Motorola Moto X review [VIDEO]

There’s no question Motorola has a lot riding on the Moto X. As Motorola’s latest flagship (available today on AT&T and soon to hit all major carriers in the US) the Moto X is the first handset born out the Google/Motorola marriage and highlights a departure from the masculine Droid line Motorola has long been known for.

You don’t need a microscope to see that Google’s DNA went into the making of the X. Unlike similar offerings from rival handset makers, the Moto X chooses a more modest approach, focusing instead on features to help set it apart from the competition, and not a gaudy high-end specs or ocho-cinco cores. Now that you’ve gotten the full spiel, let’s find out if the Moto X is able to deliver on these promises, or if the device’s mid-range specs will ultimately hold it back.

Design & Build Quality

Moto X Collage

Much like a first date, the first 2 areas you’ll notice on the X are its design and build quality. The new Motorola put a lot of thought into the looks of the Moto X. As the first Googorola device, the Moto X shared more in common with Nexus devices than Motorola’s current, overly masculine, line of “Droids”. Soft rounded corners, a convex back, and colored accents — the Moto X is definitely easy on the eyes.

For many, the Moto X’s best feature is it’s petite size. Small bezels along the front make for a device with a healthy screen-to-bezel ratio, packing in maximum display size, while keeping the overall form factor small and comfortable for one handed use. Measuring 129.3 x 65.3 mm and gradually sloping from 5.6 mm at its thinnest point, to 10.4 mm at its thickest, the Moto X occupies a segment of the market only upcoming “Mini” devices can compete in. This makes the X the perfect Android device for converting on-the-fence iPhone buyers. It’s also the same weight as the Samsung Galaxy S4, at 130 g, so it wont weigh you down.

Motorola Moto X DSC00695

While the Moto X is covered in plastic materials, the matte back with sliver carbon fiber pattern provides for an almost 3D look, keeping the device from feeling “Galaxy cheap”. Unfortunately, the plastic rim around the display doesn’t always sit completely flush with the back plate, leaving a sharp lip around some of the corners and making the device feel a little more entry level than I would have liked (but only to those with a keen eye).

Also the back, while solid around the mid-section, has some slight give around the top portion (around the camera). Couple this with buttons that rattle considerably when the haptic feedback is engaged and things start to feel a little less than solid. The plastic trim around the display is soft, making is susceptible to scrapes and dents. After close inspection, I just can’t say I was too impressed with the build quality, but for many, it likely wont be an issue.

Motomaker

Moto X Motomaker screenshot

In a smartphone industry first, Motorola gives customers the ability to hop onto their all new Motomaker website and design their own special Moto X. After they’ve customized the device according to their tastes, their personalized Moto X will ship to them within 4 days straight from Motorola’s newly built Texas facility. An AT&T exclusive for now (more carriers will be added later), we’re sure you’ve already seen our hands-on of Motomaker where potential buyers can customize the color palette of their Moto X.

Options include either a white or black faceplate, 18 different colored back covers (with more colors and finishes being added in the future). You can even change the color of the buttons and trim around the camera along with accessories. For those keeping count, that’s a whopping 504 different color combinations, a number we’re sure will grow as more colors are added into the mix.

This gives customers the chance to design a Moto X that will look unlike others they may run across on the street, adding a very personal touch and something only the Moto X can offer. While custom etching wont be available at launch, customers will soon be able to further personalize their Moto X with phrases or gang names along the back of the device. Wood finish back covers are also being tested, but no word on when we can expect those to hit Motomaker.

Hardware and Performance

Moto X gaming performance DSC00728

When Google finally revealed the Moto X’s official specs, many were upset to find that on paper, the X was equipped with “last year’s hardware”. What do we mean by that? Well, namely the 4.7-inch 720p display, dual-core processor, and limited 16GB/32GB internal storage options — all trumped by high-end offerings from HTC and Samsung.

But in a smartphone arms race where manufacturers are using bigger numbers as a way of declaring their handset’s dominance over one another, high-end hardware does not always a good phone make. Don’t get me wrong, as a bleeding edge techie myself, I love high-end specs as much as the next nerd, but I would argue that many of these cutting edge specs would be lost on mainstream consumers simply looking for a handsome smartphone with responsive software and a clear display. In those areas, the Moto X delivers.

In real world usage, the 1.7GHz Qualcomm MSM8960 Snapdragon Pro (also known as Motorola’s X8 chip) is snappy and quick to open up apps and webpages. I found no discernible difference in speed between the Moto X and quad-core equipped devices like the Nexus 4, HTC One, or Samsung Galaxy S4 (okay, it did feel quicker on its feet than the S4 with TouchWiz). Also, even when running benchmarks, the phone rarely, if ever, reached a warm temperature, staying cool during normal usage.

Moto X benchmarks

While the X may not be packing a “quad-core” processor like many other devices on the market, it does however feature a quad-core Adreno 320 GPU (same as found in the “higher-end” HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4). This means when it comes to graphic intensive gaming, the X will be able to keep up with the best of them — even better in most cases thanks to a lower-resolution display that makes graphics easier to render.

