Moto X deep dive review: Hype aside, it's a really good phone
The Moto X Android smartphone may not be as groundbreaking as expected, but it offers consumers a great mobile experience.
Computerworld - The introduction of the Moto X last Thursday was accompanied by a great deal of hoopla from Motorola Mobility, which was acquired by Google a year ago, and no small amount of curiosity from the press and from users, who were eager to find out what the first phone designed after the acquisition would be like.
I've been using the Moto X as my sole smartphone since Thursday, putting it through its paces. And while the Moto X is not any kind of revolution in mobile technology, neither is it the complete disappointment that some are complaining about. Instead, it is an interesting attempt at a user-friendly and configurable mobile device.
First, the specs
The Moto X, which will be available at the end of August from all four major U.S. carriers, is lightweight and smaller than some of the more powerful smartphones out there -- or, for that matter, some of Motorola's recently announced phones. If you compare it with Motorola's upcoming Droid Ultra, which, like the Moto X, is priced at $199 with a 2-year contract, there are many similarities -- along with a couple of major differences.
To begin with, the Moto X, with its 4.7-in. display, measures a modest 5.09 x 2.57 in.; the back is curved (more on that later) and so its depth ranges from 0.22 to 0.41 in. It weighs 4.58 oz. On the other hand, the Droid Ultra, which comes with a 5-in. display, is somewhat larger at 5.41 x 2.80 x 0.28 in. and weighs 4.83 oz., only slightly heavier.
Both phones come with Motorola's X8 Mobile Computing System, which includes a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro dual-core processor and two additional processors that handle natural language and contextual computing. They both come with 2GB RAM and 16GB storage (although there will be a 32GB version of the Moto X for an extra $50).
The displays' specs are also similar. Both offer AMOLED Gorilla Glass displays with 1280 x 720 resolution, although the Moto X has a slightly better 316 pixels per inch (PPI) compared to the Droid Ultra's 294. And both have 10-megapixel rear cameras and 2-megapixel front cameras.
Both support Bluetooth 4.0 LE + EDR, can connect over 4G LTE networks and can be used as a mobile hotspot. Both also support 802.11n Wi-Fi, although the Moto X adds 802.11ac to the mix.
Even the software is much the same. Both cameras ship with Android 4.2.2 (instead of the more recent Android 4.3), along with a number of added features such as Touchless Control, which lets you activate the phone with your voice, and Active Display, which shows information on the screen when the phone is moved even slightly.
So what does the Moto X bring to the table that offsets the Droid Ultra's larger display? And, for that matter, how does Motorola/Google plan to compete with phones such as the HTC One or the Galaxy S4, with their 1080p displays?
Look and feel
To begin with, style. The Moto X has been specifically designed as a consumer-focused smartphone, and company representatives emphasize the device's look and ease-of-use features.
According to company reps at the press introduction, the Moto X has been purposefully made smaller in order to be more comfortable to hold and use. This is in contrast to what seems to be a general trend toward larger screens; as this was being written, rumors were spreading that Samsung was about to introduce a smartphone with a 6.3-in. display.
And the phone is very comfortable, although I'm not sure how much the rounded back has to do with that, since I tend to hold my phones by the edges. The case is made of a composite material with the feel of soft plastic, but I didn't get the impression that it was at all flimsy or fragile.
The general slimness of the phone is emphasized by the fact that the bezel around the 4.7-in. display is narrow and takes up as little space as possible. Motorola accomplishes this by not adding the capacitive hardware buttons that so many smartphones come with (unnecessarily, since current versions of Android come with onscreen versions of those buttons). In addition, the Moto X doesn't include any type of LED to signal new emails, messages or voicemails, something that the Active Display (more on that in a moment) makes moot.
Besides the front-facing and rear-facing cameras, there is the usual micro USB port on the bottom for power and a hardwire connection, and an audio port on the top. Both the power button and the volume rocker are on the right edge, an arrangement I've never been that fond of, since I occasionally hit the power button when I'm trying to increase the volume.
- Tips for Driving User Adoption in New Technology Deployment Read this checklist on tips for driving user adoption to see where you stand.
- 5 Things You Didn't Know About Cloud Backup IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there's a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical...
- The 5 Big Lies About Going Mobile You've heard about the power of mobile to change your business. But have you realized your mobile potential? It's about much more than...
- BYOP: How Mobile and Social Are Creating New User Personas The digital world of mobile + social creates new customer segments and behaviors. Companies need to reorient their customer interactions around these segments...
- NSS Labs & Cisco Present: Evaluating Leading Breach Detection Systems Today's constantly evolving advanced malware and APTs can evade point-in-time defenses to penetrate networks. Security professionals must evolve their strategy in lockstep to...
- Will the Real Endpoint Threat Detection and Response Please Stand Up? This webinar explores new technologies & process for protecting endpoints from advanced attackers as well as the innovations that are pushing the envelope... All Smartphones White Papers | Webcasts
Our new weekly Consumerization of IT newsletter covers a wide range of trends including BYOD, smartphones, tablets, MDM, cloud, social and what it all means for IT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!