Update: Lenovo has since made an official announcement of the Smart Clock 2, revealing a starting price of $90 (about £70, AU$130) and release date in September.
Without any fanfare or an official announcement, Lenovo has unveiled the successor to its Google-powered Smart Clock – quietly allowing the Smart Clock 2 to slip into the world's collective consciousness by way of a product page (opens in new tab).
Marked as 'coming soon' on Lenovo's official US site, the second generation of Smart Clock presents a reinvented shape, improved speaker design, new (but separate) charging dock accessory, and a 4-inch display that appears to be the same as its predecessor, although we don't yet have any details on its resolution.
Based on Lenovo's language in its disclaimers – "wireless charging dock may be sold separately" and "requires the Lenovo Smart Clock 2 to be docked (select models) to use charging base" – we suspect that the Smart Clock 2 will be sold both as a standalone unit, and with the charging dock as a bundle.
As with the previous model, the Smart Clock 2 is a Google Home device that's able to play music and use Google Assistant for all the usual smart home needs, including the ability to control other smart devices in the home.
The slightly taller design has allowed the integration of two front-firing 3W speakers and stereo audio – certainly an improvement on the predecessor's singular 3W speaker and mono playback, but we don't expect it'll bring up to the quality of dedicated smart speaker audio.
The singular USB-A port on the original Smart Clock is gone in this successor, meaning you'll need to fork out for the wireless charging dock bundle if you want to charge your other devices, as the latter includes both a USB-A port and a wireless charging mat.
Another new feature that requires the dock to function is a built-in nightlight, which is "just bright enough to illuminate your way without bothering anyone else".
There's currently no word on pricing for the Smart Clock 2 bundle with the dock, and we've only seen information from the US version of Lenovo's website, so at this stage, consider availability in other regions as TBC.
Simplify and omit
We're never too thrilled to see popular, mainstay features of products get removed from newer iterations, only to be made accessible via a peripheral accessory – a prominent example being the wave of smartphones that removed the headphone jack and forced either a Bluetooth alternative or a dongle attachment.
The shifting of the USB-A charging output to the wireless charging dock accessory feels largely uncalled for in this instance and looks to us like a deliberate move to force customers into buying the bundle rather than the standalone product, resulting in a greater cost and bedside footprint.
For those users that possess their own wireless charging mat that would have plugged directly into the original Smart Clock, they'll now need to commit to the dock to achieve the same affect, forcing a redundancy.
The only possible redemption of this design decision would have been if the standalone Smart Clock 2 were to cost significantly less than its predecessor, and the dock bundle not be a considerable extra cost – but the Clock 2 by itself is $10 more (about £10, AU$20) than its predecessor, and we're yet to hear about pricing for the dock.