Opinion

How Motorola is fixing consumer pain points

Motorola is fixing consumer pain points

No phone is a perfect fit for everyone. Motorola is fixing consumer pain points by offering a wider range of models and price points. But its secret sauce is My UX. It is AI that allows Moto to do more with pure Android – its point of difference.

Motorola is fixing consumer pain points

GadgetGuy spoke to Ruben Castano, Head of Customer Experience at Motorola Mobility, about how Motorola is fixing consumer pain point. Note the word fixing – not just acknowledging – and it is really on top of what Australian consumers need.

BTW – Ruben has been with Motorola since 2005 in roles including Design Director, Senior Design Director and VP of Design. His design cred comes from the Istituto Europeo di Design in Milan, Italy.

It is important to note that each consumer segment has different needs. For some, it is screen size. Others want a top gun camera, and then some want refined design and prestige. So we try to find a balance when designing each of our devices. We pay close attention to that specific consumer segment’s needs. Then with the technology available to us, we combine these to create a one-of-a-kind device that optimises the user experience.

Ruben Castano, Head of Customer Experience at Motorola Mobility

As we found in our last article – Motorola – Legends are made moving forward – smartphone development is all about how much people are willing to pay. Given that in this COVID environment, most of the phones sold here are well under A$599, the ‘boring glass slab’ is still the way to offer the best feature set and value.

How Motorola is fixing consumer pain points

Ruben says that regardless of where in the world you are, consumers want

  • Reliability – 24x7x365 and many years use. That is all about the brand reputation, and warranty and Moto is right up there! And we support the Right to Repair movement so you can get phones fixed out of warranty.
  • Battery life and charge times to suit their use patterns
  • Camera quality. While an important factor in smartphone selection, most consumers want good photos instead of incredible ones only from more expensive phones. My UX AI helps democratise smartphone photography by producing the best image possible in ‘auto’ mode.
  • Screen size depends on what you do with it. At the moment, around 6.5” is the sweet spot. But there are those that want as little as 5” (pocketability) to folding devices at 8”.
  • CPU, RAM and storage dictate price but have little influence over the purchasing decision
  • 5G in Australia is not yet a driver, but lower-cost 5G phones are taking over from similarly priced 4G ones.

Australia is a small market where the cost of certifying each new model is huge

We select models from a global catalogue – what we think Aussies want and have settled on

  • e-series (2021), currently e7 ($199 GadgetGuy review here) and e7 power ($159 review here). These pack as much into the price as possible including 6.5” screens, dual camera and up to 5000mAh batteries. These are back-to-basics phones.
  • g-series (2021) currently $249 g10 and $299 g30 (shootout here). These have 6.5” screens, a quad camera and up to 5000mAh batteries with fast charge.
  • Edge-series (2020) was our $699 5G entrant (review here). It was a placeholder sub-brand for a larger edge curved screen packing in premium features for a lower cost. It has done well in the 5G space.
  • Razr 5G (2020) is our premium flip design and now $1999 (review here). It oozes “You have made it”.
Motorola is fixing consumer pain points

On top of these are the run-out 2020 models. For example, g9 ($399), g 5G ($499), and even Razr 4G ($999) are incredible bargains. But what we have learned is that Aussies don’t want endless choice. They want good choices from a reliable, well-known and established company.

Q: What are some of the specific ways Motorola is fixing consumer pain points?

Battery life

It is not just about mAh capacity. It is about careful tuning of the screen, processor, storage and more to get great battery life. Our $159 e7 power (5000mAh) can get 21 hours of video streaming; 107 hours of on-device music; over 15 hours of screen-on with Wi-Fi, etc. That was what this market wanted.

In general, we aim for two full days for 4G devices and 1.5 days for 5G. But more than that, it is recharge time. We have 10W and 20W chargers that can fill those batteries in under two hours. And we will be introducing <1-hour faster charging on premium models.

Camera

Most models use pixel binning sensors, e.g., 48MP becomes 12MP and 64MP becomes 16MP. More importantly, this allows the camera to take a bracket of shots. AI computational photography then combines the best pixels to get the best picture. AI democratises smartphone photography, and it is difficult to take a bad shot on a Moto.

Things like Optical Image Stabilisation and optical zoom (hybrid and digital zoom) are becoming more important at the upper-end. We have also seen an increase in video content creation, editing and publishing. It is a fast shift from still photography to video content. That is why we’ve introduced things like Video Spot Color, Video Bokeh and some additional features expected to launch later this month.

Screen

We have been careful to match the screen size, resolution and refresh rate to battery life and consumer expectations. Most of our screens are now 6.5-6.8” with 20:9 (tall and slim) formats. Higher refresh (90-120Hz) and resolutions (4K) chew up battery life, so these are only on devices aimed at gamers or power users. Interestingly, when you buy a phone with a 4K/120Hz display, most turn it back to 1K/60Hz to get decent battery life.

Look and feel

OK, I get it that Motorola in the past has generally been a black slab, but you know what? It outlasts and is more durable and scratch-resistant. Our factories now have vacuum deposit paint facilities. We can do a fantastic array of colours and finishes. For the most part, we use polycarbonate (high-impact strength, toughened glastic) backs and frames. Screens are either Gorilla Glass or Panda toughened glass, and most models have water resistance.

Our guiding design mantra is simplicity and good in-hand ergonomics.

My UX is a fundamental driver of change

Motorola, a long-time pure Android proponent, decided to develop My UX as a companion to pure Android. It is not a replacement, a boot loader, or an overlay but a companion app that allows it to add user experiences tailored to all age groups, from a child to an older adult. It also means it is easier to update Pure Android.

My UX uses Motorola developed AI. That is the difference between the phone being intuitive to your needs (and making itself more indispensable) and Android, where you may need to complete several manual steps to achieve the same things.

This allows Motorola to add considerable benefits to Android without taking away from pure Android. My UX features:

  • Personalise: Styles, Wallpapers, Layout
  • Display: Peek Display, Single tap to wake
  • Actions: Screenshot toolkit; Flip for DND; Pick up to silence; Media controls; Attentive display; Lift to unlock; Swipe to split; Gametime; Tips
  • Gestures: Swipe fingerprint for notifications; Jump to the camera; System navigation; Lift to check phone; Prevent ringing; Fast flashlight; Three-finger screenshot

We will see more significant advances in My UX. Watch this space.

Motorola is fixing consumer pain points

Add to this Moto’s generous Android OS upgrade policy and regular security updates. You will easily get that 3-5 year life you expect.

GadgetGuy’s take

Moto is more than a phone

I have been reviewing Moto devices since 2013. Without fail, they have been good value and reliable if a little visually unexciting. I was excited at the Moto Z series and its Moto Mods. These were the only real innovation in smartphone extendibility in the last decade. But Moto has its mojo back and is regaining its place as a top 5 global smartphone maker – one phone at a time.

For Joe and Jane, Average Moto is a brand you should consider.

Our sister publication Small Business Answers has also interviewed Reuben to talk about business smartphone pain points here.

He makes the essential point that business phones are still consumer smartphones with a whole new set of pain points around reliability, repair time and policy, financing and the big one – security and fleet management.