Moto X Review

8.9

Daniel Bader

August 25, 2013 1:27 pm

When I was a child, the anticipation of watching a treasured movie, even after the fourth of fifth viewing, would thrill me. I’d kick back, my legs swaying off the couch, a bowl of popcorn dwarfing my tiny body. I was truly, blissfully happy.

It was the familiarity of that ritual, the joy of returning to something easy and good, that excited me so. Years later, it’s the lingering feeling, not the movies themselves, that I remember most.

All this is to say there is a semblance of the anti-Goldilocks in the smartphone world today; we’re trained to replace our devices quickly, and covet new ones even more so. What’s pleasing in our hands one day is tired the next. It’s a never-ending train of disappointment, inflicted on ourselves by the propensity to want bigger, faster, devices.

With the Moto X, I don’t get that feeling. I don’t concern myself with how quickly it will feel dated or how long it will take me to covet some new handset. Like the iPhone 4, which still today feels modern, the Moto X exists outside the venerated smartphone wolf pack. It’s not necessarily a better phone, though it exudes elements of superiority, but it’s the best whole Android experience I’ve ever had.


Specs

  • Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean
  • 1.7Ghz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, X8 combo w/ natural language processor and contextual computing processor
  • Adreno 320 GPU @400Mhz
  • 4.7-inch 1280×720 pixel AMOLED display
  • 2GB DDR2 RAM
  • 16GB internal storage (non-expandable)
  • 10MP rear camera
  • 2MP front-facing camera
  • 1080p video capture @ 30fps
  • WiFi (ac/a/b/g/n), Bluetooth 4.0 LE, A-GPS, GLONASS, NFC
  • 129.3 x 65.3 x 10.4 mm
  • 130g
  • HSPA+ 850/1900, LTE 700/1700/2100/2600Mhz

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Design

There’s something effortless about holding the Moto X in your hand, and it continues to be the reason, above all others, that I pick it up, day after day. Motorola has made a lot of its curved back and dimpled Moto logo in which your index finger rests, but there’s something else.

Cast your mind back to when Samsung first unveiled the Galaxy S3; they claimed it was inspired by nature, like holding a smooth pebble. Such comparisons are more apt for the Moto X, which boasts a compact frame that almost melts into the palm. Its density is equally distributed from top to bottom, and the polycarbonate chassis boasts proportions more appropriate for the average-sized hand than any flagship smartphone in recent memory.

The materials used to surround the Moto X, especially the rubbery backing, is more akin to the matte plastic on the Nokia Lumia series than any Samsung device you may have held, but the most accurate comparison is, ironically, to the Samsung-built Nexus 10. It’s clear that the Moto X is built from two distinct pieces, and on the black model I reviewed they clash slightly. The small perimeter of glossy plastic to the sides of the Gorilla Glass screen attract fingerprints, while dust and grit get caught between the two elements. The modular construction model necessitates this design direction, but devices like the iPhone 5 and HTC One have proven that single-piece construction is preferable.

Also a concern are the volume and power buttons, which are located vertically on the right side of the device. These do not live up to the same high quality standards as the rest of the phone, as they tend to rattle around in their enclosures.

But those minor issues should not detract from the fact that this is one of the most comfortable, well-made phones on the market today. Though the front is fairly unassuming — it may be mistaken for a Nexus 4 by a less experienced smartphone buyer — the minute bezel to the right and left of the AMOLED display, and the minimal affectation — unlike the US variants, there is no carrier logo on the back — adds to the impression of completeness.

It’s apparent that Motorola thought long and hard about how the phone would be used; this is a fully-realized device, from the symmetrical placement of the dimpled Motorola logo under the camera sensor to the soft repeating texture. The phone curves in on itself, narrowing to 5mm at the rounded corners; the headphone jack is placed in the same place on top as the microUSB port is on bottom. And you’d be hard-pressed to believe the 720p display is actually 4.7-inches diagonally.

It’s just that well designed.

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Display

You’ve likely already read about the Moto X, and have probably already decided whether its 720p display is an important spec. (The dichotomy of specs versus experience will continue to be an important theme of this review.)

In short, the 720p display on the Moto X is great, though not the best. Unlike that of the Galaxy S3, the AMOLED display, which provides rich, deep colours and perfect blacks, is not PenTile, but made of three regular subpixels for every pixel. In fact, it uses a similar RGB layout to the Galaxy Note II, though the 4.7-inch size makes for a significantly higher 317ppi pixel density.

With excellent viewing angles and moderately high maximum brightness, the screen never disappoints. And thanks to AMOLED’s ability to light up only select pixels at a time, it enables my favourite feature of the device: Active Notifications.

