Replying to the challenge posed by Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi, Motorola has hit back with updates to its popular smartphones and also rolled out a circular smartwatch.
The US mobile giant on Friday announced the second generation of its popular Moto G smartphone, priced at Rs 12999 (16 GB variant). The phone will go on sale on Flipkart from midnight of September 5. The new Moto G will grow to 5 inches, from 4.5 inches in last year's model. The camera is also improved to 8 megapixels, rather than 5 megapixels. The new version will now also have provision for microSD cards, which was sorely missed in the original Moto G.
Meanwhile, the flagship Moto X will enlarge to 5.2 inches, from 4.7 inches. It will have a 13 megapixel camera, up from 10 megapixels. The Moto X distinguishes itself from rival phones by allowing people to customize the backs when ordering. Wood and leather backs will be available for a higher price. The second generation Moto G and Moto X will come loaded with Android KitKat 4.4.4 and will receive upgrades to Android L.
There's also a new Bluetooth headset, the Moto Hint. Headsets have typically been limited to phone calls. The Moto Hint will also allow users to control the Moto X phone with voice commands.
Motorola also rolled out a circular smartwatch Friday, counting on a more traditional design to win over consumers who have so far shunned other computerized wrist devices.
Smartwatches so far have had rectangular faces, a shape that has turned off many consumers, said Steve Sinclair, Motorola's vice president of product management. Motorola's Moto 360 is round and has an all-metal frame, making it look more like a regular watch.
"People don't want to wear a shrunken-down smartphone on their wrist," Sinclair said.
Reshaping the smartwatch still might not be enough to sway consumers' attitudes. Apart from design, smartwatches have had limited appeal because of their small displays and a requirement to have a companion smartphone nearby. Technology companies have yet to make a compelling case for why everyday consumers need them.
Nonetheless, mobile device makers are still pinning their hopes on smartwatches spurring more sales to consumers who already have smartphones and tablet computers and aren't looking to upgrade right away. Samsung and Sony already have smartwatches out, and new models are coming this fall. Apple is also believed to be working on one that could be announced next Tuesday.
Friday's debut of the Moto 360 comes a week after LG Electronics Inc. announced its own circular smartwatch, the G Watch R. LG's watch won't be available for at least a month, though, and its price wasn't immediately announced.
Both watches use Google's Android Wear operating system. The system uses voice controls for basic functions, such as reading messages, checking the weather and getting reminders on calendar appointments.
The new Moto X and Moto 360 are likely to be launched later this month.
Motorola is currently owned by Google, though Lenovo plans to complete its purchase of the business this year.