Compact design for 4.7-inch screen; Bright and beautiful display; Tons of color customization options; Very swift overall performance; Touchless voice control saves time
Not 1080p resolution; Limited camera features ; Auto focus can be slow; Moto Maker limited to AT&T (for now
The Moto X's advanced voice controls, quick-launch camera and highly customizable design make this Android phone stand out, but Verizon customers will have to wait for the build-your-own fun.
Say hello to the new Motorola. Actually, just say "OK, Google" to the Moto X to see what all the fuss is about. The company's first smartphone since being purchased by Google for $12.5 billion, the Moto X lets you dial contacts, get directions, see who won last night's game and more just by speaking to the handset. No unlocking required. This $199 "Assembled in the USA" phone is also the most customizable ever, with a website that lets users choose from a gaggle of color options. (It's for AT&T customers only at launch.) The Moto X's midrange specs definitely go against the flagship grain, but does the overall experience make up for it?
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The front of the Moto X sports an edge-to-edge screen and very thin side bezels. We're not big fans of the narrow power button and volume rocker on the right side, but we got used to them after a few hours.
Weighing 4.8 ounces and measuring 5.1 x 2.6 x 0.22 - 0.4 inches, the Moto X is shorter, narrower and lighter than the HTC One (5.4 x 2.7 x 0.37 inches, 5 ounces). This makes using the Moto X with one hand much easier, though we prefer the aluminum aesthetic of the HTC One to the plasticlike X.
To prevent damage from rain and small splashes, Motorola coated the Moto X in a water-repellent coating. However, unlike the Galaxy S4 Active and Sony Xperia Z, this smartphone was not made for dunking.
Moto Maker customization
The personalization doesn't stop there. You can have a custom message printed on the back of the Moto X, preselect among 16 wallpapers and have a custom message appear when firing up your phone. Don't worry about covering up your new fashion statement; you can order color-matched clear cases and Sol Republic earphones, too. Motorola says your phone should arrive within four days, shipped directly from Texas, where it's assembled.
DisplayGalaxy S4 and HTC One. However, this 4.7-inch AMOLED screen looks pretty stunning nonetheless, offering a bright and rich picture. The Moto X uses a RGB subpixel structure, which means each pixel has its own red, green and blue subpixels.
As a result, movies, pictures and games delivered a commendable balance of detail and color. When watching the HD trailer for "The Wolverine," we could easily make out Hugh Jackman's angry wrinkles in a dark scene. The "Riptide GP 2" game burst with tropical hues as we zoomed around the water, offering wide viewing angles as we twisted the Moto X.
Averaging 482 lux on our light meter, the Moto X's screen is brighter than the average smartphone (387 lux). It's also brighter than the HTC One (433 lux) and Galaxy S4 (446 lux). When outdoors, we could read the Moto X's screen, but the iPhone 5's display shined brighter (535).
The Moto X's back-mounted speaker pumps out lots of volume -- enough to fill a medium-size office with music. However, we found the audio too harsh at the max volume when we streamed Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" and the Arctic Monkeys' "I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor." Like most smartphones, this one can't touch the HTC One when it comes to balanced sound.
OS and interface
If you're not a fan of Android skins such as Samsung's TouchWiz and HTC's Sense, you'll like Motorola's fairly clean build of Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean. Everything from the lock screen and app menu to the notification drawer looks and feels Nexus-like.
You'll find five home screens out of the box that automatically populate with apps as you download them, and three persistent software buttons at the bottom of the display: Back, Home and Recent Apps (for switching and closing apps).
As you might expect, the Moto X includes Google's latest keyboard, which features swipe typing and next-word prediction. The one pleasant surprise is that the haptic feedback is strong enough without slowing you down.
On the iPhone, you must long press the Home button to access Siri. But on the Moto X, you can activate Google Now without even looking at your device, even if you're several feet away. Some quick training is involved. You'll need to repeat "OK, Google Now" three times in a very quiet space, but once you do, the Moto X is very good at picking up your voice in a moderately loud room. That's because this phone features three microphones to cancel noise. The phone is also smart enough not to respond to other voices, which we provded at our conference room table.
Is Google Now smarter than Siri? Not quite. You can't book restaurant reservations or buy movies tickets as you can with Apple's assistant. But Google Now does have some contextual intelligence. After we asked "Are there any good steakhouses around here?" proceeded by "How about Mexican?" the Moto X knew were were still talking about food.
The Moto X was better at picking up our voice on a noisy moving bus than the iPhone 5, and Google Now tended to be faster. We asked, "How many ounces is 130 grams?" and in less than a few seconds, the X told us it was 4.586 ounces.
Although Google Now wasn't always accurate, we could easily see ourselves using the Moto X's touchless control while driving, at home and even walking down the street (with a Bluetooth headset).
The Active Display feature on the Moto X grows on you. A dedicated contextual computing processor inside the device knows when you've moved the Moto X from, say, your pocket to your hand, giving you a peek at both the time and your latest notification. Even when you don't move the phone at all, it will intermittently light up with an alert. Motorola claims that this function sips very little power.
