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Motorola developing Android phones with stock software, 'just right' size

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A new line of Google-influenced devices could be just what the struggling manufacturer needs

Gallery Photo: Motorola Droid RAZR HD / RAZR Maxx HD review
Gallery Photo: Motorola Droid RAZR HD / RAZR Maxx HD review

The dream of a stock Android phone that isn't too big to use with one hand was almost realized by the HTC First, but we may see some other options on the market in the near future, as well. According to a report from PC Mag, Motorola is working on new smartphones that will run 'stock' Android and will be smaller than the giant Android devices that have been dominating the market for the past couple of years.

PC Mag spoke with Jim Wicks, Motorola's chief of design, who said that these new phones are the result of collaboration and influence from Google, as opposed to the other devices that Motorola has released in the time since Google acquired the company. "It will be the unadulterated version of Android, and I feel really good about our embracing Android and being the best Android experience," said Wicks when speaking about the new devices, adding "there's a sweet spot for consumers that we're currently exceeding in the market. There are some people that like a big display, but there's also a lot of people that want something that's just about right. I think 'just right' is important, and we're designing so we don't disappoint those people."

"It will be the unadulterated version of Android, and I feel really good about our embracing Android and being the best Android experience."

Wicks also touched on included software with phones, more commonly called bloatware, and said that Motorola's phones will be as bloatware-free as possible. That, of course, may change once carriers get involved, so we'll have to see how much bloatware Motorola will be able to keep off these new devices. Thus far, the only way to get a "pure Android" phone was to buy a Nexus-branded device from Google, though those have not been exactly perfect devices.

With regards to the design of the new phones, Wicks said that bezels will be made as narrow as possible, and the phones will have scratch- and drop-resistance built into their designs. Specs will also allegedly take a back seat to consumer experience, as Wicks said that Motorola was "getting away from the spec wars that are just about specs and not about consumers. "

A singular brand expression to go along with a new line of devices

As we've seen recently from other smartphone manufacturers, such as HTC, Motorola says that it will be streamlining its product line and producing fewer devices this year. It plans to "drive a more singular expression of our brand across multiple carriers," so we may not see a disjointed lineup of Droids, Atrixes, and other randomly-named devices coming from the company. The new, Google-influenced phones are expected to start to hit shelves by the second half of this year.

Motorola has struggled to sell devices in the years since the debut of the original Droid, and it has lost money each quarter since Google acquired it last year. Rumors of a Google-influenced "X Phone" have circled for months, with many hoping that Google would be able to incorporate Motorola's engineering with better-designed and more interesting devices than the company has produced in the past. While it doesn't seem like these new, smaller-sized stock Android phones are part of the same thread as the X Phone, they are attacking a market that has largely been ignored by the other players: unencumbered devices that can actually be used in one hand. PC Mag notes that Motorola has tried this tack before with the Droid RAZR M, which had a comfortable size but was disappointing in other areas (and had to suffer the consequence of considerable influence from Verizon on its software). But with Google's influence in the picture, this new approach could be just what the company needs to gain marketshare in a fiercely competitive market.