Phandroid » Featured http://phandroid.com Android Phone News, Rumors, Reviews, Apps, Forums & More! Wed, 01 Oct 2014 22:09:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 Best Android Phones [October 2014] http://phandroid.com/2014/10/01/best-android-phones-october-2014/ http://phandroid.com/2014/10/01/best-android-phones-october-2014/#comments Wed, 01 Oct 2014 16:27:08 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=149639 best-phones-hero

As fall rolls around, the leaves on the trees aren’t the only thing changing. There has been a shakeup in our monthly best phone rankings, including a new name at the top of our list. Which phone reigns supreme? Read on to find out.

Previously: SeptemberAugust | July | June | May | April | March | February

5. HTC One M8

HTC One M8 DSC06660

The One M8 sees its biggest drop since entering our top rankings, threatened by rumors that HTC will launch a version of the device with an improved camera next week. The current One M8 remains a favorite, however, for its dashing good looks and Sense interface.

4. Sony Xperia Z3

13_Xperia_Z3_Group_Angle

Yes, it seems like just yesterday that Sony released the Xperia Z2, but the Xperia Z3 is here. Like many a Sony handset before it, its premium design, powerful hardware, and waterproof construction give us every reason to want the Z3. Unfortunately, like many a Sony handset before it, a US release has not been one of the Japanese company’s priorities.

3. Samsung Galaxy S5

Samsung Galaxy S5 DSC05763

Samsung is about to outdo itself with the release of the Galaxy Note 4, but the phablet caters to a niche market. The Galaxy S5 remains the manufacturer’s go-to flagship, a contender that pairs premium performance with an innovative feature set that includes a fingerprint scanner, heart rate monitor, and waterproof design. They threw in everything but the kitchen sink (but you can still throw the GS5 into the kitchen sink).

2. LG G3

LG-G3-Hero

When it comes to hardware, it would be hard to find any phone on our list that can top the LG G3. With a Quad HD display, blazing quad-core performance, and a swanky new coat of paint for its Android interface, the phone moves to number two on our list after several months at the top by no fault of its own.

1. Moto X (2nd. Gen)

Verizon Moto X 2014 DSC06999

The wait was well worth it. Motorola’s Moto X update for 2014 is everything we loved about the original and more, leading many reviewers (including our own Chris Chavez) to declare the handset one of the best ever made. Solid design and construction meet premium specs in a package the buyer can customize to their liking. Throw in a clean implementation of Android in conjunction with the sort of bells and whistles we actually want to see in a smartphone, and we have a new name at the top of our list.

Honorable Mentions

Nexus 5 shortcuts DSC05736

  1. Nexus 5 — The Nexus 5 exits our top list and lands in the honorable mentions as Google gears up to launch the handset’s successor in the coming weeks.
  2. Moto G (2nd. Gen) — Don’t let this phone’s $180 price tag fool you: this Android device is the real deal.
  3. OnePlus One — You still need an invite to buy, but there is no shame in asking around in order to get your hands on OnePlus’ lauded handset.
  4. Sony Xperia Z2 — The Xperia Z3 might be the better phone, but its launch means now is a great time to find a deal on this previous generation device.
  5. Oppo Find 7a — Think of it as a OnePlus One for people that don’t want to deal with the hassles of procuring a OnePlus One.

Upcoming Phones

It’s rare these days that we should have to wait months for the launch of a currently announced smartphone, but it still happens. Samsung, why must you tease us?

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

samsung galaxy note 4

Samsung’s next entry into the Galaxy Note line was announced last month and is already up for preorder around the globe. Its launch is only a few weeks away, making this device one that might be worth waiting for. It brings many of the features introduced with the Galaxy S5 to the Note form factor along with updated S Pen input and productivity enhancements. The only thing standing between the Note 4 and a spot among our top ranked phones is its retail availability.

Rumor Mill

This month’s rumor mill is Moto-centric, which is fitting considering their new Moto X topped our list in its first month of availability. What can we expect as a followup?

Nexus 6

nexus 6 shamu render leak

Signs point to Google unveiling their new Nexus lineup alongside the rollout of Android L sometime this month. Here’s hoping that pans out, because the Nexus 6 has been churning through the rumor mill for what seems like an eternity. The latest rumors suggest it will indeed feature a phablet-sized 5.9-inch display. Images show us a Motorola-made device that will share quite a bit in common with the new Moto X.

Motorola Droid Turbo

droid turbo 5

As if the top spot on our list and an upcoming Nexus device weren’t enough, there is yet another Motorola device that has the Android world buzzing. The latest in the long line of phones that arguably put Android on the map, the Motorola Droid Turbo looks to live every bit up to its name. Benchmark tests show a device running a Snapdragon 805 SoC, 3GB RAM, and Adreno 420 graphics.

Amazon Best Sellers

We don’t have room for every Galaxy S variant on our list of top phones, but Amazon sure does. We’ve sorted through Amazon’s best sellers to pull out the top phones we haven’t already mentioned. Here’s what we got:

  1. Amazon Fire Phone
  2. Samsung Galaxy S4
  3. Samsung Galaxy S3
  4. HTC One M7
  5. Samsung Galaxy Note 3
  6. Samsung Galaxy S5 Sport
  7. Samsung Galaxy Mega
  8. Samsung Galaxy S5 Active
  9. Samsung Galaxy Note II
  10. LG G2

What Say You?

It’s an exciting time to be in the market for an Android phone. We know which one we would buy, how about you? Does our list jive with yours? Did we make a glaring error or leave off a phone worthy of mention? Sound off in the comments below and let us know your picks for best Android phones!

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Best Android games from September 2014 http://phandroid.com/2014/09/30/best-android-games-september-2014/ http://phandroid.com/2014/09/30/best-android-games-september-2014/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 20:17:04 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=149936 games sept

Previous Best Games of the Month

Another month bites the dust. September is officially ending, and with it has gone the last traces of summer. The good news is there were quite a few excellent new games this month. As the weather gets a little cooler you can stay inside and play games on your phone. Suddenly Fall doesn’t sound so bad, does it? Check out our list of the best games you may have missed from September. Enjoy!

Angry Birds Stella

angry stella

“You know, we could use some more Angry Birds games.” I’m not sure if anyone has actually said that, but the folks at Rovio sure think so. Angry Birds Stella is yet another special edition of the same ol’ Angry Birds game. In this version you can only use the female bird characters. That’s pretty much it.

Asphalt Overdrive

Just like Rovio keeps making new Angry Birds games, Gameloft has pumped out yet another Asphalt title. Asphalt Overdrive is a mission-based arcade driving game with a retro style. Unlock and drive 30 high-performance, fully licensed vehicles such as the iconic Lamborghini Countach and Ferrari Testarossa. Challenge yourself in 7 different mission types: Escape the cops, defeat bosses, avoid obstacles, and perform impressive stunts while you race.

Beach Buggy Racing

beach buggy

Beach Buggy Racing is the sequel to Beach Buggy Blitz. Drive into an action-packed, surprise-filled world of off-road kart racing mayhem. Race against a field of rival drivers, each with unique personalities and special abilities. Build a collection of crazy powerups, like Dodgeball Frenzy, Fireball, and Oil Slick. With 6 different game modes there is tons of fun to be had.

Boogey Boy

boogey

Boogey Boy is a 3D side-scrolling runner. It’s time for bed and the boogeyman is out to get you. Can you escape your nightmares? Escape the boogeyman by collecting batteries to activate your flashlight. Play through the boy’s dreamworlds, dodging strange and bizarre enemies. Activate special power-ups to help the boy escape from the terrors of the night.

BombSquad

bombsquad

In BombSquad you can blow up your friends in mini-games ranging from capture-the-flag to hockey. With tons of explosions, advanced ragdoll face-plant physics, pirates, ninjas, barbarians, and insane chefs, there is something for everyone. BombSquad supports network-play as well as 8 player local multiplayer so all your friends can get in on the action.

Cardinal Quest 2

cardinal

Cardinal Quest 2 is an approachable, yet challenging, roleplaying game. Dive into dangerous dungeons with unique characters and climb the leaderboards. Explore challenging dungeons, encounter dangerous enemies, and grow in power as you progress. You can choose your characters class and customize with spells and special items.

CounterSpy

counterspy

In CounterSpy your job is to stop a crazed superpower from launching deadly nuclear missiles. As a budding Agent for C.O.U.N.T.E.R, jump into action, stealthily sabotage dastardly plans and deceptively maintain world peace. The game is packed with stylized Cold War-era visuals and smooth side‐scrolling cover‐based shooting gameplay.

Dragon Quest

dragon quest banner

After having launched Dragon Quest 4 for Android last month, Square Enix wants to add more of the series to Google Play’s catalog. The company has released the original Dragon Quest game, giving us a touch-equipped rendition of the game that started it all. The $3 download gives you access to the entirety of the game as it was released with no in-app nonsense to be had.

Goat Simulator

goat

The bizarre Goat Simulator has been released to the Play Store this month. What the crap is Goat Simulator, you ask? Goat Simulator is the latest in goat simulation technology, bringing next-gen goat simulation to YOU. You no longer have to fantasize about being a goat, your dreams have finally come true! It’s pretty much just a joke.

Interstellar

interstellar

Usually movie games are not very good, but Paramount actually did a good job with Interstellar. Create and customize your own unique solar system with planets, moons, asteroids and more. Explore a universe of fan-generated solar systems and black holes in the Interstellar experience. See how far you can pilot the Endurance without running out of fuel or losing time relative to Earth. Sling-shot through solar systems using real-world physics and gravitational forces.

Just Dance Now

The world’s most popular dance game is now available on your phone. Just Dance Now uses your phone as a controller for the game on your browser. Simply launch the game from the Just Dance website and use your phone to track your dance moves. It’s a neat new way to play Just Dance.

Light In The Dark

light dark

In this unique game you must help the Totems find their adorable lost children. In order to do this you must solve light bending, color blending puzzle game. The Totems shine brightly as you are tasked with solving each challenging and fun-filled scenario! Move boxes, slide lenses and adjust mirrors so the Totem’s light can awaken the slumbering babies.

Phantom Rift

phantom rift

Phantom Rift is an adventure/RPG with a unique battle system, hundreds of spells to collect and use, endless equipment combinations to customize your wizard with, and much more. The Phantom Rift is a dark, ethereal world filled with mystery and powerful magic. You don’t know how or why you are there, only that you must find a way back to the True World at any and all costs.

The Nightmare Cooperative

nightmare

The Nightmare Cooperative is a strategic adventure where you lead a group of unlikely comrades through some rather difficult situations. Your village has fallen on hard times, and it’s up to you to bring back some gold. It’s a puzzle game where all the characters move together, but they have separate skills. Every playthrough will be a different experience.

Nimble Squiggles

Nimble Squiggles is a casual puzzle game where you use your finger to get squiggles to a funnel and escape the levels. One of key concepts of the game is matching colors. Each squiggle has a specific color. Squiggle can only pass through the lane of the same color. The same idea of color-matching applies to the funnels, gravity points and other interactive objects. If you like challenging puzzles you will like this game.

R.G.B.

R.G.B. is a unique game that combines Temple Run with Guitar Hero. Tap the screen to arrange the buddies in the correct order to match their colors. It’s simple, very addicting, and only requires one finger to play. The music is pretty cool too.

Spider-man Unlimited

spidermanunlimitedgameloft

Swing into a hand-drawn, action-packed arcade adventure game that feels like it came straight from a comic book. Unite every hero in the Spider-man universe against the ultimate threat of the Sinister Six, who have opened a dimensional portal in New York to summon endless versions of themselves. The Sinister Six are moving from dimension to dimension, destroying each one. It’s your job to save ours.

Star Wars: Commander

commander

The best game to come from September might be Star Wars: Commander. Charge into battle on distant planets, and lead your troops to victory in this action-packed, combat strategy game. Build a base, recruit an unstoppable force, and challenge players across the Star Wars universe. Where does your allegiance lie? Will you side with the Empire’s strength and relentlessness, or the Rebellion’s heroism and resourcefulness?

Unmechanical

unmechanical

Unmechanical is all about the adventure of a little helicopter trapped in a strange, but fascinating world. Help him through to discover the secrets of the world. Unmechanical is a puzzle adventure that combines tricky puzzle solving, alluring exploration, and an engrossing atmosphere. Set in a fantastic world of flesh, rock and steel, your journey to freedom requires you to solve a great variety of puzzling challenges.

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Best Android apps from September 2014 http://phandroid.com/2014/09/29/best-android-apps-september-2014/ http://phandroid.com/2014/09/29/best-android-apps-september-2014/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 20:21:37 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=149712 best apps SEPT

Previous Best Apps of the Month

Consider this your wake-up call. September has ended. Summer is now just a memory as the leaves slowly begin to change color and football dominates the weekends. One thing that doesn’t change is the constant stream of new Android apps. September was a little lighter on app releases, but we still had some excellent ones make their debut. Check out the best of the bunch below!

Ask Me Anything

reddit ama

Reddit has finally released an official app, but it’s only for one subreddit. Luckily it’s for one of the most popular and  mainstream subreddits on the site: Ask Me Anything. With this app you can beautifully browse and participate in AMA’s. See when someone is actively answering questions, and get notified when popular AMA’s are trending. It’s an awesome app for Redditors.

Bring! Shopping List

bring

There are many, many list apps available for Android. Bring! is a new list app that brings a beautiful UI, automatic sorting, Android Wear support, and list syncing. That last feature is a big focus in this app. Sync lists among your friends and family to keep everyone organized and up to date. Save time and money when it comes groceries.

Chrome APK Packager

chrome apk

Last week we told you how to run Android apps in any Chrome desktop browser. It sounded awesome in theory, but in practice it was difficult. A new app called Chrome APK Packager makes the process infinitely easier. All you have to do is choose an app installed on your phone and it will be packaged for you to install in Chrome. Easy peasy.

Comedy Central

comedy central

Get the latest episodes of all popular Comedy Central shows with the new Android app. There are hours and hours of funny stuff to watch, assuming Comedy Central is included in your cable package. Get access to The Daily Show, Tosh.0, Key & Peele, Drunk History, Nathan For You, and great stand-up specials, Chappelle’s Show, and full seasons of returning series.

Commute

commute

Did you know MapQuest still exists? They do, and they actually make some really nice apps. The latest is called Commute. This app proactively monitors the road conditions along your route and alerts you to travel times and incidents so you know what to expect on your way to and from work. Commute is a nice option if you’re not a fan of Google Now.

Hangouts Dialer

All new Hangouts 2.3 Android

With Hangouts Dialer you can finally call any phone number in the world from your Hangouts app using your data connection. This app is required to activate phone calling functionality in the Hangouts app. After installation, you can access all phone calling features directly from Hangouts or use Hangouts Dialer for a shortcut to the dialer screen in Hangouts.

HomeTube

hometube

YouTube is a great tool for entertaining kids, but there is also a lot of inappropriate content out there. HomeTube allows you to select suitable content for your kids and then let them view it in a child-friendly interface. Kids can switch from watching a Curious George video to a Spider-man cartoon without requiring you to navigate them to the new content yourself. Less help from you is always a good thing.

Horizon

horizon

Shooting videos in portrait mode has become a real nuisance to many people in the smartphone age. 99% of video players are in landscape mode, which makes portrait videos look terrible. Not to mention it cuts out a lot of the scene. Horizon lets you record horizontal videos no matter how you hold your device. Hold it upright, sideways or even keep rotating it while capturing. It’s magic.

Noyze

noyze

The Android volume control pop-up looks nice, but its placement is not ideal. It’s always right on top of whatever you’re doing. Many root apps allow you to mod the volume pop-up, but if you don’t want to deal with root you can use a new app called Noyze. You can choose from several themes, adjust colors, and even adjust volume for alarms and notifications.

Sup

Sup

On the surface this app looks like a cross between Snapchat and Skype, but there’s more to it than that. When you send a “Sup” to someone they have 5 minutes to respond. If they accept the request it will open their camera so you get a live view of whatever they’re doing. You can even use on-screen controls to tell them how to move the camera. It’s free and fun.