AnTuTu – 18977

GFXBench (GLBenchmark 2.7) – T-Rex: 26 fps, Egypt: 54 fps

Quadrant – 8855

Vellamo – HTML5: 2442, Metal: 770

We briefly mentioned the device’s 4.7-inch display which I found high-def enough thanks to an adequate 312 ppi, but the AMOLED’s over-saturation of colors, yellow-ish white balance, and strong gamma had me longing for SLCD3 (or at least the Galaxy S4’s saturation controls). Don’t even bother trying to edit a photo on this thing, it wont come out looking anything like you’d expect when viewed on your computer.

Other specs include dual-band WiFi b/g/n/ac, a 2,200 mAh battery, Bluetooth 4.0 with LE + EDR, nano SIM card (even smaller than your micro SIM) and NFC. The Moto X is also only available in 16GB or 32GB storage options, with Google offering a whopping 50GB of free Google Drive storage for 2 years.

Camera

Motorola Moto X Camera DSC00716

Accessible with a handy quick launch gesture (double twist of the wrist, even while the phone is sleeping), the Motorola Moto X’s 10MP “Clear Pixel” rear facing camera is easily the device’s weakest area. What’s strange is how it was billed to perform better than previous hardware, with better low-light results and all this technical mumbo jumbo to back it up. In the end, you’ll be hard pressed to shoot a single decent picture with the Moto X’s camera.

All images suffer from an extreme amount of muddiness, devoid of any detail. I have a suspicion the softness in images has more to do with the a horribly aggressive noise filter, something that could be fixed in a future software update (like with the HTC One), though you probably shouldn’t hold your breath.

Moto X vs HTC One GPe camera

Moto X vs HTC One GPe low light

Low light is where the camera really freaks out. The image above was taken with the the Moto X and HTC One GPe in extremely low lighting conditions — no flash, no HDR, stock camera settings — and it’s easy to see which device came out on top. Images on the Moto X have purple edges when the ISO jumps up and so much noise and filtering, there’s no way anyone will find themselves pleased with the end result. Flat out: this is one of the worst smartphone cameras I’ve ever used in my life (yes, even worse than the Nexus 4).

Moto X camera sample collage

In a strange twist, the 2MP front facing camera suffers from none of the aforementioned issues. Images come out sharp (almost too sharp), with a nice amount of exposure and contrast. It’s so odd Motorola couldn’t get the rear camera to perform like front, but if you become really desperate, you could always use the front camera as your primary shooter (great for selfies).

Battery life

Motorola Moto X charging battery DSC00734

While an average 2,200mAh battery might not sound like much, don’t let it fool you — it takes the Moto X a long way. That’s not to say you’ll get a full 24 hours worth of usage (no matter what you’ve read), but the Moto X should get you through your day, until you make it home at night.

According to Motorola, the Moto X is capable of 13 hours of straight talk time, and around 24 with mixed usage. My results varied but on average, I’d get around 14 hours of “normal” usage (checking Twitter every so often, making a few phones calls, checking a few texts, watching a YouTube video or 2), but with very light usage, I could often hit that 20 hour mark. In fact, standby mode is where the Moto X truly shines.

During transit, the Moto X managed to go a full 4 days (that’s 96 hours) while powered on and once it finally arrived at my house, still had 10% of its battery to spare. Pretty damn impressive if you ask me. Because the Moto X uses such little battery life when sleeping, there were many days I didn’t even bother plugging it in at night, knowing it would still be alive to sound my alarm in the morning. There’s a certain amount of peace of mind that comes with knowing that.

Software

Motorola Moto X Boot animation DSC00738

With mobile hardware hitting a plateau of sorts, it’s the software and features therein that will ultimately be the deciding factor for consumers. You might not be able to tell the difference between a 720p display and a 1080p one, a dual-core processor and octa-core one — heck, even Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and Android 4.2.2.2.3.459083 Jelly Nuts.

Something tells us Motorola knows this and it’s why they’ve added a handful of new software features, a few that consumers can only find from their line of smartphones and nowhere else. Because the Moto X offers a near stock Android 4.2.2 experience, we’ll focus on Motorola’s unique software features and not everything Android 4.2 Jelly Bean entails.

Active Notifications

Moto X active notifications

One of the coolest Moto X features is something Motorola is calling “Active Notifications”. Essentially, this is lockscreen that is enabled whenever the X receives a notification. In olden times, you’d have to pick up your phone, press the power button and swipe down the notification area to check your notifications — not on the Moto X. Active Notifications makes the process easier with a black and white lockscreen (provides for minimal impact on battery life) that pulses with, not only the time, but shows you when you have unread notifications.