There may be some that call it a travesty to market a 1280×720 pixel display as a flagship, especially in light of competing OEMs moving to 1080p. While I never found the screen lacking in sharpness — indeed, I often couldn’t discern between them unless studying two devices side by side — there is an argument to be made for value that I can only attempt to disavow.

The 720p display on the Moto X is perfect for its size, weight and hardware combination. A 1080p display more heavily taxes the GPU and the battery, and adds nothing of value to the Android experience, especially in a device of this size. Full HD is a spec, and the race to the top is one that Motorola wisely chose to stay away from.

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Software

The Moto X runs a slightly altered, but largely unfettered, build of Android 4.2.2. The experience speaks to Google’s influence, if not direct involvement, in the decisions that led up to the phone’s creation.

More important is that Motorola’s four major additions sit atop the OS, and replace none of the core functionality. Impressively, each one builds on Android’s strengths, coalescing into an experience that forms a greater whole.

First, we’ll talk about my favourite feature: active notifications. Instead of a blinking LED, the Moto X breathes new notifications on the screen as they appear. Due to the nature of AMOLED screen technology, this only marginally engages the battery, as power is drawn only from the lit pixels themselves. You can choose to action the notification or let it breathe, which is one of the more attractive effects I’ve seen on a smartphone. The only real limitation here is that only the latest notification is actionable; the others are set below the unlock button and briefly summarize the content.

But the Moto X has a “contextual computing processor” inside of it, which detects when a user is bringing the phone out of his or her pocket, or lifting it off the table. The phone’s screen lights up when you want it to, like a perfectly-trained pet, displaying the time and most recent information. While I wish this would go further — if there are no notifications, for instance, you can’t set the phone to display the weather or information from Google Now — but as it stands, this is one of those features I wish every phone had. I’ve since used the iPhone 5 or HTC One and find myself disappointed at their sombre, blank faces.

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Then there is Touchless Control, which integrates Google Now with the company’s “natural language processor.” The phone has a l0w-level chip that constantly listens for a voice — your voice, in particular — to ask a question or issue a search.

By stating, “OK, Google Now,” the phone comes to life and connects to Google Now’s growing database of context-specific semantic language, from “What’s the weather going to be today?” to “Remind me to pick up the kids from karate at 5pm.”

The feature is useful only when security is disabled, which turns out to be a huge liability. You can activate the voice prompt, but it will only continue once a password manually entered. Motorola has designed accessories to get around this, but at the end of the day it’s an inelegant solution to an important problem.

Active Notifications and Touchless Controls, the latter of which will not be used as often as the first, are broadly populist in nature, appealing less to the spec hoarders and feature creepers than to the average user who just wants his or her phone to work better under regular circumstances. Admittedly, there haven’t been that many scenarios in which I’ve needed to use Touchless Controls, or found it to be quicker than merely unlocking my phone, sliding up on the virtual home button and typing a request into Google, but there’s been a true sense or purpose over the 10 or so times I have used it.

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Motorola Assist is the evolution of Smart Actions, heaping yet another bit of context to the smartphone experience. Using the GPS, it knows when you’re driving (or in a car) and speaks your text messages; it knows when you’re sleeping and silences your phone; and it knows, based on your calendar, when you’re in a meeting, and sends an auto-reply to any incoming calls or texts.

There are only three modes, and they’re all a little underdeveloped — for example, if you’re still awake once the phone turns to sleep mode, you can tell it to go back to normal, but can’t manually turn it back on again — but extremely useful.

The beauty of these features are that they’re built atop Android; they can be added to without issuing a system update. Motorola has already released a Touchless Controls app to Google Play, so the feature set can be expanded independent of system version.

But not all is harmonious in the software world of Moto X. Stock Android this may look like, but Motorola is still at the whim of carrier certification, slowing down potential updates. That the phone doesn’t ship with Android 4.3, despite the company being owned by Google, is a concern. The RAZR HD was one of the first devices to receive Android 4.2, but unlike a Nexus product it’s not clear for how long Motorola will continue to support the Moto X. The company insists it is fully proxied from the Android team, so as not to proffer unfair advantage, but in this situation I wish it was afforded some advantage.

All the requisite Android 4.2.2 features are included, such as lock screen widgets and a quick settings toggle in the notification shade. As you’ll see in the next section, it doesn’t take a quad-core beast to power Android properly — the platform has reached a semblance of maturity in that regard — and the Moto X delivers one of the most enjoyable Android experiences to date.

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Performance

One of the most controversial aspects of the Moto X, aside from its 720p display, is the fact that it only runs a dual-core processor. Why, in the age of quad-core Snapdragon 800 running at desktop-equivalent clocks, did Motorola shortchange its users with just a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8960dt SoC running at 1.7Ghz?

The argument is a non-starter; the Moto X runs flawlessly. Not only does it have more than ample headroom to power even the most arduous of apps and games, but I’d argue that the phone has been sufficiently optimized to run faster than most devices on the market.