WhoSampled

whosampled

WhoSampled is an award-winning app from iOS now available on Android. With this app you can get answers to the questions “Where was this song sampled? Who covered my favorite artists? What remixes were made for this track?” WhoSampled is the music DNA discovery app that lets you explore the music connections in your music collection.

Android Wear Apps

Android Wear Speed

wear speed

Android Wear Speed may be the simplest app for your smartwatch. All it does is display your current speed. You could be running, riding a bike, or driving your car. Just choose your units and go.

OneNote for Android Wear

onenote wear

Microsoft released a dedicated Android Wear app for their popular OneNote app. This app works with the “take a note” command, and allows you to add notes to your OneNote account. In order to use this app you will need the main OneNote for Android app. We wish Microsoft would have just added support to the main app.

VimoGolf

vimogolf

For half the price of a bucket of driving-range balls, VimoGolf delivers a golf swing analyzer right on your wrist. Watch your golf swing at up to 200 samples per second, as captured by the built-in motion sensors of your Android Wear watch. Snag the app now for $2 before the price goes up.

Wear Tip Calculator

wear tip

Not many apps have taken advantage of the Moto 360′s circular display. Until now. Wear Tip Calculator is a beautiful and simple app for finding tip amounts. The UI is made up of a circle that is used to adjust the tip percentage. This is one of the first few apps that look great on the Moto 360.

Previous Best Apps of the Month

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First 10 things every new Moto X (2nd Gen) owner should do http://phandroid.com/2014/09/26/moto-x-first-10-things/ http://phandroid.com/2014/09/26/moto-x-first-10-things/#comments Sat, 27 Sep 2014 00:00:38 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=149758 Moto X 2014 DSC06991

If you’re in the market for a great new Android device, hands-down, the Moto X (2014) deserves your attention. Earlier this week we detailed many of the flagship phone’s hardware and software features in our full review, making a case for why we believe the all new Moto X could be the best Android smartphone on the market.

With an overall score of 4.6 out of 5, we’re sure many of you know a good thing when you see it and pulled the trigger on a custom Moto X through Motorola’s site. One thing we didn’t have time to cram into our full review was a quick list of the first things you should upon powering up the Moto X for the first time. With devices landing on doorsteps as early as today (and available at Verizon locations), your friends at Phandroid.com got ya covered.

1. Make or login with a Google account

Create Google Account

This one is a bit obvious, but if you’re new to this whole Android thing, you’re going to need to make a Google account to take advantage of all the apps and services your phone has to offer. You know, like having universal sign if for Google apps, tracking your phone if it gets lost, or simply downloading applications to your device (unless you go the Amazon route, which is a whole different story). First things first: make a Google account here.

Moto X 2014 Setup Wizard

After that, once you’ve powered up your brand new Moto X, you’ll be taken through the setup wizard which will eventually ask you to sign into your existing Google account, or ask you to make a new one. This can be skipped, but it’s better to do it right now. Once signed in, depending on your model Moto X, you’ll be asked to set up Google Now, which we’d also recommend accepting right there and then.

Soon after, you’ll find a notification asking you to set up a Motorola account. We’d recommend skipping it because many of the benefits of having a Motorola account mimic features of having a Google account. It’s needless and you wont be missing out on anything.

2. Update system apps on Google Play / Adjust Play Store settings

Moto X 2014 Google Play Store apps

Now that you’ve successfully made it to your home screen, the first order of business is to update all the Google and Motorola apps that came pre-installed by diving into the Google Play Store. Since Google and Motorola have been so busy lately, there’s a good chance more than a few of them are out of date.

When open the Play Store, swipe from the left edge of the screen to open up the sidebar menu. From there select “My apps” to see all the apps installed on your Moto X, as well as the ones that are in need of updating. Before selecting “Update all,” you may want to make sure you’re connected to WiFi.

Moto X first Google Play screenshots

While those are all busy updating, you may want to strongly consider jumping into the Play Store settings (located by swiping the sidebar menu again) and turn off app auto updates. At the very least, you can set it to only update when connected to WiFi (recommended), or if you have an unlimited, uncapped data plan, you can always auto-update apps at any time. As for us, we prefer being in full control and love seeing when new updates are available, checking out “what’s new” in the app’s listing, then clicking update.

While you’re in your Google Play Store settings, now would also be a good time to change the duration of how often you have to enter your password when downloading paid apps from the Google Play Store located under “Require password for purchases.” If you have kids who are always on your phone, we’d recommend selecting the option “for all purchases through Google Play on this device.”

3. Setup lock screen with security and contact info

Moto X 2014 screen lock pattern

With that out of the way, we can now get into securing your device. Your Moto X has a variety of ways of pulling this off, whether it be by password (most secure), PIN code (moderately secure), pattern lock, or Face unlock (low security). You can see exactly how to enable lock screen security in the screenshots above.

No matter your preference, you might also want to consider putting your contact info on the lock screen in the event a good Samaritan actually wants to return your smartphone (and not keep it for themselves). It only makes sense to make this as easy for them as possible.

Moto X 2014 Owner Info

Should you forgo all the above mentioned methods of securing your smartphone and end up losing it somewhere down the road, don’t worry. You can still lock your device by visiting the Google’s Android Device Manager from any computer, or downloading the app on to someone else’s phone here. Simply click the “lock” button and you’re good to go. You can even add a full recovery message begging for the safe return of your phone and a number they can call you from straight from your lost phone. Awesome.

4. Setup trusted Bluetooth devices

Moto X 2014 Trusted Devices

We get it — having to unlock your device every single time you want to use it for a few seconds is a huge inconvenience. This is reason many users don’t secure their phones with a lock screen to begin with. Wouldn’t it be great if your phone knew when it was near you or someplace “safe,” and would only use passwords or patterns when you’re out and about or away from you? With the Moto X, this isn’t future stuff — it’s a reality.

In your Moto X’s security settings, you can actually setup “trusted” Bluetooth devices. This means whenever you are connected to these devices, your phone will remain unlocked. It could be anything from a Bluetooth speaker you have in your home, or that fancy new Android Wear smartwatch you have on your wrist. When your phone is no longer connected to the devices you specify, it will remain locked and secure.

5. Turn on (or off) Attentive Display

Moto X 2014 Attentive Display

Your Moto X has been equipped with low power IR sensors on the front that, aside from detecting your when your hand is near, can also detect your face. That’s right, using a new feature called Attentive Display, the new Moto X is “smart” enough to know when the screen should be on, and when it shouldn’t — simply by checking to see if you’re looking at it.

Attentive Display has 2 options, the first — “stay on while I’m looking” — will keep the display on for as long as you’re looking at the phone. This is independent of your screen timeout settings. Hypothetically, this means your screen timeout can be set to something small like 15 seconds, but your phone’s display wont turn off if you’re reading an article, or watching a video.

The other mode — Battery saver mode — can also detect your looking at the phone, turning off the display quicker when it doesn’t see you. This should help battery savings given a powered on display can suck up a lot of your smartphone’s juice.

While it hasn’t been tested, having IR sensors constantly looking at your mug is sure to have some impact on battery life, no matter how minimal. Even if it’ll only get you an extra 5 minutes of battery life, you should at least know where to go to turn these features off.

6. Set up the Moto app to unlock new features

Moto X 2014 Moto_App

Some of the most helpful features of the Moto X are located in the new Moto app. When opened, Moto will give you a quick rundown of its abilities and seeing as how it needs permission special access to your phones hardware and data, will require you to opt in first. Once you select “Yes, I’m in,” you’re on your way to unlocking your Moto X’s true potential.

Moto X 2014 assist actions voice display

Once you’ve agreed to the terms, the first thing the app will do is ask you to set up voice commands. Just find a very quiet place and follow the onscreen directions. After that, opening the Moto will always pull up the Moto Voice function right off the bat (like S Voice or Siri), but the app also acts as a hub for Motorola’s other contextual apps, found after clicking the small gear icon in the upper corner.

There are four main apps that you’ll need to set up, with their names and descriptions down below.

  • Moto Actions: Utilizing the IR sensors located on the front of the device, Actions allows users to interact with the new Moto X using simple gestures (I guess this is why they ditched the name of the Touchless Control app). Wave a hand above the new Moto X to silence calls and/or alarms. You can even launch the camera when the phone is sleeping by flicking your wrist twice.
  • Moto Voice: Essentially audio monitoring for your smartphone, Moto Voice gives users the ability to wake their devices using a simple voice command — totally hands free. New for the Moto X (2nd Gen), you can now create your own custom voice prompt. Anything from “Hi-Yo, Silver. Away!” to “OK, Jarvis.” There’s new actions too, with the ability to post a status updates to Facebook, messages in Whatsapp, or even check your <insert carrier here> usage. It’s limited, but we expect more apps will be supported in the future.
  • Moto Assist: It’s one of those handy features that sounds like it would have found itself already baked into Android by now. Whether you’re driving, in a meeting or back home, Moto Assist can change your phone’s behavior to do your bidding automagically. Driving? Assist will read your text messages aloud. In a meeting? Assist will mute the ringer so you’re not interrupted. Set up your own quiet hours and you can even whitelist certain callers (or anyone calling in rapid succession) for emergency situations.
  • Moto Display: For the all new Moto X, Motorola has rebranded their Active Display app as Moto Display. Like a smart lock screen on top of the normal Android lock screen, Display will “breathe” notifications as they arrive, allowing you to peek at them using only a finger. An improved version of last year’s Active Display, Moto Display can even detect when your hand is near (IR sensors), activating before you even touch it.

One of the best parts about all of these applications is that they’re found in the Google Play Store, so make sure you’re regularly checking for new updates as they can occasionally bring new features and/or bug fixes.

7. Download/activate Google Wallet

Moto X 2014 Google Wallet

Sure iPhone users are all excited about finally making mobile payments and they should be. It’s a feature Android users have been enjoying for years now and while there are a variety of mobile wallet apps you can find on the Google Play Store that allow this, we recommend going with Google Wallet. If you’re buying apps and games on the Play Store already, chances are it has all your info ready to go and set up is a breeze.

Simply search for “Google Wallet” in the Play Store app (or click here) and download. Once installed, open the Google Wallet app and set a PIN code. Then you’ll be taken to the My Wallet section of the app where you’ll see “Set up tap and pay.” Once selected, you’ll have to accept the terms of use and once done, you should now see a card (section) telling you tap and pay is ready to rock n’ roll.

Now, jump into your Settings app, scroll down and select “Tap & pay” and choose Google Wallet. If you’re using a carrier branded Moto X (from AT&T or Verizon or wherever), you’ll notice it came pre-installed with Softcard (previously Isis Mobile Wallet). Just ignore it because nobody wants to mess with that.

8. Use all black wallpaper for battery savings

Moto X 2014 black DSC07129

The Moto X comes equipped with a beautiful AMOLED display that, not only produces more vibrant colors and higher contrast, but brings with it an added power draw benefit as well. Different from traditional LCD displays, AMOLED doesn’t need light up individual pixels when displaying black images, saving some precious battery life as a result. This is a reason why the Moto Display lock screen feature is supposed to be so battery friendly.

To further extend this to your home screen, you can choose to either use extremely dark wallpapers, or if you wanna get real crazy, just go with a completely blacked out one. Since the Moto X doesn’t make any available, you can download a pure black wallpaper for your Android here or check out our post with a handful of dark wallpapers for AMOLED devices.

Moto X 2014 black wallpaper

Once downloaded, you can set a wallpaper by long pressing a blank area of your home screen, then choosing Wallpapers > Pick image > and selecting that dark or pure black wallpaper you just downloaded. Easy peasy.

9. Speed up animations

Moto X 2014 Developer Options

There’s no denying the new Moto X is one of the fastest smartphones on the market. Heck, we’d even go as far as saying in terms of real world speed, there isn’t a faster smartphone on the market (for now). Even then, did you know there’s a way you can make the phone feel even snappier and more responsive? Trust us, you’ll want to try out this next trick.

All you have to do this is to enable super top secret “Developer options” hidden in the Moto X Settings app. Simply open the app, scrolling down to “About device,” then pressing on “Build Number” a total of 7 times (you’ll see a countdown). Once finished, you’ll see a toast appear letting you know that you are now a “developer.” Okay, not really but you now have access to a few new hidden settings.

Return to the main Settings area and scroll down to the bottom where you’ll find a new option for “Developer options.” It’s not as scary as it sounds, we promise. Once inside, locate the window animation scale, transition animation scale, and animator duration scale, settings and set all of them to .5x to speed everything up, or animation off if you’re feeling really balsy. Make sure Developer options are turned “On” at the top of the screen, exit and you’re all set.

10. Apps to get you started

Moto X 2014 DSC07126

We went ahead and compiled a quick list of some of our “must-have” applications we download to every single Android device we ever purchased. Most of these are simply replacing some of the stock Google or Motorola apps already found on the device (like that awful camera), but because we like these better, we think they’re worth checking out.

That’s all, folks!

And that should pretty much cover everything you should do as a brand new Motorola Moto X (2nd Gen) owner. Of course, this is not an end-all-be-all list, but we think it should cover, at the very least, some of the more important stuff.

Should you have any more questions, feel free to drop a comment and/or check out our brand new Moto X (2014) forums on AndroidForums.com.  It’s there you’re sure to find people always willing to lend a helping hand with any questions, issues or just general chatter you have about your shiny new Moto X. Cheers.

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Motorola Moto X (2014) review [VIDEO] http://phandroid.com/2014/09/24/motorola-moto-x-2014-review/ http://phandroid.com/2014/09/24/motorola-moto-x-2014-review/#comments Wed, 24 Sep 2014 21:17:49 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=149009

It’s been a roller coaster of events for Motorola these past few years. As sales of their once widely successful Droid line began to dwindle, Motorola seemingly found new life in Google after the internet search giant officially bought them for $12.5 billion back in February of 2012. A sort of rebirth for the company, soon after they were rebranded “a Google company” and launched another flagship under new management — the Moto X.

Built with an entirely different vision than previous efforts (a more Google-y one), the Moto X avoided getting caught up in the smartphone arms race of offering bigger, badder hardware specs and heavy custom UIs. Instead Motorola took the road less traveled, keeping things relatively simple by offering an almost completely stock Android interface. From there, they looked to improved upon the user experience by adding their own specialty apps that complimented the core OS, not tried to hide it.

Ultimately, the Moto X wasn’t the breakout hit Motorola (or Google) thought it would be and in January of this year, Google sold Motorola to Lenovo for $2.9 billion. Back at square one, Motorola is giving it another try for 2014 with an all new model, the Moto X (2nd Gen). The new Moto X looks to address many criticisms of last year’s model by offering true flagship specs, while building upon the Motorola apps and services that set the original apart from its competitors.

There’s no question Motorola has a lot riding on their latest flagship and with a new recipe for success, will the new Moto X be enough to capture the hearts (and wallets) of consumers looking for a next-gen smartphone? Or will phone fold under the pressure from heavy weights like the Apple iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S5? Find out in our full review of the Motorola Moto X (2nd Gen).

Design / Build quality

Moto X 2014 DSC07009

Last year’s Moto X had a very Google/Nexus vibe to it. Motorola went with a nearly all plastic housing, something that could be easily assembled at their Fort Worth Texas plant. Although Motorola now plans to shut down that facility by the end of the year, it seems they wanted to go out with a bang, improving the build quality of the older sibling in just about every way.

If you had to describe the new Moto X with a song, Daft Punk’s single “Harder, “Better, Faster, Stronger” is the first to come to mind. The phone ditches last year’s all-plastic design in favor of something with a little more metal. Similar to the iPhone or the new Samsung Galaxy Alpha, the new Moto X now offers just a taste of metal with an aluminum frame that wraps around the sides of the device.

The frame isn’t just pretty, it also acts as an extension of the internal antenna to help boost signal quality. Along the sides, the frame starts off thicker in the middle, the shrinks to almost nothing towards the corners. It reminds us a lot of the sides of the HTC One M8, which in all honesty, were a little difficult to grip given the small surface area. The new Moto X makes the same mistake, and because the sides feel like Teflon, the phone repeatedly slipped from our hands and onto our face while laying down with the phone in our bed.