Pressing on the center of the display — without picking the device up, or press the physical unlock button — lets you peek at the most recent notification, while previous ones are also shown. From there, you can decide to full unlock your device and address them, or continue watching a movie, eating dinner, or playing your video game. Easily the most handy feature we’ve seen from Android OEM’s in quite sometime.

Overall it works very well… when it works. Often times I’ve found my Moto X display is blank, and I begin finger jabbing my phone trying to get the Active Notifications lockscreen to appear so I can peek at my notifications. By that time, I could have picked up my phone and checked the normal way. I also noticed Active Notifications felt a bit “hacky”, with the normal Android lockscreen showing for a split second upon unlock (instead of unlocking straight to the homescreen). Not a huge deal, but it makes Active Notifications feel like some 3rd party app from the Play Store.

Touchless Control

Moto X Touchless Control DSC00742

Similar to the “Ok Glass” voice actions found on Google Glass, the Moto X features what Motorola calls their “Touchless Control” voice actions. Essentially, Touchless Controls allow you to quickly access Google Now (found on all Android devices running Jelly Bean) without ever having to physically pick up your phone. It’s always listening, at the ready, waiting on your every command.

But first you’ll have to set it up and after recording yourself saying “OK Google Now” 3 times, the Moto X will learn your voice patterns. From there you can simply say “OK Google Now”, and the Moto X will perform a Google voice search of whatever you like. Since the Google Now also features voice actions, any of those actions can be spoken. Things like setting alarms, posting status updates, figuring out math problems, checking weather, translating something into another language, sending an SMS message, placing calls, etc.. Sky’s the limit.

Like Active Notifications, when Touchless Control works, it works well. Unfortunately, more than often I found myself screaming at my Moto X, trying to hit the same pitch I used during the setup process. In a crowded room or at a restaurant, Touchless Control never picked up my voice, possibly because my yelling voice was different than what was programmed.

Unless I was Liam Neeson, hog tied upside down with my X just out of reach, Touchless Control just seemed a tad bit gimmicky. Still a very cool feature and one that I expect will sell a few Moto X’s in carrier retail stores.

Motorola Assist

Motorola Assist Moto X

Assist is one of Motorola’s bigger apps that automates tasks like enabling hands-free communications while driving or keeping your phone quiet during meetings and/or evening hours. Definitely cool, and definitely many users will find helpful.

The driving option helps Moto X users “stay focused on the road” by measuring your speed to detect when you might be driving. Once enabled, you can have your X read text messages aloud, or the name of a caller.

Meeting checks your calendar for meetings or events and can mute calls. While I imagine most folks aren’t regularly engaged in weekly meetings, you can create a calendar event for something like church every Sunday, so you never have to worry about interrupting a service. Settings include the option to set ringtones to silence or vibrate, with the option to whitelist calls from Favorites or when someone calls twice within 5 min, usually signifying an emergency (or crazy ex). You can also have our phone auto reply to missed calls via SMS.

If you absolutely hate being interrupted in your sleep by emails, SMS messages from friends with no job, or calls from creditors, you can also set your phone’s own quiet hours under the Sleeping option. Like Meetings, you can still enable calls from those in your Favorites or whenever someone calls twice within 5 minutes.

Assist’s user interface makes the app a joy to use. Where you’d expect something of this nature to look like Android’s boring ‘ol Settings app, you’re instead greeted by a UI that’s clean with Google Now-like cards and the familiar “No, maybe later” or “Yes, I’m in” Google Now options that appear at launch. Everything is clear and concise. You can definitely see Google’s fingerprints in the design.

Other Motorola Apps and Services

Moto X Motorola apps and services

Call it bloatware or whatever you like, but Motorola also sprinkled the Moto X with a little more of their specialty software. Motorola Device ID ties to your Gmail account and allows you to access Motorola specific services like Motorola Connect (a Chrome extension for sending/receiving SMS messages and calls from your computer), Moto Care tips (an app with FAQ and options to auto-enable suggested tips), and Lost Phone Web Portal (to help track down a misplaced or stolen Moto X). One handy security feature is something Motorola calls Trusted Devices that will disable a pattern, pin, or other screen locks whenever the device is paired to a “trusted” Bluetooth device. Pretty damn awesome.

Moto X Trusted Devices

There’s also Migrate to help with transferring media, call, SMS, and contacts to a new device (either wirelessly, or using NFC). Motorola Privacy (found in the Settings app) disables or enables Moto Care tips or opting in/out of usage statistics. The Moto X also tweaks the stock Android software by adding their own Battery saving mode that will turn off background data during low battery (until the device is charging), and audio EQ tweaks found in the sound settings.

Verdict

Motorola Moto X DSC00701

In the end, the Moto X was made to provide Motorola with a mainstream success of iPhone-level proportions. Motorola made a very strategic move in not focusing on specs, but on what the X could offer that was unlike the millions of other Android devices on the market. Something personal, something convenient, something that would change the way people interact with their smartphone. There’s a value in that and it’s why the Moto X — while it might not pack the higher spec numbers — at $200 on contract, it’s priced on the same level as high-end handsets offered by Samsung, HTC, and LG.

