Motorola is one name that we do not hear often in the Smartphone space. After being relatively quiet for the last few years, the company is gearing up for a new era with Moto X. The flagship device has a lot to owe to Google’s acquisition of the cell phone company. Google’s restructured strategy for Motorola, focuses on fewer devices that can make their presence felt in the market. The very company that introduced the mobile phone prototype to the world has silently watched giants like Apple and Nokia take the limelight. Instead of the different lines of Android devices, the company is now set to take over the competition with a single flagship device.
Moto X Complete Review, Features and Specifications :
Moto Maker is the one feature that distinguishes this device from everything else out there. Prospective owners can customize their Moto X phones inside-out through an online portal. In addition to providing options for color scheme and design pattern of the casing, we can also choose the accent colors on the phone – such as the ring around the camera lens or the power button. Various secondary customizations are also available, like complimentary wallpaper to match the phone’s color or loading a personal message during the boot up process. Accessories like cases and headphones to match your phone are also available. Unconventional materials like actual wooden bodies are also planned to be offered for customization.
Prices will vary according to your selections, as compared to the basic black/white model. Since the phone is being assembled in the US, the customization job may need 3-4 days depending on the availability of parts. This feature is new to the Smartphone industry and has already attracted enough excitement. However, on the downside Moto Maker is currently exclusive to AT&T. Hopefully we will see it rolled out for Google play and others, when it is launched.
The innovations mostly stop here. Further, the Moto X specs are pretty much the usual. However, you will find all the basic necessities fulfilled with assured quality.
Design: The Moto X style and design is best described as modest. The size and ergonomics will grab more attention though. The skinny phone with tapered edges packs a 4.7’’ display. The plastic frame makes it lightweight and compact. The rear casing has a rubbery finish that keeps it clean and dirt-free. The device fits in to your hand comfortably and naturally with its curved design. It does not carry any capacitive buttons on its façade, but you will notice the narrow ear piece, light/proximity sensors and a 2 MP front camera. The edges feature the power button, volume control, noise cancelling microphone, micro USB port and a 3.5 mm headset jack. There are no easy video-out connections and you will have to rely on the “Wireless display” feature. The primary 10 MP camera at the rear is complemented with an LED flash.
Display: 4.7’’ screen with AMOLED supports 720 pixels and is easy on the eyes. Apart from the usual, the edge-to-edge and minimal bezels display helps to make the handset extremely compact and form fitting as compared to anything we have seen so far. The Active display feature shows relevant notifications in a particular area assigned on the display surface. It is initiated whenever the device receives a new notification or when it is nudged or flipped over from display down position. This essentially means that you need not turn on the phone to check your notifications and thus helps in power conservation also.
UI & functions: At first glance, it may look like Jellybean – the app and notification panels and lock screen remain stock Android. Not entirely though – the camera UI takes a little diversion. Overall, it is an Android experience, but the device packs in a few neat features of its own to stand apart from others. You will find these in the upcoming DROID line as well.
So what’s new? Touchless control! The phone is always at your service – command and get things done. For example, say: “OK Google now”. Voila! The device will launch Google now. However, you will have to pre-program your Moto X to audible recognition of your voice from other people. The works well, but may need a little persistence in noisier spaces. It also allows you to ask questions, place phone calls, take a look at the weather, make appointments, navigate with turn-by-turn directions etc. There are inconsistencies too, like saying “Send” wouldn’t make the phone deliver text messages.
The next best thing is Motorola Assist – Automatically detects when you are driving, with the help of GPS, read out incoming messages and auto reply to them as well. Hands free experience behind the wheel is certainly an advantage. Also, the ‘resume music play’ will connect the device to your car’s stereo over Bluetooth. If you have meetings scheduled on your phone’s calendar, the device will automatically place the phone on silent mode during that time period and auto-reply to messages. Finally, you can specify the time slot for sleep and the device will go silent.
Moto X also offers exclusive 50 GB free storage – Courtesy Google Drive. This is an added bonus especially when there is only 15/32 GB internal storage available.
Motorola Connect will help you view text messages and incoming call list from your phone via your PC’s chrome browser. You can also install an extension to reply to the messages. However, in the case of calls, we can only choose to ignore or send a message to the caller. This could be a good tracking tool as well.
If you have access to a compatible Miracast Wireless display, you can stream everything on the phone on to a big screen, using the wireless display feature. This especially useful for viewing photos & videos, playing games or accessing the internet.
Basically, the most impressive function that the device offers will have to be the Touchless control. Everything else makes everyday use easier.
Messaging: The stock Android on-screen keyboard is typically smooth, but we may need to access the punctuations on another layout. Standard Email apps including Gmail are also offered.
