We are in New York for the Moto X launch and Motorola has demonstrated its Moto X smartphone to us, and we can finally put an end to speculations and bring facts and specific details to the most important Motorola launch to date. Moto X is compact (4.7”) smartphone that has been built to push the user experience forward, not to compete in terms of pure specifications.
Moto X Specifications
Talking about specifications, let’s satisfy your curiosity and then we’ll move on to the experience part that we just mentioned. Here they are:
Display: 4.7-inch OLED 1280×720 (720p), 316 PPI
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro, and a “contextual computing” processor
OS: Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean
Internal storage: 16GB (11GB available to the user) or 32GB
Misc storage: 50 GB Google Drive for free
Camera: 10 Megapixel (back), 2MP 1080p video (front)
Battery capacity: 2200 mAh;
microSD slot: No
WiFi: A/B/G/N/AC (dual-band)
Bluetooth: 4.0 + EDR
Colors: Black & White, with 18 different rear colors, seven key colors and custom “sign” designs
Carrier support: all 5 major U.S carriers
Size, weight: 65.3 x 129.3 x 5.6-10.4mm, 130g
Availability: late August/early September
Price: $199 for the 16GB version and $249.99 for the 32GB version (with a contract)
As you can see, this is very decent, but not really competing with the most recently released phones that feature a Snapdragon 600, and we know that Snapdragon 800 will start appearing next week with LG. The 720p resolution and with a 316PPI are definitely good enough and that will make sure that game performance will remain pretty good since there are less pixels to render than on 1080p phones.
The battery capacity of 2200 mAh ensures that battery life will be good, and we know this because other designs that rely on the Snapdragon S4 pro and a similarly sized battery turned out to work just fine.
Unfortunately, there is no microSD slot, so if you want more storage, you may want to get the 32GB version. Granted this is $50 more expensive, but an SD card and shipping can set you back by $15 to $35 anyway, depending on what you buy. If you really need a microSD slot, the good news is that there a many other options on the market, even if none of them is really like the Moto X
Moto X: Industrial Design
The first contact with the phone is truly about how it looks and feel, and Motorola made sure to make the Moto X unique. It is compact and light with a gentle curve in the back that is designed to prove a comfortable grip. The back also has a texture that will help prevent the phone from slipping out of your hand to meet its demise on a concrete floor. Interestingly, the Motorola Logo is in a “dimple” that looks really cool.
Motorola doesn’t present the Moto X as a “rugged” phone, but the handset does offer some water-protection against splashes and other things that life may throw at it. Given that most smartphones die from water-exposure, we’ll take any protection we can.
On the side, you can find the usual buttons (power, volume) and at the top, there is a 3.5mm audio jack connector. Nothing unusual on that front. It’s clean and simple.
Now, the crunchy part of the design is that it is highly customizable: Motorola has setup the manufacturing of the Moto X so that users can choose between thousands of possible combination of back color/texture, accents and other attributes to make Moto X their own. We were impressed to learn that Moto X is actually assembled in the U.S, in Texas to be more precise. Custom phones can be ordered online and will be shipped within four days.
Moto X Software
Moto X runs on Android 4.2.2 and on the surface it looks very much like the recently introduced Motorola/Verizon Droid phones. Motorola has brought the same software improvements, which include:
With the recent Droid release and now the Moto X, Motorola wants to push voice control to the next level. Using Google Now as a framework, Motorola has added a contextual processor to enable Moto X to be always waiting for a command. That piece of hardware allows Moto X to do so while using minimal power. The voice control is activated by the “OK Google Now” command, and this is better than 1/ turning the phone on 2/launching Google Now 3/Speak to the phone. If you use a Bluetooth headset, it should even work when Moto X is in your pocket.
Quick capture (camera app)
With quick capture, users can launch the camera app with a simple wrist motion. The goal is to have the phone ready to capture a photo within two seconds, starting when the user picks up the phone. Since mobile photography is the second most frequent activity on a smartphone, there is certainly wisdom in this choice.
This feature uses the phone’s sensors to know when the handset has been picked up and will automatically use a small portion of the display to show the time and the latest notification. Because most people check the time dozens of time a day, this should reduce the friction induced by 1/ finding the power button 2/turning the handset on, then off – just to see what time it is. Yet, millions of people do exactly that today.
Pure Android “look and feel”
Although this is not a “pure” Android handset, the user interface has the same look and feel than stock Android. I can’t agree more with this decision since custom icon design brings nearly zero value and lots of potential confusion. Motorola has made the right choice. This will also let their team focus on the user experience instead of working on low-value UI customizations. Others should follow Moto in this direction.
The Moto X is a mass-market smartphone that aims to improve the real-world actions that users perform: keeping an eye on time and notifications, searching for information, directions, placing calls, taking photos.
Motorola wants every one of those high-frequency actions to run faster, smoother, easier. It’s a noble goal and we’ll get back to you to see how this really work in the real world. Later on, we will post a full-review of the device when we will have spent some quality time with it.
What do you think of the Moto X? Is Motorola right to focus on real-world problems, rather than pure performance and specifications?