Moto X 2014 2nd Generation angles

On the front of the device, you’ll find the smooth Gorilla Glass 3 is beveled around the edges, creating the most satisfying experience when sliding your finger from the sides of the device (grabbing sidebar menus and such). It’s not the first time we’ve seen this on a smartphone (iPhone 6 has a similar glass front), but the new Moto X is the first Android device in a long while to go with this design. Buried underneath each corner of the glass are low-powered IR sensors Motorola uses to detect movement. They’re virtually invisible with the black housing, but somewhat of an eyesore on the white model.

Keeping the design language of the Moto E (and now the new Moto G), the new Moto X now also features a front facing speaker. Unfortunately, unlike the new Moto G, it’s only the bottom speaker capable of outputting loud sound for media, with the top acting as little more than a simple earpiece when making calls. Quality on the front facing speaker was nice and loud, but not as tinny or ear-piercing as we’ve heard on other devices. It seems Motorola tuned it to have fuller sound, but it’s nothing near the quality you’ll find on the HTC One M8. Interestingly enough, the aluminum speaker grills actually protrude a bit from the front of the device, keeping the new Moto X’s glass slightly raised when laying the device face down on a perfectly flat surface.

Moto X 2014 DSC07023

It’s the back of the device where the new Moto X shows off all of its personality. You’ll find a huge camera hole on the back, made even larger with a clear ring to position the dual LED flash around the lens. We loved the way the entire camera/LED unit is incredibly smooth, making for easy wiping of fingerprints that sometimes accumulate on the lens.

In somewhat of a new tradition, Motorola kept last year’s dimple but this time cut out a hole especially for it, slapping an aluminum “M” logo inside. While it looks great to have such a prominent display of the company’s branding, it also acts as a reference point when holding the device, allowing your index finger to quickly find and rest inside. All these small details make for a smartphone that feels absolutely wonderful in the hand and looks even better.

Moto X 2014 Motomaker

Making a return for the new Moto X is Motomaker, Motorola’s online tool that allows anyone to customize a Moto X to their liking using a variety of back cover options and trim colors. Prospective buyers are given a choice of either a black front /gun metal frame, or white / silver frame combos, and more back cover colors than you can shake a stick at.

moto materials

Pretty much all the colors of the rainbow are covered if you’re looking for traditional plastic (black is the only color to offer a soft touch finish). But for those willing to pay a little higher premium, you can upgrade the material to wood or one of Motorola’s all new leather options for an extra $25.

Leather comes in black, natural, cognac, or navy blue colors, while woods are available in walnut, bamboo, ebony, or teak finishes. If you want to build a phone that truly stands out from the crowd, these are definitely the way to go.

moto-x-leather-back-comparison-2

In a day and age where smartphone manufacturers typically hold onto new color combinations for carrier exclusives, gradually releasing new colors of their popular handsets months after launch, it’s refreshing to have so many options available right off the bat. Not only that, Motorola is the only manufacturer to offer such unique and premium materials in their smartphones, and with this level of style and personalization.

Up until now, it’s something we’ve only seen with sneakers (NIKEiD) and nobody — not even Apple — can touch that. Motorola has definitely carved a niche for themselves, but whether or not the soccer moms and Joe Schmoes will take notice (or even care) remains to be seen.

Hardware

Moto X 2014 DSC07019

There’s no question the hardware specs in last year’s Moto X left many feeling like something was missing. And there was. Although you can argue all you want that high-end hardware doesn’t always equal a good end user experience (Samsung devices are proof of this) — it certainly helps.

For this year’s Moto X, Motorola is pulling out all the stops (well, most of them anyway), packing their latest flagship with many of the high-end specs you’ve come to expect from a 2014 flagship. It’s all here. Aside from a minimal increase in battery (we’ll talk more about that later),  you’ll find a 1080p display, Snapdragon 801 processor, 2GB of RAM, and a 13MP camera.

It’s clear Motorola wasn’t going to settle with mid-range this time around and while the hardware specs weren’t too ambitious, there’s enough here that performance should be top notch. They’ve learned their lesson and with so much riding on the new Moto X, let’s check out everything the phone now has to offer for 2014.

Display

Moto X 2014 display size comparison DSC07045

On the front of the new Moto X you will find a much larger 5.2-inch 1080p AMOLED display, a pretty sizable increase when compared to the 4.7-inch/720p of the previous model. While many original Moto X fans consider 4.7 that sweet spot (I’d have to agree), Motorola did do a bang up job at keeping that bottom bezel as small as possible, while still having enough room for a front facing speaker.

Make no mistake, the new Moto X is certainly larger, but when compared against devices like the Nexus 5 or HTC One M8, the overall footprint of the new Moto X was kept small, while extending the display. And because the bottom bezel is so small, the display actually sits lower than even the Nexus 5 which helps your thumb reach most UI elements without overreaching or stretching during one-handed use. That means grabbing the notification bar with your thumb wont be a problem like it is on some devices.

Seriously though. A 5.2-inches is probably the largest sized display we can comfortably handle (we’re big on the while one-handed use thing) but those coming from last year’s 4.7-inch model shouldn’t have many difficulties adapting to the size. For next year’s Moto X, Motorola need only focus on shaving off a few millimeters from the bottom bezel and we’ll be happy.

Moto X 2014 display low brightness DSC07049

Moto X 2014 at its lowest brightness setting

 As we mentioned previously, the new Moto X is once again using an AMOLED display and because of that, the usual pros and cons apply. Blacks are much darker than you’d find on traditional LCD displays (this has power consumption benefits as well) and colors are over saturated (but we kinda dig that).

We will say, it seems Motorola has turned down the saturation just a tad for the new Moto X, but we’re sure it has more to do with the newer Samsung panels they’re using. On last year’s model, viewing photos in Instagram or in the Gallery app showed noticeably orange skin tones. For the new Moto X, everyone still looks very much like a normal human being and not so much like an Oompa Loompa.

Moto X 2014 Display comparison DSC07056

HTC One M8, Moto X 2014, iPhone 6, Nexus 5

The display does have the typical AMOLED yellow tinge to it, something you’ll notice when viewing whites but can affect other colors like blues. This is actually what bothered us most about the display and when compared against other devices, the difference is even more obvious.

Also, it’s almost if there’s a strange film on the AMOLED, just under the glass, making for a glittery look (like those matte screen protectors). Although 1080p, the display isn’t nearly as sharp as say, the Nexus 5 or other LCD devices.

Moto X 2014 sunlight AMOLED DSC06985

Daylight visibility is always a challenge and when viewing in direct sunlight and AMOLED’s funny way of creating a nearly blinding rainbow effect was apparent. We suppose if worst comes to worse, you can always find some shade or make your own.

There’s a good chance many of you wont notice any of the above issues with the new Moto X’s display, but there was enough that, overall, we were left with a bad impression.

Performance

Moto X 2014 DSC07107

Running a nearly stock Android experience has its benefits. With an OS unencumbered by the usual OEM skins, it wouldn’t take much horsepower to provide an adequate Android experience (just take a look at the Moto G (2nd Gen). Thankfully, Motorola didn’t skimp in this regard, equipping the new Moto X with an uber fast 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor worthy of a flagship Android device. They could have used something a lot older and got nearly the same results in terms of real-world speed, but we’re glad they chose one of the quickest mobile processors currently available. The result? An unhindered OS that can spread its wings and fly.

Everything feels like it’s been put into overdrive. Apps open quicker than you can blink, the UI is always silky smooth, and games run at high frame rates. If you’re coming from the previous Moto X, you’ll notice how much quicker the camera quick shake gesture now opens the app, with little down time from shake, to vibrate, to the app launching. Honestly, it’s a c0mplete joy to use. I really can’t say enough about how kicky fast and buttery this phone is. It’s like a Nexus 5 on steroids.

Storage

Moto X 2014 storage 16GB

Limited storage is just one of those things that’s either gonna bug the sh*t out of you, or wont be any skin off your nose. For us, having only 16GB and 32GB options for the new Moto X sounds like a major oversight on Motorola’s part. Aside from last year’s model having access to a larger 64GB config, no such option is available (yet) for the new Moto X. Looking at how much storage space is even usable on the new Moto X, we dove into our settings and sure enough, our 16GB model had only about 10.2GB of that was even usable. Even for a base model, that’s borderline unacceptable.

This is further compounded by the fact that the new Moto X doesn’t offer a micro SD card slot, leaving the phone stuck with whatever amount of storage you choose before hand. Ultimately, the choice is yours, but we’d recommend opting for the 32GB model lest you kick yourself a few months down the road when you have no more room for apps, games, or media. 16GB model shouldn’t even be an option.

Battery life

Moto X 2014 charging DSC07076

Battery life is one of those areas that’s always the hardest test. Because no 2 people have the same smartphone usage habits, there’s no telling how someone’s 20+ hours of battery life will translate to you specifically. Even still, we’ll go ahead and give you our accounting of what battery life was like on the new Moto X.

Using the device as our primary daily driver for the past few weeks, we found battery life more than acceptable (but it wont blow you away). Typical life for us was about 16 or so hours with normal to light usage, 2+ hours of screen on time, WiFi and Bluetooth always on. Despite the absence of last year’s X8 low-power core, standby time on the new Moto X is where the phone truly shines. If you find yourself at work or spending a long day at a theme park, rest assured that if you don’t fiddle around with the Moto X very much, you can get upwards of 24 hours+ with little to no usage (but still allow notifications and phone calls to come through).

That’s not to say it wasn’t improved, but at 2,300mAh, it’s a feeble attempt at increasing last year’s 2,200mAh battery. We would have been more than happy to take a slightly thicker or filled out Moto X with a larger battery, something closer to the 2,800mAh offered by competing devices like the Samsung Galaxy S5.

So, while the phone doesn’t deliver in spades when discussing battery life, it’s not necessarily lacking. Still, when a smartphone scores such high marks in just about every other category, it’s almost painful to see something so fundamentally important such as battery life take somewhat of a back seat. The fact that it’s 2014 and 2-day battery life on our smartphones sounds like a fantasy is depressing. We can’t even tell you how much extra money we’d pay for a 3,100mAh Moto X option in Motomaker, but we’re sure Motorola already has bigger batteried Moto Maxx variant planned for Verizon later this year (pure speculation).

Moto X Turbo Charger wall

Another thing worth mentioning is thanks to that speedy Snapdragon 801 processor we told you about earlier, the new Moto X is now Quick Charge 2.0 ready. That means when paired with Motorola’s Turbo Charger (sold separately), you can get an extra 8 hours of battery life with only 15 minutes of charge time. I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve taken bathroom breaks longer than that. If you can’t (or wont) extend battery life, why not have the dang thing charge faster? Pretty sweet.

Notably absent was any kind of “extreme power saving mode” like we’ve seen on many competing devices which can extend battery life substantially by scaling down CPU cores, disabling background apps, or disabling data after a specific amount of sleep time. With Motorola’s suite of apps, you would have thought they’d had include something like this, but we suppose there’s always next year.

Camera

Moto X 2014 CAMERA DSC06997

In an age of sharing every meal, traffic jam, or plane ride on social media, we get it — if you’re shopping around for a new smartphone, you’re probably going to want make sure it’s capable of taking a nice photo. Just about every year, smartphone OEMs tout some new camera technology or new way of focusing and capturing light. Not matter what, they almost always fall short of expectations because, well, they’re just smartphones — not DSLRs. Take last year’s Moto X and it’s 10MP “Clear Pixel” camera that was quite literally the worst shooter we’d ever seen from an Android device (well, mid to high-end devices anyway).

With the bar set so low, the new Moto X didn’t have to improve much to beat out the last year’s model. Thankfully, Motorola went with a much better 13MP Sony Sony Exmor RS IMX135 sensor coupled with a slightly faster f.2.2 lens in the new Moto X. This is actually the same sensor as found on devices like the LG G3 or Samsung Galaxy Note 4 — all top camera performers. This pretty much leaves Motorola’s software to do all the fine tuning.

Moto X 2014 camera app

The Motorola’s custom camera app is where all the magic takes place and is pretty much the same one we saw on the original Moto X. Motorola’s Camera app doesn’t go overboard with features like Samsung, or offer a complete set of manual controls like HTC, but — like the rest of Motorola’s apps — does provide a few additional features not normally found in “stock” Android.

Taking a shot is as easy as pressing anywhere on the screen (or long press for burst shots). Aside from now being able to shoot 4K video, it’s pretty much the same tap-to-shoot app we saw last year and therein lies the problem. Because the camera app automatically handles all the focusing, more than often we’d tap the screen to take a shot that wasn’t properly focused. It’s annoying and could have been easily fixed by adding a tap-to-focus-then-shoot option in the app’s settings.

Moto X Camera suggested shot

Another extremely nifty feature is the fact that the camera actually starts firing snapshots in the background before your finger ever reaches the display. This works in tandem with Motorola’s new Gallery app, which can tell when you’ve taken what it feels is a “bad shot,” providing you with a suggestion of a better one it captured on its own. Believe it or not, this actually came in handy in real life while attempting to snap a photo of someone walking down the street. By the time I pressed the shutter button, they had already walked by but luckily, Motorola’s Gallery app showed me a better shot with the man completely in the frame. It’s easy to see how this could help when trying to capture your kids doing something silly.

We should also note that we completely fell in love with the Camera app’s quick launch gesture, executed by twisting the entire phone twice to quickly open the app. It can even be done while the phone is sleeping and sadly, is probably the only time we’d use Motorola’s camera app (or when shooting 4K video) over something like say, the Google Camera. In any case, here’s a few sample shots (along with video) as taken with our new Moto X (2nd Gen) so you can see the camera’s actual output and judge for yourself.

IMG_20140905_134642066 IMG_20140905_134848049 IMG_20140905_132104408 IMG_20140905_140045850 (1) IMG_20140905_145653679 IMG_20140905_145420871 Moto X 2014 IMG_20140922_171318976 IMG_20140905_153733408

2 minutes of 4K video was roughly 800MB in size

Overall, we found the camera quality more than adequate for some quick off the hip shooting, although occasionally inconsistent. In some cases shots showed a lot of noise (in a way, we kinda like that) and although we’ve yet to see a truly wonderful low light shooter from a smartphone, the new Moto X was certainly one of the worst offenders. Chances are, you’ll be using the new Moto X to shoot a close up of the kids, or that fancy meal the wife cooked up. If that’s the case, you’ll find the Moto X capable of producing a perfectly decent photo as evidenced above.

Software

Moto X 2014 DSC07026

There’s absolutely no question the new Moto X’s greatest strength lies in its software. What is probably a lingering philosophy of their short time with Google, Motorola does very little to alter the Android experience in the Moto X (or the rest of their devices), keeping the same “stock” UI as found on Nexus devices.

The only difference is that Motorola throws in a few of their own apps, bringing some additional functionality to what would have otherwise been bare bones Android. Everything from automating certain tasks, or adding a more convenient lockscreen, but the most notable improvement is the way Motorola has extended Android’s standard voice commands by providing “always listening” functionality. This means that, even with the screen off, you can still perform quick Google searches, set a timer, or just ask the Moto X what time it is — all without ever having to physically touch the phone.

Moto

Moto X 2014 assist actions voice display

While posted individually in the Google Play Store, Motorola new suite of apps are actually located inside another app simply called “Moto.” Opening Moto will initially pull up the Moto Voice function right off the bat (like S Voice or Siri), but the app also acts as a hub for Motorola’s other contextual services (found after clicking the small gear icon). There are four main apps: Assist, Moto Actions (motion), Moto Voice, Moto Display (Active Display). Details on which features can be found in each are provided below.

