The Moto X grows up a bit, but did it improve in all the right places?
Last year, when the Moto X was announced by Motorola, it got a lot of skepticism. There were a few reasons for that. One, was the specs. It was featuring a 720p display and a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor when most other flagships had a 1080p display and a Snapdragon 800 processor. Pair that with the price of over $500 at launch, and a lot of people were not happy. Which was understandable. Think about it. Should you get a LG G2 with a Snapdragon 800 and a 1080p display, or a Moto X with a 720p display and a Snapdragon S4 Pro processor for the same price? It made it tough to sell the Moto X, as a great device as everyone looked at specs, and specs alone.
However, with the new Moto X, Motorola greatly improved the specs – which we'll go over in a second – and improved a number of other things. Motorola has also cut the price, so you can pick up a brand new Moto X for $499 off contract, or $99 on contract. Which isn't bad at all. But is it worth the money? That's what we'll be answering in this review.
- Display: 5.2-inch AMOLED 1920×1080 resolution
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core @ 2.5ghz
- RAM: 2GB
- Storage: 16GB or 32GB
- Camera: 13MP on the rear, 2MP on the front
- Battery: 2300mAh
- Software: Android 4.4.4 KitKat (Android L coming shortly after Google releases it)
We didn't have much complaints on the build of the Moto X last year, but surprisingly, Motorola has improved on it this year. They've moved to an aluminum frame, similar to the Samsung Galaxy Alpha. They've also moved the speaker to the front. And contrary to what most think, the Moto X (2014) only has one front-facing speaker. The top one is a earpiece only. We also have a ring around the camera which gives us dual-flash, and it's actually not that bad looking in person. However the dimple is another story. One of my favorite features of the build of the Moto X last year was the dimple. It was subtle, but this year the dimple isn't that subtle, and no it's not a fingerprint sensor or anything like that. Although we did hear rumors that it might have been one in early prototypes.
On the Moto X we have the volume rocker and power button on the right side. We also have the headphone jack and SIM card slot up top. The bottom holds the microUSB port and there's nothing on the left side. On the model that we have here, we've got the leather back on AT&T, which looks and feels amazing. What I really like about the leather is that the AT&T logo is basically transparent on this model, so those worried about carrier branding, worry no more. We'll talk more on the backs a bit later in this review.
The one thing everyone was worried about was the Moto X growing. A big selling point last year was that the Moto X was smaller. It was a 4.7-inch model, while most of it's competitors were 5-inches and larger. Now sure a lot of people don't love the smaller phones, but plenty do. And having a smartphone like the Moto X at that size was a big deal. Now the Moto X (2014) has grown in size, to 5.2-inches. But it doesn't feel that much bigger, and that's due to the curve on the back of the device. The sides are really thin and makes it easier to hold in the hand. I held it in one hand and the Moto X (2013) in the other, and it doesn't feel that much taller really. It's actually smaller than the Galaxy S5, which has a slightly smaller display.
Now most of you know, I'm not a huge fan of AMOLED. I've just never really preferred it. I've preferred SuperLCD and IPS displays. Having said that, I really do like the display on the Moto X. It's a 1080p AMOLED display – which they are using for Moto Display obviously – and it looks great. There's not much else to say really, but it does look great, and it is a little too bright for me when I have it at minimum brightness. But I think I'd rather it be a little too bright then too dim, which was the case with the OnePlus One.
This will be the big selling point for the Moto X. Last year we had all kinds of colors for the Moto X, and later on got Ebony, Bamboo and Teak wood finishes. Well this year, at launch (pre-orders start Tuesday, September 16th) we will have 4 different leathers, and 4 different woods as well. They will be $25 more, but definitely worth it over the polycarbonate finish. Which will also be available in a ton of colors. You can choose the front which will be white or black, you can also choose the accent colors. So it's almost the same as last year, although Motorola has improved the UI of the MotoMaker website – which they showed off to us in Chicago earlier this month.
Motorola has stated that these devices will be put together in China now instead of Fort Worth, TX. But they will be maintaining the 4 day shipping process they used in the US. Which is pretty big, in my opinion.
I've been saying every since the Moto X was announced, not to count out Motorola and battery life. Yes it's a 2300mAh battery, but remember that the Moto X is heavily optimized for battery life, and it's running stock Android so it's not running a bunch of extra things like Touchwiz, Sense 6.0, etc., would be. I was often able to get about 16 hours off the charger and 4 hours on screen. And that was with both LTE and WiFi on AT&T's network. That was also with the Moto 360 paired with it all day, and even without it paired I had similar results. So it's not fantastic, but I think it's still quite good. It may not get the hardcore users through the day, but it'll get plenty of us through the day, I think.
