Sep 11 AT 12:03 AM Taylor Wimberly 38 Comments

10 reasons to start saving for the Verizon Motorola Sholes Android phone

Many people were impressed with Motorola’s announcement of MotoBlur, their custom social networking service for Android. However, their first Android phone (T-Mobile Cliq) was nothing to get excited about. The T-Mobile Motorola Cliq is based on Qualcomm’s MSM7201A chipset, the same one that powered the G1.

I had predicted we would see the Motorola Sholes at today’s event, but then received a last minute notice that the phone had been pushed back to an early December release. It now appears that the Sholes will be unveiled at Motorola’s Motodev Summit which takes place October 6, 2009. Unlike the Mobilize 09 event, we will be attending the Motodev Summit and plan to bring you the latest news.

Since we might have to wait another month for more official Sholes information, I thought I would share several features I have been able to uncover. The following list was compiled with information I have received from multiple sources.

Critics complain I spread a lot of rumors because I fail to reveal my sources, but I have communicated with current and ex-employees working on Sholes, people with access to Sholes demo units, and a few anonymous tipsters that have been very reliable.

Here are 10 reasons to consider saving your money and switching to Verizon:

1. First phone with Android 2.0

Regular readers of our site will not be surprised by this information, but I have been claiming for awhile that Sholes would be the first phone with Android 2.0. I’m still confident in this claim after multiple sources have confirmed it over and over.

I only doubted this information because of the late October launch date that had been floating around. Our recent report that Verizon will launch Sholes in early December, should allow Google enough time to put the finishing touches on Android 2.0.

2. Fastest Android phone

We were the first to report that Sholes would feature the Texas Instruments OMAP3430 chipset, which includes a 600 MHz core. That might not sound much faster than the Qualcomm 528 MHz processor we have seen in current Android phones, but the OMAP is a completely different architecture. I have been told Sholes will offer twice the performance of any competing Android phone when it is released.

3. MotoBlur

Motorola announced that MotoBlur would be appearing on multiple Android phones and this includes the Sholes. MotoBlur offers many social networking enhancements over the standard Android operating system.

Check out the MotoBlur online simulator for a closer look at the new service.

4. Flash support

Sholes will include a version of Flash, but I do not know which one. HTC shipped Flash on their Hero phone, but it was a lite version based mostly off the older Flash 8. Adobe is set to release a beta of Flash 10 for Android at their upcoming Adobe MAX event on October 4, 2009. Since Sholes is coming in early December, I think there is a good chance it will be the first smartphone to ship with Flash 10.

5. Enhanced multitouch

Some phones like the HTC Hero have offered some multitouch features like pinch zoom, but this was an HTC addition and not part of the official Google version of Android. The Sholes multitouch should offer enhanced features because it is rumored to be a part of the Android 2.0 operating system.

6. Thinnest QWERTY Android phone

We can argue forever on whether people prefer a physical or virtual keyboard. Having used both the G1 and myTouch 3G, I can say without a doubt that the G1 offers much faster text entry. There is a learning curve for both input methods, but I will always prefer a physical keyboard.

The main complaint against slide out keyboards is the bulk they add to the phone. We compared the thickness of several Android phones and found the Sholes will be slimmer than the T-Mobile myTouch 3G or the Sprint Hero, both of which lack a physical keyboard.

7. Spoken turn-by-turn directions

The Sholes will feature spoken turn-by-turn driving directions, but I’m not sure which software will provide them. I speculated we might see Google Maps 4.0 offer spoken directions, but we have been unable to confirm this.

I have received mix reports from my sources. Some say this feature will be powered by Google Maps and others say it will be a separate application.

Motorola is offering Telenav on the Cliq phone, but that is with a different carrier. Each version of Google Maps is customized for the carrier, so it is possible this could be a Verizon exclusive.

Can Google monetize driving directions enough to offer the service for free? I think they can and that is why I still believe there is a chance we could see spoken directions in Google Maps 4.0.

8. Biggest screen on an Android phone

The Sholes will feature a 3.7 inch widescreen which will make it the biggest display found on an Android phone when it launches. The Sholes display also tops the one found in the iPhone 3G S.

