Lenovo ThinkPhone by Motorola review

Lenovo ThinkPhone by Motorola review: at one with the universe

100% human
8.5

Bringing together desktop and mobile computing for people who work on the go, the Lenovo ThinkPhone by Motorola aims to unify your world.

While some people spend their workday chained to a desktop PC, the shift to working from home and the hybrid office means that a growing number of people tend to jump between locations and devices during the day or the week. This naturally creates challenges when it comes to staying on top of things and keeping everything in sync.

This is where the idea of unifying your mobile and desktop experience makes sense. The idea is to seamlessly switch between your smartphone and your notebook and easily pick up working where you left off. With everything you need at your fingertips, you can be productive anywhere, anytime.

That’s one of the promises of the ThinkPhone. As the name suggests, it’s designed to work in tandem with a Lenovo ThinkPad notebook (Lenovo owns Motorola these days). Lenovo’s “Ready For” mobile and desktop apps manage everything, meaning the ThinkPhone can actually work its magic with any computer running Windows 10 or 11.

To be fair, the idea of unifying your mobile and desktop experience isn’t new and there’s more than one way to tackle it. A decade ago, smartphones like the Motorola Atrix were designed to slot into a notebook shell, so you could use your smartphone as the brain of a laptop. It was a rather clunky experience, relying on Android/Linux’s early efforts to mimic a Windows-style desktop powered by a mobile device.

Of course, a lot has changed since then. Firstly, notebooks have become lighter, more powerful and more affordable – so it’s easier to keep a notebook in your travel bag rather than rely on your smartphone to get things done when you’re on the move.

Secondly, the rise of powerful tablets has made it easier to combine a mobile and desktop-style user experience in the one device. Thirdly, the rise of the cloud and more powerful mobile apps has made it easier to seamlessly switch between mobile and desktop interfaces without the need for a special smartphone. Plus, there are Ready For rivals like Samsung Dex.

So where does that leave the ThinkPhone?

Review: Lenovo ThinkPhone by Motorola

Australian websiteMotorola website
Price$999 RRP
Warranty1 year
Other  Read more phone reviews on GadgetGuy

ThinkPhone first impressions

With a sleek, dark look and a slightly boxy “Carbon Black” design, the ThinkPhone looks very much like it’s built for work. It matches the premium ThinkPad aesthetic, right down to the red button on the side which harks back to the iconic red TrackPoint found in the middle of early ThinkPad keyboards.

On the right edge of the handset, you’ll find volume controls along with a power button below. The power button doesn’t double as a fingerprint reader. Instead, there’s one built into the screen, which is actually easiest to reach with your thumb (or your pointer finger on the other hand).

Over on the left edge, you’ll find that distinctive red button, which can be programmed to perform a range of tasks. A single press opens any app of your choice, while a double-press launches the “Ready For” app for linking with your Windows notebook.

ThinkPhone home screen

At the bottom of the handset, you’ll find a USB-C port, but music fans might be disappointed at the lack of a 3.5 mm headphone jack. There’s some consolation though, as Motorola does throw in USB-C earbuds.

There’s also Dual SIM 5G support, which is handy for travellers who find themselves needing to regularly switch between providers.

The phone features a generous 6.6-inch 2400×1080 pixel display, with a 20:9 aspect ratio, but still sits comfortably in the hand. With an aluminium frame and fibre inlay, the handset feels solid but not too heavy.

The pOLED screen delivers an impressive 1200 nits brightness, which helps it support HDR10+ for greater contrast when watching movies. As a 10-bit display, it supports the DCI-P3 colour space, with refresh rates up to 144 Hz. That’s accompanied by dual stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos support.

That’s the kind of high-end screen and speaker array you’d expect in an entertainment powerhouse, not a productivity workhorse. Likewise, the 50 MP and 13 MP ultrawide rear cameras (with a separate depth sensor) and 32 MP selfie camera are impressive for a phone that’s supposedly intended more for work than play.

Assuming you’re not distracted by all that entertainment potential, the phone will certainly keep you up and working for a long time – with a generous 5000 mAh battery which means it should go all day without recharging. The supplied 68W fast charger is powerful enough that it can also charge a ThinkPad.

