Goodbye to the perfect disposable phone

This looks bad. I’ve been writing all day about the new Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus from Lenovo, and in fact I’ve just written an opinion piece at Xataka (Spanish).

The feeling about those products isn’t positive. The road taken by Motorola Lenovo after swallowing a company that has been legendary in the segment mobility is very, very sleazy. I didn’t think about approaching it that way, but again Vlad Savov has published a great post at The Verge where he has compared Motorola and Lenovo with Palm and HP. The analogy is clear, and I fear that unless something strange happens Motorola could end up as an entry in the Wikipedia and a memory of something good for those who had the privilege of enjoy his best years. That is precisely what Palm has become. And I quote (emphasis mine):

There’s no doubt, looking at the new Moto G range for 2016, That the former Motorola now lags ITS competition. Chinese Have surpassed rivals Moto phones industry in the design stakes, and the overall quality of Android software has improved to the point where the purer Moto experience is not all that big of a selling point. Will the new Moto G phones be decent? Sure. They just will not be competitive.

The new Moto G4 models are indeed ok, but they are not superior to their competitors. They have become what every manufacturer should fear: a me too who follows boring trends and neglects what brought real value to the phone. As I said at Xataka, this is no longer the terminal that for years caused that feeling of being a bargain.

This stylized photo shouldn't deceive you. This device is not worth what it costs. Not anymore.
This stylized photo shouldn’t deceive you. This device is not worth what it costs. Not anymore.

For years, the Moto G has been the device most recommended by me to my relatives, friends and acquaintances. It was a sure bet, one that worked flawlessly and that could suffer anything without that being a tragedy.

It was as close as possible to the perfect disposable smartphone.

These devices aren’t that. With prices starting at £169 (about $243) for the Moto G and £199 ($286) for the G Plus (they’ll arrive to the US later than in most countries), they go too far from that price that we psychologically associated with a fair cost for a phone that could easily fall to the toilet or the floor without making us cry.

The problem is that everything looks bad in the future of this legendary brand. Lenovo had already announced they wanted to change the branding and use only the word Moto, but that contempt for this manufacturer is evident in other details. A good example is how Lenovo has announced the Lenovo K5 in Spain as a replacement for the Moto G4 Play that, truth to be told, shouldn’t have been announced because it is an absurd product both in specifications and goal market. A poor tribute to a product that changed the mid-range forever and that made Motorola, as Savov said, a beloved maker again -and a very American one- after spending a few years with no clear path to follow.

So dear readers, my recommendation is clear: unless reviews tell us otherwise, these Moto G4 / Plus can go to hell. There are several better options from other manufacturers.

What a pity. Poor Motorola.

Technology and the dangers of oversimplification

I was reading another thoughtful piece by Vlad Savov at the Verge and I thought I could write a comment there. Quoting Savov when he was explaining the current trend in launch events:

I think we lose something (maybe not entirely tangible) when we adapt the presentation of technological products to the lowest-common-denominator audience. Apple obviously doesn’t agree, and it set the tone for simplifying technology and making it seem less daunting — but maybe we’ve overcorrected.

That’s one of the big ideas I really agree with, so the initial comment at The Verge grew, and it has become what I think could be a post here. There it goes:

I write about tech for a living too and the dicotomy is there: I love tech spechs and I can really appreciate that tech evolution you have talked about. The problem is, not many people can. The Verge readers and my readers can, of course, but this is the exception that proves the rule: that my mother, or my neighbour, or my friend just want to know if the device feels right.

This is something I’d say you own Walter Mossberg understood a lot sooner than many other tech journalists that focused too much on specs. Fortunately we can have the best of both worlds as tech readers: we can enjoy both a Mossberg review but also a more technical one here and there by other editors. AnandTech usually fits there for me, for example, but there are even deeper resources for each category that can really get even more technical that we’d love to.

Launch events have become a show. And lately not one for nerds. The oversimplification is also dangerous: I like the first Jony Ive videos when they started to be included in Apple launches, but I’ve started to hate them. My impression now is that Ive (and Apple) is even laughing at me and other technical users. They’re not, of course. They are just selling their products.

The problem is, they’re not selling them to me, but to “normal” (I’m sure you get me) people. It’s quite difficult to find certain tech details for some products (the RAM included on the different iPhone models is a good example), and that’s another showstopper for people that love specs, and benchmarks, and that kind of data that really puts that part of the equation in context.