Motorola really thought Active Display through, allowing users to set which apps can present notifications through a dedicated Settings menu. Some may prefer to see all their alerts at once, which you can do on the Galaxy S4 just by swiping down from the lock screen. However, there is a more proactive yet subtle elegance to Motorola's solution.
Performance and X8 Mobile Computing System
The Moto X doesn't have the most cutting-edge processor around, with a 1.7-GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 CPU augmented by a quad-core Adreno 320 GPU. Other flagship phones, such as the Galaxy S4, offer quad-core CPUs. However, Motorola's unique X8 Mobile Computing System adds other processors to the mix, including one dedicated to natural language and the other to contextual computing.
To test the Moto X further, we transcoded a 203 MB 1080p video to 480p using the VidTrim app. The handset took 6 minutes and 59 seconds, compared to 7:27 for the S4. That's nearly 30 seconds faster. The HTC One took 7:34.
On synthetic benchmarks, the Moto X delivered mixed results. For example, on Quadrant (which measures CPU, graphics and I/O), the Moto X Notched 8,946, compared with 11,962 for the S4 and 12,706 for the One. On 3DMark Ice Storm (graphics benchmark), the Moto X scored 11,568, which is higher than both the S4 (10,371) and the One (9,231).
Quick Launch Camera2013 Smartphone Camera Shootout), but it hopes to change that with the Moto X. It all starts with two flicks of your wrist -- a gesture that launches the camera quickly, in about 2.2 seconds -- whether you have the screen off or on. This gesture worked well in our testing, but one time, the phone slipped from our hand.
The Moto X camera app has a bare-bones UI to keep things simple. You can touch anywhere on the screen to fire, and you swipe in from the left side to reveal a settings wheel. Swiping in from the right brings up the gallery.
This phone doesn't offer very many settings or modes, sticking with HDR, Flash, Tap to Focus, Panorama, Slow Motion Video, and Geo-Tag. You can also turn Quick Capture on and off. You won't find special features such as an Eraser Mode or Sequence Shot, which both Samsung and HTC offer.
Motorola claims the Clear Pixel technology inside the Moto X can capture up to 75 percent more light than a traditional sensor can. That ability, combined with an f2.4 aperture, is supposed to allow the phone to snap photos up to twice as fast in bright light while also taking brighter images in low light.
The Moto X's 1080p videos delivered smooth motion when we recorded New York traffic. Too bad our footage turned out darker than we would have liked. The phone struggled to adjust as we panned to the sky and back to the street.
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Predictably, Verizon brings many of its own apps to the party, including NFL Mobile, Mobile Hotspot, My Verizon Mobile (for checking your usage and paying your bill), and the fairly useless Verizon Tones and VZ Navigator. Alas, you can't uninstall these apps.
Of course, you'll find plenty of Google's apps, including Gmail, Google Drive, Google Plus and Google Hangouts.
Note that the Verizon version of the Moto X doesn't yet support AWS (Advanced Wireless Services), which means that the phone won't be able to take advantage of the carrier's upcoming data capacity improvements without a software update. The Galaxy S4 supports AWS right now.
The Moto X doesn't pack a very high-capacity battery, clocking in at 2,200 mAh. Still, we had pretty high hopes, given Motorola's claim of 24 hours of usage time. (This includes everything from browsing the Web and sending texts to making phone calls and watching videos.)
On the LAPTOP Battery Test, which involves continuous Web surfing on 40 percent brightness, the device lasted 6 hours and 13 minutes, which is slightly longer than the smartphone average (6:07) and longer than the Verizon Galaxy S4 (5:25) and the AT&T HTC One (5:55 in regular mode).
Some may lament the lack of a 1080p screen and a quad-core CPU, but the Moto X acquits itself well on both counts because of its bright and rich AMOLED display and the fact that it outperforms allegedly faster phones like the Galaxy S4 in many real-world scenarios. (Not having a skin helps.) However, the Galaxy S4 offers a lot more features and more robust camera capabilities, while the HTC One sports a more premium metal design and better speakers.
The Moto X isn't necessarily the best new Motorola phone on Verizon. The upcoming Droid Maxx and Droid Ultra both sport bigger 5-inch screens and similar features to the Moto X, with the former boasting a larger capacity battery and the later a slimmer design with a glossy red color option. The reason to get the Moto X over those devices is its more compact size and awesome customization, so you should either wait until Verizon supports Moto Maker or opt for the AT&T version.
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|Alternate Carriers||Republic Wireless|
|Phone Display Size||4.7|
|Form Factor||Candybar Touchscreen|
|Operating System||Android 4.2.2|
|CPU||Dual-core 1.7 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4|
|Processor Family||Motorola X8|
|Internal Memory||16 / 32 GB|
|Memory Expansion Type|
|Display (main)||4.7-inch 1280 x 720|
|Bluetooth Type||Bluetooth 4.0|
|Front Camera Resolution||2 MP|
|Camera Resolution||10 MP|
|Talk / Standby Time|
|Size||5.1 x 2.67 x 0.4 inches|
|SAR Rating (Head)|
|SAR Rating (Body)|