Lenovo Puts the Legendary ThinkPad Brand in a Phone: Meet the ThinkPhone

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You’ve heard of the ThinkPad, the legendary laptop brand known for its durability, aggressively utilitarian business design, and bright red pointing sticks, now get ready for Lenovo’s Think…Phone. The ThinkPhone. A phone supposedly for business use.

ThinkPad was originally an IBM laptop brand before Lenovo bought it, and Lenovo also owns Motorola, which it regularly uses to produce a host of boring mid-range smartphones. It seems no one was quite sure how to qualify this and officially settled on the awkward “Lenovo ThinkPhone by Motorola”. That’s fitting, though, as there’s a lot of Motorola DNA in this phone: it looks like a generic Motorola phone from the front, and the back is woven from Kevlar with a ThinkPad-esque “ThinkPhone” logo, complete with a red dot above the top. “I”.

And speaking of design trademarks, while there’s no need for a pointing stick here, there’s a “Red Key” side button, which does its best to emulate the look of a TrackPoint button. This isn’t the power button, but it is a customizable button that you can program to launch an app or some other feature.

The specifications could be better. This will launch in “the next few months” with a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 – several Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 phones have already been announced and will be on the market by then. There’s 8GB or 12GB of RAM, options for 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB of UFS 3.1 storage, and a 5,000mAh battery. The screen is a 6.6-inch 60Hz OLED, which will likely extend battery life a bit. It has IP68 water resistance, Wi-Fi 6E, an in-display fingerprint sensor, 15W wireless charging, and 68W wired charging. There are three rear cameras (too many for a business phone, right?): one 50 MP main camera, 13 MP ultra-wide angle and a depth sensor. There is also a 32 MP front camera. You might expect a ThinkPad phone to have a microSD slot, removable battery, dock, or any other unique hardware feature, but you’d be wrong.

Enlarge / Here you can see the sweet logo (does it have to be Motorola brand?) and the Kevlar back.


Lenovo’s press release talks about a ton of business software features, but none of them seem unique either. Beneath many brands, I see a secure item, coming standard with a Qualcomm chip, a bunch of Android for Work fleet management features, and a rebranded version of Motorola “Ready For.” Ready For is now “Think 2 Think” and wirelessly connects a phone to a Windows PC. You’ll see phone notifications in the Windows dashboard, a unified clipboard, drag-and-drop file support, and easy hotspot features. The phone also comes pre-installed with Microsoft 365 apps.

Is it just me or is there not enough “ThinkPad” in the ThinkPhone? The hardware looks like a Motorola phone with a new rear panel. Reproducing the famous boxy design of a ThinkPad instead of featuring the rounded corners of a Motorola phone would have been very helpful. Just look at the Galaxy S22 for an example of how boxy phones can be. Give that a flat front screen and keep the rear curves and you have a very boxy but comfortable phone.

Other than the design, it doesn’t seem like many of the good features of the first-in-business ThinkPad have made their way to the ThinkPhone. Ask someone why they buy a ThinkPad and they’ll probably list (in some order) the TrackPoint (N/A on the ThinkPhone), the design (no), the repairability (no), the big battery (no), the keyboard (used phones have keyboards, but don’t) and port selection (don’t), neither of which really made it into this phone. “Durability” would also be on the list. Is this durable? The back isn’t glass, but the front is still regular Gorilla Glass, so I’m not sure that really counts. ThinkPad is supposed to be a brand for business, which means agreeing with design decisions that drive business uses at the expense of superficial consumer concerns like “elegance.” A ThinkPad is not a rebranded Lenovo Slim laptop, so a ThinkPhone it must not be a renamed Motorola device. This is a great idea: phones used to have different features and were aimed at different markets. I just want it to result in meaningful enterprise hardware.

The ThinkPhone will be in “the US, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Australia, and select countries in Asia in the coming months.” There is no information on the price yet.

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