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Unfortunately, this is not going to assuage those looking for top value, which usually equates to higher specs at a lower price. I have nothing to say to this other than right now the subjective delta between a dual-core Snapdragon S4 Pro and a quad-core Snapdragon 600 is, outside of synthetic benchmarks, almost non-existent. In two years — by the end of a contract — that may not be the case, which is a legitimate concern, but we’ve reached the point where two year old phones are running Android 4.2 just fine.

The Moto X also seems to have been designed to scale well. It may have “just” dual-core processor, but its Adreno 320 GPU only has to push half the number of pixels as the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4.

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Camera

The 10MP camera on the Moto X has dual personalities. In optimal lighting conditions, the RGBC sensor — it’s the first phone sensor with a clear subpixel used to capture more light at the equivalent shutter speed — takes wonderful, articulate photos. Detail and dynamic range are usually excellent, and colour reproduction, while muted, is more accurate than most high-end devices.

But it’s in low light that this phone’s Dr. Jekyll emerges; in spite of a sensor with 1.4 micron pixels and higher light sensitivity, photos that the HTC One, iPhone 5, Galaxy S4 and Lumia 920 would have no trouble with are riddled with aberrations like pockmarks on a bumpy road.

The camera interface is fairly simple, and the shutter button is the entire display. Motorola emphasizes speed and simplicity here, and to that end a shortcut has been set up to enter the camera app from anywhere — lockscreen or an app — by quickly twisting your wrist twice. It’s a gesture that takes some getting used to, and only works 75% of the time, but when performed deliberately — the times it didn’t register were when I wasn’t really giving it my full attention — it becomes a natural extension of your workflow.

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The camera app lacks controls that many take for granted on other devices, even Google’s own Nexus products. One cannot adjust white balance, ISO, exposure or contrast. In fact, though the app does support tap-to-focus, it does so only in the bounds of taking a photo; one cannot focus and then wait to steady the hand. It’s a system that works most of the time, but engenders a multi-capture culture. It’s easy to take many shots at once, though: just hold down your finger on the screen and the processor does the work.

HDR is turned on by default, though the app decides on your behalf when best to incorporate it. HDR photos turned out better, and saved faster, than on the Galaxy S4 or iPhone 5, but I found the HTC One still produced the best combinations in difficult lighting. For example, when taking a photo of a shady tree with a blue sky in the background, the Moto X handled it well, but the HTC One still beat it for overall quality.

Still, 10MP is nothing to sneeze at, and when it’s good, it’s really good. I expect that, as with the HTC One and Galaxy S4, Motorola will continue to tweak and add to the camera experience in future updates. The sensor is good, but we found the ISO and white balance algorithms to misjudge the scene in low light. Photos had a sepia tinge and an ISO over 2500, causing massive amounts of grain. The photos were plenty bright, so we think the app just needs to apply the settings more assiduously, or let us do it if desired.

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When you dig more closely into the camera’s behaviour, you can see that it is assigning one of a series of white balance settings to the photo. Most of the low-light photos, even ones taken outdoors, skew yellow because ‘Tungston’ is selected as the light source. It’s possible to use an app like Camera FV-5 to manually adjust the settings of a photo before taking it, but doing so largely negates the quick draw nature of the built-in camera app.

Video capture, 1080p at 30fps, was also good, though we found the lack of stabilization to be a problem when moving. Though audio capture was some of the best we’ve experienced, though it distorts at higher volumes, we’re acclimatizing to a life of optical image stabilization, and the Moto X lacks the hardware necessary to prevent blur and shakiness.

Similarly disturbing is the drop in frame rate and bandwidth in areas of motion and low light. To compensate for the lack of image stabilization, the processor attempts to prevent blur by manually lowering the video bitrate and shutter speed. It’s not necessarily unusual for this to happen, but it speaks to the limitations of phone-sized camera sensors.

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Battery Life

Motorola promises 24 hours of “mixed usage,” which equates to using the Moto X normally, without overtaxing the various components by watching too many YouTube videos or playing hours of rymdkapsel.

But the promises were just that; in spite of a 2200mAh cell, battery life has consistently been my biggest complaint, and the one thing keeping me from feeling completely at home with the phone.

I will give it this: on a typical day, I am able to eke out 12 to 16 hours of use, though, as with the camera, some days are better than others. I don’t change my routine much, and rarely tax my phone beyond streaming a few minutes of YouTube or playing some Wind-up Knight, but on Monday the phone will be dead by 2pm and Tuesday it will go ’til 8.

My more quantifiable tests showed that the phone nets around the same uptime as the HTC One when streaming video at 65% brightness when connected to WiFi. The Moto X lasted for 6 hours, 23 minutes; the HTC One lasted 6 hours, 49 minutes (running a leaked version of Android 4.2.2). Turning off Active Notifications and Touchless Controls, which I preferred not to do, netted an extra half hour of uptime in these tests, but did not demonstrably affect day-to-day usage.