 Lenovo ThinkPhone by Motorola specs

Display size6.6 inch, 20:9 aspect ratio 
Display resolution2400×1080
Display technologypOLED, HDR10+, 144 Hz
Bands5G: sub-6
4G: LTE
3G: WCDMA
2G: GSM
ChipsetSnapdragon 8+ Gen 1
GPUAdreno GPU
Rear cameras50 MP1/1.5″ optical format
1.8 aperture
1.0μm pixel size
Quad Pixel Technology for 2.0μm
Omni-directional PDAF
Optical Image Stabilisation
13MP Ultrawide angle (120° FOV)
Macro Vision
f/2.2 aperture
1.12μm pixel size
Depth Sensor
Front camera32 MP AF
f/2.45 aperture
0.7μm pixel size
Quad Pixel Technology for 1.4μm
RAM8 or 12 GB LPDDR5 
Onboard storage128, 256 or 512 GB UFS 3.1
SIMDual SIM (2 Nano SIMs, 5G + 5G)
ConnectorType-C port (USB 3.1 compatible, supports DisplayPort 1.4)
ChargingUSB-C – 68W TurboPower universal charger
15W wireless
Battery5000 mAh
Wi-FiWi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax2.4 GHz | 5 GHz | 6GHzWi-Fi 6EWi-Fi hotspot
Bluetooth5.3
Operating systemAndroid 13
SecurityOn-screen fingerprint reader
ThinkShield for mobile
Moto KeySafe
RuggednessIP68 (withstand dust and water immersion with a depth of up to 1.5 metres for up to 30 minutes)
DimensionsH 158.76mm x  W 74.38mm x D 8.26mm
Weight189 gm

Features

The ThinkPhone packs a Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 power plant, which is no slouch, yet considering it’s such a premium handset it’s a shame it doesn’t feature the new Snapdragon 8+ Gen 2. There’s also 8 or 12 GB of RAM, to ensure the handset can cope with serious multi-tasking and the demands of “Ready For” integration with your Windows computer.

The handset runs Android 13 and is thankfully light on bloatware, as we’ve come to expect from Motorola. It promises at least four years of security updates.

That said, there are a lot of software and security features that you don’t find on a standard Android phone. At launch, the ThinkPhone will come with Microsoft 365, Outlook and Teams preloaded.

As for security, there’s Lenovo’s ThinkShield suite for protection and management at the hardware and software levels. There’s also Moto Secure, an app that serves as a security and privacy hub. This includes the ability to create a secure folder for storing apps and files where others can’t access them.

Combined with Moto OEMConfig or Moto Device Manager, IT administrators can remotely configure Moto Secure features on the phone. Additionally, the ThinkPhone comes with Moto KeySafe, a separate processor running on Android, which adds an additional layer of security to better protect the most sensitive data in the phone.

Of course, unless you’re self-employed, none of this security should be your problem – that’s for your employer to worry about. Many of these security features are designed for corporate IT departments managing fleets of devices – something to keep in mind if you’re looking to buy the handset for yourself, rather than receive one issued through work.

The handset is also designed to survive the rough and tumble of life on the road. MIL STD 810H certified, it’s made from lightweight aramid fibre (supposedly stronger than steel), an aircraft-grade aluminium frame and tough Gorilla Glass Victus. 

As with many of Motorola’s current handsets, there’s a basic transparent protective case in the box. It offers some impact protection but doesn’t seem as robust as something like a Tech 21 case.

Ready For integration

There are plenty of high-end Android devices on the market, but the big selling point of the Lenovo ThinkPhone by Motorola is its “Ready For” integration with a Windows notebook or desktop.

Ready For is surprisingly easy to get up and running, assuming both devices are on the same Wi-Fi network. The Ready For app is already on the handset, you just need to also install it on your computer from the Windows app store. Once installed, the desktop app displays a QR code which you can scan with the mobile app to link the devices.

Lenovo also offers “Think 2 Think” connectivity, which offers even tighter integration between the ThinkPhone and an actual ThinkPad.

Thankfully, when you’re out on the road, Ready For works over a Wi-Fi Direct connection between the smartphone and computer. Alternatively, you can connect them via USB.

If you’re an Apple user then some of this will already seem like old hat, thanks to Apple’s features like Continuity which make it easier to jump between macOS and iOS devices. This works automatically between devices using the same Apple ID, without the need to mess around with QR codes.

Yet in other ways, Ready For ties together Windows and Android in ways that Apple devices will never match, because Apple wants iPhones, iPads and Macs to work together rather than potentially make each other redundant.

ThinkPhone Ready For connection
Ready For aims to seamlessly bridge the Android and Windows ecosystems.

