Now that Sony, LG, HTC, and Samsung have all pulled back the curtains on their flagship Android smartphones, the rumor mill can churn with renewed focus on yet another nebulous device — Motorola’s secretive X Phone.
Or rather, X Phones. According to Android And Me’s Taylor Wimberly, X Phone isn’t going to be a product name so much as it is a banner that multiple phones will fly under, and his sources assert that we’ve already seen the first of those devices in wild.
(I think it goes without saying that you should take all this information with a hefty grain of salt.)
The supposed culprit was captured on film earlier this week by the noted team at Tinhte, the Vietnamese site that thrives on getting their hands on unreleased gadgets well before the rest of us do. It was a fairly unassuming device — it bears a mild resemblance to the Galaxy Nexus when viewed dead-on, and sports a cleaner, rounded design that doesn’t quite jibe with many of Motorola’s recent angular design efforts.
What’s more, its modest spec sheet prompted many (myself included) to dismiss its odds of being the fabled X Phone. To wit: it sports one of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 Pro systems-on-a-chip, 2GB of RAM, a 4.65-inch display, and a 2,200 mAh battery. In fairness, that’s not a shabby device at all. That’s essentially what the Nexus 4 is working with, but it just didn’t seem flashy enough to be what Motorola and Google have been working on all this time.
But if this new report holds true, that lack of next-gen horsepower could be because Google intends to sell this particular X Phone dirt cheap sans contract — $199 or so.
Curiously, the original video of the device was yanked from YouTube, and the original post on Tinhte seems to have disappeared as well. That’s far from a confirmation that Tinhte has ruffled some major feathers, but it’s something to consider.
Now to call this whole thing a little kooky would be putting it very mildly, but such an approach wouldn’t exactly come out of left field. One could look at the Nexus 4’s launch as a grand experiment of sorts, meant to see if the consuming public would be open to purchasing unsubsidized hardware directly from the people making it. The answer, clearly, is yes. The Nexus 4 isn’t exactly a mass-market success but demand for the device and its reasonably low price tag led to some notable woes for people trying to purchase the thing early on.
Moreover, the more limited launch of a high-end device like the Nexus 4 could help Google gauge their ability to fulfill device demand in markets across the globe. Now that Google has more or less figured out what needs to happen to keep a global device rollout from going immediately south, it’s arguably better prepared to push out a solid phone at a crazy low price point. Only time will tell whether or not Google and Motorola truly plan to inundate the world with a horde of cheap X Phones, but with I/O on the horizon I imagine it won’t be long before the next chapter of the X Phone saga begins to unfold.