The large widescreen will be great for watching high definition video. Motorola has signed a deal with Blockbuster and will be offering streaming content. I am also expecting Amazon will bring their video store to Android.

9. More storage than any Android phone

The first specs we posted claimed that Sholes would feature 512 MB of on board storage. Limited internal storage has been a major criticism of Android phones and 512 MB is the same amount featured in the myTouch 3G and Hero phones.

Only Samsung has offered a larger storage with their Galaxy (8GB) and Galaxy Lite (1GB) phones.

I have received new information that claims Motorola has bumped the internal storage to levels that will be competitive with the iPhone 3G S. Since Motorola is trying to keep the overall price down, I think we are more likely to see 16 GB, which is offered in the cheaper ($199) iPhone 3G S.

10. Chrome Sync

Google announced in August that their Chrome browser would sync bookmarks across multiple devices. It makes perfect sense that Google would bring this feature to Android in order to further promote both platforms. We were told that the lines between Chrome OS and Android would be blurred and I think this is an example of that. Note that this feature is slated for Android 2.0, but it should eventually appear on all Android phones.


After reviewing all the information that has been leaked about the Sholes, it appears this phone will match up nicely with the competition. Verizon has been longing for a phone they can put up against AT&T and their exclusive iPhone.

If all these features make their way onto the Motorola Sholes, how to you think it stacks up with the iPhone 3G S, Palm Pre, and competing Android phones?

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • SliestDragon

    I can’t wait for this phone to come out. I think it will be more then able to compete against the iPhone and palm pre, especially if it does end up getting more internal memory.

    Also if it is 13.7mm thick like you stated in one of your previous post, that would make it 1.4mm thicker than the iPhone 3Gs(with it being 12.3mm thick) while still having a keyboard. To me thats amazing.(take that apple!)

    All those specs make my mouth water, and I would be proud to rub it in all my iPhone friends faces. :-)

    I just hope it has more of a metal feel to it and not plastic. Anything that thin and plasticy(<is that a word?) has cheap and fragile written all over it to me.

    With all that said I hope with all the recent we are taking away more market share and bringing even more people to the android side.

    • Taylor Wimberly

      I don’t think it will feel cheap. The Sholes weighs in at 169g, which makes it heavier than all other Android phones.

      The G1 was the heaviest (158g) until today when we saw the Cliq (163g).

    • SliestDragon

      Android announcements and the mytouch oprah thing.
      ^ that was going to be between “all the recent” and “we are taking” but I guess it never made it in. :-)

  • Carl

    The Sholes is shaping up to be a very nice phone, the only problem is that it’s going to be one of the latest phones in its generation (especially for the vast majority of us who want a GSM/UMTS version) and many people may not want to wait that long when there are other options out there.

    In terms of Cortex A8 based phones, the i8910, Pre and 3GS are already available and the N900, which is the closest the Sholes has to a direct competitor, will be coming in five or six weeks. If it’s 2010 before we see an unlocked GSM Sholes then Motorola is risking missing the boat.

    • Donovan

      if this is as good as all the android websites say it is, with the implied spec’s and the still unknown, i think verizon will make their own boat with this phone.. well see, ima buy one either way.

  • John

    Sounds like amazing phone on great Network….
    Is It a killer-combination ?

  • Kels

    Too bad its going to be on verizon network, which means they’ll probably cripple it… Even if they don’t, it’s still CDMA

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  • chewtoy

    I’m soooo tired of device makers adding their own interfaces!

    I don’t want “HTC Sense”. I don’t want “Motoblur”! This is idiotic!

    The Android UI is NOT dated — it’s very slick, very nice.

    If you are a hardware manufacturer, FOCUS ON THE DAMN HARDWARE and keep the software the same across all Android phones, so that the development efforts there don’t get fragmented!!!

    It actually makes me angry to see phone makers continuing to put any effort into their own GUIs. THOSE EFFORTS ARE A VERY BAD THING FOR THE LONG TERM.

    I used to have to support all the ridiculous extra interfaces that computer OEMs like Compaq and Packard Bell layered on top of their Windows95 systems to make the interface “slicker”. What was the end result? All of those interfaces were under-used so they were under-developed and ended up causing problems left and right.