  • Moto Actions: Utilizing the IR sensors located on the front of the device, Actions allows users to interact with the new Moto X using simple gestures (I guess this is why they ditched the name of the Touchless Control app). Wave a hand above the new Moto X to silence calls and/or alarms. You can even launch the camera when the phone is sleeping by flicking your wrist twice.
  • Moto Voice (formerly Touchless Control): Essentially audio monitoring for your smartphone, Moto Voice gives users the ability to wake their devices using a simple voice command — totally hands free. New for the Moto X (2nd Gen), you can now create your own custom voice prompt. Anything from “Hi-Yo, Silver. Away!” to “OK, Jarvis.” There’s new actions too, with the ability to post a status updates to Facebook, messages in Whatsapp, or even check your <insert carrier here> usage. It’s limited, but we expect more apps will be supported in the future.
  • Moto Assist: It’s one of those handy features that sounds like it would have found itself already baked into Android by now. Whether you’re driving, in a meeting or back home, Moto Assist can change your phone’s behavior to do your bidding automagically. Driving? Assist will read your text messages aloud. In a meeting? Assist will mute the ringer so you’re not interrupted. Set up your own quiet hours and you can even whitelist certain callers (or anyone calling in rapid succession) for emergency situations.
  • Moto Display (formerly Active Display): For the all new Moto X, Motorola has rebranded their Active Display app as Moto Display. Like a smart lockscreen on top of the normal Android lockscreen, Display will “breathe” notifications as they arrive, allowing you to peek at them using only a finger. An improved version of last year’s Active Display, Moto Display can even detect when your hand is near (IR sensors), activating before you even touch it.

Probably the best part about all of these applications is that they’re found and updatable in the regular ‘ol Google Play Store. This means you won’t have to wait around for a full system update to get your hands on a few new software features or bug fixes (this has long been Android’s Achilles heel). What can be seen as the fingerprint of their former parent company, this mimics the move we saw Google take recently with many of their apps, albeit those are available to everyone while Motorola’s apps remain exclusive to their line of devices.

Motorola Gallery

Motorola Moto X 2014 Gallery app

While we don’t see too much wrong with stock Android’s Gallery app, Motorola saw fit to replace it with their own in the new Moto X. Design-wise, the app reminds us a lot of Google’s Photos app from Google+ — white background, vertical scrolling, side menu, etc. — only Motorola’s sticks to covering local storage. Perhaps further fingerprints of Google’s influence, the Gallery app even takes Google+’s popular Highlights feature and makes it available in the app.

Highlights groups together photos and videos by dates, and allows users to combine them into their own home video reel, complete with background music and everything. Because it’s all local storage, you wont have to bother backing up your photos and videos to the cloud — everything can be done directly on your phone.

Other apps and features:

Although Motorola’s “big 4″ contextually aware applications take most of the limelight, there’s a handful of other apps and features Motorola has packed inside the new Moto X that still deserve some attention.

Other apps that can be found on the new Moto X include Motorola Migrate, an application that helps you import contacts, photos, and videos from an old phone to your new Moto X. Should you find yourself in need of technical support, the Motorola Help app is only a click away and a great place to find quick support for your Moto X. Spotlight also makes a return, a sort of interactive story book that takes advantage of all the hardware sensors available on the Moto X.

The all new Motorola Connect is alive and well in the new Moto X, although it’s gotten a bit of a face life. A one stop shop for Motorola’s connected accessories (Power Pack Micro, Moto 360, etc.), we don’t think the Chrome extension — which allows you to send/receive text and picture messages from your phone — is up and running on the new Moto X quite yet.

Again, all these apps are also found on the Google Play Store where they can easily be updated without the need for a full system update.

Moto X 2014 Attentive Display Audio Effects Trusted Devices

While the Moto X features a mostly stock Android experience, they did bake in a few new must-have features we don’t know how we’d live without. Attentive Display is an option in the Settings app that keeps your phone awake while you’re facing the device, and sleeps it quicker when you’re not.

Motorola has also added their own customizable equalizer app called Audio EQ to tweak your phone’s audio to your heart’s content. Our favorite feature? Trusted devices. This allows a password protected Moto X to stay unlocked only while connected to specified (i.e., trusted) Bluetooth devices. Move out of range? Your device goes back being locked down with a password.

What’s Missing?

Moto X 2014 featured DSC07020

If you made it this far in the review, you’d know that the new Moto X (2nd Gen) does a lot of things right. Still, no matter the smartphone/tablet/piece of technology, there’s always going to be a few things that were simply left on the cutting room floor. Gotta leave something for next year, right? Going by current smartphone trends, things we would have love to have seen in the new Moto X are as follows:

  • Water resistance (IP67 rating) – While it’s not true every device has this, we have to admit being able to take our phone in the shower for some Netflix viewing will change your life.
  • Wireless charging – It’s was a damn shame to see this left out of current flagship devices this year and the Moto X (2nd Gen) is no different. As one of the more convenient features in recent times, we’re really hoping this isn’t the start of some new trend.
  • 64GB model – It took awhile, but after almost a year since it was release, Motorola began offering a 64GB model of the original Moto X. How or why this isn’t an option for the new Moto X is beyond us.
  • Micro SD card slot – Although we’re not quite sold on the idea of micro SD cards in our Android devices, we know many of you are. With HTC and LG recently offering memory expandability on their devices, we were taken aback by Motorola’s move.
  • IR blaster – At one point, it seemed every new flagship was carrying around an IR blaster. A feature that gives users universal remote functionality out of the box, the best remote is the one you always have on you.
  • Extreme battery saving software – Just about every OEM offers some kind of “extreme power saving mode” on their flagships. With Motorola’s strange move to keep the battery so small in the new Moto X, the least they could have done was included something similar (and they still could in the form of an app somewhere down the road).
  • Motorola Alert: One of our favorite Motorola applications, Motorola Alert is only available to the Moto E, Moto G, and original Moto X. The app allows you to send a distress beacon in the event of an emergency, and while not currently compatible with the new Moto X, could become compatible in the future.

Bottom Line

Moto X 2014 DSC07024

When all is said and done, the all new Motorola Moto X (2nd Gen) is not only a worthy upgrade from last year’s model, but easily one of the best Android handsets to date. It’s not perfect by any means, but Motorola did manage to do a great job at improving just about every aspect of the original, from design and build quality, to internal hardware specs, and even software.

Factor in a nearly stock Android experience, unparalleled software support with system apps that update independently of firmware updates, and the fact that this new Moto X will be one of the first Android devices to receive new Android updates (Android L, anyone?) — it’s easy to see how the new Moto X is an a class all of its own.

At $500 for the base model and $575 for a Moto X with all the trimmings, you’re probably going to want (or have to) to get one on contract. Keep in mind Motorola also offers 2 years of coverage for accidental damage for an additional $80.

With Google Play edition devices hanging in the balance, the new Moto X is probably the closest thing we’ll get to a premium Nexus device and the living embodiment of Android’s core principals. Having said all that, the new Moto X (2nd Gen) has just elbowed its way to the top of our ever growing Android family and demands your consideration should you be in the market for a new Android smartphone. Seriously, it’s hard to top this right now.

Pros:

  • Premium build quality
  • Near stock Android
  • Front facing speaker
  • Minimal overall size
  • Camera performance

Cons:

  • Display
  • No micro SD
  • 32GB model (highest config) is still limited
  • No wireless charging
  • Battery life isn’t great

Rating: 4.6 / 5

 

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iPhone 6 vs Galaxy S5: Camera Comparison http://phandroid.com/2014/09/24/iphone-6-vs-galaxy-s5-camera/ http://phandroid.com/2014/09/24/iphone-6-vs-galaxy-s5-camera/#comments Wed, 24 Sep 2014 16:14:56 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=149557 Galaxy S5 and iPhone 6 Camera

Samsung’s Galaxy S5 or Apple’s iPhone 6? Fanboy allegiances aside, there will be lots of people making that decision over the next year. Among the primary questions people ask when trying to pick their next smartphone, “which has a better camera?” is among the top. In this comparison we put the devices head-to-head, taking nearly identical pictures with each device across a range of environments, and hopefully helping you understand what to expect.

Our photographic evidence is below, but here are the main takeaways:

  • Galaxy S5 takes some amazing pics, but has a tendency to produce some washed out photos
  • iPhone 6 photos are solid and more consistent, but pictures sometimes lack detail
  • The above visuals carry over to video as well
  • Galaxy S5 has superior audio playback in videos
  • Galaxy S5 is better in lowlight
  • Galaxy S5 has superior zoom
  • Advantages in lowlight/zoom/audio make the Galaxy S5 more versatile
  • iPhone 6 selfie cam is superior
  • Both cameras are really good but not great… travelers will still want a point and shoot alternative or DSLR (of which I recommend the Samsung Galaxy Camera).

In the below sets of photos, the first picture is always from the Galaxy S5 and the second is always from the iPhone 6.

Picture comparisons

Taken on a blaringly bright day with light and shadow weaving in and out of trees and buildings, we see one of the Galaxy S5′s flaws right off the bat: sometimes it does too much, super saturating colors and creating contrast where it’s unnecessary, washing out the picture in the process. Notice the bottom picture (the iPhone) maintains the blue sky.

ColorfulHouses-GS5 ColorfulHouses-iPhone

But zooming in, you’ll find the S5 picture more crisp while the iPhone picture is fuzzy. The colors in the S5 photo are bright and fun while the iPhone picture appears dull. The flip side of that argument: the S5 photos can seem artificial while the iPhone photos more natural.

ColorfulHouses-Zoom This is a recurring theme with all Samsung devices, including their TVs, purposefully exaggerating colors to create the most beautiful experience possible. Sometimes it works perfectly, sometimes it misses the mark.

I walked over to the Fells Point pier to snap some more outside pics, these of the Under Armour building across the harbor.

FellsUnderArmour-GS5 FellsUnderArmour-iPhone

The iPhone again presents more accurate blues, but zooming into the Under Armour building, notice the S5′s 16MP camera is able to capture greater detail.

FellsUnderArmour-Zoom

It’s possible that, from the above pictures, you prefer the iPhone versions. That’s an understandable (matter of preference), but don’t think that Samsung is altering the saturation, brightness, and contrast needlessly. In many cases it helps create a much better scene, such as this nearby picture (see Under Armour in the background?) where the foreground is illuminated, making it much more interesting.

Pier-GS5 Pier-iPhone

That affect is hit or miss, sometimes improving colors and lighting, other times washing them out or making them seem artificial. For example below, I prefer the nice and vibrant Galaxy S5 beer picture yet prefer the iPhone’s picture of the field itself, maintaining those deep, natural greens in the grass.

OriolesBeer-GS5 OriolesBeer-iPhone OriolesGame-S5 OriolesGame-iPhone6

My gallery on both phones are filled with these situations: I like some photos on one phone and some photos from the other. It’s very hit or miss and which phone you generally accept as “better” for pictures is a matter of preference. However, some specific camera characteristics have clear cut winners.

Zoom Zoom Zoom

One place where the Galaxy S5 camera clearly wins: zooming. With a 16MP camera compared to the iPhone 6′s 8MP camera, users can put the full image on their computer, crop a small portion, and the photo will still be plenty large to use for online purposes.

That’s exactly what you saw with he Under Armour images above… but what about using the zoom on the camera itself, before you take the picture? Check out this picture of the Natty Boh guy from the rooftops, taken without any zoom (note these were accidentally taken at different times of the day, hence the difference in lighting):

NattyBohFar-GS5 NattyBohFar-iPhone

Now let’s see what happens if we use the phone itself to zoom.

NattyBohZoom-GS5 NattyBohZoom-iPhone

And now, from the zoomed picture, let’s crop that cute little guy’s face.

NattyBohZoomCrop-GS5 NattyBohZoomCrop-iPhone

Not even close… the Galaxy S5 runs away with it.

Selfies!

If there’s one place that the iPhone 6 runs away with a camera category, it’s selfies. Despite only having a 1.2MP shooter compared to the 2.1MP on the Galaxy S5, it consistently produced better images from its front facing “FaceTime HD” camera. Here’s me and my sister pretending to be tough (and another friend selfie bombing with his duckface).

OriolesMeanFace-GS5 OriolesMeanFace-iPhone

Colors are much richer and the textures are more human. Given that 99% of the time the front cam will be used to capture a person’s face… it seems Apple may have optimized accordingly. Keep in mind that this camera will mostly be used for social media, messaging, and live video chat, having a resolution over 1280 x 720 isn’t too important- that works just fine.

Macro and More

Some of my favorite pictures are closeups of random objects, whether that be food, flowers or something else. Both phones performed incredibly well with macro pictures, and although the noticeable difference between the final photos remains, this category was too close to call. Once again, mostly a matter of preference. In the interest of time and bandwidth, I’ll include a handful of other comparison photos, and we’ll move along.

Galaxy S5 iPhone 6 Galaxy S5 iPhone 6 Galaxy S5 iPhone 6 Galaxy S5 iPhone 6 Galaxy S5 iPhone 6 Galaxy S5 iPhone 6 Galaxy S5 iPhone 6 Galaxy S5 iPhone 6 Galaxy S5 iPhone 6 Galaxy S5 iPhone 6 Galaxy S5 iPhone 6 Galaxy S5 iPhone 6 Galaxy S5 iPhone 6

Video Comparison

Analyzing the videos we find the same themes prevalent from the photo comparisons. Namely, the iPhone’s colors appear more natural at the ballpark but in low light – in the music venue – the video is grainy and struggles to capture a good picture. The visual winner may be a tossup, but from an audio standpoint the Galaxy S5 absolutely crushes the iPhone in playback.

The Galaxy S5 sound is full with a clear and booming bass while the iPhone playback lays flat. Both videos were shakier than I’d hope, but that may be as much my fault as the camera’s, considering the musical nature of both videos. That being said, I specifically remember trying to hold quite still at the ballpark while recording.

The first set of videos are from a bar called Waterfront in Fells Point. Live music all the time and some good food, too. The second set are from the Orioles game at Camden Yards during the “Fan of the Game” selection. This hilarious guy did the same exact cheer at every idle moment of the game, even during YMCA he was poking the program into the air, exactly like so. I never did find out what was on the front of that program, but I’m not sure I want to know… I’d rather preserve the legend.

The video comparison would be close but the S5 audio sounds so far superior to the iPhone that it’s rendered a no-brainer.

The Shocking Part

Over the course of several days, when taking these pictures, I showed friends and family some of the pictures I’d taken along the way. Almost everyone – including me – was shocked at how clearly Samsung’s Galaxy S5 dominated the iPhone in photo taking. It wasn’t even close. Runaway victory. Laughable.

Then I put them on the computer… and that outlook changed. Samsung is known for having the brightest and most vibrant displays on the planet. When reviewing the photos, we weren’t admiring the quality of the photos… we were admiring the quality of the Galaxy S5 screen. We just didn’t know it.

Once putting both photos on a neutral device and equal playing field, just the opposite seemed to occur: the iPhone 6 edged the S5 in many cases because of deeper colors with more contrast. I was absolutely shocked, because I was fully prepared to write this article about the S5 demolishing the iPhone 6 camera… but that’s not the case.

On the other hand, this says a lot about the Galaxy S5 display. Simply put: it’s amazing. But that’s another story. The Galaxy S5 and iPhone 6 take different approaches to handling less-than-optimal lighting conditions and neither is perfect. There is no clear cut winner

The Verdict

As is the case with many flagship smartphone comparisons, you could easily make the argument for either the Galaxy S5 or the iPhone 6 as having the better camera. There are some clear differences, advantages, and flaws of each, but all things considered the Galaxy S5 has more points in it’s favor.

The iPhone 6 does take more consistently well colored photos, but the advantage is marginal. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S5 is superior in low light, crushes with zoom, and is exponentially better at capturing rich audio. Unless your heart is determined to have the better selfie at every waking moment, I’d recommend the Galaxy S5 as the better smartphone camera for its versatility and feature set… but the iPhone 6 isn’t far behind.

These are still two of the best smartphone cameras on the market, but serious photo lovers who anticipate wanting a great camera for trips and personal projects will still want to buy a dedicated point and shoot camera or DSLR.

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Moto G (2nd Gen) Motorola Flip Shell case review http://phandroid.com/2014/09/24/moto-g-2nd-gen-motorola-flip-shell-review/ http://phandroid.com/2014/09/24/moto-g-2nd-gen-motorola-flip-shell-review/#comments Wed, 24 Sep 2014 14:37:40 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=149440 Motorola-flip-shell-rear-moto-g

Those looking to add a personal touch to their Moto G without sacrificing protection need look no further than the Motorola Flip Shell case. A direct replacement for the Moto G’s back cover (available in a variety of colors) with the added benefit of a folio-style screen protector, the Flip Shell  would seem to be an easy choice. But does it deliver?