If you’re buying what Motorola is selling, than the Moto X might be the phone for you. For bleeding edge tech enthusiast, the Moto X wasn’t built for you and you might want to continue waiting for the next big thing.

Positives

  • Great design
  • Stock Android software
  • Front facing camera performance
  • Battery life
  • Customization options
  • Always on voice actions “Touchless Controls”
  • Availability on all major US carriers (AT&T for now)

Negatives

  • 10MP “Clear Pixel” camera
  • Display
  • Build quality
  • Subsidized pricing (subject to change)

Overall rating: 3.5 out of 5

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  • dgarra

    When you shipped it, did it have a SIM Card/LTE enabled? My Moto Droid Razr Maxx (the original one) can get a boatload of time if I don’t have mobile data enabled. Turn on 3G, still lasts. Turn on 4G, bye bye. (in Standby)

    • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

      Yup. Got the full LTE’s in my area.

      • Joe C.

        Chris, Very thorough review. I’m not a heavy use gamer etc. I like most everything about the phone except for the relatively low camera quality. How likely is it that they can provide some improvements somehow?

        • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

          Well, it’s mostly a software issue. Motorola could fix the extreme noise filtering in a future update, but unless people make a big fuss about it, it’s not likely that they will.

  • harold

    What away to put down the american worker.

    • Roaduardo

      Murica!

    • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

      Ha! It was more a jab at the Motorola worker who happens to be employed in the US and did a shoddy job at assembling my Moto X.

  • Muhammad Ali

    Thanks for the thorough review Chris.

    I’m just confused about one thing: if I am a bleeding edge tech enthusiast but at the same time there is no discernible difference in speed between the Moto X and better spec’d phones, why shouldn’t I just get the Moto X.

    Unless I want a bigger screen of course, that or I like to engrave the specs on my phone :P

    • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

      Honestly, you wont tell the difference — at first.

      Having the Moto X for only a few weeks, it hasn’t slowed down at all, but that’s not to say it wont in the future. Android is always adding new features, and most people like the peace of mind that comes with high-end specs essentially “future proofing” their investment.

      If you upgrade every year or so, I think the “mid range” specs on the X should suffice. Just don’t forget about the limited storage.

      • Rigelian

        You’re kidding right? It might slow down in the future? So might those higher spec’d phones as well. If I recall correctly the noise coming out of Google is the next versions of Android will be less resource intensive. I suspect that the Samsung phones in particular might need the extra hardware just to manage the future bloat they plan for Touchwiz. But that’s hardly an improvement.

        • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

          Not sure what you’re trying to argue…

          A high-spec’d phone could potentially slow down at the same rate as a lesser spec’d phone but because it has faster RAM, a better processor, and more storage, it wont be as noticeable as a lesser equipped model.

          It’s all rumors at this point, but you’re right. They are saying Key Lime Pie might be less resource intensive than previous versions of Android but then again, it might not.

          Also, I never said I shared the above sentiment, just trying to give some insight on why some people put so much emphasis on high-end specs.

          Honestly, I’d be fine with the Moto X if it just had a better camera.

          • Rigelian

            Here’s what I’m saying. The Moto X has two additional low power processors to perform future functions. Depending on the direction of Android and Moto, such processors may be part of the future evolution of Android. Also given that Google has said that they were going to focus on making KLP work better with lower powered phones…I’m not sure that extra horsepower is getting you anywhere. It certainly doesn’t seem to be getting you anywhere today. Any and all possibilities exist in the future. Right?

            Here’s the thing I found most interesting:

            “Don’t get me wrong, as a bleeding edge techie myself, I love high-end specs as much as the next nerd, but I would argue that many of these cutting edge specs would be lost on mainstream consumers simply looking for a handsome smartphone with responsive software and a clear display. In those areas, the Moto X delivers.”

            I always thought nerds prefer smart to raw power. If the design is smart and elegant and performs just as well…isn’t that something a nerd would be excited about?

          • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

            Well, there are 2 types of nerds. Maybe even 3. Those that value features, those that want the horsepower, and those that want both. I like to think I fall into the latter category, but if features are good enough, they could make up for lesser specs.

            The weirdest part is you and I essentially see eye-to-eye. I think 720p displays are fine on displays this small, I think dual-core processor are plenty fast enough, I even think 4MP cameras are cool (as long as they shoot good in low light).

            The point I was making in the quoted text was there was really no point in Motorola going balls to the wall with high-end specs. In the end, most consumers can’t tell if a phone has a 1080p display, or a quad-core processor. What they do notice are features and Motorola’s unique personalization options.

          • Rigelian

            I value features and performance. On the former the right kind of features. I have a huge number of features on my S3 that I don’t use. Features I don’t use are meaningless to me. Just as the voice controls on Moto X seem mostly meaningless to you. On the latter, specs are simply a proxy for performance. If you can measure the performance who cares about specs?

          • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

            Agreed. When holding the Moto X side-by-side with more “high-end” offerings, most wouldn’t be able to tell a difference in specs or speed. That being said, something with a more powerful processor could better handle more complex apps and games and multitasking.

            And while I didn’t notice much difference in terms of speed, I have read reviews from others that felt the Moto X wasn’t as snappy as the HTC One, but that could have been placebo.

          • Heatfan316

            That’s funny because I went to the At&t store yesterday and I compared these two phones side by side and each time the moto x out performed the HTC One in web browsing, opening apps and gaming, the Moto x is simply a better phone period, these guys are simply looking at specs, but sometimes it’s not about specs, it’s about optimization.

          • Roaduardo

            This is the kind of nerd category I fall into:

    • RussianDroid

      There might not be any (a lot of) difference in speed between Moto X and better spec’d phones, but you will always know whats under the hood. That is enough for a lot of techies to pass it.

  • Fred G. Vader

    “much like a first date…” great line, nice job on the review

  • knightsbore

    Is it fair though to say it is available on all carriers? At this time its only on AT&T has released, and Verizon has a date for release. T-mobile, Sprint and any other carriers don’t have dated releases from anything I have heard. And if Customization is a Plus then shouldn’t this be an AT&T only version review since none of the others can have customization?

  • kishan

    Not interested. 1. Low specs not a fair price. 2. Not pure Android 3. No good cam and battery

  • Fel Pe

    Why couldn’t they make all this improved user experience and put it in a cellphone with top specs? I mean, if it was 5 years ago I think this would’ve been a great idea (any Apple thoughts here?) but with so much competition out there why would I pay top price for not so top hardware? Who do they think they are? Steve Jobs? And who do they think we are? Apple sheep?? This is not 2007 anymore and we shouldn’t be impressed for couple software tricks and color customization. Price the phone accordingly or is just gonna be a big fail.

    • Rigelian

      Here’s why. Put in the Quad Core processor and the 1080p display in a phone with this form factor and the battery would not last long enough. As for why you would pay top price, I can’t tell you. I can tell you why I will. First, the size works. I took a look at it today and it feels about perfect in the hand. The little lip on the display I suspect is designed to prevent you from accidentally touching the screen with your hand because of the small bezel. The performance doesn’t appear to suffer. Even the author of this review has concluded that it performs as fast if not better than the flagship HTC One and S4. Third, for the features. If those are the features you want.

      So given this, what exactly do your higher specs get you?

      • Max

        my friend just switched from an iphone to an htc One and to even have a chance of getting through a day on battery life he leaves the processor in conserve battery/downclock mode, so the point of a faster processor is kind of worthless for heavy users (he reads news a lot, watches some youtube, minimal gaming, lots of texting and phone calls)

        • Rigelian

          That’s my point. These phones, because of their form factor, rest on compromises. If I can get a smaller form factor with just as large a screen with the same or better performance, and battery life that allows me to get through the day, why wouldn’t I want this?

      • Fel Pe

        Well, they get me much more speed and convenience. (Pretty much) Any cellphone right out of the box is gonna function really well, the problem is when you start installing apps in it. When you have 100+ apps, many of them running in the background I’m pretty sure this Moto X will start suffering. For instance, quite often I see myself in the car, with the hands free bluetooth connected, music playing on Google music, Google navigation running to tell me where to go and I could receive a message, or check my email, all at the same time. A slow processor here would drive me crazy. Talking about music why doesn’t this phone have a memory card slot? I own a 32GB Note 2 and 64GB memory card and only have little more than 20GB free. Movies, videos, games, apps…. U know why companies dont put memory card slots? Well, so they can charge more for the 32GB or 64GB or 128GB (apple again?) Or charge for clouding services. Regardless of the battery My Note 2 handles a whole day of power use just fine. The note 3 will have full HD screen and 8 core processor and it will do even better, im sure. The solution for power problem? Bigger, better battery, more power efficiency but please don’t compromise performance!! In this so competitive market is really hard for a company to increase its market share, so they have another strategy: How can we make more money per unit sold. And the answer is: lets make a cheaper, super cool phone, and charge top price for it. Now this can work well, or not. In my opinion this phone will have its price reduced as soon as 1 month from now. And even cut in half when iPhone 5S and Note 3 are released. So id never buy it right now. Don’t let the cool factor fool you, it goes away very quick. But the hefty bill wont go with it. I could go more and more, talk about camera quality, line of accessories available, value retention of the phone (yes, im selling my note 2 to buy the 3, this moto x 1 year from now wont be worth 100 bucks but you will still own more than that for it)….. anyway, nice try Google. I’m sure the new nexus phone will be much better option with the same cool features and more. Or stick with HTC One, GS4, Note 2, 3 or Nexus 4. Or wait couple months and get this phone for 99 or even 0,01 on a contract.