    And never did *anyone* EVER go to the store looking to buy that crap — we went to the store looking for the best computer we could buy to run what we already knew, NOT some additional, OEM-specific interface.

    The same thing is true with phones. If I’m looking for an Android phone (and I am), I’m looking for the one that best runs ANDROID — I am NOT looking for the one that best REPLACES bits of Android.

    This wouldn’t be so bad if the hardware vendors were paying enough attention to the hardware itself… but they’re NOT.

    For example, HTC seems completely incapable of making a camera with a good ccd and good shutter speed. They also never seem to get the speakerphone loud enough.

    But you have to give it to HTC that they designed a great little keyboard layout on the G1 — that thing is fast. The only problem is that it doesn’t have left/right arrow keys.

    But do the other vendors pay attention to these things and realize that if they take the good bits of the G1 and just fix the missing bits (more memory, faster proc, arrow keys on the keyboard, no chin), then they’ll sell more products.

    What are the things that a phone hardware vendor SHOULD be focused on? That’s simple:

    1. Good hardware design, including top-of-the-line specs and doing lots of user research to see which designs from other vendors are best.

    2. Providing drivers to Android. In particular this means they should put a ton of effort into providing perfect 3D support to Android, even if they have to push Google hard to finalize their interfaces for openGL.

    No other work belongs to the phone OEMs. Moto/HTC, keep your grubby hands off the Android UI. This is NOT an area where you can differentiate yourselves!!!

    Y’know what else is wrong with OEMs replacing bits of Android? That means it’ll be that much less likely that we’ll get timely releases of new versions of Android on these phones when they come out.

    Again, HTC/Moto, if you haven’t understood my point yet, I’ll make it simple — every time I see a phone that has replaced parts of the native OS interface, I immediately skip it.

    • JoeyAndroid

      I feel your frustrations, chewtoy. I have more than 20 years working in the computer industry.

      BUT, I don’t think it is fair to compare the open source Android to the proprietary MS Windows.

      Being open source should allow anyone to modify the GUI.

      Let the marketplace determine what’s worth selling and what needs to be eliminated.

      I know how it is to work in Support, and even if management can’t make the right decisions, if Support people feel like the product sucks then customers will realize it and won’t buy or recommend the product. And the product will eventually go away.

      So don’t give up on the Android just yet.
      If you do decide to skip it, then please keep your eye on it, there will be better times ahead.

    • SliestDragon

      You do know it will be only a matter of time after the phone comes out before its rooted.
      If you really hate the blur UI like you say you do, just wait to get the phone until they figure out how to root it, then you can put whatever you want on it.

      Although I guess that doesn’t really help your hate of it, it just finds a way to work-around your dislike of blurry things. :P

      • chewtoy

        I appreciate the comments, JoeyAndroid and SliestDragon. Thanks for commenting on what was clearly an irritated rant from me. :-)

        My real concern is that I believe the efforts put into differentiating android phones is having a seriously negative impact on forward progress.

        * Moto devoted resources to blur that could have better been directed towards killer hardware research.

        * Moto probably delayed the development of hardware frequently as they worked on building Blur into things.

        * Verizon will delay launch so that they can layer on their own software, and given their history it will probably be a build of android customized specifically to BLOCK functionality so that they can sell their own services (e.g. blocking other gps apps).

        * HTC spends time and marketing on Sense instead of on 3D drivers.

        * The community will spend time working around quirks in the interface of individual phones rather than in base android.

        All of these things detract from focusing on the more useful, more fundamental work of making Android an amazing platform for new functionality.

        Hardware vendors should be focused on adding hardware features. Superfast internal storage. Great 3D graphics drivers. Multiple microSD card slots. Cordless power charging. FM tuners. Great cameras. FM transmitters. IPod-compatible jacks! Tazers (still readin’? Just checking…) Hardware vendors should focus on adding the things that only they are in a position to add. Getting to market quickly is important — they shouldn’t waste efforts on software interfaces that only distract from the larger goal of better phones for customers.