Last year, the story behind Motorola was the software. And that's the case again this year. We'll start from scratch. Motorola is using stock Android, for intents and purposes here. And they've added some cool features on top, which are in the form of an app update from the Play Store. Which means it's basically a Nexus, except Motorola is pushing out updates instead of Google. This was a big selling point for Motorola last year, and everyone thought that might change this year, since Lenovo is buying them. But one thing to point out here is that the Motorola sale to Lenovo is not final and has not been approved yet. So Google technically still owns them. We won't likely see Lenovo's input into Motorola's software and hardware for about 18 months to two years after the sale finalizes.
Motorola has combined several of Motorola's apps into one app this year, well they were mostly just features last year. But inside the 'Moto' app, we have Assist, Actions, Voice and Display. Motorola Assist is the one that will automatically silence your phone at night, while your driving and in a meeting. All those settings are still here. But they have added 'Home'. Which allows you to have your phone read your text messages to you when you're at home. Obviously you'll need to set the location for that though. With sleeping, you can set it for a certain time, and to turn off Moto Display as well. Under Driving you can set it to talk to you, and play music over bluetooth in your car. And finally, Meeting allows you to silence your phone when you're in a meeting, as well as auto reply to missed calls from favorites. Now the way meeting works, is that it uses your Google Calendar to see when you're in a meeting. So you'll want to keep that up to date.
There's Also Moto Actions, which is actually new this year. Motorola has four IR ports in each corner on the front of the Moto X. And these do some pretty neat features actually. You can wave over the display to turn on Moto Display, You can also wave to silence a call or snooze your alarm.
Next up is Moto Voice. Last year this was known as "Touchless Control". But it's been renamed to Moto Voice this year. So now you can say "OK Google Now" or anything you want to it. Like most people, I've been doing "OK Moto X", I would have kept it as "OK Google Now" but since that works on Android Wear, I'd have both my phone and smartwatch listening at the same time. With Moto Voice, Motorola has added in some new features. For one, you can go ahead and say "OK Moto X, What's Up?" and it'll tell you your upcoming appointments. Which is a good way to say good morning and such, as you'll learn what's going on during your day. You can also send Whatsapp messages without touching your phone. Which was really cool actually. You can also make Facebook statuses with Moto Voice. Or do something like "OK Moto X, Take a Selfie" and it'll open up the camera and countdown to taking a front-facing picture.
Finally there's Moto Display. Which is still one of my favorite features in the Moto X. It does still breathe as you'd expect, but it will also show you up to three notifications now instead of just one. And now you can wave over the display, when it's on your desk, to see what's going on. Of course, you can still swipe up to jump straight into the app, or swipe down to jump into the phone. Pretty easy, actually.
Motorola Connect got a nice update this time around as well. Most of you probably know Motorola Connect as that Chrome extension which you can use to answer SMS/MMS messages from your computer as well as taking calls. Well Motorola Connect has gotten a lot more functionality this time around.
Within Connect, You can add your devices like the Moto 360, and the Power Pack Micro, which Motorola also announced earlier this month. Now if you jump into the Moto 360, you can customize your watch face colors, and such, and in the Wellness part you can update your profile. It will also show you where your Moto 360 is, which is pretty cool as well.
With the Power Pack Micro, you can see how fully charged it is, also where it is and use the Connect app to find the battery pack, or use the battery pack to find your phone. Which is all super cool to me.
Migrate also got an update, and a slightly newer UI. You can still transfer a bunch of stuff from your old phone to your new Moto X. You can do it from other Android phones and iPhones. But with the newest update, you can do it with dumbphones as well. It will transfer things like pictures, contacts, SMS, and more.
Much like last year's Moto X, the camera isn't perfect. But I will say this, it's way better. The UI is still the same, swipe from the left to get into settings and swipe from the right for the gallery. But we do have a 13MP camera now, and well I think it's pretty good. I've taken lots of pictures with this camera, which you can see plenty more down below.
Motorola has always done well with radios inside their phones. I've always gotten better signal from a Motorola phone than any other phone. And that's true again here with the Moto X. Using this on AT&T, callers said that I sounded great, and that's without HD Voice. So if you do make calls on your phone, you needn't worry about this.
The Moto X is a great smartphone, I've been using it for about 2 weeks now and love it. Sure I could do with a larger battery, but it gets me through the day, so there's not much to complain about here, in my opinion. The price is on point as well. The Leather Moto X for $524 off contract is pretty sweet, and it's going to be tough to wait for the Nexus 6 with the leather Moto X hanging in front of me.