CHECK OUT OUR FULL MOTO G (2014) REVIEW

Form + Function

motorola-shells-moto-g

Motorola Shells are the Moto G’s equivalent to the Moto Maker options available for its pricier sibling, the Moto X. The Shells don’t offer quite the level of customization we see with the Moto X, but they do offer one distinct advantage: they are user replaceable. So, while options overall are more limited, users are not stuck with one look for the duration of their handset’s life. Simply decouple the back you don’t want and snap a new one in place. You could even rotate daily to match your outfit.

While the standard Motorola Shell merely replaces the Moto G’s back cover, the Flip Shell is a slightly different beast. It’s Motorola’s take on the folio-style cover that has become more and more popular in recent years — a case that wraps around to include a front flap for added screen protection. It perhaps started with Apple’s iPad Smart Cover and caught on in the Android world with Samsung’s S View case for the Galaxy line. Other manufacturers have followed suit, bringing us the Quick Circle case by LG as well as the Dot View case by HTC.

The Motorola Flip Shell shares the same form, but doesn’t provide the same extended functionality as these cases. The aforementioned smartphone cases all in one way or another offer a windowed view that at a minimum allows users to quickly peek at notifications and other info without lifting the front folio flap. Some even enable shortcut capabilities to quickly respond to said notifications or dismiss them. The Motorola Flip Shell for the Moto G does none of these things, but that’s not to say it serves no purpose or lacks at least some basic bells and whistles.

Beyond simply adding a degree of protection for the Moto G’s display, it also interacts with the handset on the software side. Opening the folio cover will fire up the display. Your phone is ready to view when you are. It’s a little touch that takes the flip cover from cumbersome to quite useful.

A Bulkier Moto G

Those thinking about going with the Motorola Flip Shell should know one thing: it adds a decent amount of bulk to the phone. The back is similar in proportion to the standard rear cover, while the padded front folio adds to the device’s overall thickness. Same goes for the pliable hinge that connects the front and back portion of the Flip Shell. As a bonus, however, the Flip Shell does offer a textured back that adds some grippiness.

It is our opinion that the Moto G doesn’t look quite as nice in its Flip Shell digs. It loses some of its sleekness and the beauty of its subtle curves are obscured. We’re sure not everyone will agree on that point, and it wouldn’t be the first time a smartphone buyer decided to sacrifice looks for protection (look at you, Otterbox users).

A magnet system is in place that in theory should keep the Flip Shell from flying open, but we haven’t had much luck getting it to hold. The link between the magnets is fairly weak and makes this almost a non-feature.

The Bottom Line

motorola-flip-shell-front-moto-g

At $30, the Motorola Flip Shell is twice the price of standard Motorola Shells. Perhaps this is justified — it offers twice the protection. Still, the sum seems a bit inflated considering the limited added functionality the case provides. For those looking to keep their screens scratch-free or wanting to go for a more mature look for their Moto G, the Flip Shell is a fine option. It won’t be for everybody, however.

The Good

  • Protects screen while providing personalization options
  • Opening cover seamlessly powers on display

The Bad

  • Adds bulkiness to the Moto G
  • Magnet doesn’t hold cover shut

Overall: 3/5

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How to run Android apps in any Chrome browser http://phandroid.com/2014/09/23/how-to-run-android-apps-in-chrome/ http://phandroid.com/2014/09/23/how-to-run-android-apps-in-chrome/#comments Tue, 23 Sep 2014 19:46:30 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=149495 android in chrome

One of the best reasons to use Chrome over any other browser is the wide variety of extensions and apps available. Google makes it so you can do everything you’d ever want right in the browser. For the things you still can’t do in Chrome Google is hoping Android apps will bridge the gap. A few weeks ago they released the first batch of apps, but we’re hungry for more.

Right now you can only run four Android apps and they only work with Chrome OS devices. What if you could run any Android app you wanted? And what if all you needed was a Chrome browser? That would be pretty awesome. Luckily it’s not just something we can dream about. Thanks to some clever hackers it’s really possible. Here’s how you can do it!

Why does this work?

android chrome

First, a little history lesson. The software that makes it possible for Android apps to run in Chrome is called the App Runtime for Chrome, or ARC. This software works in the same way that ART allows apps to run on Android phones or tablets. Using these two runtimes allows developers to make their apps available on Chrome without any rebuilding. A nifty trick.

ARC was designed to run only on Chrome OS. Developer vladikoff created something called ARChon Custom Runtime so it can be used in Chrome for Windows, Mac, and even Linux. In the process he also removed the limit on how many Android apps can be run in Chrome. So before we get started we must tip our caps to vladikoff for making this possible.

Install the ARChon Custom Runtime

The first thing we need to do is get the custom version of ARC installed in your browser. In order to do this you will need Chrome version 37 or higher.

  1. Download ARChon from here
  2. Unzip the archive
  3. Go to your extensions page in Chrome by going to Menu > Tools > Extensions
  4. Enable Developer mode in the top right corner
  5. Select “Load unpacked extension”
  6. Choose the folder where you unzipped ARChon

ARChon is now running as a Chrome extension. You will probably see the warning below, but it’s nothing to worry about. Let’s move on to the next step.

error

Install Android apps

flappy chrome

We’re ready to install some Android apps now. This is the real tricky part. Getting an Android app to work in Chrome is not as easy as using the Play Store on your Android device. Luckily the Android/Chrome community is already hard at work finding which apps can work in Chrome. This subreddit and Google Drive spreadsheet are a good place to start looking for apps.

But first, a disclaimer. The distribution of modified apps is not strictly speaking legal. Downloading APKs of free apps is probably not going to make the developer too upset, but paid apps are another story. Don’t use this as an opportunity to steal a bunch of Android apps. Only download APKs from free apps or apps that you already purchased.

Okay, once you have a .zip file containing the APK we are going to install it like we did with ARChon.

  1. Unzip the file and place the folder somewhere you will remember
  2. Go back to the Extensions page in Chrome
  3. Click “Load unpacked extensions”
  4. Select the folder with the modified APK you downloaded

The app should now appear in the app launcher in Chrome, with or without the correct app icon. You will likely see another error message on the extensions page, but it’s fine.

What if the app you want to use hasn’t already been modified for Chrome? It’s time to take matters into your own hands. Proceed with caution. These next steps are not for the faint of heart.

What if the app I want isn’t listed?

command

Getting an Android app to work in Chrome requires some modification. There is a handy tool that can do all of it for you, but first you will need to obtain the APK of the app you wish to modify. You can use Astro File Explorer to pull installed APKs from your device. Here’s how:

  • Open Astro
  • Slide open the menu from the left and tap the tools icon
  • Tap “App Mgr”
  • Tap on the apps you wish you pull
  • Select “Backup”
  • Go to the new “Backups” folder on your SD card and send the APK to your PC

Now it’s time to install the ChromeOS APK Tool to automatically modify the APK. Follow the instructions for the desktop OS you use.

Windows

  1. Download the node.js .msi file (not the .exe) from here.
  2. Install node.js.
  3. In a command prompt, run the command: npm install chromeos-apk -g

OS X/Linux

  1. In a terminal, run the command: sudo apt-get install npm
  2. (Ubuntu only): Run the command: sudo apt-get install lib32stdc++6
  3. Download node.js.
  4. Unzip the tar.gz file you downloaded
  5. Open a terminal to the unzipped folder containing node.js. Run these commands in order:
    1. ./configure
    2. make
    3. make install
  6. Run the command: sudo npm install chromeos-apk -g

The ChromeOS APK tool should be successfully installed on your PC. Now it’s time to use it!

  1. Open a command prompt or terminal in the folder where you saved the APK
  2. Run the command: chromeos-apk [NAME OF APK]
  3. Enter the package name of the app if prompted. You can find this in the URL of the Play Store listing. For example: “com.phandroid.droidpress”.

Wrap Up

yahoo

We can’t guarantee that every app you try will work flawlessly. This is a nifty way to bring some of your favorite Android apps to the desktop. Hopefully Google makes the process easier someday. How cool would it be if the Google Play web store could install apps to Chrome? The line between operating system and browser is getting thinner every day. What apps are you going to put on Chrome? Did you get this to work for you?

[via Lifehacker]

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Kyocera Brigadier Review: a tough one-trick pony http://phandroid.com/2014/09/22/kyocera-brigadier-review/ http://phandroid.com/2014/09/22/kyocera-brigadier-review/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 22:58:14 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=149255 Brigadier 4

It’s happened to all of us. You bring home your shiny new phone, and at first you are very careful with it. You take care to set it down gently, and maybe even buy a case for it. As time goes on you become increasingly rough with the device. Then it happens. It slips out of your hand as you pull it from your pocket. You hold your breathe as it lands face down on the pavement. The screen is cracked.

The details of this story may be different for you, but chances are we’ve all broke a phone or two in our day. It’s inevitable with the way most smartphones are built. They’re made with plastic or aluminum, and a large part of the device is a big pieced of glass. Plus we take these devices everywhere. It’s amazing we don’t break them more often. So what can you do about it?

The most popular solution is to buy a big, bulky case to put on it. That works pretty well, but it will cost you an arm and a leg if you want true protection from all elements. A better solution is to buy a device that was built specifically to withstand tons of abuse. Enter the Kyocera Brigadier. It’s certainly not the first rugged device on the market, but it has some new tricks up its sleeve.

Design

Brigadier

The design of all rugged devices usually follow the same formula. Manufacturers figure that the people buying a rugged device are men that don’t care about design. The devices are usually very masculine, with sharp edges and lots of black and red. The Kyocera Brigadier follows this script to the T. It’s shaped like a shield, with visible screws, covered in matte black, and topped off with red accents. Every port is covered with a plastic flap to keep water out.

The Brigadier is certainly not the ugliest device I’ve ever seen on the outside. Software design is another story. Kyocera, of course, has their own Android skin. It’s all glossy metal textures and bright teal highlights. The included widgets are very handy, but some of the uglier ones I’ve seen. It always boggles my mind when a mid-range device is so heavily skinned. They’re wasting their time on something that ultimately slows down the device even more, but more on that later.

Durability

Brigadier 5

Obviously durability is the main selling point of this device. Kyocera has made sure that every reviewer has ample materials to put this device to the test. Included with our review unit was a brand new pocket knife, rubber glove for water submersion, and a box of rocks. The reason for these items is to put the “Sapphire Shield” display to the test.

It’s easy to make the body of a phone durable, but the weak spot is always the big glass display. Kyocera has developed a proprietary display made out of sapphire, which is second only to diamonds in mineral hardness. This means the display is virtually scratch-proof and unbreakable. Of course we had to put this to the test ourselves.

This phone can take a beating. I dropped it on cement from five feet up several times, dumped rocks on it, submerged it in water (including flushing it in a toilet), attempted to scratch the display with a brand new pocket knife, and much more. The result? A bunch of scuffs and dings in the plastic/rubber case, but not a scratch on the display. Pretty impressive results, but durability is more than just skin deep.

We tortured the Brigadier much more than most people would with regular use. Chances are you’re not going to drop it, drown it, flush it, feed it to a dog, scratch it, and stab it all within the span of a couple of hours. How could we resist? Kyocera practically dared us to break this phone, and we may have succeeded. After all of our testing the device seemed to work fine…at first. Then the charging indicator was stuck on, and it started randomly rebooting. Now after a few days the touchscreen doesn’t recognize touches, and the power button thinks everything is a long-press.

In regular every-day disasters the Brigadier can take a punch like the best of them. However, if you’re a sadistic phone abuser like me you might run into some trouble.

Performance & Battery

Brigadier 3

It’s no surprise that durability is top-notch in the Kyocera Brigadier, but performance and camera quality is usually where these devices suffer. Putting time and money into awesome things like a sapphire display means other parts of the device won’t receive as much attention. The Brigadier is not a slow device, but it does suffer from good ol’ Android Lag. It’s especially noticeable when using Kyocera’s custom launcher or when you get a bunch of apps running at the same time.

Battery life is very important for rugged devices. The people who buy these devices demand a lot, especially when it comes to battery life. The Brigadier is packing a 3100mAh batter and even has Qi wireless charging. The good news is you won’t have to worry about charging it very often. I was able to get a day and a half of use before I plopped it on the charging pad. it has enough juice to keep up with your rugged lifestyle.

Camera

Brigadier 8

Camera quality is what you would expect from a mid-range device with a 8MP camera. Decent in well-lit situations, sub-par in low light. There’s really not much to say about it, but that is probably a good thing. Chances are if you’re buying this phone the camera is not a huge concern. You want to get quick photos when you’re on a hike or at the job site. The good news is it’s perfectly capable, but it lacks the “wow factor” of cameras on flagship devices. The benefit of this camera is it’s attached to a device that will allow you to still upload to Instagram if you drop it on the sidewalk.

20140920_134325_Android 20140914_214830_Android 20140914_120116_Android 20140920_192859_Android

Conclusion

The question I always ask myself when rating a device is “would I recommend this phone to someone?” The answer to that question is tricky for the Kyocera Brigadier. On one hand it’s an excellent device for people who need something durable. But on the other hand it’s nothing more than a decent mid-range device with a killer gimmick. Ultimately I think the people who look for rugged devices like this will be happy with the Brigadier. The sapphire display truly is an amazing piece of technology, but I wish it was connected to a slightly better device.

The Good

  • Sapphire display is impressive
  • Body can take a beating
  • Great battery life

The Bad

  • Software design is not great
  • Camera is just okay
  • Stopped working after our extreme durability tests

Score: 2.5 out of 5

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Moto G (2nd Gen) Tips & Tricks http://phandroid.com/2014/09/18/moto-g-2nd-gen-tips-tricks/ http://phandroid.com/2014/09/18/moto-g-2nd-gen-tips-tricks/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 16:39:37 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=149099 moto-g-back-hero

The all-new Moto G went on sale last week, and the phone is already landing in the hands of the early adopters. We had our own chance to check out the phone, and we were pretty amazed at what this $180 smartphone can do. Here are some of the tips and tricks we discovered that every Moto G owner should know about.

Check out our full Moto G (2014) review

Transfer contacts, photos, and more to your Moto G

moto-migrate

The Moto G includes Motorola Migrate, a service that makes it easy to move your precious data from your old phone to your new one, whether that old phone is an Android device, iPhone, or even a feature phone. Motorola Migrate can transfer contacts and calendar events as well as photos, text message history, and more.

  • When transferring from another Android device, you must first download Motorola Migrate from the Google Play Store and install it on the old phone. Then launch Migrate on the Moto G and select “Android” as the device type.
  • To transfer data from an iPhone, open Motorola Migrate on the Moto G and select “iPhone.” Use your iCloud and Google login info to easily move your contacts and more to your new phone (you’ll also want to separately make sure your new phone is playing nice with previous iMessage settings).
  • If your old device is a feature phone, open Motorola Migrate and select “Other phone type.” Follow the onscreen prompts to transfer data via the older device’s Bluetooth connection.

Use voice commands

google-now-moto

You can control your Moto G with your voice thanks to Google Now. To access voice commands, simply tap the microphone icon in the Google search widget (or open Google Now and do the same).

Some voice commands to try include:

  • “Open [app name]“
  • “Call [contact name]“
  • “Text [contact name],” then speak the message you wish to send
  • “Directions/Navigate to [location name]“
  • “Set an alarm for [date/time]“

You can also try asking Google Now a question like, “How old is the president of the United States?” For more commands and a full tutorial, see our article on Google Now Voice Commands.

Motorola Alert

motorola-alert

Motorola Alert allows you to quickly notify friends and family of your location, whether you are planning to meet up in an unfamiliar location or in case of an emergency. If the latter is the case, Motorola Alert can also sound an alarm or dial an emergency number.

Setup Alert by launching the the app (located in the Moto G’s applications drawer) and following the onscreen prompts. You will be asked to enter information about who to contact as well as how to contact them. You can also choose an emergency contact.

