The comparison is going to be a very difficult decision – on one hand, we have the venerable Motorola Moto X (2014) with a host of engineering niceties that make it hard not to choose as the winner. On the other hand, we had the new Xiaomi Mi4 flagship device from the relatively new Chinese company with a host of specs at a price that competes directly with the Moto X. Both smartphones are beautiful in their own way. The Moto X has its curved back and easy to hold design with options for a real leather or wood backing and the Xiaomi Mi4 shares a real metal frame and quality materials that make it rather 'iPhonish' looking…and once the optional backs are released, the stock shiny plastic can be replaced, giving it an elegant feel.
Besides the dollar value that these two devices share, there are a few other similarities between the new Moto X and the Xiaomi Mi4. Let's start with the display – almost identical in size (5.0 versus 5.2-inches) and the same Full HD screen with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. This gives the Mi4 441 pixels-per-inch (PPI) to the 423 PPI of the Moto X. The one big difference is their screen technology with the Mi4 using an IPS LCD display and the Moto X using the AMOLED display, although in this case the Mi4 has their colors very saturated to the point where they almost look 'fake,' even more so than an AMOLED display. The other main area they are the same is that they use the exact same processor – the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 clocked at 2.5GHz – the same one used in the LG G3 and Samsung Galaxy S5…for top-notch performance.
Neither device has room for a microSD card, so expansion beyond the highest 32GB memory option of the Moto X or the 64GB of the Mi4 is not happening. The Main cameras are the same 13MP sensors – both made by Sony, and include auto focus, and a dual-LED flash. Both devices are very similar in size and weight, both have Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and a microUSB port for recharging, and data transfer. The Moto X runs a pure Android 4.4.4 KitKat experience, while the Xiaomi Mi4 runs Android 4.4.2 with MIUI 5.0 on top – it has a hint of iOS there, but also the underlying strengths that make the Android OS so good. Both devices also offer a lot of value for the money – a 16GB Moto X is $499 off contract and the Xiaomi is about $400 from China and for an extra $50, you can get the 64GB.
Please take a look at the detailed specifications below to form your own opinion, and then we will look at what makes each individual device so appealing. After that, we will try and pick the comparison winner from these two great devices.
The Xiaomi Mi4 is a true flagship in every sense of the word – from looks to build quality to specifications. Besides the nearly identical display, processor, and main camera, the Mi4 takes it up a notch with 3GB of RAM over the 2GB that the Moto X relies upon. The Mi4 also has the option for a 64GB storage option that costs about what the 16GB Moto X offers. While the main cameras are nearly identical, the FFC on the Mi4 is a whopping 8MP versus only 2MP for the Moto X – the Mi4's FFC also uses a Sony sensor and will allow you to make some of the best 3G Video chatting and selfies you can experience on a mobile device. The 3080mAh battery will also last you longer than the smaller 2300mAh battery on the Moto X.
As far as features that differ from the Moto X, the Mi4 does include an IR Blaster and a terrific bottom mounted speaker, as well as an FM Radio. The device runs its own MIUI 5.0 skin on top of Android 4.4.2 and it may not be for everyone as it dips heavily into the iOS bag of tricks, but at the same time retains the power that only Android OS can offer. It is also, at this point only offering WCDMA 3G and works with T-Mobile's network…although a 4G LTE model is coming next year.
Xiaomi fully intends to enter the U.S. (and other) markets, but just not until 2015…so until then a Xiaomi user will have to be satisfied using only 3G speeds. Xiaomi has carefully set up a distribution plan that has already begun to expand beyond China's borders and will eventually work its way to other countries. I will anxiously await their 4G LTE models designed to work on the U.S. networks.
Motorola Moto X (2014)
Motorola did a great job with the new Moto X – they took a very good device and made it that much better. They took the original Moto X (2013) and made it larger all around, but not too large, and then they upgraded the specifications to make it a true flagship capable of going head on with the other devices from Samsung, LG and Sony.
The displays, while almost the same time size, are totally different technologies – the Mi4 uses IPS LCD versus the AMOLED used on the new Moto X, providing the blackest blacks and more brilliant colors because of the contrast that AMOLED provides – some like it better than LCD…and others do not. The memory situation goes towards the Mi4 – the Moto X has only 2GB of RAM versus the 3GB of the Mi4 and the Moto X has only a 16GB or 32GB option for internal memory, whereas the Mi4 has a 16GB and 64GB option. Neither device offers a microSD card slot for expansion – Motorola would argue the Moto X only needs 2GB to run its pure Android effectively and when it comes to storage, Motorola will tell you to look to the cloud.
Other items that differ would start with only a 2MP FFC versus the 8MP of the Mi4 – some could argue that 8MP is overkill, but nobody would argue that the 2MP could be larger for better video chatting and better selfies. While the Moto X does not have an IR Blaster or FM Radio, it does have some terrific engineering technologies – the use of four microphones for noise-free calls and Crystal Clear calling – Dynamic Tuning that allows up to 500Xs better reception – and the optional Motorola Turbo Charger…and the nano-coating to resist water is a nice touch as well.
Motorola has chosen to use pure Android 4.4.4 KitKat rather than any form of a UI – some people view that as a plus and others as a minus – until update time, when everybody wishes they could have pure Android. The battery could certainly be larger, although Alex was able to get 16 hours on his review model. The Moto X is available on AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon at a very good price – $99 on a two-year contract and $499 off contract…a great device for a good price, much like the Mi4.
…And the Winner Is…
This was very tough decision and at the beginning, I really thought I would pick the Xiaomi Mi4 over the Moto X, but I just could not. The Mi4 does have the advantage of 3GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage, a better FFC, IR Blaster and larger battery…but to me, that is where its advantages end and none of those reasons is enough to pull me over to the Mi4. Especially because the Moto X offers a good value as well and runs 4G LTE…and if you are will to sign a two-year contract, it is only $99.
Both devices off the same Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, but the Moto X also offers 4G LTE on three of the four major carriers in the U.S. Both devices use a metal frame construction, both devices are well designed, and comfortable to hold – the Moto X can really look nicer with a real leather or wood option. Both devices have good speaker placement and sound – the Mi4 on the bottom and the Moto X on the front.
The Moto X ups the ante with nano-coating for repelling water, four-microphones for excellent calling capabilities, Dynamic Tuning that changes your radio reception depending on where you hold the device – giving up to 500Xs the signal strength, and the option for using Motorola's Turbo Charger…this will give you up to 8 additional hours of usage with just a 15 minute charge. The Moto X also gives you a pure Android experience with no overlay or skin to slow down the device, and will allow you to receive the quickest updates possible. These are all solid advantages over the Mi4 and the reason I chose the Moto X to win this comparison over the very competent Xiaomi Mi4.
Please hit us up on our Google+ Page and let us know which one of these devices you would pick for the winner and WHY…as always, we would love to hear from you.