Battery life is an ongoing troublemaker for Android manufacturers, who only seem to be able to solve it by making bigger phones with larger batteries. Motorola decided to keep the phone compact, lower the screen resolution and use a stepped battery that filled up the entirety of the curved rear shell. I’d say they got 75% of the way there — this won’t be a true “24 hour device,” even if you count 6-10 hours of sleep in there — but it should last most users most of the day.

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Connectivity

Say what you will about carrier exclusives, but Rogers has treated this phone very, very well.

Compatible with the company’s LTE Max network, which means that it is capable of running on both AWS and 2600Mhz (in addition to 700Mhz when it becomes available), I was able to achieve speeds faster than any other handset to date.

The device also supports WiFi speeds of up to 400Mbit/s over Wireless-AC, a new standard that is slowly being rolled out across router lines by Belkin (who now owns Linksys), Asus, D-Link and Netgear. This, in addition to 5Ghz wireless hotspot support, makes it the first device with consistently fast RF I’ve used, both in and outside the home.

Phone calls made over the Rogers network were unsurprisingly crisp and clear, as Motorola has a penchant for including excellent audio stacks and precise headpiece hardware. Similarly, despite the rear mono speaker, the Moto X can blast some pretty fantastic sound, beating out the iPhone 5 and Galaxy S4 and rivalling the HTC One. Audio capture is also quite good, though the One trounces it handily. Maximum volume also doesn’t come near the HTC One, both from the speaker or the headphone jack, but the output quality comes close.

Most importantly, the Moto X is one of the most comfortable smartphones I’ve used in the past two years, and its size enables both comfortable typing on a virtual keyboard and endless talking when held up to the ear.

The Moto X lacks wireless charging, which I will forgive, but it does support Miracast for screen mirroring to a compatible display. What I can’t forgive is the lack of expandable memory in light of the phone’s 16GB of internal storage, 11GB of which is usable. All phones should now come standard with 32GB of storage. Android has a growing ecosystem of great content and 16GB is just not enough. I’d happily pay extra for a 32GB version.

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Final Thoughts

Many Canadians have dismissed Moto X as a mid-range phone with a high price, doomed to serve out its life on the shelves of a single carrier.

Let’s address these issues one by one.

Specs

The Moto X has a dual-core processor and a 720p display. Neither of these are considered high-end anymore because Android manufacturers have been playing the one-up game since Motorola and LG released the first dual-core phones in early 2011.

Why do we hold Android phones to a different standard than other manufacturers? It’s almost a certainty that the iPhone 5S will carry a dual-core processor and the equivalent of a 720p display. Similarly, this generation of Windows Phones have been surviving quite well on the same dual-core Snapdragon S4 chip, which is trounced by the 8960dt inside the Moto X. As long as the software is optimized for that particular piece of hardware, and apps, games and media run well on the hardware, why does it matter whether a phone comes with a dual- or quad-core chip?

Similarly, give me a high-quality 720p over a mediocre 1080p display any time. Unlike the jump from WVGA and qHD to 720p, it’s often difficult to discern a quantifiable difference in sharpness between 720p and 1080p.

Price

You think the Moto X is too expensive? At $189.99 on a 2-year term, maybe it is. But it will come down, and will likely stay below the HTC One and Galaxy S4. More importantly, the phone is some $100 and $150 cheaper respectively when bought outright, indicating that though Motorola and Rogers are marketing it as a premium handset, the OEM is actually selling it for considerably less.

At the same time, Moto X is Motorola’s flagship phone, and needs to address the market that way. The company is in a difficult position: a device that relies on the buyer actually holding and using it for some time to understand its worth is far more difficult to sell than one with a bunch of tip-top specs or unnecessary features.

Carrier Exclusive

This is a tricky one. Motorola likely did shop the phone around to all major Canadian carriers and Rogers, with its pre-existing relationship and willingness to stock a higher number of devices, went for it.

Yes, carrier exclusives disadvantage those not on the network. But it’s not difficult to switch carriers these days, nor is there a big difference in price points between plans (a story for a separate article).

After using the Moto X for nearly a month, I can say without hesitation that it is worth switching carriers for.

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The Competition

One of the biggest questions this season is which phone to buy?

The Galaxy S4 and HTC One have been on shelves for months already, and have established fairly high benchmarks. The Moto X beats the Galaxy S4 in build quality but lags slightly in synthetic performance. Its camera is better than HTC’s in good lighting situations but woefully behind in low light. On the other hand, its software experience beats them both, and will likely be upgraded to newer versions faster.