To notify specified contacts when you arrive or leave a location such as work, home, or school, tap “Give peace of mind by sharing your location with family and friends.” You will be prompted to choose a location and contact to be notified.

Motorola Assist

moto-g-assist

Your Moto G can help to filter out unwanted calls and cut back on distractions thanks to Motorola Assist. Motorola Assist smartly determines when you are in a meeting, sleeping, driving, and more and takes appropriate actions like silencing your phone or reading text messages aloud.

To enable Motorola Assist, launch the app from the app drawer. Then,

  • select “Meeting” to allow your Moto G to use your calendar events to determine when to silence your phone (you can create exceptions to this rule based on favorite contacts or urgent calls as well as enable a text message auto reply);
  • select “Sleeping” and silence your phone during the hours you normally sleep;
  • select “Driving” to enable your Moto G to read text messages aloud and tell who is calling (you can also set your phone to automatically begin playing music when driving);
  • select “Home” to set your phone in “Talk to me” mode when at home.

Unlock your Moto G with a Trusted Device

moto-trusted-devices

Have a Bluetooth headset or Bluetooth infotainment system in your car? You can list them as Trusted Devices that will automatically unlock your Moto G when in range. A Trusted Device can be any Bluetooth gadget or accessory, from your laptop to your Moto 360 smartwatch. Here’s how to set one up:

  1. Pair your Moto G with the Bluetooth device you wish to make a Trusted Device.
  2. Navigate to Settings > Security > Trusted Devices. Confirm your password or PIN when prompted.
  3. Choose the devices you wish to enable as Trusted Devices.

Now whenever your phone is paired with a Trusted Device it will not ask for a password to access your home screens.

FM Radio

moto-fm-radio

The Moto G includes a built-in FM radio tuner. A pair of wired headphones is required to use this function. Why? The headphones double as the phone’s radio antenna.

While you must leave the headphones plugged in during operation, sound can be routed to the Moto G’s front-facing stereo speakers or even a Bluetooth speaker for your listening enjoyment.

Camera Tips & Tricks

The Moto G’s camera includes a number of helpful shortcuts to take your mobile photography game to the next level. With several shooting modes and the ability to capture 720p HD video, you’ll never miss the moment.

  • Zoom in and out by pressing anywhere on the display and dragging up or down.
  • Quickly access the gallery by swiping left.
  • Access camera settings and enable HDR, panorama, and slow motion modes by swiping right.

One-Tap Capture

moto-g-one-tap

Quickly and easily take a photo by simply tapping any portion of the screen to activate the shutter. Tap and hold to take multiple photos in quick succession (burst mode).

Pro Tip: By default, the camera will auto-focus before taking a photo with One-Tap Capture. To focus on the specific area of an image where you tap, enable the option in the camera settings.

Shutter Button

moto-g-shutter

The Moto G also gives users the option to snap photos using the phone’s volume up or down buttons. Hold the volume rocker in to take photos in burst mode.

Protect your Moto G with Device Management

Motorola is offering peace of mind for owners of their most recent handset releases with Motorola Device Management. Enrolling allows users to remotely locate a lost or stolen phone, ring said phone, lock nefarious users out, and even wipe the internal storage of all personal data.

When first powering on the Moto G, you will be greeted with a notification inviting you to “Protect your phone.” Tap the item and follow the onscreen directions to enable the above mentioned features.

If you have already dismissed the notification but wish to enable device management, follow these simple steps:

  1. Navigate to Settings > Security
  2. Tap “Device Administrators”
  3. Activate “Motorola Device Policy”

If your phone is lost or stolen, simply navigate to www.motorola.com/support from any web browser, sign into your account using your Motorola ID, and select your phone and click “Lost Device.”

Note: for Motorola’s device tracking and remote features to work, you will need to make sure Location Access (found under the main Settings menu) is turned on. You can also follow the above directions to enable Android Device Manager, which provides a similar set of features accessible from your Google web account.

Connect your devices with Motorola Connect

moto-connect

The Moto G comes with Motorola Connect, an app that allows you to easily manage the Motorola devices linked to your phone. These include accessories like the Motorola Power Pack Micro or Moto Hint as well as a smartwatch like the Moto 360.

To pair a device:

  1. Make sure it is powered on
  2. Launch the Motorola Connect app
  3. Tap the “+”
  4. Select the device you wish to pair

Find your keys with the Motorola Power Pack Micro

If you picked up a Motorola Power Pack Micro along with your Moto G, you get a little more than a bit of extra battery power on your keychain should you need a quick charge. The Power Pack Micro can also be used to locate your lost keys using your phone (or vice versa).

To find a lost phone, simply double click the power button of the Power Pack Micro. Your Moto G will begin beeping.

To locate your keys, open the Motorola Connect app, select the Power Pack Micro from the list of connected devices, and tap “ping.” The Power Pack Micro will beep. For the feature to work the Power Pack must be powered on. It also goes without saying that it should be attached to the keys you are attempting to locate!

Take a screenshot

moto-g-screenshot

Taking a screenshot with the Moto G is easy. Simply simultaneously press the handset’s power/standby and volume down buttons.

Pro Tip: This shortcut should work with just about any newer Android device with a similar hardware button configuration.

Enable lockscreen widgets

lockscreen-widgets-moto

Access your favorite widgets even when your phone is locked. To enable lockscreen widgets:

  1. Open Settings
  2. Navigate to Security
  3. Tap the checkbox next to “Enable widgets”

Access and add lockscreen widgets by dragging your finger from the left edge of the lockscreen and taping “+.”

Extend battery life with Battery Saver

moto-battery-saver

If battery life is running low and you are far from a charge, you extend your uptime by enabling Android’s Battery Saver mode. This mode will restrict background data access and cut back on excessive power drain. Turn it on by navigating to Settings > Battery and switching Battery Save to “On.”

More Tips & Tricks

Have your own Moto G tips and tricks not covered here? Don’t keep them a secret, share them in the comments below. If you can’t find the answers to your specific questions here, you might try your luck over at the Moto G section of our Android Forums. While you’re there, be sure to let us know what you think about Motorola’s latest budget handset.

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Google “active watching” patent aims to track and identify everyone in the room http://phandroid.com/2014/09/18/google-active-watching-patent/ http://phandroid.com/2014/09/18/google-active-watching-patent/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 14:05:27 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=149289 Android users who have grown to love their voice commands could be in for a treat: Google’s been working on some crazy improvements. Recent updates have already improved how voice search works with Google Now, tightly integrated voice commands with Android Wear, and added an always listening “Ok Google” voice command to all search screens, but perhaps the best is yet to come.

Deep inside a September 4th patent – titled “detecting the end of a user question” – we find some hidden gems that show us how Google could soon add “active watching” technology to futurize Google Search and beyond. But at what cost?

The patent starts off fairly straightforward, describing some features already available in some Android devices such as the new Moto X (2nd gen). The phone uses multiple microphones to detect the location of voices, enabling it to ignore speech input coming from unintended sources. But the patent takes an interesting turn when it mentions capturing visual indicators, and not just any visual indicators- video.

The digital capture device may be a digital video recorder, digital camera, a webcam, etc. The visual capture device may capture visuals and represent the visuals as a stream of images that may form a video.

On the surface (at least to some) this might seem innocent and run-of-the-mill: earlier this year we showed you some Galaxy S5 Tips & Tricks which include a Samsung feature called Smart Stay that keeps the screen on whenever it detects you’re looking. As depicted below, Google is suggesting combining visual indicators with audio indicators to improve Google Search functionality. It doesn’t take long for things to get a lot more interesting, though.

google-active-watching

Google attempts to detect “deliberation” between people with audio/visual indicators, and depending on what their algorithmic statistical mojo recommends, can offer answers as if engaged in an ongoing dialogue or choose to stop actively listening altogether.

Capturing video and identifying people

This Google patent goes deeper though, not only actively watching and capturing visuals, but collecting a bunch of other information along the way.

“the visual analyzer may determine the number of people in an area represented by the visual data, the identity of the people, the vertical and horizontal angles of the heads of the people, and lip movement of the people”

Determine the identity of people? Yes… and then using audio and video together they can further:

“determine the identity of the person providing the voice input based on the lip movement of people and the acoustic characteristics of the voice”

If you thought Google only wanted to extrapolate this data to differentiate between the different speakers it was hearing, you’d be wrong… it doesn’t stop there. Not only does it watch, listen, capture information about people it successfully identifies, it then stores this data in user profiles. Directly from the patent:

“the system may analyze audio and visual data and store information in a user profile…”

Google even describes some examples of the data it may want to collect and store, further explaining the data would be used to serve content that is more relevant to the user:

  • User’s social networks
  • Social actions or activities
  • Profession
  • User preferences
  • Current location

My reaction when reading this? Awesome!

What’s your reaction? Today’s Google searches at Google.com are already able to identify this type of information and store it in your Google Account history to improve performance and features, but that won’t stop some people from feeling paranoid. This patent is open ended and far reaching; I’m sure plenty of freedom fighters have already rushed to the comments in defense of our civil liberties and protection of our privacy.

Ok Google… stop reading my lips

There are often two opposing camps in the privacy debate:

  1. If you’re not doing anything wrong you shouldn’t have to worry
  2. Private life should be private. After all, what happens if Google gets hacked, or shares my info with law enforcement, or people with access to this information abuse their privileges?

Regardless to which camp you belong, Google has made it clear in their patent that these settings will be optional, allowing the user to choose whether or not their personal information is stored:

“For situations in which the systems discussed here collect personal information about users, or may make use of personal information, the users may be provided with an opportunity to control whether programs or features collect personal information”

Notice the users “may” be provided with- it’s not necessarily guaranteed. They also mention anonymizing data so that they can still collect it in aggregate without connection to personally identifiable information.

Patents serve to protect intellectual property, not as an operating guide, so critiques in advance of a formal Google announcement should be hypothetical. Google would attempt to address privacy concerns once implementing, and if overlooked, they’d be sure to face backlash.

What type of backlash? Probably the type Microsoft faced earlier last year, leading up to the launch of the Xbox One and Kinect. The main issue? Kinect was always listening, always watching, and you couldn’t turn it off. Sound familiar?

Microsoft later backtracked on that demand and most of the Kinect privacy hysteria has subsided. Dissenters likely purchased the Playstation 4 or Nintendo Wii U instead… and the world went on.

Whether the tech from this patent sees the light of day remains to be seen. If it does, privacy will certainly be an imperative issue to discuss, and I urge you to begin that discussion in the comments below. But I’m hopeful that Google would implement it responsibly. A more interesting discussion, I believe, is what this patent could mean for the future of Android devices.

How will Google use this data?

I love Google voice commands and it’s a feature I use daily. If you don’t, you really need to try it. It’s not perfect though and can be especially irritating when you’re not the only person in the room. At the very least, Google’s hopes of improving voice commands through visual indicators is promising.

This patent could mean much more than voice search improvements and its parallels with Kinect aren’t only in the privacy department. When most people think “Android” they think “smartphone” but Google’s scope is much broader and motives more sweeping. The “detecting the end of a user question” patent may feature a mobile phone in its illustrations, but it explicitly mentions computers, web cams, and other types of video and audio equipment that can collect information from what seems like a much larger and more physically static area than is likely with your phone.

Three obvious places (beyond smartphones and laptops) where Google could awesomely employ these features to create stunning new experiences:

  • Android TV
  • Android Auto
  • Android @Home

Television is still in the stone ages, begging to be revolutionized. Google’s initial attempt – Google TV – failed quite miserably, but they’ve since announced Android TV. In its current alpha form it’s a direct competitor to products and services like Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Netflix, but it could be so much more. Advanced voice operation that smartly “lives” with you and the people in your house could make the difference between a cheap set top box and truly next generation multimedia solutions. At the ground level, consider an Android TV that greatly improves upon the voice functionality already found on Xbox and PS4.

The auto industry hasn’t changed a whole lot in the past few decades, either. Google isn’t waiting two decades for their self-driving cars to become a reality, they’re launching consumer vehicles with Android built-in later this year through Android Auto. What interesting experiences, apps, and games could Google create by knowing who is in the car, where each person is sitting, when each person is talking, and what they’re each saying? That’s a challenge I’m sure developers would love to tackle.

Then we’ve got the ever-cliche, George Jetson style “home connectivity” vision. We’ve been hearing about and seeing Android appliances since 2010, but even with the advent of Android @Home, truly connected homes have made few inroads into your typical homes. Google has shown a recommitment to home connectivity after buying Nest for $3.2 Billion. Being able to communicate with your home, hands-free and with great accuracy, could be the missing link in helping the connected home emerge as the next cultural revolution.

Creepy? Awesome? Or both?

The three main takeaways from this article (and Google’s patent):

  1. This could help immediately improve Google Voice Search
  2. Extending the idea could revolutionize voice commands across many devices
  3. There will be no lack of privacy concerns

Using visual queues and pairing them with audio queues is a brilliant way to improve an already wonderful product, but is capturing video, listening to voices, watching lips, identifying real people, and correlating it with personally identifiable information going further than you want your relationship with Google to go? Let us know in the comments!

Note: the term “active watching” is not used by Google in this patent. They do, however, call the existing audio functionality “active listening”. I’m using the term “active watching” for this article as a logical extension of an already understood and well accepted concept. In reality, I’d hope Google would announce this feature using a term that seems less intrusive, such as “active aware” or “always aware” (which could include both audio and video).

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Motorola Moto 360 review http://phandroid.com/2014/09/16/motorola-moto-360-review/ http://phandroid.com/2014/09/16/motorola-moto-360-review/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 22:23:15 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=149081 Moto 360 DSC06937

When it comes to new tech, wearables like smartwatches have landed themselves in a unique position. While everyone agrees that an aesthetically pleasing smartphone or tablet can be seen as a bonus, it’s not mandatory. These devices spend the majority of their day tucked away out of view inside our pockets, backpacks, or hidden behind protective cases. But because smartwatches are actually worn, they’re just as much a fashion accessory as they are a piece of tech. This could be why Google Glass (at least in its current form) may never hit the mainstream and why tech heads were chomping at the bit over the newest kid on the smartwatch block: the Motorola Moto 360.

Like a girl at a Justin Bieber concert, it seemed like the tech community was eager to award the Moto 360 the distinguished honor of taking their Android Wear virginity based on looks alone. But underneath the chamfered glass and aluminum, is there more to the 360? Or is its primary success merely as an expensive piece of eye candy? We’ll answer all these questions and more in our Motorola Moto 360 review.

Design / Build quality

Moto 360 DSC06958

After visiting Motorola’s all new HQ in Chicago, we literally got a full tour of the facilities as Motorola employees showed us every step that went into making the Moto 360, from design, to early prototypes, manufacturing, and the final gorgeous product you see today. Having seen all the hard work, blood, sweat, and tears that went into making the 360, we have to admit, we appreciate the watch a little more than we would have otherwise.

So by now, we get it: the Moto 360 is round. It’s the most defining characteristic of the smartwatch and one that — at least when pitted against the current crop of Android Wear devices — sets it apart from the pack. You’ll notice Motorola has been careful to avoid calling the 360 a “smartwatch.” Instead, Motorola chooses the term “modern timepiece,” a fancy way of saying it’s the traditional round watch you’re all used to, only smarter (you know, a smartwatch).

At first glance it appears as if the Moto 360 is floating on the watch strap and, like any other fashion accessory (smart or not), reactions to hockey puck-design have proven to be somewhat polarizing. Some will say it’s the sexiest smartwatch they’ve ever laid eyes on, while others will say it’s something better suited for the ice rink. Whatever your opinion, there’s no denying the Moto 360 at least looks expensive.

Moto 360 DSC06955

On the face, you’ll find Gorilla Glass 3 raised ever so slightly from its brushed metal frame. The glass uses chamfered edges that cleverly reflect the light as to hide the side pixels of the LCD display when viewing the watch directly. All the distinct layers and pieces really give the watch some character, especially when looking at the lifeless design of rival devices like the LG G Watch. Even the single physical button on the side has a gold layer surrounding it, once again playing into that layered design aesthetic.

