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Android Headliner: Why I chose the Motorola Moto X Over the Google Nexus 5

December 15, 2013 - Written By Alexander Maxham

I’m one of those guys that everyone hates. I am a Nexus fan. Although the title of this post may not lead you to believe that. Ever since the Galaxy Nexus I’ve been a huge Nexus fan. Owned every Nexus since except for the Nexus 10. I quickly got tired of the little to no updates my smartphones before the Galaxy Nexus were getting, that I decided to stick to Nexus. Which was great. And Google made it even better when they decided to offer the Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 for crazy cheap prices $350 for the 16GB of both devices. Not bad considering it’s unlocked. Then along came the Moto X in August/September of this year. I was really excited for the Moto X. It was one of those phones that was less about the specs and more about the experience. I remember when the Moto X was announced, all we kept seeing in our comments were “Moto X is a fail, with specs from last year”, etc. I actually decided to keep my public thoughts of the Moto X private until I was able to get my hands on a review unit. Around October, is when I finally got a review unit from Sprint, and I fell in love with the Moto X. But, since I like to stay off contract on T-Mobile, I didn’t want to pay $550 for that device. Additionally, I was trying hard to wait for MotoMaker to come to all carriers. It finally did, but not before the Nexus 5 launched. So I grabbed a Nexus 5.

I was kind of happy with the Nexus 5. Seeing as I’m someone who uses my phone a lot, all though not to make phone calls. The Nexus 5’s battery was really poor for me. Which was really my only gripe about the device. I thought the camera was adequate, considering this is a smartphone. Then came Black Friday, when Motorola announced their Cyber Monday deal for the Moto X. At that point, I knew I had to go ahead and pick up a Moto X. Especially since MotoMaker is now on every carrier. Adding the fact that just about every variant of the Moto X has KitKat already, and it’s only been about a month Since Android 4.4 had been announced. It made it a no-brainer, which I’ll further explain below. Basically in comparing the two, The Moto X has everything the Nexus 5 has except for the new launcher (which everyone is calling the Google Experience launcher, but Google has said nothing to that extent). But the Moto X had a few other tricks up its sleeves, which are tricks I really liked.

Disclaimer: Not everyone is going to agree with me, that’s evident in the Google+ post I put up this weekend regarding this topic. That’s fine, feel free to leave a comment below with your thoughts.

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Active Display

I’ve said this many times already, but Active Display is probably the best and most useful feature in a smartphone in quite a while. I know Samsung throws in a ton of features in every phone release. But honestly, most of those features I never use, and most people won’t use. Active Display is a new take on the notification LED, which is kind of boring now, at least to me. I really like Active Display because a lot of the time when I’m pulling my phone out of my pocket or picking it up, I’m checking the time and my notifications. With Active Display, you don’t even need to turn the display on to do that. It’s a subtle feature, but one I really like. When it was first announced, I didn’t think much of it, but after I used it on the Moto X, DROID Ultra and DROID Maxx for reviews, I knew I just had to have it.

Battery Life

I know, I know. Everyone gets good battery life on the Nexus 5. Well I wasn’t. Now that is probably because I keep my phone on LTE all day (unlimited data on T-Mobile, so why not use it?). But the battery life on the Nexus 5 was nothing compared to the Moto X’s battery life. Which made it a pretty easy switch on that alone for me. I get pretty bad signal here from Sprint, and when I had the Sprint Moto X review unit, I was able to get around 24 hours on their 3G/LTE network. So I knew it would do great on T-Mobile’s LTE network.

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Touchless Control

Yes the Nexus 5 kind of has this. But it really doesn’t. On the Nexus 5, you can say “Okay Google” and do certain tasks like you can on the Moto X. Except, it has to be on the homescreen. You can’t just say “okay Google” to wake it up like you can on the Moto X, or do it from virtually anywhere in the OS. A lot of you may not use that feature, which is fine, but Motorola is improving this like crazy. In fact, last week they added a few more commands to it (Touchless Display is an app in the Play Store…Genius!) which include saying “Ok Google, where’s my phone” and it’ll start ringing so you can find it. Additionally, you can now say your pin to unlock your device. Now I wouldn’t do that around my friends and stuff, but still cool.

Trusted Devices

Trusted Bluetooth Devices may not sound like anything interesting, but if you have a PIN or lock pattern on your device, you’re going to appreciate this. Basically you can select some Bluetooth devices as a trusted device. So when you are connected to that device it will automatically leave the PIN or pattern off of your device. Simply because Motorola thinks you’ll be using the device more when connected to a Bluetooth device. Which is normally true.

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MotoMaker and “Assembled in the USA”

MotoMaker is just plain awesome. I was able to change the back color and accents on my Moto X, so I can show my true Maize and Blue spirit (University of Michigan Alum here). I could also choose to engrave it or even have a special message on the boot screen. Additionally, you can choose your SOL Republic headphones or earbuds to match your Moto X. Which is pretty awesome as well. It also sounds like Motorola is going to be using MotoMaker a lot in the future for upcoming phones and Project Ara. Then there’s the Assembled in the USA thing. It’s great to see phones being assembled in the USA. Yes I know a lot of people were laid off there, but that happens in factories. They normally get temps to work there. Being from Detroit, or the Motor City, when people stopped buying cars from Ford, Chrysler and GM, our economy really took a hit. Which is why I try to buy American-made stuff these days. To try and help out our economy. And this was a big part of it. Even though it doesn’t directly impact my area, it does impact our country.

The ‘New’ Motorola

The new Motorola under Google’s ownership is doing some big things. And I want to be a part of that. Or a Motorolan. Motorola seems like the T-Mobile of manufacturers these days. They are doing everything HTC, Samsung, LG, and other OEMs won’t do. Basically what T-Mobile is doing. A good example of that is a few weeks ago, Motorola changed directions with their Developer Edition phones. Normally when you unlock a bootloader your warranty is void. So basically all Developer Edition phones are not going to have a warranty. Okay, cool. Not anymore. Motorola has said that all of their 2013 Developer Edition phones will still have their warranty intact once you unlock the bootloader. Once more they’ve extended that to many of the 2012 devices they released. Good guy, Motorola!

Final Thoughts

There’s a lot of stuff here in this editorial. But I’m really excited to see where Motorola goes in the future. Sure they didn’t release a whole lot this year. Only 5 phones. The Moto X, G, DROID Ultra, Mini and Maxx. All of which are great phones. Although I wish the DROID Maxx wouldn’t be a Verizon exclusive, I quite like the name of a Moto X Maxx! The Moto X is a great phone, sure it’s not sporting a Snapdragon 800, or 1080p display, but the experience you get with the Moto X is amazing. And I recommend it to everyone, along with the LG G2.