Considering that Microsoft has failed to find success with smartphones, while Android/Chrome/Linux still struggles to stack up against Windows on the desktop, this alliance between Microsoft and Android makes a lot of sense against their common enemy in Apple.

There’s a lot to cover with Ready For, GadgetGuy did a deep dive on it a while ago. The highlights include unified notifications between devices, a unified clipboard and the ability to easily drop files. You can create an instant hotspot link and even use the phone as a second screen, or as a webcam for your computer.

Building on this, you can mirror the smartphone’s screen on your computer, or stream apps to the computer. The latter gives you the ability to use different Android apps on your computer and smartphone at the same time, which could certainly come in handy when multitasking.

The fact you can now run Android apps on Windows takes some of the shine off this, but streaming the app from your phone ensures that it behaves as intended. It also offers the convenience of using the same Android app as on your phone, rather than needing to run a duplicate on your computer.

Thankfully, the ThinkPhone has enough grunt to ensure this all runs pretty smoothly. Using GeekBench 6, the handset delivers respectable but not earth-shattering scores of 1783 single-core and 4711 multi-core.

You’re obviously also at the mercy of the power of your Windows laptop and a low-powered netbook might give you some grief.

In terms of performance, there’s surprisingly little overhead, with GeekBench 6 still delivering similar results when streaming the GeekBench app from the ThinkPhone to a Windows laptop. But don’t expect miracles when it comes to high-end graphics and video. For example, streaming the YouTube app gets rather messy.

It’s worth noting that Ready For can run on other Motorola smartphones, so if it’s your primary interest in the ThinkPhone then there are other options.

Ready For mobile desktop

Here’s where things get really interesting, with Ready For able to run a Windows-esque, Android-based desktop in a window on your Windows computer. That desktop is actually running on your phone, with full access to the phone’s apps, settings, data and notifications.

Alternatively, you can plug the ThinkPhone into a monitor or television, and then connect a keyboard and mouse so you can use the phone like a PC.

Of course, it’s not a full Windows desktop replacement, because you can’t run Windows applications. This might not bother you if you can achieve everything you need to do by just relying on desktop versions of the Android apps and the built-in browser, not dissimilar to using a Chromebook.

The browser is a version of Chrome that can sync with your Google account. You also find Microsoft Edge in the Google Play app store, along with Office apps and a lot of other productivity apps,

ThinkPhone notification

Even so, the mobile desktop can be a little sluggish at times. The performance overhead when running the mobile desktop from the ThinkPhone is also significant, with GeekBench 6 scores dropping to 1090 single-core and 3909 multi-core when you run GeekBench on the mobile desktop.

So how useful is all of this? It all depends on what you’re trying to do. Running the phone’s mobile desktop on a Windows desktop might seem redundant when you’ve already got Windows at your fingertips. Especially if the browser struggles with some of the websites and services you typically access via your Windows desktop browser.

The mobile desktop could be useful if you want to work on documents stored securely on the smartphone. That’s assuming you can’t just sync those documents to the cloud and then access them on your laptop.

Meanwhile, plugging the smartphone directly into a monitor means you don’t need to carry around a notebook – but it assumes you’ll also have a keyboard and mouse at hand. 

GadgetGuy’s take

There’s a lot to like about the Lenovo ThinkPhone by Motorola, just as a handset alone. It has impressive multimedia credentials but, if that’s your primary concern, then you might find better options elsewhere. Yet whether the ThinkPhone is right for you will probably depend on how much value you’d get out of the advanced security and tight Ready For desktop integration. 

Ready For is great when working with your smartphone and tablet side-by-side, reducing the need to switch your attention between devices. But the practicality of using the mobile desktop is another question.

With the increased portability of notebooks, the rise of tablets, the power of the cloud and the vast improvement in the mobile versions of desktop applications, you’d have to decide for yourself how often you’d consider the phone’s Windows-esque mobile desktop as the best tool for the task at hand. Some people will have specific use cases, but for most people, the mobile desktop wouldn’t be useful very often.

Would I buy it?

Only if I was sure I’d get the productivity value out of Ready For.

Lenovo ThinkPhone by Motorola
Unifying Android and Windows for those who work on the go, the Lenovo ThinkPhone by Motorola aims to be the productivity king.
Features
9
Value for money
8
Performance
8.5
Ease of use
8
Design
9
Positives
Plenty of grunt
Great for multimedia
Tight Windows desktop integration
5G
Negatives
Ready For mobile desktop isn't always the best tool for the job
Ready For mobile desktop can't run Windows apps
8.5