        • Rigelian

          First of all the processor isn’t slow. It has two fewer cores but as far as processor speed it’s pretty much the same. Second, I think that the available working memory, not the stored memory is the key to performance. The Moto X has as much working memory as the S4 and HTC One. Third thing, I don’t think it’s cheaper to make. At least the estimates I’ve seen of the cost breakdown suggest it isn’t.

          Given that I have about 6GB of memory free on my 16GB S3, this doesn’t get me much. Given that Google is giving away 50 GB of free cloud storage with this device iI doubt very seriously that this is an effort to sucker you in to buying their cloud services.

          The other benefit is that it doesn’t have Touchwiz on the thing.

          With the exception of my old Nexus 7, the number of apps I have had on my devices seem to have little impact on their performance.

          By the way my lower spec’d S3 has no problem with the use case you described and on top of it I can operate it one-handed.

          • Fel Pe

            You can put a memory card in the S3 and increase its memory, the 50GB free cloud might be free for 1, 2 years, then they start charging (dropbox that comes with samsung phones is like that), not to mention they can look up all your files and advertise to you based on them, plus u always need internet to access them… I owned GS3 and was a great phone (international version), from GS3 to Moto X I don’t see a major upgrade (specially if I have to pay almost $600 for it). U can get the S4 stock android on Google play, or install ROMS in it that you’d rather use than touchwizz. Particularly I like the touchwiz funcionality, more home screens, easier to uninstall apps, to close apps, and many other convenient additions, however i must agree that stock android looks much better. I can totally use my note 2 with just one hand, it took me some learning and texting is a little bit slower but it’s all possible. Motorola is using this window of time (ONE and S4 been out for a while and Note 3 and Iphone 5S not out yet) to charge big bucks for this phone. If they don’t reduced this phone to 99 in a month from now and 0,01 or free or buy one get one free till the end of the year I promise I’ll consider going back to a 2 core 4″ish screen phone (ughh) LOL :)

          • Rigelian

            You’re concerned about targeted ads…? seriously? You might as well give up using any and all google services. I hate touchwiz. It’s bloat, it’s overly complicated and the menu structure is crap. Not only that it’s horrible on my eyes.

            I have no interest in any iphone. I have no interest in the Note 3. I still don’t understand why anyone would want a phone that large. But tastes are different. As for performance, given that by almost all accounts the Moto X performs as well as the best of them…and slightly better than the Touchwiz burdened s4. That’s what I’m getting.

          • Fel Pe

            I’m not concerned about targeted ads, but for sure they are less than the ideal, plus im not saying for you not to buy the MOTO X, im just saying that you can save $100 maybe $200 if you wait a little longer to get it… of course it all depends how bad you need/want the phone and how 100/200 bucks play within your budget … as for the use of a big screen phone (Note 2) the answer is simple: with it I don’t need a tablet anymore, I do everything on my cellphone, from trading stocks, reading news and even making calls LOL … I’ve owned so many tablets and the 10″s are just too annoying to handle and the 7″s (nexus 7 and even iPad mini) are just not necessary anymore with my phone having almost 6″ screen… to be fair I do own a kindle paper white for reading books tho. Actually what really bothers on a phone size is its thickness and weight so as long as it is super slim it really doesn’t feel so bad in the pocket. Specially after some getting use to it. The gains of a big screen is unquestionable and having just one main device is very practical and cheaper (just one data plan, one device, less accessories). Anyway, good luck on your new phone journey. :)

          • ari_free

            cloud storage = SLOW

          • Rigelian

            cloud storage = flexible. I have a galaxy s3, chromebook pixel, a new nexus 7 and a xoom, a mac and a macbook. nice thing, they can all access the same information on the cloud. if there is somethign I need absolute quick access to, I simply put it on the individual device. As it stands, my s3 has 3GB free. This is true despite the fact that I haven’t deleted a lot of the photos from the device that are automatically backed up to the cloud. i like the trade off. others may feel differently

        • eichler

          In the car doing all those things at once? Sigh…..Asians can’t drive

          • Fel Pe

            LOL I thought you guys were the ninjas!! :)

  • Jeff Miller

    Didn’t care for your video review. For one, you trying to tap on the screen for active notifications drove me nuts. Have you even used the device before your review? Also, the bad build quality is because of american workers making it? What an idiot comment man. Coming from someone that has the new MAXX, the screen is pretty good. Not a con at all. I could go on but oh well. I never comment on things like this but I felt this was a terrible review….sorry!

    • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

      Wait- so you’re saying it was a terrible review because you disagreed with it? And I never said it had “bad build quality” BECAUSE it was made in the US, just that Motorola’s Texas worker who made my X slapped it together all haphazardly (as the back plate was off center).

      • Rigelian

        I actually think he said that he thought it was a bad review because it seemed like you weren’t all that familiar with the phone. Ala, trying to tap on the active notifications. I thought it was a bad review because of your assumption that having more cores future proofs your phone.

        • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

          Wait- I never said more cores future proofs your phone in the review? I never even said I thought that. Just that’s how some people feel. So….. good review then? :P

          • Rigelian

            Actually you said this:

            Android is always adding new features, and most people like the peace of
            mind that comes with high-end specs essentially “future proofing” their
            investment.

            You assume that the high end specs “future proof”. Do they? What particular spec difference between the HTC One and the Moto X makes the HTC One potentially more future proofed?

            If not more cores what exactly is going to future proof the phone? More ram? Well they have the same amount of Ram. the 1080p display. Not sure how a high resolution display has anything to do with future proofing. The physical memory? I don’t think that will be part of the future proofing with respect to Android, especially since Google seems to be deemphasizing this on the Nexus. Why in the world would anyone expect the specs will make any difference in terms of the future? I honestly don’t even understand why that is there.

          • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

            A phone with a more advanced quad-core processor typically runs Jelly Bean much better than a phone with a single-core or dual-core CPU. This is correct. Once Key Lime Pie is released, and it’s got all these new fangled new features, the same will most likely apply (though we can’t say for certain, as we don’t know how heavy KLP will be).

          • Rigelian

            We already know that this phone which is a dual core phone performs as well as the HTC One and S4 according to your impression. So why would I expect it to perform less well when KLP hits? Especially when this type of thing is being said about KLP.

            “Said to demand system requirements of just 512MB of RAM, Android 5.0 could soon find its way to all manner of mid-range handsets and not just the high-end likes of the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One.”
            http://www.trustedreviews.com/news/android-5-0-key-lime-pie-release-date-tipped-for-october#bl6j9xIzv1d1aokb.99

  • CerealFTW

    I can’t wait to buy this phone last year!

  • http://www.greenless.com Lex Lybrand

    The Verge called. They want their swagger back.

  • NCSUgolfer01

    Is that a custom launcher in the review? It appears the persistent search bar is gone. Is there an option in the moto software to turn it off?

    • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

      Yeah, I was using Nova Launcher.

      • Roaduardo

        You ever spent some time with Buzz Launcher?

        • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

          Yes, recorded a video for it not too long ago, but since it was more negative than anything, I never bothered uploading.

          • Roaduardo

            Ah that’s a shame. I’ve gotten so much out of it, mainly because of how highly customizable it is. I never bothered downloading and installing other people’s set ups.

      • NCSUgolfer01

        Not trying to come off like Buzz Killington, but it seems a little silly to review and phone using a custom launcher instead of the stock launcher. I only say that because if someone potentially in the market for a new phone that wasn’t as versed in android were to google “Moto X Review” this review could be something they read.

  • Justin W

    Chris, what’s your opinion of this vs. HTC One? I’m on VZW and am about 95% I’m gonna pick up the One and sell of my GS3… but still curious about other options

    • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

      While I am only a single man and my opinion isn’t worth much — I will say that I’m excited to finally go back to my HTC One (although, I’ll miss the Moto X’s slightly smaller size).

      Overall, I think the HTC One is a better device and while Touchless Control is a neat feature, I just never used it much.

  • Shawn_Locke

    Hey Chris, is that your Wolverine art in the review? It’s awesome!

    • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

      Nah, it’s my gf’s. She loves to paint. :3

      • Shawn_Locke

        Nice! Sounds like you found yourself a winner ;)

      • Roaduardo

        Stop dragging your feet Chris and put a ring on it! ;)

  • Jason

    Good review. Sounds like a decent phone, but I think I’ll hold on to my VZW Galaxy Nexus a bit longer.

    • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

      Dang! How is that thing holding up? Are you keeping it alive with custom ROMs or is it stock?

      • Jason

        I’ve been using MMuzzyROM (Vanilla) for some time now. I was pretty happy with how fast the 4.3 binaries for the VZW Galaxy Nexus became available and the ROMs started getting released. I’d go crazy waiting for Verizon to keep it up to date. I was noticing a bit of lag here and there, but I think that has improved since 4.3.

        I did have to upgrade the battery though to a 3800mAh extended one (from Hyperion). I’m sure a lot of people wouldn’t like how thick that makes the phone. But in my opinion it improves the grip it’s totally worth it for the excellent battery life.

        I’d like a newer phone, but… I like to upgrade in big steps (my previous phone was a Droid 1). I do more app usage on my Galaxy Nexus than I do my Nexus 7, and I’m still pretty happy with it. I just can’t quite justify an upgrade yet.

        • Roaduardo

          That’s awesome you’ve been able to get what you need from a device that old. I know what you mean about the grip too, I put an extended batt on my old S2 and it was more comfortable to hold.

          • Jason

            Well, I’m not much into mobile gaming. So as long as the phone adequately runs the latest apps on the latest Android… There’s not much more to ask. Sure a 1080p screen would be nice. And maybe a little better camera (though the Galaxy Nexus can take some decent looking pictures). But that just doesn’t quite push me to buy a new phone already.