Organizer: Identical to every other Android device, however, the ‘Touchless contro’ feature makes all the difference.
Memory & Processor: Powered by home brewed X8 Mobile Computing System with a modified dual-core 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor with 2GB of RAM. The experience is close to Quad core processors. For a dual core device, the actual performance is surprisingly snappy and reliable. The device proves how specs no longer matters for Android phones. Local storage is limited to 16 GB or 32 GB with no external options. However, the exclusive Google Drive option can cover this up easily.
Connectivity: Packed with 4G LTE connectivity, browsing with chrome is bliss with all the expected speed and power. Depending on the carrier, both GSM and CDMA versions are available. The usual connectivity assortment also helps out – GPS, Bluetooth 4.0 with EDR, dual band 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi and NFC.
Remember – we told you the UI isn’t entirely android because of the Camera. Here’s why! Similar to the usual Stock Android Cam app, the Moto version is clean with only two buttons for video recording and switching to front camera. However, with a right swipe, you will get a circular dial with functions like HDR mode, panoramic, touch focus, flash settings, slow motion video, geo-tagging, and Quick Capture Camera. A couple of twist gestures can launch the camera UI even when the device is locked or in sleep mode. The 10 MP clear pixel camera also packs in a RGBC sensor that can collect up to 75% more light than the usual RGB Bayer sensor. f2.4 aperture lens and 1.4µ pixel size also helps, especially when it comes to capturing moving objects. The camera app also brightens up shots in low light conditions and handles dynamic range well, but compromises with quality – noise and fine detailing. The Led flash tends to give a warmer tone to the snaps. The device may not be for the serious photographer, but does take some decent pictures.
The 1080 p video recording is better off without low light conditions. Satisfactorily clear details come out, but there may be a hint of disturbance when panning quickly. Audio recording could have been better without the usual distortion. Also, the focus is a little slow and low light conditions can easily take the recording to 24 fps. Slow motion video is however an interesting features.
Multimedia: The Gallery app is the usual Android style. The Google Music app is also useful with a strong output and does not strain even on the loudest setting. Moto X’s vivid display and high performance plays HD videos smoothly and also supports all the popular codecs like DivX, H.264, MPEG-4 and Xvid.
Call quality: There may be a hint of robotic voice over the earpiece or the speakerphone, but is not terrible enough to be incomprehensible. The noise cancellation feature may take 5 seconds to adapt, but effectively cancels out background disturbances like wind.
Battery: 2200 mAh battery will easily survive an 8-hour work shift.
What’s in the box with Moto X:
- microUSB cable
- Wall Charger
- SIM Removal Tool
- Get Started Guide
- Safe, Smart, & Protected Guide
The device being assembled (not entirely manufactured though) in the USA is coming out for a $200 budget with a 2 year contract. For a flagship device, this is hardly expensive. Initially, only being offered on US carriers (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint and U.S. Cellular), let’s hope it will hit the rest of the world markets soon.
Comparisons of Moto X with HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5
Don’t let that price fool you and call Moto X a mid-range phone. This one is fierce competitor to go down head to head with the likes of HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4.
Moto X vs HTC One :
Design: Both devices run on Android 4.2.2 Jellybean OS, with a 4.7’’ display. Though the curved design is similar, Moto is slightly more tapering to fit comfortably into your hands, but difficult to use on flat surfaces. When it comes to size, HTC takes up more space with those BoomSound speakers and IRS sensors on the top, while Moto has its speakers on the back and is visibly smaller. However, HTC’s volume control and power buttons blend into the aluminum unibody casing and in the case of Moto. They stick out a bit against the plastic frame.
Display: 720p vs.1080p – this is where HTC outdoes Moto with its superior display quality. A side-by-side comparison will show you the slight fuzziness of images on Moto X. You may not notice these while playing games, but try reading text. If you are not really picky about the pixels, you may want to check out the colour accuracy. HTC’s colors are significantly cooler and thus Moto’s warm tones look great, but not a white background – that would appear with a tinge of yellow. However, this isn’t as irritating as the blue on HTC in low light conditions.
Performance: S4 Pro vs. Snapdragon 600 – you sure about who the winner is? May be not so – both phones are incredibly smooth and snappy. But with HTC Sense and Vanilla android, comparing glide and stroll performance would not be fair. Either phone does not exhibit any problems. It is really difficult to decide which Android device is faster when compared side-by-side. However, animations seem to be noticeably faster when moving from menus. Moto X also seems to have the upper hand when it comes to gaming, despite a technically lesser processor. Try ‘Reign of Amira’ to give a hardcore test for the Snapdragon system. The superiority in gaming and animations could be because of the lesser pixels too. HTC one would probably handle other tasks better with its quad core processor.
