Motorola may have held off on the UK release of its flagship, wowing us with the cut-price Moto G instead. But the Moto X is now here, and the firm’s collaboration with Google has borne some impressive fruit, offering what looks like a powerful smartphone with a unique interface. So does it stand up to the current crop of Android high-enders?
- 1.7GHz dual-core processor
- 4.7-inch AMOLED display
- 16GB or 32GB internal storage
- 10MP camera
- 130g weight
- Android KitKat
- 2200mAh battery
Design and build
The Moto X’s plastic bodywork and gently-curved back make it very easy to hold. The US firm’s designers have done an impressive job of avoiding the slipperiness that can sometimes be a problem with large, plastic handsets.
At first glance, the device appears to have a textured backplate, but holding it reveals this to be smooth, with the ‘M’ logo sitting in a dimple. The raised rim around the display on the handset’s front isn’t particularly attractive, but overall this is an excellent form factor with a degree of comfort that belies the true size of the handset’s display.
At only 720p the Moto X does fall short of the kind of visual power offered by the likes of Sony and HTC’s flagships. Nevertheless, in everyday use Motorola’s 4.7-inch display is brilliant, and better than its specs suggest.
Colours are especially bold and bright, without being over-saturated, and high-quality video looks especially impressive on screen. We noticed no problems with any graphics ever looking pixelated and overall screen performance is outstanding.
Under the hood
A dual-core, 1.7GHz processor may not seem like much to shout about, but it powers the Moto X along comfortably. With this device the ethos seems to have been that just enough power is included to do what needs to be done, and we found no hang-ups whatsoever while using the handset.
Apps open quickly and the user interface is incredibly responsive. While this may be a result of the innovations brought about with Android KitKat, we also noticed that photos render in little time once captured, pointing towards impressive chip performance.
Operating system and user interface
As mentioned, Android KitKat is in place on the Moto X delivering an update on Google’s platform that makes it especially smooth. However, the biggest software features of Motorola’s handset are found in its voice recognition capabilities and deep integration with Google Now.
Even when locked, the handset can be activated and used without touching it, simply by saying “Okay Google Now”. From this command a huge range of tasks can be completed, such as calling or texting someone, searching online and finding directions, all of which is tied-in with the relevant Google services.
The performance of this feature is generally excellent, with voice recognition being very accurate for the majority of the time. While talking at your handset may not be something that many people are comfortable with doing in public, these innovations could definitely find their use when driving.
Another useful feature is Active Display, a battery saving measure which reduces the number of pixels used when showing notifications on the lock screen. If you get a text, all that appears is an icon, which can then be tapped and held for a preview of the message itself.
Camera and video
Motorola’s camera app is a lesson in simplicity, shying away from the enormous number of extra features that the likes of Samsung and HTC have packed into their high-end devices recently. As a vehicle for the 10 megapixel camera, the software is brilliant, and the resulting images are of a very high-quality.
Swiping a finger to the right brings out a simple, wheel-like menu that contains the settings and controls, giving access to functions such as HDR, flash and touch focus. Photos are than captured by simply tapping on the display, and this ‘less-is-more’ approach is a welcome breath of fresh air.
Performance and verdict
Motorola has created a unique handset that has some outstanding features. While the device’s specs may not be much to shout about its software features and unique method of interaction make it a truly standout smartphone. We get the feeling that some of what we see here may be the norm in the near future, and for anyone not too bothered about having an attention-grabbing spec sheet the Moto X would be an interesting choice.