Report: Lenovo’s first Windows Phone 8.1 device could be out by ‘early summer’

File this under someone else’s rumor, namely, but we like the guys over there, and they’ve generally had things right in the past. According to a ‘trusted source’, the first Lenovo Windows Phone could be finished as early as April, with an early summer time-frame for an actual release.

Microsoft only announced on Sunday that Lenovo – along with LG, Foxconn and others – have joined the Windows Phone camp. Besides the growing popularity of the OS, three other reasons why many companies are now on board was the reduction in hardware controls, e.g. software keys are a go, new Snapdragon chipsets and the Qualcomm Reference Design. All three of those changes significantly reduce development costs for OEMs who also make Android phones.

Lenovo’s first Windows Phone is not expected to compete at the high-end though, so don’t expect that ‘ThinkPhone’ just yet. Instead, claims the device will be mid to low range with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 or 600, and the price will be lower than the sum of 15,000 rubles. Screen size will reportedly be in the 4.5-5 inch range.

Lenovo Vibe Z with Android

That makes sense as so far, Lenovo’s Android devices have hovered mostly around midrange, with a focus on Eastern markets. Western markets, especially in the US, are harder to break into due to the strict carrier relations needed to get a phone picked up. Having said that, Lenovo does make the Vibe Z, which features a 5.5-inch 1920x1080 IPS with a 2.2 GHz Snapdragon 800 CPU, so high end is on their product map.

Lenovo recently acquired Motorola Mobility from Google, giving a much needed shot in their arm for smartphone development. They’re expected to turn around the MM division in a few quarters, returning it to profitability. Lenovo sold nearly 14 million of its own-branded phones in China just in Q4 2013 alone, up 47 percent from last year


Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

  • A smaller Thinkpad 8 Phone type device would be great. Cover and all.
  • Lenovo is the only company that will persuade me away from Nokia.  This is HAPPENING!
  • Let's see what they actually come up with. They didnt' get the Yoga or Carbon right the first time. One of these days, a manufacturer is actually going to get everything right. They're getting quite close, but there always seems to be someting missing. I know everyone has different needs, but you know what I'm saying. love for a WP8 Sony Z2? 
  • I'd love a Z2 running WP8.1!
  • That phone is glass-wrapped professional sex!
  • Might be the only phone with a better build than my Icon.
  • I don't know, I'm not really psyched about the z2 design, it feels played out (ip4, z, z1, ip4s)
  • I understand, but what isn't by now? Just how different can a phone be these days? The sculpted polycarbonate look of Nokia phone will soon, if not already, be played out and it was the first real design innovation in some time. Until we get wafer thin flexible phones, I think we'll see variations on the same theme.
  • Why I like the Icon, it deviates from the sculpted polycarbonate. Whole top is glass burying into an aluminum band. Not just trim, it's a hunk of aluminum banding so wide you can rest the phone on any edge. The back is polycarbonate burying into the other side of the band. It's more glass and aluminum than it is polycarb. Nokia could have knocked this phone out of the park by making the aluminum a different color instead of painting it to match the back. It would have shut the style snobs up.
  • Style snobs? Really? On almost every review and posting I read on the Icon, the "blocky", uninspired, meh design is mentioned. Having a design aesthetic is not being a "style snob". A contrasting edge and pershaps buttons as well, and tapered edges would have gone a long way. I understand the thinking behind the self-standing design, but it sure doesn't help the looks any. I wonder how much it will actually be used that way as having a flat surface that is the proper level for you shot is not common.
  • Sorry if I offended you, style snob.  Hate to break this to you, there is a common use... recording lectures.  Those things which happen thousands of times a day in classrooms and symposiums around the world.  It's not commonly done because 99% of phones can't do it hands free and the audio sucks. The Icon, however, can do it hands free and its audio recording is quite possibly the best ever put in a hand sized piece of electronics.   You know else is a block but is hardly ever mentioned? An iPhone.
  • But you can buy a really cheap audio recorder which will be still better than a phone with recording function.
  • Get an Icon, go get your recorder... come on back after you've compared them.
  • Why do you feel it necessary to be insulting Novron? I was merely stating my opinion as well as many others, just the same as you have. There is no science to this, just personal preference.  I said "I wonder how many people...." which is actually a question/observation and not a definitive and declarative statement. I was also speaking from a business point of view in how the design style might preclude people from buying it compared to the number of people who would do so for the recording use you mentioned. Again, the majority of the comments and reviews I've come across agree with me. I agree about the iPhone being "blocky" too, but that doesn't make the Icon any less so merely by comparison.
  • I agree, but till then, i still love nokia's design, as well as the iPhone 5^, and HTC one
  • Yeah, these phones need to be customizable like when you order a computer online. You can get whatever you want and discard what you don't want. That's the only way.
  • I think with WP8.1 and new and improved hardware possibilities across many manufacturers is going to really help Microsoft gain strength around the world.  They still have to find a way to pull from Samsung and Apple in the US.  With Lenovo, Sony and Microsoft/Nokia in the mix there's a good chance we'll see something really slick come around eventually.  I think there's a chance a Surface Phone could still be a reality with Microsoft's nearing aquisition of Nokia's D&S division, which would be incredible.  I really think the hardware is the last bastion holding WP back because the software in the upcoming update already kills off a lot of the resevations against WP as a platform.  Very excited for 2014 with WP.  I really want to pick up the Icon, but I wonder if there's going to be a slimmer version during the summer or fall.  Not ready to ditch my 1020 until I find something truly excellent to replace it.  That quad core though - HUGE improvement in performance.
  • i second this. I'm really starting to like Lenovo and I feel like Lenovo will be another company that can create and maintain an excellent WP experience.
  • I would wait and see how they support it before switching from Nokia. I admit I have become bored with the current design but nobody creates as many updates and apps as Nokia does. Only if Lenovo shows equal or better support for the platform would I ever choose anything other than Nokia.
  • Hopefully with the maturing of WP the OS will get more and more MS and less and less Nokia so we can get the device we like.
  • Looking forward for a Motorola with WP 8.1.
  • Of course, I did not thougth of that... Motorola's WP and no Android! Seems as crazy as Nokia's X...
  • No ThinkPhone, IdeaPhone then. Where is the IdeaPhone Yoga?
  • A big hardware company here in Israel bought 4,000 windows phone devices for their employees.
  • Thats is because only Windows Phone can substitute Blackberry when it comes to business or corporate mobiles. Outlook is far better than Blackberry's mailing software.
  • Sorry but no. Blackberry and exchange is still much better. Windows phone with active sync is still missing basics like calendar search, follow up flags, etc. I have used both.
  • True now, but unfortunately BB is dying and a lot of companies would hesitate to invest further in BB devices. On the other hand WP is still growing, and it would continue to grow in features and in user base this year.
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  • While I want to see more high end devices being made, it makes sense that some of these first time WP makers are coming out with mid to low end devices first to get their feet wet without high risk.
