Motorola is working on a phone that could rival Samsung and Apple flagships

The Moto G7 Play
(Image credit: Future)

In recent years, Motorola has focused on affordable smartphones – it has the entry-level Moto E range, the popular Moto G range, then the mid-range Motorola One line and finally the once flagship, but now mid-high tier, Z series.

However, it appears Motorola is readying a return to the true flagship level of the market.

The revelation appeared during a media briefing for the new Moto G8 Plus, E6 Play and One Macro, which TechRadar attended. 

Motorola used graphs to clarify how the product lines (E, G, One and Z) stack against each other, but there was an entry labelled 'Flagship' that sat above all the other devices.

There's no confirmation of what this handset is, or what its specs will be. All that's known is Motorola appears to be moving in a direction where it will once again produce a more premium device - something which could potentially rival the likes of the iPhone 11 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S10.

A return to form?

When the Z series launched back in 2016, it was a true flagship offering, with the Moto Z comparable to the Samsung Galaxy S7

A year later and the Galaxy S8 was followed a few months later by the Moto Z2 Force, which again boasted a similar spec sheet and price tag to Samsung's 2017 flagship.

However, as we entered 2018 it became clear Motorola was starting to re-position its Z line. The Moto Z3 packed a chipset which was a generation out of date, a full HD screen while flagships from other firms were using QHD resolutions, and a price point which comfortably moved it out of the premium tier.

Fast forward to 2019 and the newly launched Moto Z4, which landed in the US but didn't reach markets such as the UK, is firmly a mid-tier handset with a Snapdragon 675 chipset, 4GB of RAM, just the one rear camera and a price tag around half that of the top-tier phones from Samsung, Apple and Huawei.

There's certainly a gap then at the top of Motorola's range, and the indication from the firm that it's looking to fill it is good news for consumers, as we could soon have another high-end player back in the market.

Whether or not Motorola decides to bring its modular MotoMods to its new flagship proposition remains to be seen. It's unlikely, as the connector required for the current mods restricts handset design and we'd expect Motorola to push a new direction with a brand new range.

A new direction

When we asked Motorola to clarify the comment, a spokesperson said it was "a non-specific comment on the direction that the brand is heading".

It's possible that the flagship device mentioned is the Motorola Razr, a rumored upcoming foldable phone that we're expecting to launch on November 13

However, since foldables are still a novelty that few people would currently consider buying, it seems unlikely Motorola would refer to this as a 'flagship'. In addition, language used implied the flagship is more of a future plan than an imminent device.

Given the last year of Motorola's products, it makes sense for the company to work on a flagship phone to rival anything from Apple, Samsung, Google or Sony

Its Motorola One line of smartphones all come with advanced camera features, and it's likely Motorola used them to soft-launch these features, to see which are popular.

No timeline was given for a launch of the new Motorola flagship, so for now you'll just have to watch this space.

Tom Bedford

Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist.