ThinkPad-like ThinkPhone is good but needs more work

I like the 6.6-inch screen. It’s big, but since the phone is narrower than it is wide, it’s still easy to grip. You’re treated to a 144Hz OLED panel, which is pretty sharp, bright and colourful, no complaints here. I set it to 120hz because it seems pretty smooth to me and it saves a bit of battery life. Speaking of which, you get a 5000mAh battery cell that, even with above average usage, comfortably lasted me two full days. Hurrah!

OK, I have a quibble with the screen. Motorola is about the only Android phone maker that doesn’t offer an always-on display, which usually lets you check the time and notifications without picking up or touching the phone. Instead, Motorola uses Peek Display, which requires you to interact with the phone to see the clock and alerts. I get it, not all wants an always-on display, but it would be nice to have the option.

Motorola bucks the trend of not including a charger in the box by including… a 68 watt charger. A bit exaggerated! It doesn’t recharge the phone scarily fast like a OnePlus phone, but it can recharge your ThinkPad; no need to lug around with bulky laptop charger. There’s also support for wireless charging on the ThinkPhone, which I always love to see. Yes, I’m lazy. I’d rather not search for a cable in the dark before going to bed.

You have nothing to worry about when it comes to performance. Sure, the ThinkPhone is powered by last year’s flagship processor, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1, but it’s been delivering plenty of computing power to schedule all my emails before my next vacation and even to knock out some bad ones in streets of rage 4 When I’m killing time

think again

That leaves us with the camera system, which is the weakness of this phone. It is by no means poor. I was able to take some nice atmospheric photos at a Hiatus Kaiyote concert in Brooklyn last week with the main 50-megapixel sensor. It’s capable, even in low light, though you need to use Motorola’s night vision mode and stay super still. Colors look natural and there is usually a solid exposure. The ultra-wide and selfie cameras are also useful, though I found the latter mediocre, capturing less detail and my skin tone sometimes looking uneven.

The problem is that the Pixel 7A and Galaxy S23 offer a superior camera experience overall. In fact, those two phones are better in a lot more ways than just the camera. The Pixel has tons of useful smart features, like Call Screen so you never have to deal with unwanted calls, and it’s $200 cheaper than the $699 ThinkPhone. The S23 has an extra telephoto camera, a super bright screen, and even better performance. Both also have more generous software upgrade policies. The Pixel will get three Android OS updates and five years of security updates, while Samsung goes the extra mile with four OS updates.


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