But that isn’t the whole story. This fall will see the introduction of the LG G2, which could potentially do very well in the Canadian market; the iPhone 5S and 5C, both of which are sure bets; the Xperia ‘Honami’, which looks to be a delightful evolution of the Xperia Z; and the Note 3, which will be a spec powerhouse.

Of course, there’s always the Nexus 4, which will likely be unfairly compared to the Moto X in the comments. The Nexus 4 is not a $300 phone, but is subsidized by Google to get people into the Play Store ecosystem with less friction. The Moto X is also a better phone, and more enjoyable to use, but its cost may turn off some users who just see it as a more compact Nexus by a different name.

Then there’s the Nexus 5, which will likely be announced in late October or early November. Again, Google will likely offer the 16GB version for just over $350, but it will lack the retail distribution to truly make a splash in the Canadian market. Rumour has it that Motorola will be making it this time, perhaps using the Moto X design as a baseline. One can only hope.

Windows Phone and BlackBerry fans can also look forward to a busy fall season, as the Nokia Lumia 1020 and BlackBerry Z30 debut in the coming weeks. Neither will compete for the affections of the average Android user, but you can bet that there will be some avid users of both.

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Conclusion

The Moto X is a very important device for Motorola. Its success will dictate not only how the company approaches its future designs, but its polished, mature feature set flies in the face of every major Android flagship to date (except maybe the HTC One, which offers its own set of compromises).

Considering Canadians don’t have access to one of the more spectacular parts of Moto’s arsenal, namely Moto Maker and its bevy of colour options, the company has less with which to advertise and differentiate the product. On the outside, the Moto X is a fine, if fairly ordinary, Android smartphone. With a crimson rear, white front and red accents, it’s my phone, one that I’m proud to show off. (It’s rumoured that Moto Maker will open to Canadians early next year. In the meantime, you can create your own.)

As a reviewer, there are a few things I wish Motorola did differently. But after hundreds of hours of testing, I think there is no better general Android phone out there. Active Notifications would be enough to get me in the door, but the size, shape, build quality, unfettered software experience and camera speed represent the whole package.

8.9

Final Score

9.5

Design

9.2

Software

8.8

Display

8.5

Performance

9.2

Build Quality

7.8

Camera

9.3

Connectivity

7

Battery Life

  • Mr.CoolBerry

    Nice phone, too bad you can only get in from Rogers in Canada…hopefully not forever.

  • JB

    Im glad he liked it but for me this phone is too expensive, and too generic.

  • AJ

    Exclusive to Robbers, overpriced, and competition offer better phones for less (HTC One), this thing will hit clearance in less than 2 months tops.

    • howitzerr

      define “better”

      And i am sure one day it will be available unlocked on the Play Store

    • AJ

      Better build, better specs, better screen, what else do you need defined? Why would you buy this over the HTC One? The reason this was hyped so much because everyone was expecting these specs for a Nexus 4-ish price. “One day” sure, right now it’s going to have a tough time competing for business with people who do their research.

    • hyperhyper

      While the HTC One might be better hardware wise, from everything that I have read about and seen about the Moto X, the UX is what makes this phone so sweet.

    • AJ

      Sure, the software is important, but not enough for me to justify the price tag and exclusivity.

    • hyperhyper

      Fair enough. For me the single biggest detriment is the exclusivity with Rogers. A painful 10 year relationship is not something you forget quickly and nor is it something you are eager to get back into just because they have a nice new toy.

      The upshot is that I’m going to take pass on this phone and won’t consider it until it becomes openly available. I’m still hoping for the RM-876 model of the Lumia 1020 so I can use it on Wind Mobile but I think it may be slated for China’s Unicorn.

    • AJ

      I know how it is, I was with Rogers for over 5 years and glad I found someone to take over my contract. I’m with Koodo now running a Nexus 4 and couldn’t be happier. The new Lumia looks great, they’re always quality.

    • AJ

      I could see someone buying this instead as well, only if it were cheaper. All I’m saying is for the price, you could get a 1080p display, quad-core processor, aluminum body construction for less right now. If a few of these software features appeal to people go for it, but for me I’d go with the latter all day.

    • thedosbox

      Not everyone is interested in e-peen comparisons. How practical a device is for daily use is an important factor for many people.

      And while I’m a fan of Sense, the size (particularly height and width) is a non-starter. It’s a shame the One Mini isn’t coming to Canada as that would be a good size for one-handed use.

    • hyperhyper

      I live with someone who has the One so and while it is a bit large, it is one sweet phone. My dad has the S4 and while I find that the S4 has too many options, the One is almost too simple in terms of features – though I think Sense is definitely moving in the right direction – Looking forward to the next iteration. The One being released on Wind is definitely tempting me.