            Back in my Droid 1 days, I was waiting for a phone that was both dual-core and supported LTE (luckily I skipped the Droid Bionic because I heard that the Galaxy Nexus was coming). At this point, I guess I’m waiting to see what Key Lime Pie does, and also VoLTE. I’m counting on VoLTE to open the doors to unlocked phones on Verizon since CDMA will no longer be needed.

  • jnt

    Couldn’t agree more… great device overall, camera sucks, and “ok google now” is where the “touchless” controls end. It’s neat, but not that intuitive after the initial wake up…

    • moopuna

      “Ok Google now” is way to much of a mouthful and awkward to legitimately say… “Ok Google” would be better

  • Max

    I am assuming Motorola assist replaces motorola smart actions, how does it compare? I’ve found smartactions to always be about 10% short. i.e. it can finally turn my wifi on and my brightness down when i get home, but it cant reverse that when i leave my house. the gps locations are fairly imprecise as well.

    • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

      Assist is simply for automatic sound profiles at the moment. :/

      • Max

        So it does it include any other software for automated actions? Or at this point are you better off using something like llama?

        • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

          Llama for sure. There’s nothing it else it automates other than sound profiles, and reading text to you while you’re driving.

  • HotInEER

    I hate how the front of the phone looks like it has a case wrapped around it in the front, like a TPU case.

  • DavidB23

    you dont tap on the glass like the phone is an aquarium full of goldfish to wake up active notifications. The phone is designed to light the notification as it occurs; at time intervals and when the accelerameter detects movement. So when you turn the phone over, get it out of your pocket or simply pick it up; the active notifications display. Tapping on the glass just annoys the phone. (and us).

  • Bob

    The build Quality must be better than any Samsung high end phones for sure. There are many intangible positives that are too techie for ordinary users to understand – if you count these, Moto X is a fabulous buy for the price. Good phone this – make no mistake about it!

    • Fel Pe

      Its good indeed priced as great tho. Motorola is using this cool customization factor and this time window to charge big bucks for it (HTC ONE and S4 been out for a while and iPhone 5S and Note 3 not out yet)…. A month from now this phone will have its price drastically reduced.

    • millenialkid

      DOES THE ANTENNA WORK? THE LAST MOTOROLA I BOUGHT HAD A BAD ANTENNA. IT DIDNT WORK AT THE SAME PLACES THAT NOKIA DID.

  • Yash Garlapati

    I am getting a new phone tomorrow. Should I go for the S4 or the Moto X ? I am a big fan of a good camera quality, gaming experience and expandable memory.

    • A.Y. Siu

      I think you just answering your own question. Moto X has no expandable memory, and it apparently has a not-good camera.

    • Whatawood

      You should go for the new Razr Maxx, same features as Moto X, better graphics performance than S4, longer battery life, and great camera.

  • Alu Zeros

    This phone will never compete with the iphone and I like android, but if any phone tha will compete eith the iphone it’s the galaxy s4

    • Whatawood

      Please the S4 is Crap. The Galaxy Nexus is better. If anyone is ever comparing Apple to Android devices, they should only be talking about the Nexus Line. the S4 just doesn’t have what it takes with its bloatware, cheap hardware soft-keys (that Google hates), crap battery life and very poor graphics performance (compared to moto x).

  • lgreg64

    You can not blame build quality on the US only the custom phones are made here

    • http://www.techmantis.net/ Minja Miketa

      That is not true. At the unveiling it was confirmed that even the black and white ones are assembled in the US.

      • Clifton K. Morris

        They’re assembled in a former Nokia Factory, that used to make feature phones with replacable faceplates.

        • http://www.techmantis.net/ Minja Miketa

          Where did you get that info? I was told by another android blog that they are being made in the same factory.

    • http://qr.net/YouTubeVideo Malcolm Tucker

      Your right. It’s “Uniquely” American, just like every other Motorola ever manufactured. There’s always something wrong.

      The Quality Control Management needs to be fired, if they want to be considered as a viable company, and not the punchline of an “American JOKE”

  • Lou_Sasshole

    Good review Chris, this seems like a nice phone.

  • ari_free

    Specs sell. Only Steve Jobs could sell a phone based on ‘experience’ (and the early iPhones did have lots of specs compared to the competition)

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  • Jallo

    Well, a couple of other sites that reviewed this phone said that the camera was Ok or on the better side. But this review says the opposite. Quite confused actually. Do we know of any photography sites reviewing Mobile cameras. May be we would get a good opinion there.

  • Ditch

    I have the Moto X and it does a good job, the battery will easily make it 12 hrs with fairly heavy use. I like the voice commands but there are a few short comings at least for right now, like you can make a call but you can’t end it, will only open google apps, and I can compose a text but can’t send it without hitting send but I’m still trying to figure it out fully. One thing that everyone says is the phone runs as smooth as the best phone out and I think the HTC The One I had was a little more smooth. One thing I really like is it fits my small hands nice, it is really a compact phone and to me the display is fine. Is it worth the $100 more than The One cost me, not sure?

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