        Besides — every feature in Blur and Sense will be added in one form or another by independently developed apps, and it should be up to Google to periodically take the best of those functions and fold them into the base Android.

        I was really hoping the goal of the AHA was that the handset makers could *stop* focusing on software and rely on being the best hardware for a given platform.

        If you think about why “general purpose” computers almost always end up just sitting on a desk, it’s not because the OS isn’t up to the job of doing many new things — it’s because the form-factor of a PC isn’t amenable to most non-desk-related uses.

        On the other hand, the cell phone form factor is perfect for an infinite number of hand-held uses. The only ones in a position to make the hardware that allows those gadgets to be created is the handset makers. That’s what they should be focusing on.

        Maybe I want an android that has a tape printer on it. Maybe I want one where the top of the device is a standard connector of some type for industrial attachments. Maybe I want a waterproof flat panel that charges wirelessly and sits in my kitchen. The point is the handset makers have sooooo much open ground where they can really add value — UI software isn’t one of those spots.

        • JoeyAndroid

          I think your comments are worth reading and I hope some future business decision maker reads them and helps them make better use of resources.

          I too can’t wait for more and better 3D capabilities. I know smartphones will never match up with desktops. But soon Android phones will be “good enough” to showcase some really cool 3D. I believe 3D can attract even more new users to Android.

        • JJ

          You don’t have to run Blur or Sense. You can turn them both off and run the standard Android home. Both Sense and Blur are more or less home replacements.

          The people that develop the software are not the same people that work on the hardware. Moto and HTC have different teams so it’s not like, as you are suggesting, they are dropping the ball from one hand while focusing on the other.

          Not every phone is going to be perfect for every person. You may not like the arrows missing from the HTC keyboard but there are other people out that who don’t even use the arrow keys.

          I feel what you are saying. I too want great hardware! I just don’t think it’s as cut and dry as you make it out to be.

  • JoeyAndroid

    I think the Sholes, leveraging and benefitting from prior Android phones achievements should stack well against the iPhone 3G S and Pre.

    I don’t think it will be any one given reason, although they are all very good reasons, I think it will be people’s impression of Android that will be better when the Sholes comes out that will make the Sholes a success.

  • lordhong

    Sholes will be a serious competitor to iPhone 3Gs w/ VZW network. Palm Pre/Pixi has already lost. Motoblur is the answer to Palm’s Synergy. And Sholes comes w/ bigger screen, bigger keyboard, Open GL and Android 2.0! I own G1, iPhone and Pre, and I can attest Palm’s already behind Moto Cliq, less Moto Sholes!

  • William

    As far as I am concerned, I think advertising is everything. AT&T and Apple advertised the iPhone like there is no tomorrow and it was a huge success, so with the largest cell phone provider in the in the United States, money should be no object for advertising and if they would actually advertise the PHONE and not their netowork of creepers, then i think they could realy get somewhere with the Sholes.

    • JoeyAndroid

      Yes, more advertising is needed as well as more of the other marketing stuff.

      T-Mobile could do something special in their retail stores that would attract more attention to Android. They can show really cool demos and they can also have an hour on the weekends where they invite the public to see more really cool demos by local Android experts while enjoying refreshments and talking with other Android users, almost like a users group meeting.

      You can read more about my idea at

      where I won a prize.

  • Doubtful

    I have serious doubts about this phone. Verizon will probably screw it up trying to lock it down and and having to wait possibly 4-5 months for a GSM version will put it around the time 3rd Gen Android phones are coming out. Will be interesting to see how this plays out.

  • WootRoot

    im, unfortunately feeling the same way about Verizon messing this phone up (much like so many others). Definitely looking forward to a gsm version, and i think it will be out less than 4 months after the cdma version. Sooo many android devices coming soo little pocket space :D.

  • Joseph

    I dont want Verizon =[
    but really diggin this phone

    • http://Website kallie

      why not verizon?

  • Christian

    Anyone know if this will be a verizon exclusive phone? I hope it comes to Sprint!

  • scott

    i thought i read somewhere you could turn blur off and have a standard android screen? i totally agree- i use dxtop and can’t see myself changing- i dont use most of the crap in blur (twitter only) but will buy the phone for its hardware!