It’s these small details that help the watch appear less like it was slapped together in some Chinese factory and more like it was carefully assembled by a master craftsman. The watch looks premium and is further extended by Motorola’s choice in offering Chicago-sourced 100% genuine Horween leather wrist straps out of the box. There is no lower-end, rubber strapped sport “edition” or anything like that. This is the plate Motorola serves you and it’s delicious.

If leather doesn’t particularly suit your tastes, Motorola’s stock bands can be swapped for most standard 22mm bands, you’ll just have to make sure they’re thin enough to slide into the 360′s undercarriage. Motorola’s own official stainless steel link straps will be available later this year for an added $75.

Moto 360 Horween Leather strap DSC06984

Upon picking it up, the first thing you’ll notice is how absurdly light the Moto 360 is. For a second we actually thought there was some sort of mixup at the plant and we ended up with a dummy unit by mistake. After strapping the 360 on, the watch sat perfectly in the middle of our wrist and the leather was light and comfy. There’s was no chaffing or pulling of our vast abundance of arm hair when adjusting the strap. It was easy to forget the watch was even on our wrist.

The Moto 360 is IP67 rated and means you wont have to worry about getting the watch wet while vigorously washing your hands everyday, but if you plan on jumping in the pool or hitting some waves at the beach, it’s best to leave it somewhere dry.

Hardware

Display

Moto 360 DSC06981

There’s no denying the Moto 360′s body is a full 360-degrees round, but the same can’t be said for its display. At 320×290 (205ppi) resolution, the watch is almost perfectly round save for a small black bezel along the bottom which houses the ambient light sensor and the watch’s “display drivers.” Although the circular display can sometimes cutoff UI elements along the sides, the added screen real estate actually allows the 360 to display more words per line when compared to the LG G Watch.

Out of all the Android Wear devices, the Moto 360′s display is definitely the brightest, acting as a small flash light if for some reason you aren’t using the auto adjusting brightness setting. Speaking of which, the 360 is currently the only Android Wear device to come with an ambient light sensor, something that takes away the hassle of having to manually adjust the display. This is especially convenient when traveling from a dimly lit room out into daylight where the 360 was still tough to read (like most LCD devices), but at least it auto adjusted the brightness accordingly.

Moto 360 direct sunlight DSC06956

Something we should note, the review unit we were provided with actually came with 2-dead pixels. Although we’d normally dismiss it as a fluke, we’ve been hearing reports from other 360 owners experiencing similar on their units, even after getting it replaced. You might want to check yours out of the box (it’s easier to see with an all black background) and make sure you purchase from a reputable retailer with a convenient return policy. You know, just to be safe.

Like on our LG G Watch, we also found the display on the Moto 360 wasn’t always the most responsive. Often times, you’ll find selecting UI elements on the display requires multiple taps because the first tap didn’t register. It’s annoying and interesting that we can now confirm it happening on two separate Android Wear devices, so this isn’t necessarily a Moto 360 thing.

Power button

Power button DSC06983

The Moto 360 is actually one of the few Android Wear devices to come equipped with an actual physical button. Located on its side, we thought it odd how it primarily acts as yet another way of waking the display on the watch if for some reason tapping the display was just too easy. We originally thought this was a conscious decision by Motorola simply to keep the device looking traditional but we soon learned the button serves a another purpose: long pressing the button actually acts as a shortcut to the device’s settings. This normally requires a ridiculous amount of effort (tap to wake, tap to voice search, scroll down to settings, tap again to select).

Another bonus is when turned off, you can even — brace yourself — power the device on. I know, your mind is blown, right? Although this might not sound like such a big deal, the LG G Watch has no buttons and once powered down, requires you to dock and connect the device to its charger (or use a paperclip to press the tiny button on its back) before it can be booted up again. Let me tell you, there has been more than a few occasions where I was rushing out the door, only to realize I forgot to boot up the G Watch, forcing me to go about my day with a watch I couldn’t power on. For having the foresight to see the convenience in something as simply as an easily accessible power button… for that, I tip my hat to you, Motorola.

Heart rate monitor

Moto 360 back heart rate sensor DSC06964

The 360 isn’t just a pretty face. The watch also packs a few tricks up its sleeve that you can’t find in competing smartwatches (like the LG G Watch). For all you fitness types, Motorola threw in a tiny heart rate monitor located on the bottom of the device with a glowing green LED (see above pic).

This hardware feature is supported by Motorola’s own specialty apps and while great for tracking your daily fitness goals, is actually quite finicky when trying to get an accurate reading on the go. We found that you have to remain almost completely still to check your heart rate, so you’ll need to jump off the treadmill to get an update on your progress. We’ll go over both Heart Rate and Heart Activity apps more during our software portion of the review.

Wireless Charging

Moto 360 charging dock DSC06925

Because manufacturers want to keep their smartwatches looking as svelte as possible, just about every Android Wear device — with the exception of the Moto 360 — feature their own proprietary methods of charging. This can make it difficult in the event you forget to pack a charger or, heaven forbid, lose your charger and have to pay through the nose for a first-party replacement.

The Moto 360 on the other hand features wireless charging. Since this is using the Qi wireless charging standard, it’s the same kind of wireless charging found on many popular Android handsets. This means if you or someone else already has a wireless charger for their phone, you also have another means of charging your Moto 360.

Moto 360 wireless charging DSC06797

When it comes to Motorola’s supplied wireless charging dock, it’s actually quite small and features a smooth, soft touch finish. Since the dock faces outward, it’s meant to act as a bedside clock when charging the Moto 360 overnight. Because the Moto 360′s battery is so small, it won’t take more than an hour to reach a full charge, giving you plenty of time to charge while performing your normal morning ritual.

Moto 360 portable wireless charger  DSC06851

For those instances when you happen to be away from a wall outlet, don’t forget it’s possible to power the charger using one of the many portable battery chargers on the market. We paired our Moto X with Motorola’s tiny Power Pack Micro for a quick charging solution on-the-go. Surprisingly, it made for a nice mini charging station without all the wires or bulky battery packs.

Performance

Moto 360 DSC06951

Inside the Moto 360, you’ll find an aging single-core TI OMAP3630 running the show. It’s by no means a powerhouse (not that it needs to be), just an odd choice by Motorola given the fact that rival OEMs all went with the more powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 400.

While actions are executed relatively quick, it’s the smoothness of the UI that suffers from the former Motorola DROID X SoC. That may not sound like a huge deal — and things have gotten smoother since the latest 4.4W.1 update — we have a feeling that over time, the OMAP will ultimately hold the smartwatch back and in some cases, it already does. Check out our battery life results below.

Battery life

Moto 360 Battery DSC06823

By now you may have noticed that battery life reports are all over the place. Since the latest software update, I’ve been able to consistently hit 20+ hours with the Moto 360 and its tiny 320mAh battery, but that wasn’t always the case.

Elsewhere, I’m still seeing reports of 12-15 hours and all we can do is scratch our heads, wondering why the experience differs so greatly person to person. It could have something to do with half-baked software, poor internal components, or even a shoddy Bluetooth connection with the paired handset. But the bottom line: I consistently got a full waking day, which passes the minimum expectations for these first generation smartwatches.

Unlike its Android Wear rivals, the Moto 360 comes with “Ambient screen” mode turned off right out of the box. Ambient mode is a fancy way of saying the display is always on, so you can quickly glance at the time without having to lift your hand and face the watch towards you (or press the physical button). While it only makes sense that battery life would suffer as a result, it’s nowhere near as big of a problem on other Android Wear devices as it is on the Moto 360.

With ambient mode on, you’re looking at barely 10 to 12 hours of battery life, a stark contrast to the 20+ hours with other devices like the LG G Watch. Again, we have a feeling the culprit is the Old-Man Jenkins OMAP which isn’t anywhere near optimized to run in a low power state like the Snapdragon 400. Simply put, it’s a shame and probably the only thing keeping the Moto 360 from unfettered greatness.

Connectivity

Moto 360 disconnected DSC06929

I’ve seen more than a few reports of Bluetooth connections dropping in and out, and where I’ve only experienced this once or twice since my 2 weeks with the device, it could be due to any number of causes. Outside interference, the connected phone, the OS, the Android Wear app — who the heck knows. The bright side is it only takes a simple disconnecting/reconnecting of my watch using the Android Wear app to fix the problem.

I was hesitant to mention this in our review because I’ve had similar experiences with Google Glass and other Bluetooth devices. Again, it’s tough to figure out exactly what is to blame — the Moto 360, smartphone, or something else entirely — but thankfully it seems this was largely remedied in the latest 4.4W.1 update.

What’s missing

Because the Moto 360 is a first generation device, of course there are going to be some things Motorola left out whether to add for its inevitable sequel, or because they simply aren’t supported. We’re not going to hold it against them — especially given battery life is already at the bare minimum of what we would deem acceptable — but the Sony SmartWatch 3 has a GPS sensor, while the upcoming Apple Watch features NFC for quick mobile payments.

And although it’s never been discussed, we also wouldn’t mind seeing an IR blaster for quick universal remote functionality. Just file this under Motorola Moto 360 (2015) features we would like to see.

Software

Android Wear

Android Wear reservation

As one of Google’s flagship Android Wear devices (it was announced back during Google I/O alongside the LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live), we’re sure by now you know everything there is to know about the modified Android OS that powers the watch. One of its main functions is simply quick access to Google Voice Search and if you’re curious to see all the information it can deliver, check out our video of 40+ voice commands you can do with Android Wear.

Aside from its handy Google Search functions, the primary goal for Android Wear is not to act like a tiny smartphone, but more of an extension of the notifications already found on your Android-powered smartphone. We don’t have statistics, but in our own experiences we’d say that anywhere between 80 to 90% of notifications you receive throughout the day don’t require an actual response, or perhaps just a quick one.

This is why Android Wear exists. Instead of pulling out your phone every 5 seconds to view a notification — which can add up, slowly diminishing your smartphone’s battery life — you can briefly check your watch instead. If something needs addressing, you can perform quick actions like a voice reply, delete, or “open on phone” and quickly get back to whatever it was you were doing.

Android Wear voice reply action

This also applies to apps that run on Android Wear, which are meant to have low attention costs and, in most cases, are installed simply by downloading its full Android counterpart from the Google Play Store. There aren’t too many Android Wear apps at the moment, but the list is definitely growing. As the platform continues to grow and evolve, expect these mini apps to become more helpful in the future (our favorite is Google Maps which shows turn-by-turn directions on your watch). For those worried about the here and now, outside of quick notifications, Android Wear’s usefulness is limited.

There are some that feel like Android Wear isn’t quite ready for prime time and in some ways, we’d have to agree. The UI isn’t all that intuitive (we like Google Glass’ timeline UI much better) and it’s clear Google still has their work cut out for them. But in terms of overall philosophy, Google is definitely on the right track by using Android Wear as a way to alleviate the heavy attention costs associated with using a smartphone OS (a stark contrast to Apple’s approach with their smartwatch).

Setup

Android Wear app

Setting up the Moto 360 is a snap and involves downloading the Android Wear companion app from the Google Play Store. After that, you simply pair up your watch upon first boot with your smartphone and you’re ready to go. Because, chances are, you have a few apps on your phone that have the same general function — multiple note apps for instance — you can specify which apps you’d like to launch by default when feeding your watch with voice commands.

If fiddling around in your watches settings is too difficult, you can also adjust these inside the Android Wear app by pressing the cog icon at the top.

Motorola apps and watch faces

Moto 360 heart activity app DSC06969

It’s true Google forbids Android Wear manufacturers from adding their own UI skins, but that doesn’t mean they can’t add their own specialty apps. In the case of the Moto 360, Motorola has added their own apps, watch faces, and even a bedside clock mode that displays while the watch is charging.

Motorola Connect

Using the Motorola Connect app (yes, you’ll need to download another app), you can customize the look of the Moto 360′s round watch faces, update your wellness profile, or view the last known location of the connected device (in this case, our Moto 360). The app actually works for a variety of Motorola’s Bluetooth connected devices like the Power Pack Micro and we’re guessing the Moto Hint will soon be added as well.

Although the app is now available for a variety of Android devices, the Motorola Connect PC Extension (which allows you to send receive/send SMS from your computer) is still a Moto-only affair.

The Moto 360′s Heart Activity app monitors your heart rate throughout the day, letting you know once you’ve hit 30 minutes of light exercise. Of course, fitness buffs likely wont bother with this and that’s fine. The app is more or less geared to couch potatoes like myself who want to live a little healthier, but need something to help track it.

Verdict

Moto 360 DSC06941

After its initial unveiling, most everyone was ready to declare the 360 the undisputed king of Android Wear based purely on design. Turns out, there’s more to a device that just its looks. By now you know the the Moto 360 isn’t the “perfect smartwatch” and as a first generation device, we never really expected it to be.

Thankfully, reports of dismal battery life weren’t as terrible as some made it out to be, the the Moto 360 has proven it has the chops to be a successful contender in the smartwatch device segment. Now we have round watch faced competition from LG and Samsung looming around the corner, there’s no question Motorola’s window of opportunity is closing fast.

There’s all these other little things that make up a pleasant experience in consumers devices, hardware features you don’t really think about at first. The convenience of wireless charging, a simple power button — sure the Moto 360 has its share of short comings, but in life and tech you always make a trade off. The Moto 360 is no different, but whether it was for the better or worse is ultimately up to you to decide.

The Moto 360 nails it in the looks and comfort department, while offering premium build materials and hardware features like ambient light sensor and heart rate monitor the other guys aren’t offering. Add this to the fact it supports wireless charging — a common standard amongst Android devices — and you have all the makings of a winner.

At $250 for the leather strapped models, we can’t help but feel the Moto 360 is offered at a reasonable price. With features and a design that bests other Android Wear offerings, it’s not a bad deal. Especially when you consider the Apple Watch is retailing for $350 just for the base model in contrast to the Moto 360 which, we feel, has superior design and functionality. You can buy the Motorola Moto 360 from Best Buy, Google Play Store, or direct from Motorola.

Looking ahead

We have a feeling the mad push for Android Wear devices aren’t about to slow down, with bigger and badder smartwatches are just around the corner. Now that the Apple Watch has a general launch date, expect sequels for all these watches to arrive around then (or earlier) with more features and better internals than today’s models.

While we won’t fault anyone for passing up the current crop of wearables, tech addicts like myself have grown accustomed to the growing pains associated with first generation devices. Nobody ever said living on the bleeding edge of tech was easy, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Pros:

  • Looks and feels great
  • Wireless charging
  • Auto dim display
  • Power button
  • Leather out of the box

Cons:

  • Small battery
  • Underpowered, non-energy efficient processor
  • There’s an ambient mode, but you don’t wanna use it
  • Most expensive Android Wear smartwatch

Final Score: 4 out of 5

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Moto G (2nd gen) Review http://phandroid.com/2014/09/16/moto-g-2014-review/ http://phandroid.com/2014/09/16/moto-g-2014-review/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 18:35:38 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=148920 moto-g-front-hero

The Moto G is a rare beast: a budget-priced phone from one of the most respected players in the mobile industry. Motorola doesn’t just stamp their name on any old handset, and it’s more apparent than ever with the 2014 refresh to the company’s best selling smartphone of all time. While the Moto G makes some sacrifices to reach its $179 retail price, it more than makes up for them with its combination of pure Android and attractive design.

Build & Design

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Little has changed year-over-year in the design of the Moto G. At a glance, it features the same rounded edges and curved back that imbue the handset with a subtle classiness you might expect from a phone twice its price. The design language is borrowed from the Moto X (both the 2013 and 2014 iterations), though the build differs. Where the second generation Moto X introduces aluminum construction and accents, the Moto G retains its plastic frame. Still, the phone feels solid in a way that we’ve come to expect from Motorola device, regardless of the materials used.

The Moto G has increased in size and weight ever so slightly. The phone is a hair over 4mm wider at 70.7mm and grows by 11mm in height to 141.5mm. Weight sees a barely noticeable increase from 143g to 149g. What hasn’t changed is the handset’s thickness, which remains 6.0mm at its thinnest edge increasing to 11mm at the peak of its curved back.

