Motorola’s 5G phones are coming and they won’t be cheap

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 Motorola Zoom 3

Chris Monroe/CNET

Motorola has spent the last several years carving out a niche for itself as a manufacturer of excellent budget and midrange phones. But its days dealing in devices that rarely exceed $500 are about to come to an end. Motorola says it’s ready to embrace premium phones again, with price tags to prove it.

The brand will launch a 5G, premium flagship phone, said Francoise LaFlamme, who leads Motorola’s global marketing strategy. 

And 5G doesn’t come cheap. Motorola isn’t ready to share its price range yet, but Samsung’s cheapest 5G phone, the triple-camera Galaxy A90 5G, costs around $800. The OnePlus 7 Pro 5G is “cheap” at $840.

“If you put out a $399 5G phone, you’re going to have to sacrifice a lot of the elements that people value,” LaFlamme said.

Today, you’ll spend $300 for the budget Moto G7, $450 for the new Motorola One Zoom with three cameras and a satin glass backing and $500 for the Moto X4. But $500 is about where the range stops. Motorola’s own “5G” device, the Moto Z3, costs $480 with Verizon, but you’ll get 5G speeds only by buying the 5G Moto Mod for an additional $350.

It’s likely that a premium 5G Motorola phone would start in the $800 range, if not higher. Samsung’s feature-packed Galaxy S10 5G
and Note 10 Plus 5G phones cost $1,300 apiece. 


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So why the shift to higher-end phones? Motorola, which operates within parent company Lenovo, has just turned a profit for the first time in a decade. Cutting extraneous products, staff and marketing dollars has helped Motorola cut its losses, LaFlamme said. So has focusing on its most important markets, which include the US, the UK, Brazil and Mexico. 

Now that Motorola is back in the black, it can focus on ramping up the kinds of phones it sells and where it sells them.

Motorola’s move is unsurprising, and well-timed. In the era of 5G phones and foldable designs, sticking with budget and midprice 4G phones is a sure way to get left behind.

Originally published earlier this week.

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