Do you want big ThinkPad PCs? You’ll love the smartphone version

At CES 2023, the Lenovo group lifted the veil on the ThinkPhone, the mobile version of the popular laptop computers released in the 90s under the IBM brand, before being acquired by Lenovo in 2005. The target of the Motorola owned businesses.

At CES in Las Vegas, it’s not just sexy products. Among the bigger screens and connected showers, there are also some more confidential products, intended for companies. Most of them are usually not interested in the media, but “Lenovo ThinkPhone by Motorola” is an exception. Why? Because it belongs to the family of ThinkPad laptops, launched in 1992 by IBM.

A smartphone for business

The name chosen by Lenovo/Motorola for its B2B smartphone is insignificant. If we can see an ounce of opportunism in it (after all, any smartphone can meet the needs of businesses), we can only be attracted by the mobile version of a range as popular as ThinkPads. No one would talk about ThinkPhone if it was called “Motorola Pro”, which Lenovo knows very well.

Here’s Motorola’s Lenovo ThinkPhone, with a name that’s too long. // Source: Numeroma

Aesthetically, the ThinkPhone uses the ThinkPads codes… which means it’s not very attractive. Forget modern and luxurious looks, Lenovo’s smartphone presents a very plastic look, with a large ThinkPhone logo on the back. At least we can’t be blamed like other mobiles.

Among its other points common to ThinkPads, the ThinkPhone has a red button that should recall the emblematic TrackPoint (the small red pointer to control the ThinkPad mouse). This is a customizable key.

The ThinkPhone acronym is reminiscent of PCs.  // Source: Numeroma
The ThinkPhone acronym is reminiscent of PCs. // Source: Numeroma

Despite its very lambda design, the ThinkPhone is a high-end smartphone. Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor, Wi-Fi 6E and 5G, reinforced Gorilla Glass Victus glass, IP68 waterproofing… The smartphone, with a very high battery capacity (5,000 mAh), even has the luxury of supporting ultra-fast 68W . Its charger is clearly compatible with ThinkPad computers, a point Lenovo makes.

Of course, all this comes at a price. At 999 euros, the ThinkPhone is a strangely positioned product, because it is too expensive to supply giant fleets. Its target is smaller. Lenovo is targeting professionals who need a secure Android smartphone and already own a ThinkPad.

On the left, the ThinkPhone has a customizable button.  // Source: Numeroma
On the left, the ThinkPhone has a customizable button. // Source: Numeroma

Ecosystem and security, the guide to attract companies

How to attract companies with ThinkPhone, if we know that they are usually attracted by Apple and Samsung? Lenovo has two ideas:

  • ThinkPhone emphasizes security, with a chip responsible for securing codes and passwords. It also has some pre-installed software to prevent a collaborator from installing anything. Finally, the software allows company IT departments to access a borrowed smartphone’s settings remotely. They don’t have to physically touch it.
  • Lenovo relies on “ecosystem” functions, a bit like Apple, Huawei or Samsung. Copy-and-paste is shared between a ThinkPhone and a ThinkPad, tethering is automatic, smartphone notifications appear on the computer, and the smartphone camera can serve as a webcam. There’s even an AirDrop replica, named File Drop, for exchanging files.
One of the pre-installed security applications on ThinkPhone.  // Source: Numeroma
One of the pre-installed security applications on ThinkPhone. // Source: Numeroma

Does Lenovo have a chance to impose its ThinkPhone? Given the popularity of ThinkPads in business, why not. If it’s hard to imagine companies that prefer the iPhone changing everything for this smartphone, users of Android devices today may be tempted by this 100% Lenovo integration… if they have the means. As a reminder, the ThinkPhone will be sold in France at a price of 999 euros.

Numerama is in Las Vegas for CES 2023

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