That curve, by the way, serves a dual purpose. It not only give Moto some flashier thickness figures to throw around, but it also creates an inviting feeling to the hand. It adds an ergonomic shape that keeps the Moto G from feeling big or unwieldy. Bezel snobs will also be happy to know that Motorola has once again done their best to increase the overall screen-to-body-size ratio.

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Buyers are given two finish options when buying the Moto G (white or black), but Motorola has extended a touch of the personalization available for their pricier Moto X to its cheaper counterpart. This includes a replaceable back that can be swapped out for a variety of colored Motorola Shells. New to the 2014 edition are Motorola Flip Shells, which provide a folio-style screen cover for added protection.

moto-g-flip

Display

As for that screen? The Moto G’s display has increased in size — quite literally the biggest change from first generation devices — but not resolution. The result is a display with a lower pixel density but more real estate for enjoying apps, games, movies, and more. At 5 inches (half an inch larger than the previous models’s 4.5-inch display) and 1280×720 pixels, the Moto G lacks the flashy resolution other devices of a similar size employ, but it’s hard to argue with what you get for the price (a recurring theme when reviewing the handset).

moto-g-display

While top-tier Android devices move into the realm of Quad HD, let’s not forget that the Moto G’s resolution is on par with that of Apple’s iPhone 6, a phone with a top-of-the-line price and marketed as such. 720p might seem like old hat for Android users. It might even seem like a cop out. It still looks sharp and clear, however, and leaves little room for complaint.

Hardware

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As a low-priced handset aiming for a premium experience, the Moto G’s hardware is a bit of a mixed bag. Whereas Motorola went bigger with the display, the Snapdragon 400 processor within the handset remains identical to the previous generation. This is almost unheard of in the world of Android devices where we might at least expect a bump in clock speed or other performance factors. Instead we see the same 1.2GHz quad-core processor and Adreno 305 GPU as last year.

That’s not necessarily a knock on performance. The Snapdragon 400 gets the job done efficiently and effectively (a stock build of Android 4.4 helps), but as the latest handsets move toward Snapdragon 801 and 805 platforms, it would seem logical to at least see a jump to Snapdragon 600. We digress, though.

Motorola instead chose to focus on feature-focused hardware updates for the Moto G, the big two being the addition of front-facing stereo speakers and a MicroSD card slot. The latter allows users to expand on the 8GB or 16GB of internal storage the Moto G carries with up to an additional 32GB of removable storage.

Some potential buyers will be disappointed to learn that Motorola did not introduce an LTE-ready Moto G out of the gate, nor is the phone compatible with CDMA networks like Verizon and Sprint. With the original Moto G, Motorola eventually released versions of the device that addressed both of these shortcomings. We might expect them to do the same here.

As is, the handset is outfitted with GSM radios capable of HSPA+ speeds on AT&T and T-Mobile’s network. Globally, a dual SIM version of the device is compatible with a broad range of GSM networks and service providers.

Software

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One aspect of the Moto G Android enthusiasts are sure to find appealing is the decision to go with a “pure” infall of Google’s KitKat operating system. Officially Android 4.4.4 out of the box, the Moto G benefits from the same software capabilities available to owners of higher-end Nexus and Google Play Edition handsets.

Motorola has included a few helpful software benefits, however, for Moto G users. These include Motorola Migrate, a service that makes transitioning from anything from a feature phone to an iPhone extremely easy. Just a few taps will transfer contacts, photos, and other stored data. Motorola Assist puts a filter on incoming calls and alerts when you are sleeping or in an important meeting. Motorola Alert helps notify friends and family of your whereabouts, whether you are arranging a meet up or experiencing an emergency.

One awesome feature we don’t see enough in smartphones is the inclusion of FM radio software (to go along with a built-in FM tuner). Using wired headphones as an antenna, the Moto G can pick up and playback local FM feeds without the need for a WiFi or cellular connection. A little more old school than Spotify, but nifty nonetheless.

moto-g-assist

Another software/hardware combination feature that comes in handy is Trusted Devices, which allows the Moto G to operate without password protection provided it is in range of a “trusted” Bluetooth device. This could be a headset, a computer, or even a Bluetooth speaker. When the Moto G is paired to the device, waking the phone skips the lock screen and gets you right into the action.

Beyond these additions, the Moto G has access to Google services like Gmail, Maps, Hangouts, Chrome, and more. With a stock Android implementation, there is no confusion between these apps and competing services that manufacturers and carriers typically include. It also enables the handset to take full advantage of Google Now’s predictive info cards and helpful voice actions.

While on the subject of stock Android, Motorola is guaranteeing at least one version upgrade beyond what comes installed on the phone. This means when Google has Android L ready to ship, Moto G owners will be on the short list to receive it. And while they are only promising one update, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Motorola support the phone for at least a few more.  It really doesn’t get much better than what Motorola is doing here.

Camera

moto-g-camera

The Moto G sees an improved 8MP camera as part of its updates as well as the introduction of a few software features (and one more hardware goody). The camera itself has improved with an f2.0 aperture and also includes LED flash and 4X digital zoom. Shooting modes include slow motion video, burst shot, HDR, and panorama.

moto-g-photo-sample-2 moto-g-photo-sample-1 moto-g-photo-sample-4 moto-g-photo-sample-5

Users have options when it comes to actually capturing a photo. By default, tapping the screen will focus the image on the area of interest. A flip of a setting enables One-Tap Capture, which will focus and snap a shot at the touch of a finger. The Moto G can also take advantage of a hardware shutter button (a secondary function of the phone’s volume rocker).

Image quality is solid, and 720p video is smooth. We’ve seen better on other smartphones, but the full package is impressive for a device of this class.

Battery

Motorola promises “all day battery life” for the Moto G, and the phone’s 2070mAh battery certainly has the qualifications on paper. This is where a sub-1080p display, Snapdragon 400 processor, and a lack of LTE come in handy, as their power draw is theoretically reduced.

The battery itself is the same size as the power cell of the first generation handset, and it did well enough in our testing. It is reasonable to expect the phone to get similar performance in this spec compared to last year’s model, but mileage will vary by usage. “All day battery life” really depends on how you define “all day.” A single charge will certainly get you from sun up to sun down, but cracking the 24-hour mark might be a rare occurrence.

The Bottom Line

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It would be easy to recommend the Moto G as the phone to buy for those on a budget. Saying that, however, sells the handset a little short. The Moto G is a perfectly respectable phone to buy for almost anyone who was already planning on spending $200 up front for a phone with a required two-year contract. In fact, at $180 said shopper will save money and be free of any sort of carrier obligations or restrictions on when he or she can upgrade their phone.

The Moto G most certainly is not a phone designed for folks seeking a powerhouse along the lines of the Galaxy S5 or LG G3, but for users who can avoid falling prey to the hype of octa-core processors and Quad HD displays, it does everything you need and more. The decision to stick with a stock install of Android 4.4 adds even more appeal to the Moto G, making it a great choice for fans of the pure “Google Experience.”

Wrap the solid specs and powerful software in a quality build that not only looks great but offers room for personalization via its replaceable back cover and the Moto G is even harder to deny. Did we mention all of this comes at a price of only $180?

The Good

  • Stock Android 4.4 with guaranteed upgrade
  • Solid, attractive build with customizable back
  • $179 off-contract

The Bad

  • No LTE version or CDMA support
  • No upgrade from first generation’s Snapdragon 400 SoC

The Bottom Line: 4/5

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Battery life test: Moto 360 vs LG G Watch http://phandroid.com/2014/09/11/motorola-moto-360-vs-lg-g-watch-battery-test/ http://phandroid.com/2014/09/11/motorola-moto-360-vs-lg-g-watch-battery-test/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 23:40:38 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=148968 Moto 360 vs LG G Watch DSC06818

Although beauty is often said to lay in the eye of the beholder, there’s no denying the raw sex appeal of the Motorola Moto 360. Motorola did a great job at making their first Android Wear entry as svelte as possible. In fact, according to your own votes, many of you find the 360 the best looking smartwatch to date, even when compared against upcoming wearables like the Apple Watch or ASUS ZenWatch.

When the Moto 360 launched late last week, many of you were ready to throw your money at the screen as soon as stock became available. But early reports of less than stellar battery life may have tarnished the smartwatch’s desirability for some of you (our own Joe Fedewa can attest to this). Thanks to an all around smaller 320mAh battery, we didn’t expect the Moto 360 to last quite as long as rival offerings from LG or Samsung, both of which feature larger 400mAh batteries. We knew this going in. But because of the 360′s unique ambient light sensor which allows the watch to automatically control the brightness of the display according to its surroundings, we were willing to give the 360 the benefit of the doubt.

Of course, we wanted to settle this once and for all and after putting the device through our own 2-day battery life test, we’re now ready to share those results with all of you. For some, the results may be surprising and for others, some relief.

How we performed our tests

Before we start let’s cover a little background information on exactly how we performed our test. For the first day, we connected our Moto 360 to our Moto X (2nd Gen), while the LG G Watch was connected to our HTC One M8. Both handsets are running the same apps and since both have active cellular service, push the same amount of notifications to their connected watches. Both devices were running the same 4.4W firmware on day 1, then updated to 4.4W.1 on day 2.

Since this was more or less an endurance test, we didn’t perform any voice searches or interact with the watches much more than viewing notifications and checking the time every so often. Since both watches were attached to the same arm, both would activate their displays simultaneously when viewing the time or peeking at notifications To keep everything fair, on the second day, we simply swapped the connected devices and started over. This, we hope, helped keep things fair and the margin of error to a minimum.

Here’s what we found:

Results

As you can see, concerns with the Moto 360 not lasting a full day are, for the most part (at least in our test) completely unwarranted. The watch has consistently taken us through an entire work day (8 hours), with more than a little juice left over when we laid our heads to sleep at night (17 hours). Since there was plenty of juice left in both devices, both tests saw each watch left unplugged overnight. Although essentially in standby mode with no movement, they continued to receive notifications throughout the night.

We will note that despite their low power state, the Moto 360 saw the same discharge rate as during the day, a full 20% decrease over 9 hours. The LG G Watch? Barely 11%. Upon seeing this, we have strong suspicions the dramatic difference in battery life between the two devices has more to do with the processors employed in each than actual battery capacity.

As a refresher, the LG G Watch uses a newer Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor manufactured using a low power 28nm process. We’re not sure exactly why, but for whatever reason Motorola sought fit to go with a single-core TI OMAP 3 processor — similar to the one used in 2010′s Motorola DROID X — using a far more power hungry 45 nm process.

So, what of those reports of “10-hour battery life?” We will note that although ambient display mode — which keeps the display always powered on and dimly lit — taxes the battery on both devices, the Moto 360 saw an incredibly huge dip to about 10 hours of battery life when active (the G Watch, not nearly as much). It’s a good thing Motorola keeps ambient display mode turned off out of the box — different from the LG G Watch or Samsung Gear Live where ambient mode is on by default — and if you have a Moto 360, you’re going to want to keep it off. Always.

Conclusion

Moto 360 wireless charging DSC06797

Nobody wants to have to charge yet another device every night, but with a solid average of 20+ hours of battery life, you shouldn’t be all too concerned with charging the device at any point during waking hours (only while you sleep). In the event you should forget to charge your watch before bed, the good news is that because of the teensy, tiny little batteries in these smartwatches, charging the Moto 360 is super quick. It’s possible to have a fully charged watch in less than an hour and you can do that during your morning rituals.

All-in-all, we’d still consider the Moto 360 the absolute bare minimum of smartwatch battery life. Keep in mind that as Android Wear progresses and more features are rolled into the OS, there’s a pretty good chance battery life could be further impacted by future updates. Google already said music streaming over Bluetooth was coming in the near future, along with custom watch faces and more. But in its current state, the Moto 360 will do you just fine and looks great too.

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Everything you need to know about the Moto G (2nd Gen) http://phandroid.com/2014/09/10/about-moto-g-2014/ http://phandroid.com/2014/09/10/about-moto-g-2014/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 18:03:39 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=148539 moto-g-white-front

The Moto G might not be the flashiest new device unveiled by Motorola last week, but it holds an important place in the company’s product line. Priced to sell, the Moto G offers something almost no other Android phone can: solid hardware from a trusted manufacturer for below $200 off-contract. Along with the Moto X, Motorola has updated the Moto G for 2014. Here’s everything you need to know.

What’s new?

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Motorola has updated their Moto G for 2014 in several ways, but the most obvious is a larger screen. Whereas the first generation Moto G has a display measuring 4.5 inches, the latest model sports a 5-inch 720p screen. Naturally, the increase in display size makes for a slightly larger handset with a bit more heft to it. Many other aspects of the phone have remained the same, including an identical Snapdragon 400 SoC and Adreno 305 graphics as well as 2070mAh battery. One spec that did see a bump was the Moto G’s camera, which increased from 5MP to 8MP.

What hasn’t changed, however, is the price. Buyers can still grab the Moto G for the appealing off-contract price of $179.99. We repeat: this is the price of the phone outright without the aid of carrier subsidies or other discounts.

Specs

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We’ve already briefly discussed the updated specs of the Moto G above. Below, find a complete rundown of the low-cost handsets technical details.

  • Android 4.4.4 (KitKat)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 1.2 GHz quad-core CPU, Adreno 305 450MHz GPU
  • 1GB RAM
  • 8GB & 16GB versions
  • Supports up to 32GB microSD
  • Dimensions: Height: 141.5mm Width: 70.7mm
  • Weight: 149 grams
  • 5.0” 720p IPS HD display at 720×1280 (294 ppi)
  • Gorilla Glass 3
  • 2070 mAh battery (mixed usage up to 24 hours)
  • Rear Camera: 8 MP (4:3) 6 MP (16:9) (LED flash, 4x digital zoom, HDR, panorama, burst mode, slow motion)
  • Front Camera: 2 MP + 720p HD video
  • Water repellency
  • Micro USB, 3.5mm headset jack
  • FM Radio
  • Dual SIM with Intelligent Calling

Moto G carrier compatibility

The Moto G is currently available in two variants, a global GSM model and a US GSM model. The latter is compatible with both AT&T and T-Mobile’s GSM and HSPA+ networks, though all variants of the phone lacks support for LTE. Motorola released a 4G LTE version of the original Moto G several months after the device initially launched. The company did not comment on potential availability of an LTE-ready version of the 2014 Moto G.

Likewise, Motorola did not announce a CDMA-compatible version of the second generation Moto G, so Sprint and Verizon customers are out of luck for the time being.

US GSM Model:

  • GSM/GPRS/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
  • UMTS/HSPA+ (850, 1700 (AWS), 1900 MHz)

Global GSM Model:

  • GSM/GPRS/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
  • UMTS/HSPA+ (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz)

Unboxing, Hands-on, & more

We’ve already had our chance to check out the new Moto G firsthand, and we came away impressed with what Motorola was able to accomplish for the price. See our initial hands-on and unboxing videos below. We were able to get a decent feel for the handset, and Moto has gone above and beyond what we saw with the first generation. We’ll have a full review in the coming days; stay tuned.


Motorola Shells & Accessories

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Unlike the Moto X, the Moto G is not privy to the straight-from-the-factory customization options available by way of Moto Maker. Like the last generation of Moto G handsets, however, Motorola is making available a variety of interchangeable back covers, including new folio covers that feature added screen protection. These backs start at $14.95 for the standard colored shell while the flip shell model sells for $29.99.

Availability

The Moto G is available now for $179.99 off-contract. It can be purchased direct from Motorola’s site. We might expect Motorola to launch both CDMA-compatible and 4G LTE-ready versions of the handset somewhere down the road. It took a few months for these secondary editions of the first generation Moto G to launch, and we have no reason to believe the same won’t be true in this case.

Will you buy the Moto G 2014?

Moto G_Hero Lifestyle Shot

The Moto G has quietly become Motorola’s top-selling smartphone of all time thanks in no small part to its ridiculously affordable pricing and global-ready carrier compatibility. The Moto G launched alongside the Moto 360 smartwatch on Friday, September 5th, but didn’t receive quite the same attention. While the Moto 360 quickly went on backorder, the Moto G is ready for the taking. With solid specs and a tempting price tag, is this your next Android phone?

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