Camera: Ultrapixel vs. Clearpixel – both technologies are new and are supposed to work well in low light conditions. HTC One comes with a 4mp Ultrapixel camera with an impressive low light shooter, while Moto X features the RGBC sensor for the first time in a Smartphone. What takes the advantage away from Moto will have to be its impressive RGBC sensor’s performance in excessive light. Though Moto offers accurate color representations, the image may come washed out as compared to HTC’s highly processed ones. While Moto handles bright colors well, HTC steals the show when the lights are out with finely detailed low light images. However, HTC images may be a bit surreal, but the burst shot is much faster with zero shutter lag.
Other Features: Both phones have premiere features exclusive to their respective platforms. HTC’s BlinkFeed focused UI delivers an RSS feed that brings together your favorite sites and social networks. However, this is not customizable yet, but it is new and is not offered by anyone else. The BoomSound and BeatsAudio are also impressive enhancements for HTC One. Moto’s features are focused on functionality with the likes of ‘Touchless control’ to improve user experience. Google Now commands are helpful too. Automatic Customized settings for specified situations are unique to Moto X.
Well, it would be safe to say that; there is no better phone here – as the completion now stays neck to neck. It all comes down to your call on the features that each device offers and the price.
Moto X vs Galaxy S4 :
Design: The Android Smartphones share the same form factor – Candy bar, however, Moto X is slightly smaller in size and narrower than S4. Currently, both devices are offered in the plastic frame. Moto X would be later available in a much awaited wood body. This customizable design is one of the major innovations from Motorola. – You can order a custom phone with a choice of body and accent colors from the Moto Maker portal. The S4 has a flat and glossy back cover, while Moto X’s curved matt-soft touch finish keeps it clean and helps to fit into our hands comfortably.
Display: S4 features a larger and sharper display with a 5’’ screen against Moto’s 4.7’’ display space. Though, Gs4 has a superior 1080p resolution on offer, Moto’s 720p display does not lag in quality. S4 does offer finer lines and better readability though.
Performance: Moto X features Motorola’s X8 system with a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro. S4 on the other hand is one of the most powerful handsets available with a Snapdragon 600 or Exynos 5 Octa. Both devices stand equal on the RAM part with 2 GB.
Memory: Galaxy S4 has a microSD slot which you wouldn’t find on Moto X. Also, the 32 GB version is exclusively available only to AT&T users. The basic Moto X comes with 16 GB of internal memory.
Connectivity: 4G LTE is supported on both S4 and Moto X, as long as your carrier supports it.
Battery: While Moto’s battery that claims to run for 24 hours with mixed usage, is sealed shut. GS4’s battery is removable. Moto X’s Active Display feature saves battery consumption by functioning in a low battery condition to bring new notifications.
Camera: Moto X has a clear advantage with the 10 mp Clear Pixel rear camera that performs at par with HTC One in low light conditions. Also, a simple circular gesture can launch the camera at anytime for quick shots. Unlike S4, there is no shutter button either. Just tap anywhere on the screen to take a picture.
The Moto X could easily win you over with some of its exclusive features like Google now and Touchless control.
Moto X vs iPhone 5 :
Design: The iPhone is smaller and luxuriant with its glass-and-aluminum body. Moto X comes with a less glamorous plastic frame, but a matt back cover that gives better grip. The curved design fits in to your hands snuggly, while the flat iphone is easier to operate on plain surfaces.
Display: Both phones does not follow the flagship device code for the gigantic 5’’ 1080p screen. The iPhone features a 4-inch backlit IPS LCD screen, while the Moto X features a larger 4.7-inch 720p AMOLED display. Pixel density is slightly higher on the Apple device, however the final output quality varies according to individual tastes.
UI: The Stock Android 4.2.2 is slightly modified by Motorola to give Moto X a simple, clean and flexible Jellybean flavored Android experience. iphone 5 is currently stuck on iOS 6 and will run on iOS 7 soon.
Performance: The older iPhone packs in a slower processor as compared to the brand new Moto X. It is 1.3 GHz against 1.7 GHz and 1 GB RAM against 2 GB RAM. Iphone may lack in horsepower now, but that can be easily overcome with a new version.
Camera: Moto X features a 10 mp clear pixel rear camera as against the iPhones 8 MP rear camera. Also Moto has a 2 MP front camera while iPhone offers only 1.2 mp. Aso, The Rgbc sensor is being featured on a Smartphone for the first time by Moto.
Though, it looks like Moto X is standing at an advantage against the iPhone, a new version of the device from Apple is sure to shake things up a bit.