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Motorola opting for smaller form factor and stock Android for next smartphone

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Motorola Google

Motorola has revealed that it will likely step back to a smaller form factor for its upcoming batch of stock Android smartphones.

The next phone to emerge from Motorola (rumoured to be the X Phone) will be the first to have been designed since its acquisition by Google last year. Many have been wondering how it was going to stand out from the Samsung and HTC crowds, and it appears to have told PC Mag the answer.

It seems to be the trend with recent high-end Android smartphone releases that bigger is better, which is typified by the steady growth of the Galaxy S series from the 4-inch Samsung Galaxy S in 2010 to the 5-inch Samsung Galaxy S4 in 2013.

Motorola's approach will, according to design chief Jim Wicks, be "better is better."

While that might sound light another meaningless soundbite, it actually points to completely different mentality from the rest of the Android herd. Wick claims that current Android manufacturers are missing a "sweet spot" when it comes to screen size.

"There are some people that like a big display, but there's also a lot of people that want something that's just about right," he said, adding that Motorola was "designing so we don't disappoint those people."

If we were to hazard a guess, we'd say that this could mean a return to the 4.3-inch to 4.5-inch form factor that, for many, was the perfect compromise between iPhone 5 compactness and modern Android generosity.

Motorola and Stock Android

Also noteworthy in this interview was Wick's claim that the next batch of Motorola handsets would cut Motorola's derided custom UI in favour of a stock Android experience.

"It will be the unadulterated version of Android, and I feel really good about our embracing Android and being the best Android experience," he said.

Samsung, HTC, Sony, and pretty much every other Android manufacturer opts to layer on their own custom interfaces, which are invariably inferior to the plain Android experience found on the likes of the Google Nexus 4. Motorola is bucking another trend in rejecting such tinkering.

If Motorola can deliver on hardware quality and desirability, its new Google-prompted philosophy of "focusing on simplicity and the power of the consumer" could prove fruitful.

Would you prefer an Android phone with a smaller display, or is Motorola taking the wrong course here? Let us know in the comments section below.

deuxdeux

April 17, 2013, 8:06 am

5" screen probably is the perfect size for a smartphone if the bezel is slim.

Paul Brasington

April 17, 2013, 8:30 am

I agree about the screen size sweet spot Jim Wicks mentions ... (all the more so since I have a Nexus 7 for when I want to do larger screen things). But more important is the stock Android ... Google's improvements to each release are far more desirable than the crapware installed by manufacturers, and right now the Nexus 4 is the only real option. It would help Android no end if manufacturers focused on hardware differentiation and left the software alone ...

toboev

April 17, 2013, 4:28 pm

Talk about making a virtue out of necessity. Of course there is a market for a variety of different screen sizes, just like there is a market for both vanilla and spiced versions of Android.

The point is, there is only a profitable market for the best in each. Unfortunately that has not been Motorola. But if they think their phones are not selling because they got the screen size wrong, they missed the point.

nonchalant_g

May 8, 2013, 1:00 pm

Yup, I'm all for this. Does this mean that the phone will get Android updates with the same timeliness of Nexus handsets? I currently have an S3 and frankly, it's slightly too tall to be comfortable in a pocket or in the hand. My next handset will be somewhere back around that 4.3 inch sweet spot. I'm also hearing that this handset is going to have a decent battery in it (possibly one that lets me go away for the weekend without a charger) If it does, I'll have to wait another 6 months for my contract to be up, but it will be my next handset.

DeadReckoning

July 2, 2014, 12:09 pm

It's like TV screens - they all seem huge when you first buy them - they a year later they seem small and you want a bigger one.
Personally I want light weight with good battery life and unbreakable.

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