    • AJ

      E-peen??? A display is practical in everyday use, a high res screen is something you’ll be looking at everytime it’s on! You’re buying a phone not just for today but for the future as well, where will dual-core be in 1-2 years from now when software and apps become more demanding?

    • thedosbox

      Did you even bother reading the review? The 720p resolution screen is not an issue, and is actually a BENEFIT for peformance.

      As for the dual-core fear-mongering, you do realize that Android is heavily single-threaded and GPU dependent right? A quad-core CPU isn’t going to provide the sort of benefit you seem to be defecating yourself over.

    • AJ

      Dude, do you understand all my posts are comparing the HTC One to this? Yes I read the review, and yes the phone’s screen and processor are both fine. My point is for cheaper why wouldn’t you get an even BETTER display and even BETTER processor?

    • thedosbox

      Dude, maybe you should actually READ the replies?
      I’ll make it as simple as I can – BIGGER numbers do not necessarily mean BETTER.

      If all you care about is comparing e-peen, then the HTC One is the better choice for you. Until the G2 or whatever new “flagship” comes out…..

    • Nadefrenzy

      Except Androids don’t just work “BETTER” with lower specs.

    • Nadefrenzy

      Benefit for GAMING performance. Not every day use. Your GPU is rarely used for that. It might be used for launcher action acceleration; however, a quad-core does just that too fine on a 1080p screen, im fairly sure a 720p would as well.

  • Frederick Edwards

    Looks like a great handset. Probably the first Moto handset I’ve admired on first look in the last 3 years. Enjoyable review too.

    Edit: Ugh wait.. went to Rogers and saw its only available in Black or White. Too bad.. that burgundy coloured back with white front looked so classy.

    • Brent Meisner

      Moto maker will be an AT&T exclusive for a while, but don’t be shocked if in a few months it’s available for everyone else too. The problem is, by the time it’s available, the device is dated and we’ll all be awaiting the “Moto X2″ likely lol

    • gommer strike

      By that time, the new entrants would be coming fast and furious…the handsets as mentioned in the review…the new LG phone…the Nexus 5…everything’s coming…

  • Brandon James Starcevic

    Bang on the nose man, absolutely. Great job!

  • hyperhyper

    Daniel,

    I have to say that in IMO, you rank as one of the best phone reviewers out there. Very fair, very articulate and you call it how it is. You talk about things like every day situations that we all stumble upon that other reviewers don’t even mention.

    Kudos to you for walking a very narrow line with the review and keep up the fantastic work!

    Though I would be loathe to switch to Rogers, I would be open to getting this if the camera had OIS and if there was a 32GB version or a slot for extra mem. Those are two features that I need for my future phone as I have a young one and I cannot lug my DSLR around that easily when we suddenly stop the car and go climb a huge mound of dirt for the fun of it.

    • Brent Meisner

      Hyper, if the camera and 32gb is one of your larger factors, have you considered just waiting out till October and picking up the Lumia 1020 on Rogers or Telus? I know that’s all I’m waiting for heh

    • bigshynepo

      I agree, that review was in-depth, coherent, and kept me engaged the whole way through. Though some websites shy away from giving their reviews a final grade, I think 89 is very fair. If Moto-maker was available and low light camera results are improved, I’d say it’ll be a low 90’s phone for sure.

      Great work Dan, looking forward to your “Honami” review.

    • Daniel Bader

      Thank you so much. I think I have something in my eye…

  • Jojo

    Battery life on WP devices is not better either, at least what I’ve seen from gsmarena’s tests… Still disappointing on this device, of course.

  • stevedion

    Good review, nice website redesign!

  • stevedion

    I wonder were I can get this unlocked. UnRogers.

  • Kabir Raza

    MOTO X is the BEST, A very good review. with some real world usage n tests I would say its Great Review just like the Phone itself

    • gommer strike

      …but good enough to sell you on the Moto X? as in, convincing you to go out and buy out, and selling your current handset for it?

    • Kabir Raza

      I don’t have a smartphone , If I sell my current for the MOTO X, I still need $485 more :/

    • gommer strike

      it’s only $485, save up :P

    • Kabir Raza

      ok :-)

  • Darth Paton

    I will cut off my balls before switching to Rogers for a phone.

    • hyperhyper

      Don’t hold back, tell us how you really feel?

      (btw, that would be an awesome quote to put on a billboard)

  • Kamil Czerniak

    What a shame Moto Maker is not available…

  • Tech Guru

    Ugh everyone needs to stop nuthugging this phone

  • d a

    Another phone that you have to buy an extended battery for and if you don’t need an extended battery then you probably don’t need a smart phone. Biggest morons to me are the one’s that turn everything off in order to get more battery life or don’t use any features except voice and texting. Why have a smart phone in that case.

