Review: A hands-on test of the Moto X

Review: A hands-on test of the Moto X



Motorola decided to forgo the pixel mania that has surrounded most newer devices and released the Moto X with a full HD Display. The 4.7-inch AMOLED screen has a 720p resolution and a lower, albeit a completely acceptable, pixel density of 321 ppi. Compared to the Galaxy S4, which has a ppi of 441, it does seem a stark contrast but it is important to note that you really can’t see much of a difference past 300 ppi.

                        The Moto X at its launch in Sao Paulo.

According to Motorola, the Moto X has been specially designed to be energy efficient and you can definitely see it in its display. If you want to check the time or see notifications that you may have missed, you just need to pick up your phone or pull it out of your pocket. It responds to the motion and pulls only the important information to be displayed on the AMOLED screen, activating only the necessary pixels instead of the entire screen.


The first impression of the device is pretty deceptive: the display bezel and that back of the device look like cheap plastic at first, but actually, is of very high quality once you get your hands on the Moto X. Thanks to a rounded back, it is a very ergonomic in your hands and can be held very comfortably. The design of the user interface is very similar to that of stock Android and has very little, if any, bloatware and unnecessary apps preinstalled.


One of the key software features is the voice control on the Moto X: it’s always on and can be controlled by saying commands such as “OK Google Now.” From there, you can choose whether you want to access your contacts, perform a Google search, send a message, or activate GPS navigation (among others.)

A look at the system information on the Moto X shows that it is running Android 4.2.2. 

A service using WiFi direct has also been included by Motorola that allows data to be transferred directly to the Moto X including pictures, contacts, messages, call logs, and other things from an older smartphone, as long as you have Android 2.2 and up. As well, Motorola has thrown in Connect, a Google Chrome extension, that is similar to Air Droid for the PC in where you can control some aspects of your device, such as sending and receiving SMS messages, from your PC.


Instead of the current standard of 13 megapixels that seem to be cropping up in the latest smartphones, the Moto X sports “only” 10 megapixels on its rear camera and 2 megapixels on its front. In order to quickly fire up the camera app, a quick two flicks of the wrist with the phone in your hand will bring it up and tapping anywhere on the screen will take a photo. As such, according to Motorola, the time to get the camera app and taking a photo is reduced from a standard 8 seconds to 2 seconds with these features. In my hands-on tests of this function, it worked quite well but the autofocus isn’t always perfect and some images weren’t as sharp as I would have liked them.

                 A look into the camera interface of the Moto X. 

Hardware Specifications

During the presentation of the Moto X, a spokesperson for Motorola, Guy Kawasaki, made it clear that the development of the Moto X was centered more around the software aspects than the hardware side of things. He stressed that in the future, it would be less about how good the processor is inside a device, but rather about offering smartphones with a good and rich user experience that can be operated intuitively and comfortably.

The processor, a Snapdragon S3 dual-core with 1 .7 GHz clock speed and is not quite up to the par of similar classed devices. However, the 2 GB of RAM allows for several apps to be running simultaneously without having the system lag or stutter.

In addition to the main processor, there is another feature built in specifically to help save energy, namely an extra chip, which is only responsible for voice control. This is always running in standby and relieving the main processor from taking on this role and saving valuable battery life.

Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro, Dual-Core, 1.7 GHz, Extra-Chips for Voice Control
Interal Memory 16/32GB
Operating System Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean
Camera 10MP, Clear-Pixel-Technologie, LED Flash (Rear)

2MP (Front)

Display 4.7-inches, AMOLED, HD 720p, 321 ppi
Battery 2200 mAh
Dimensions 129.3 x 65.3 x 5.6-10.4 mm
Weight 130 g
Connectivity Bluetooth 4.0, WLAN ac, HSPA, LTE
Price  $639.99 (Off contract price)


The lightweight and smart Moto X from Motorola is aimed at customers who would be looking at otherwise a Galaxy S4 or iPhone as it is similarly priced. In North America, you’re looking at dropping around $640 US dollars on the Moto X without a contract, putting it up there in terms of price. The device is not a technical monster but shines with sophisticated and intelligent software. The user experience is unique, but it is only a question as to whether consumers are willing to pay the price associated with the Moto X.

An interesting thing to note: In the U.S., Motorola advertises heavily that the Moto X is built within the USA. On my test device, it was obviously marked on the back: “Assembled in China.”

                          Well, what is it? China or USA? 

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