    • jusfred

      You forget, blur are widgets, you are not forced to install them or use them

  • JJ

    “Each version of Google Maps is customized for the carrier…”

    Seriously? If I go to on my WinMo phone on the Sprint network I can download the same exact google maps version that people with WinMo on At&t, Verizon, and T-Mobile can download. People with Blackberrys also get the same version no matter which network they are on, although it is a different version than the WinMo version.

    G-maps is different (customized?) for each mobile operating system but is it customized for each carrier? I find that highly unlikely. I know you don’t like to give out your sources but this is one of those instances where your statement makes it seem as if it is a fact. You should have some kind of reference to back it up.

    Now, perhaps what you are saying is that VZ navigator will run on top of Google Maps. Verizon could be reworking their own navigation software to integrate Google Maps, using it as the mapping source and local search source but with their own VZ interface and directions/navigation UI or “skin”. At the core it’ll still be the same free Google Maps that we all love but on top it’ll be VZ Navigator running the show….much like Sense and Blur run on top of Android. This is more plausible, IMHO.

  • http://e Ryan

    Android will be the king Microsoft windows sucks

  • David Shellabarger

    I sort of doubt that Google will do turn by turn directions in Google maps. They would have to get new terms of service from all of their map data providers or use there own data exclusively.
    Google’s current terms of service with their suppliers explicitly forbids turn-by-turn directions.
    Google maps api for developers looks like this.
    Google forbids using Google maps for ” use the Service or Content with any products, systems, or applications for or in connection with (a) real time navigation or route guidance based on position input from a sensor (including but not limited to any visual or audible turn-by-turn route guidance);”
    They could of course change their terms of use. But they use the following map companies just for US data: LeadDog Consulting, Tele Atlas, ENEGI, Europa Technologies. Google would have to make new contracts with all of these companies. I’m saying it won’t happen, I just don’t think there is enough value in it for Google to do it.

  • Justin R

    Are there going to be any special plans comming out with the release of the sholes … I have to look and see cause I was thinking about switching to Sprint and the Hero until I read this article. now i have Verizon on the mind.

  • Donovan

    no one knows at this point.. i just hope it comes out before the end of the year although my hopes were really high for next month.. but ill be happy if it just gets here before the new year..

  • Dan

    I just can’t do Verizon anymore. Especially considering Sprint’s new Everything Data Plan. Been a Verizon customer for probably 4 years, and they’ve always nickle and dimed me and crippled the phones. They may have the best network, but I’m not interested in crippleware and deceptive pricing. That’s more important. Hopefully InstinctQ will rock.

  • Donovan

    looks like Verizon openly admits to releasing a Motorola (Sholes) phone for Verizon later this year but doesnt name anything..

  • silentnoiz

    I’m currently on VZW, and luckily for me my contract expires this month. I like T-Mobile’s pricing, but am concerned with their network coverage. AT&T concerns me with their network bandwidth issues. And VZW concerns me if they block ANYTHING on an Android phone. That leaves me Sprint?

    I would SO wait and stay on VZW if I could get a Sholes that is not crippled. These Wireless providers need to wake up to what customer’s want, and that is a non-crippled phone.

    Open Source is meant for applications to take advantage of the entire capabilities of the phone, and not for manufacturer’s to pile on their own pieces and flavors of an “OS”.

    Manufacturer’s, please focus on the hardware. Google, please focus on the OS (as u do so well). And Wireless providers, please focus on great coverage, great prices, and great service. In that you will create loyal customers willing to pay you reasonable prices. :)

  • EA

    What is the deal with the fear of Verizon crippling? They do cripple their regular phones (severely), but their smartphones are mostly left alone. Aside from GPS, which they’ve recently been leaving unlocked or having unlocked shortly after release, the OS is the same. No CDMA Blackberry devices have had wi-fi, so that isn’t a Verizon crippling. Blackberry and WinMo have still been the same ole Blackberry and WinMo. Why would Android be any different?

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  • VerizonTester

    THE SHOLES DOES NOT RUN MOTOBLUR. This is false so take note. The Sholes will just be a Android phone with no UI over it.

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