  • Eduardo

    Great review. I really hope this phone becomes a hit, it would be nice for the Android spec war to be over and for manufacturers to focus on build quality, experience and BATTERY LIFE

  • mwahahahaha

    Say NO to cellular technology! Say YES to humanity! Say NO to Moto X!

  • Milan Pavić

    Its nice to see that software is getting some love after last few years of hardware wars. What I dont understand is why didnt they use the top hardware, priced it on par with the rest of the flagships and profit. Google too afraid to piss off OEM’s so specs are deliberately lower then what they could be?

    • gommer strike

      Plus, if they insist on “features and usability, NOT SPECS” then we better not see the Moto X2 come out with a 1080p screen and faster processor.

  • nathan rotstein

    how much were you paid for this glowing endorsemrnt? i felt as though you were promoting a penny mining stock . if it were available to every carrier i might believe 1/2 of what you said, but being exclusive to rogers makes me 100% not interested,
    last i heard, canada was still a democracy. too bad the people at rogers don’t see it that way..

  • Savbers

    Thanks, Daniel. THIS is the review I wanted for the Moto X. No one really quite got it but you. Unfortunately, I won’t be getting this phone solely because of battery life but thank you for helping me understand what battery life I would ACTUALLY get instead of the one paragraph “oh and battery life is good too” from all the other websites.

    • gommer strike

      Screen uptime is the only metric that matters. Not this “lasts all day” stuff. This reviewer rightfully jacked the brightness up, and streamed a video until the battery gave up. That’s how it should be done for all phones going forward.

      That is a TRUE measure of how long the phone can actually last. None of this haphazard usage.

    • Savbers

      Yeah but at the same time there are a lot of ways to skew that result.

    • gommer strike

      still better than a non-measurable value of “just using the phone throughout the day on regular usage”…how do you measure that, objectively?

      Better to stream on video on it, jack the brightness up, and let’s see for real how long the phone lasts before battery dies. This is the most honest I’ve seen, and I’d like to see this as the gold standard going forward.

    • Savbers

      Yeah, but I’m just saying people do more on their phone than just watch a video. Different applications pack different punches.

      GSMArena’s Battery Life test seems to be the most accurate, with the exception of only using a phone for 3 hours.

    • gommer strike

      Everyone’s usage habits are going to be different, and it’ll vary even from the same person, day to day. That’s why it becomes incredibly tough to gauge a phone’s battery just based on what this guy may or may not do, on a given day, and try to duplicate that across dissimilar handsets.

      Any manufacturer can make the claim “lasts all day” but what does that truly mean? Last all day – as long as you’re always on wifi, with the brightness turned at zero? Last all day – with LTE on and active, brightness jacked to max, and playing a game?

      Of course the numbers are gonna look completely different for someone who uses their phone just to check their notifications and time, and in this case a phone with a screen type such as the Moto X should win out. However we need as objective tests as possible to be able to truly say – OK – “battery lasts X amount of time, under our most punishing and standardized tests”.

  • gommer strike

    but why wouldn’t that “someone” just get an iPhone instead, if this really isn’t about specs? We need to talk about someone who’s non-techie and looks at geek stuff with indifference, if not outright disdain. They just a phone which *works*, and does what they want. Can we see this type of person buying a Moto X over an iPhone?

    • HatInTheRing

      I agree. I’m an Android guy but if I was to take a specs hit in exchange for “a smoother experience” I’ll take an iPhone all day. It’s simply a better built, more optimized phone.

  • gommer strike

    OK regarding “switching carriers” just for this phone. I think the reviewer should answer the question on – would it be worth it to pay full price for the phone, plus the unlock fee, so we could use it on *our* carrier?

    People don’t want to jump carriers willy nilly for no reason.

    • thedosbox

      ” I think the reviewer should answer the question on – would it be worth
      it to pay full price for the phone, plus the unlock fee, so we could use
      it on *our* carrier?”

      Um, aside from “value” being subjective, this is nonsense. Someone who’s got a religious affinity with a particular carrier is not going to be swayed by a shiny new toy.

      Someone who wants the shiny new toy on their existing carrier is either going to wait, or pay the full cost regardless.

      Someone considering a switch to another carrier will (hopefully) do so based on factors other than whether a shiny new toy is available – i.e. service quality, plan suitability etc.

    • gommer strike

      You can’t just assume that the person wouldn’t have a specific plan(eg. lower rate negotiated with their carrier), which would be a disincentive towards switching.

      There’s no loyalty unless you can something far, far better in terms of contract or plan from the next guy.

      And that’s exactly why it’s nonsense in the review to suggest that a person should switch carriers *just for* the Moto X, and just because oh, naw you wouldn’t have a “special” plan, would you(what if you’re on an employee plan? why on god’s green earth would you switch carriers, then huh)?

    • thedosbox

      Reread my post – “value” is subjective. Daniel felt it would be worth it, your wallet may feel differently. Expecting a universal judgement on such things is ridiculous.

