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Lenovo announces first Tango phone and new Moto Z without a headphone jack

Lenovo isn’t a big player in the US smartphone market, but it’s one of the top makers of Android devices by volume worldwide. The 2016 Tech World event was a turning point for Lenovo as it announced the world’s first consumer Google Tango phone (the Phab2 Pro) and new flagship devices from its Motorola subsidiary (the Moto Z). Both of these devices have a gimmick Lenovo is hoping will give it a leg up on the competition.

The oddly named Phab2 Pro is a gigantic phone with a 6.4-inch 1440p display. That’s far outside the realm of comfortable one-handed use for most people, but that big screen is there to show off what Google Tango can do. Google has been developing its Tango augmented reality platform for the last two years, but this is the first Tango device consumers will be able to buy. Tango uses multiple cameras and depths sensors to map the world around the user.

On the Phab2 Pro, all the cameras and other sensors are lined up on the back of the device, along with a fingerprint reader. They make it look rather messy, but they have to be exposed to work their magic. Lenovo demoed ways to use Tango to measure real world objects, place virtual test furniture in your living room, and even render a dinosaur in your house. Inside the aluminum unibody frame the Phab2 has a mid-range Snapdragon 652 and 4GB of RAM.

Lenovo is going to launch this device worldwide and unlocked in September. The price will be $499. It’ll be on sale at retailers like Best Buy and Lowes. Yes, seriously — because of the measurement and furniture visualization app Lowes is making.

Lenovo’s other announcement comes from Motorola, which it has now fully integrated after purchasing the company from Google. The Moto X name is no more, now replaced by the Moto Z. There will be two versions of this phone, the Moto Z and Moto Z Force. The Moto Z is the higher-end phone with a Snapdragon 820, a 5.5-inch 1440p AMOLED panel, a 2600mAh battery, and 4GB of RAM. The Force is the same basic phone, but it has a larger 3500mAh battery and a shatter-proof screen. The drawback is that it’s 7mm thick instead of 5.19mm like the regular Z. Moto added fingerprint sensors to both phones this year.

moto z

What makes these phones interesting is not how thin they are, it’s the Moto Mods. They’re modular backs that add features like stereo speakers, a pico-projector, or more battery capacity — something sorely needed with that puny 2600mAh cell in the Z. There’s also a simple plastic cover that can be added to the back of the phone to make it more snazzy in the absence of the more functional Mods.

Motorola’s Moto X design language was iconic and overall just great. It’s weird to see the company ditch that in the name of modular accessories, which it’s not clear people want. These are going to be pricey too. The only one with a confirmed price is the stereo speaker Mod, which is $80.

moto mods

Additionally, Motorola has moved to USB Type-C on these phones and it’s the only port they have. Instead of a headphone jack, you’ll get a Type-C to 3.5mm adapter. Or you can just use Bluetooth. It’s not the first phone to do this, but it’s certainly the most prominent. Unlocked Moto Z phones will come out this fall, but Verizon has an exclusive on the Droid-branded versions later this summer. Pricing on both versions is unknown right now.

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