360 costs $250 and starts shipping Friday. That comes with a leather band. A metal-band version will come out this fall for $300.

Phone updates

The Moto G will grow to 5 inches, from 4.5 inches in last year's model. The camera is also improved to 8 megapixels, rather than 5 megapixels. It will start at $180 in the U.S. with no contract requirement. The new version will have 3G cellular access only. Motorola will continue selling a 4G version of the old model for $219.

Meanwhile, the flagship Moto X will enlarge to 5.2 inches, from 4.7 inches, and will start at $500. It will have a 13 megapixel camera, up from 10 megapixels. The Moto X distinguishes itself from rival phones by allowing people to customize the backs when ordering. Wood and leather backs will be available for a higher price.

There's also a new Bluetooth headset, the Moto Hint. Headsets have typically been limited to phone calls. The Moto Hint will also allow users to control the Moto X phone with voice commands.

Motorola Mobility is currently owned by Google, though Lenovo plans to complete its purchase of the business this year.


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