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Droid MAXX 2 will target the mid-range while Turbo 2 will be the flagship variant

For decades after it invented the cell phone, Motorola Mobility is still alive and kicking in the smartphone space.  Today the brand is owned by the Lenovo Group, Ltd. (HKG:0992), a Chinese OEM best known for its PC offerings.  Now the new management is prepping a critical refresh of the brand's aging lineup.

Google Inc. (GOOG) had scooped up Motorola in 2011, paying $12.5B USD.  By contrast got a bargain paying just $2.91B USD for the brand in a deal that wrapped up late last year.

Lenovo -- who also recently bought up the veteran servers unit of International Business Machines, Corp. (IBM) -- has been a strong presence in the Asian smartphone market, even prior to the Motorola purchase.  Yet it has faced trouble translating that success into an international rollout.  That's what makes Motorola a valuable commodity to its new owners ambitions: the brand is a respected household name not only in the Americas, but in many of Lenovo's other untapped markets, as well.

And yet leveraging the brand recognition won't be a walk in the park.  While Motorola is well established, but in recent years its market share has declined.  Once the top Android OEM Motorola today is absent from many major markets (notably China) and in its core American market base is in a distant fifth place, commanding roughly a twentieth of sales (5.2%), according to ComScore.

Lenovo's hopes of growing that base and expanding the Motorola brand in foreign markets are riding on a dynamic duo of devices. Based on recent leaks it appears Motorola is poised to parade out this major refresh within the next couple weeks.  The latest leaks come from Evan Blass, who briefly retired from the leaks business last August, but recently staged a comeback.  Blass who goes by the handle @evleaks on Twitter Inc. (TWTR), has a strong track record and was responsible for for validated leaks of Motorola's H2 2014 lineup. Both devices appear to feature dual-LED flashes in the rear and similar colors and styling.  From the front we see that the mid-range model (rightmost two in the models above) features stereo speakers.  The higher end model (the let three in the image above) also features a front-facing LED flash (for the perfect twilight selfie) and what appears to be at least three noise cancelling secondary microphones (the small holes).  There's also what is likely an ambient light sensor for automatic screen brightness adjustments.

The mid-range model (the Droid MAXX 2) will sucede the 2014 mid-range Moto X Play Edition, the unofficial successor to the 2013 Droid Maxx and 2013 Moto X.  According to GSMArena, it will replace the 720p display found in the previous mid-range models with a bigger, more modern 5.5-inch 1080p (1,920x1,080 pixel) display.  Memory stays stuck at 2 GB DRAM (same as last year's Moto X Play), but the rear-facing camera (RFC) and the system-on-a-chip (SoC) receive upgrades.

Moto Droid Turbo

Moto Droid Turbo 2

Moto Droid Turbo 2 [Image Source: GSMArena]

In the SoC department the Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM) Snapdragon 801 will be replaced with the comparable Snapdragon 615, a 64-bit chip which should dramatically cut power consumption.  The RFC, meanwhile gets bumped from a 13 megapixel module to a 21 megapixel shooter that reportedly resembles that found in last year's Droid Turbo.

The Droid MAXX 2 will slot in on the high(ish) end with a QHD (quad-HD) (2,560x1,440 pixel) display.  It will also reportedly feature a Snapdragon 810 SoC.  According to various reports both devices will feature "shatterproof" screens (probably some type of Corning Inc. (GLW) tempered/ion-exchange glass).

In past generations battery life has been a key selling point.  But with other OEMs jumping on this bandwagon with 3000+ mAh batteries, it should be interesting whether Motorola will be able to find a way to gain an edge over the pack.  As both Motorola and Lenovo have history of aggressive budget pricing, the devices should be affordable at least.

Carrier availability is another area to watch.  Last year Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) got temporary exclusivity on the Droid MAXX 2, but with such deals becoming increasingly rare, it would be somewhat surprising to see a similar storyline this time around.  And yet, it appears that the devices will debut at an Oct. 27 Verizon Wireless press event in New York City, so there's also some signs the unusual relationship may be re-upped.

Verizon press event
[Image Source: The Verge]

Lastly there's the issue of customizability.  Motorola has long leveraged leading customizability as a means of pitching slightly underwhelming specs.  With the 2013 Moto X, for instance, customizability was a key focus with a plethora of trim and backplate options.  Leaked Verizon ads show the Droid MAXX 2 will feature at least three colors -- a turquoise/aquamarine shade, a cherry red model, and a classic black.  

Droid Maxx

Verizon Droid Turbo

[Image Source: Droid Life]

The Droid Turbo 2 appears to be getting a lot more options with several gray tones, black, tan, burgundy, red, blue-grey, and more.

It should also be interesting to keep an eye on the international availability of the Droid smartphones.  According to a Reuters report from earlier this year, a key long-term objective of Lenovo is to introduce the Motorola brand to the Chinese market, where Lenovo hopes to make it a key player.

Sources: @evleaks [on Twitter], GSMArena, Droid Life





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