Build & Appearance
Concerning general look and design, the Moto X is fairly standard in appearance, although its lack of a logo and bulky plastic bezel is not helping matters in making a flashy first impression. The front camera and sensors are a bit too obtuse and overly apparent and take away from a possible sleek exterior. However, the handset features on the Moto X are quite different featuring a handy curved shape that fits comfortably in hand. The thickest part of this smartphone is only 10.4 millimeters, so while the Moto X is not perhaps the thinnest phone on the market its nifty curved body allows for an overall well-balanced weight and feel.
The Moto X features what is described as a “composite blend” which isn’t supposedly made of plastic; however it still looks and feels as though it is, not lending itself to what could be described as a chic, upscale feel. Along with this, the exterior parts of the phone tend to get a little smudgy and may required consistent cleaning. This factor could depend on your chosen phone coloring, and a variety are offered for front and rear covers, including a modern wooden option, as well as accent colors for buttons and the camera ring.
Functionality & Hardware
Contrary to many of its contemporary competitors, fellow android smartphones and others included, the Moto X does not feature a quad-core processor but rather a 1.7GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 chip backed up by 2GB RAM. Despite this fact, the Moto X still offers quick, fluid performance and navigation particularly concerning apps and gaming.
The Moto X could reasonably be considered a mid-sized smartphone with a screen measured at 4.7 inches making it large enough to use contentedly but not too big as to be considered awkward or cumbersome. The phone features AMOLED (active-matrix organic light-emitting diode) technology offering very rich and full coloring and favorable viewing angles. The downside is that Motorola only uses standard HD resolution (720 x 1280) making it not quite up to par with its competitors. Fully high-definition smartphones offer a better pixel density than that of the Moto X which only offers 312ppi making the graphics and text not as crisp as they could be.
Storage is also a bit of an issue with the 16GB Moto X featuring about 12GB of space, which is standard at this point, and it does not feature a microSD card slot causing the user to be fixed with the internal capacity. While including 11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 LE the Moto X does not feature an infrared transmitter or wireless charging, but it is well stocked with sensors that Motorola’s software takes advantage of.
Camera Features & Software
Featuring a 10Mp camera that offers quality better than most medium-range smartphones, the Moto X’s cameras are still not quite up to snuff by comparison as photos tend to be over-exposed. The main camera boasts a RGBC sensor which is meant to help in low-lit scenarios, and like most smartphones the Moto X has burst, panoramic and HDR modes, as well as slow-motion video options. An odd aspect concerning photography is that the user is unable to adjust the photo or video quality, forcing users to only use 10Mp and 1080p. However, the front camera does provide some top-quality imagery at 2Mp and 1080p video.
As far as software is concerned, this may in fact be the primary factor for purchasing the Moto X versus various other smartphones. The phone features a few upgraded tricks from the previous Moto G and is accompanied with Android 4.4 KitKat. It has high sensor functionality and convenience, and it also helps to save battery life in the process due to the minimal amount of pixels being used. For instance, the current time is automatically displayed when the user picks up his/her phone without having to press a button.
Active Display, Moto Assist & Touchless Control Features
With Active Display, which works with any Android apps that provide notifications, Moto X will send you news and updates in a relaxed fashion not relying on flashy LED lights. The smartphone simply pulses gently and displays icons that illustrate exactly what message is being received and in what format, be it email, missed call, etc., making it very similar to Windows’ Phone 8 lock-screen system. Very easily learned and used, simply tap the middle of the screen to display more information from an email.
Motorola has replaced their SmartActions app with Moto Assist which now offers basic settings to accommodate for when phone owners are sleeping, driving or in a business meeting, however this isn’t exactly good news. SmartActions previously allowed users to automate their phones featuring an extensive variety of actions, and it is unclear why Motorola made this unusual switch. Sure, this new feature, enabled by Touchless Control, allows you to speak out text messages so you don’t have to read them while you work or drive, and it informs you of who happens to be calling you at the moment, but the previous SmartActions system was much more useful and convenient and can no longer be installed on Moto X. Touchless Control, built on top of Google Now, does, however, allow users to manage their phone even if the screen is turned off, and is initiated by simply saying the words “Ok, Google Now.” It’s very similar to Siri, but generally better functioning.
The Bottom Line
Overall, the new Moto X smartphone is a pretty interesting gadget and has some admirable features, but it may not be fully up to par with its contemporaries. It will be worth your while to investigate this phone in person and to draw your own conclusions. Make sure to explore other smartphone options, but don’t completely count the Moto X out of the fight.
Author: Ezra Melino is an all-around-geek turned serious blogger out of North Carolina who not-so-secretly relishes an in-print love affair with everything from technology and multimedia entertainment to film and dish tv packages. He has written for and managed multiple tech blogs that are devoted to exploring new technological developments all around the world.