You’ve heard of the ThinkPad—the legendary laptop brand known for durability, aggressively utilitarian business design, and bright-red pointing sticks—now get ready for the Lenovo Think…Phone? The ThinkPhone. A phone supposedly for business use.
ThinkPad was originally an IBM laptop brand before it was bought by Lenovo, and Lenovo also owns Motorola, which it uses to regularly pump out a lot of unexciting mid-range smartphones. It looks like no one was quite sure of how to brand this, and officially, they settled on the awkward “Lenovo ThinkPhone by Motorola.” That’s fitting, though, since there is a lot of Motorola DNA in this phone—it looks like a generic Motorola phone from the front, and the back is woven Kevlar with a ThinkPad-style “ThinkPhone” logo, complete with a red dot over the “i.”
And speaking of design trademarks, while there’s no need for a pointing stick here, there is a “Red Key” side button, which does its best to emulate the look of a TrackPoint nubbin. This isn’t the power button, but it is a customizable button you can program to launch an app or some other feature.
The specs could be better. This is launching in “the coming 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 5000 mAh battery. The display is a 6.6-inch OLED at 60 Hz, which will probably stretch out the battery life a bit. It has IP68 water resistance, Wi-Fi 6E, an in-screen fingerprint sensor, 15 W wireless charging, and 68 W wired charging. There are three rear cameras (way too many for a business phone, right?): a 50 MP main camera, 13 MP ultrawide, and a depth sensor. There’s also a 32 MP front camera. You might expect a ThinkPad Phone to have a microSD slot, or a removable battery, or a dock, or any unique hardware features at all, but you would be wrong.
Lenovo’s press release talks up a bunch of business software features, but none of them seems unique, either. Underneath a lot of branding, I see a secure element, which comes 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 panel, a unified clipboard, drag-and-drop file support, and easy hotspot capabilities. The phone also comes with Microsoft 365 apps preinstalled.
Is it just me, or is there not nearly enough “ThinkPad” in the ThinkPhone? The hardware just seems like a Motorola phone with a new back panel. Replicating the famously boxy design of a ThinkPad instead of featuring the rounded corners of a Motorola phone would have gone a long way. Just look at the Galaxy S22 for an example of just how boxy phones can get. Give that a flat-front display and keep the rear curves and you would have a very boxy-yet-comfortable phone.
Besides the design, it does not seem like a lot of good, business-first ThinkPad characteristics have made it to the ThinkPhone. Ask someone why they buy a ThinkPad, and they would probably list (in some order) the TrackPoint (N/A on the ThinkPhone), design (nope), repairability (nope), big battery (nope), the keyboard (phones used to have keyboards, but nope), and port selection (nope), none of which really made it to this phone. “Durability” would be listed, too. 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 being OK with design decisions that boost business uses at the expense of superficial consumer concerns like “sleekness.” A ThinkPad is not a rebranded Lenovo Slim laptop, so a ThinkPhone should not be a rebranded Motorola device. This is a great idea—phones used to have different features and were targeted at different markets—I just want it to result in meaningful business-targeted hardware.
The ThinkPhone will be in the “US, Europe, Latin America, Middle East, Australia and select countries across Asia in the coming months.” There’s no word on the price yet.