  • Well, they are intimidated by Nokia's dominance in the Windows Phone OS, so testing the water before jumping in is the best start. It wont take long though, because these OEMs are also very good in hardware. They were just late to find WP OS.  
  • I love my Nokia phones, but if Lenovo (or any other OEM) can make a top notch, innovative looking phone, I'd be willing to give them a shot.
  • Intimidated by Nokia...LOLOLOL
  • Intimidated by Nokia's dominance in WP. Do you know any OEM sells more WP than Nokia?
  • There's nothing to be intimidated by. Nokia's sales aren't blowing anyone out of the water. WP is still a wide open market they anyone could grab. Just like when Nokia took the MS deal and took the marketshare over from Samsung, Lenovo, or LG, or HTC could do the same with a similiar blitz of models and price points.
  • I think it would be difficult to dislodge Nokia in the WP platform because they have proven again and again their after-sales support. Since Samsung only gave a cursory support to their WP devices, it was easy to dislodge them.
  • It's probably true, though. Nokia brought a lot of exclusives to the platform with raised the price of entry to the Windows Phone market for any other company. Even low end and cheaper WP handsets couldn't touch Nokia because they had a phone at every price range that still had all their exclusive features and apps. Now Nokia as a seperate entity is gone (as a phone maker, for now) and all their exclusives will just get rolled into the main OS (assuming here, it would be a very dumb move for MS to keep them for their own phones only) suddenly it's more of a level playing field. Lenovo (and others) can just dump WP on to their Vibe Z and other phones and it's instantly competitive. If they did that last year (see Ativ S and 8X/8S as a good example) they'd have needed to invest in a lot of exclusive apps and features which no other companies are willing to do.
  • My point is, if MS decided to give Lenovo a billion dollar deal just like they gave Nokia, Lenovo could pull out all the stops and blitz the market with different models and price points. Nokia just had the backing and money to do so, so there's no reason to be intimidated.
  • Ooo
  • Oh great!! I want to see many WP8.1 handsets for different OEMs in the middle of the year. Specially here in Brazil, where we only have Nokia and Nokia Brasil does a poor job!! I want to see competition.
  • Competition is great. So long its not Samsung according to Nokiast.
  • if they do have some nice exclusive apps like Nokia , i will definitely pick one for my brother :)
  • Hopefully they don't have the same issues as the Thinkpad 8. Talk about a botched product launch!
  • Yes. I cancelled my order.
  • Their customer service, including the "product experts" have been horrendous.
  • I'm going to hold out a bit longer. Just got an email about it being delayed. Will check back mid march.
  • I thought Foxconn just produces stuff for others, not make their own products?
  • The rumor is Foxconn is taking the HTC route. They're going to ODM for other companies before they branch out and use their own name.
  • Yes, as of now they're a phone ODM. That's why the only way I can think of that would explain this new partnership with Microsoft is that they will be producing a Surface Phone for Microsoft, in the same manner that they produced the Z3 for Blackberry.
  • vibe z and x would be perfect addition to windowsphone
  • A Droid razr maxx running WP8 would be amazing.
  • Oppo! Sony! Both have a great design language, would love to see them make 8.1 phones.
  • This is great!
  • I had no idea Lenovo bought Motorola! A maybe we'll be looking at a Motorola W that's a X with WP8 soon? I'm also curious to see what a Lenovo WP device will look like.
  • Yeah they bought and then Google turned around and put 5% stakes into them. #shrugs
  • Pretty ironic if "Lenovorola" ends up making Windows Phones instead of Android. But I could really dig me a ThinkPhone.
  • not gonna happen. Google made sure to leave their footprint in Lenovo
  • So since Lenovo own Motorola now(I think ) how long is it going to take till we see a moto windows 6mons, 7, year
  • Will this be under the Motorola branding or Lenovo?
  • Lenovo. Motorola brand cannot be used for anything other than Android. Per agreement between Google and Lenovo, Motorola will remain an Android brand.
  • I'll take the successor to the Moto X without even seeing it!
  • I would love to see some these manufacturers go "Carrier Agnostic". Meaning that you don't have to go to the carrier's store to purchase the phones. Just go to the Manufacturer's site, order the phone, pop in a SIM and go. Then all the updates come from the manucturer and Microsoft (with a written guaranty for how long they will support the phone). No more carrier bottle necking. Lenovo already has a good ordering page for their stuff, just put the phones up there I would buy it in a heart beat. I don't need a flagship phone, nor a low end phone. Just a middle of the road, with microSD, Qi charging, NFC, and a decent camera and I'm good to go.
  • Nokia did that, and it pissed off the carriers in North America so bad they became a pariah. My carrier will not carry Nokia smartphones for anything.
  • Will never happen. Carriers don't want to become dumb pipes and will fight tooth and nail and use all of their dirty tricks to make sure they keep the upper hand.
  • OEMs are already "carrier agnostic" in countries other than the U.S. Here in my country, it's possible to buy unlocked phones sold directly to the buyer by Nokia Stores. There are also Samsung Stores, Sony Stores, HTC Stores, LG Stores, etc, and they all sell phones direct to the buyer that he can then just pop-in a SIM from any carrier he likes as soon as he pays for the phone.
  • I wish Lenovo would come out with a decent, lightweight phone that was 4" or less, with 1GB RAM, at least 16GB storage and micro-SD support. I already travel for work with a laptop or tablet. I don't want a large screen phone or a heavy one that is going to deform my suit. Give me 16GB so I can have some music and a decent number of apps. Give me SD card support so I can easily move large files on/off my other devices without needing WiFi. Give me a good FFC so I can make decent looking video calls when necessary. I only need an average rear camera, with a flash.
  • Its funny how motorola was so popular when cell phones first really started going mainstream. Remeber like 10 years ago everyone wanted a Razr? Now people are kinda like...meh moto who? Same story with Nokia, but they have really come along way with windows phone.