    • thedosbox

      In my opinion?

      iPhone = don’t like iOS, and glass backed phones are stupid
      S4 = don’t like touchwiz, and shiny plastic makes for bad ergonomics
      HTC One = like Sense, but too big for one handed use
      Moto X = best compromise among the devices listed.

      And that’s the point, a review is an “opinion”. You should look up the meaning in a dictionary. Only basement dwellers insist on a “there must be only one” answer.

    • imrangr1

      Probably better if you could order to directly from Motorola Studios with your customization. Sadly us Canucks ain’t getting that.

  • Verdic

    Good review, very detailed and better than on a lot of other sites.

    For me, no SD card, no buy. Since Motorola is officially under the Google empire, it is too bad, because I have liked Motorola phones in the past and it is getting increasingly difficult to buy from anyone other than Samsung.

  • Zee

    Great and balanced review. Biggest failing for this phone in my opinion is the battery life. Motorola is touting it as a 24-hour phone and it’s anything but that. It’s a shame really, if they could have pulled some magic with longer battery life this would be THE phone to get. I like the direction that Motorola is trying to go however, hopefully future handsets build off of this.

  • CdnWireless Tradeshow

    What a review Daniel! This is literally a smart phone for Motorola’s first mobile phone since the Google takeover. Shocked on Google’s neglect for the camera, when they know good photos in both day and night are crucial factors when purchasing a smartphone. Motorola could do way better in this dept. no excuses for this blunder in today’s market.

  • HatInTheRing

    Thanks for a great article. All this said, I’m not sold. What I’m hearing is the Moto X really isn’t much better than the other top phones and in many cases, falls short. The price is an insult. Cost needs to be a product of margins. You aren’t a premium phone just because you say you are. You can’t add a few pieces of software and sell it for the same price as the HTC One that’s solid aluminum and has a killer screen, better quality battery, Beats Audio, a more thorough and extensive investment in it’s UI (Sense), more advanced camera etc etc etc. And let’s not forget even these phones are now aging in this fast moving industry.

    I understand that specs aren’t everything, but they cost money and Motorola saved that money and it wasn’t invested elsewhere. Nor did it didn’t ripple to the consumer. And even if double the processing power and an HD screen only marginally increases real world experience, then I will take that increase when it can be had for the same price. This is a $300 phone and I’d be very curious why Motorola feels it’s anything but.

    One more thing, the main selling point seems to be Active Notifications, from what I’ve read here. For those of you who don’t know (which may even include the author of this article), there in an app modeled directly to Moto X’s Active Notifications. It’s called DynamicNotifications. In fact it was actually called ActivNotifications just like Moto X’s variant when I first downloaded but I’m guessing due to copyrights it was demanded changed. Get this FREE app for your S3, S4 or HTC One and you have the best of both worlds.

  • HatInTheRing

    The battery doesn’t have a longer life. The commercials say it does, real world tests prove otherwise. The authors phone dies by 2pm and the phone is brand new.

  • rmonster

    Dr. Jekyll was the good guy. Mr. Hyde was the killer. :)

  • Lucas D.

    I actually have this phone and I love it. The reason I bought it over the HTC one is for features. There weren’t any interesting features that drew me to the HTC one. Also I know of the specs of each device and what they mean. I have not experienced any lag or slowing for this phone. Also my battery life is much better than what he says. Mine has no problem lasting the whole day with maybe 30 or so percent to spare. I would say it is pretty heavy use due to the fact I cant stop playing with it

  • Garrett Cooper

    I remember when I first heard of the Moto X. Dubbing it the iPhone killer, making it seem like it was going to be a spec beast. Guess I’ll play with one before passing judgement but I’m a little underwhelmed.

  • Nadefrenzy

    Did you even read the review? The battery on the HTC One lasts longer, and it’s powering a quadcore compared to this.

  • HelloCDN

    No customization? No money from me, Rogers. Learn how to attract customers with value. I mean, seriously, Motorola even made it easy for them to sell…

  • Adam Watts

    “The feature is useful only when security is disabled, which turns out to be a huge liability.”
    No kidding. After months of lusting after this phone, and considering the purchase of the Dev edition to use it on Bell, I think this major blunder has put me off this phone.

  • imrangr1

    While Moto X does have the Dual core CPU for the OS it’s actually Octocore in total with dedicated 4 core GPU and 1 core for speech recognition and another one for some contextual computing processing.

    This is phone iPhone is trying to be. The UI and the functions are much more user friendly then the infamous SiRi PA.

  • Nick Bainas

    What widgets are you using on the home screen?

  • swag

    heskey is better

  • redheadednomad

    I’d choose this over the Nexus 5 if it was available unlocked for a better price. Fingers crossed for the Play edition.