Moto X assessment (2014): from additionally-ran to superb in a single yr
I will be trustworthy with you: When the first Moto X got here out final yr, some early apprehension quickly gave strategy to unwavering fondness. It wasn’t due to the sheer horsepower (there wasn’t a lot of it) or a stunner of a display (it was high quality, at greatest). No, it was as a result of the Moto X smacked of pluck. You might customise it to hell and again. It tried to enhance on inventory Android with software program options that have been truly fairly helpful. And the icing on the cake? It was a pure pleasure to carry. Motorola — an organization that principally bounce-began the premium Android telephone motion with the Droid earlier than getting misplaced in an countless loop of modest annual upgrades — appeared to have a pulse once more. So right here we’re, one yr later, and the X has lastly gotten an improve to match the remainder of the cellular huge boys. Is it sufficient to make the brand new X a winner? Is Motorola actually again? Learn on, pricey pals, and we’ll see.
Moto X (2014)
- Runs close to-inventory Android
- Motorola’s further options are sensible and helpful
- Snappy efficiency
- Considerate, snug design
- A lot of customization choices
- Cameras are common at greatest and irritating at worst
- Unremarkable battery life
- Some service bloatware
The 2014 Moto X is a large step ahead from final yr’s mannequin, and it is lastly outfitted to compete with a sea of robust rivals. With a powerful (to not point out customizable) design and a few considerate software program options, that is the flagship telephone that Motorola ought to have made within the first place.
I generally tend to opine at size about industrial design, so this is the TL;DR in the event you’d slightly transfer on together with your day: The brand new Moto X feels a thousand occasions higher than final yr’s mannequin, and is definitely probably the most snug telephone present-gen smartphone I’ve picked up but. So far as I am involved, the earlier proprietor of that title was HTC’s One M8, however there are a number of elements in play that make the X much more nice to grip.
Initially, Motorola’s curvaceous design language is again — the Moto X’s backplate swoops a bit extra dramatically than its ancestor due to the larger 5.2-inch, 1080p AMOLED display up entrance, and the top result’s a telephone that feels remarkably pure within the hand regardless of its measurement. It is thinner than you may assume, too. Critically, the thickest a part of the hump (close to the headphone jack, the thirteen-megapixel digital camera/twin-LED flash combo and the trademark Motorola dimple) is available in at slightly below 10mm thick, however the case tapers right down to create some startlingly skinny edges — assume three.8mm. It is a hair shorter and a hair wider than the M8, which suggests it fills my admittedly meaty arms higher, although your mileage will, in fact, range there.
Whereas we’re speaking about hand-really feel, Motorola ditched the all-plastic trim from the unique X in favor of an aluminum band (which additionally acts because the antenna) that runs across the edges of the telephone. You would not assume that so little metallic would have such an influence on what it is like to carry the telephone, however it does — it imparts the X with a denser, extra premium really feel, and mixed with the load of the display, it means you’ve got obtained a telephone that is reliably hefty, however not heavy, per se. The sheet of Corning Gorilla Glass three defending the show is curved on the edges too, and whereas which will appear to be a minor design choice, it helps the X really feel prefer it’s been seamlessly put collectively. There have been occasions once I’ve had the X in my pocket and I might discover myself absently fingering these clean edges. It is the little issues that matter, people.
Our evaluation unit pairs a white face with a bamboo rear cowl, and the remainder of the telephone’s design is an train in subtlety — its face is devoid of additional thrives apart from the 2MP entrance-dealing with digital camera and the 4 IR sensors dotting it (they’re nigh-invisible on the black model). You will discover the sleep/wake button and quantity rocker on the suitable whereas the micro-USB port is centered on the telephone’s backside edge. Like a slew of different flagships, the Moto X consists of Qualcomm’s QuickCharge 2.zero tech and Motorola says its forthcoming Turbo Charger will get you eight hours of further battery life on a 15-minute cost. Feeling impatient? There are a handful of chargers that ought to do the trick proper now. The factor to recollect is that it is a Moto X — it’s going to solely ever be as delicate as you need it to be. Hate white? Assume wooden sucks? You are in luck: Moto Maker is simply as strong as ever, so you’ve got received no scarcity of shade and end choices (together with Chicago-sourced leather-based, for you exceedingly fancy varieties) with which you’ll be able to cobble collectively a Frankenphone of your very personal.
After which there’s the stuff you possibly can’t see in any respect, specifically the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chipset tucked away in that curved chassis. We’ll dig into the horsepower somewhat later — simply know that because of the quad-core 2.5GHz processor, 2GB of RAM and the Adreno 330 GPU, the brand new Moto X will simply deal with every thing you throw at it. You’ll snag both a 16GB or a 32GB mannequin later this month, however you must in all probability splurge on the latter since there’s nonetheless no microSD card slot (sigh). Motorola additionally noticed match to trick the factor out with a non-detachable 2,300mAh battery, which has been sufficient to get me by way of a minimum of a full day (extra on that later).Show and sound
After being caught with a 720p show on final yr’s X, I wasn’t too hopeful that Motorola was able to wowing this time round. I used to be fallacious: The brand new and improved X’s 5.2-inch AMOLED is likely one of the nicest smartphone screens I’ve seen shortly. Deep blacks and crisp whites? Examine. Vivid colours that do not skew towards the attention-melting finish of the spectrum? Double verify. Extra-than-enough display brightness for outside use? You realize the place I am going with this. Even the viewing angles are wonderful — I used to be capable of glean most of what was happening in Paprika with my face almost perpendicular to the display. My solely actual grievance (and it is a fairly minor one) is that the glass masking the display refracts mild once you maintain it at sure angles, so you need to re-orient the telephone to keep away from that funky rainbow impact.
Most telephone makers do not spend almost as a lot time agonizing over audio system as they do screens, however Motorola did surprisingly nicely right here too. The X sports activities only one speaker that lives up entrance proper beneath the show, and it is a lot crisper and louder than I anticipated. Who is aware of? That could be a aspect impact of being dissatisfied by telephone audio system for therefore lengthy. And whereas we’re undoubtedly not reaching BoomSound high quality, I additionally not often felt I used to be lacking out on something. Nonetheless, it type of smarts that Motorola snuck not one, however two audio system onto the face of the new (and cheaper) Moto G. Positive, compromises need to be made if you’re making an attempt to determine how one can squeeze plenty of elements right into a tiny, curvy shell, however this is hoping Motorola cracks the code in time for the subsequent-gen mannequin.Software program
Android purists might actually go both approach on the Moto X: On one hand, it runs an virtually utterly inventory construct of Android four.four.four KitKat, which suggests it is devoid of any obnoxious overlays or gaudy third-celebration widgets. It’s extremely near Android the best way Google meant it. However, simply wait till you see what occurs when carriers get ahold of this factor. Our demo mannequin is tied to AT&T and so there’s the standard spate of bloatware apps — 12 to be exact, from the mildly helpful (Ready2Go service is not dangerous for first-time smartphone customers) to the really pointless (does anybody actually use AT&T Navigator or Yellow Pages?). Fortunately, when you cannot uninstall most of them, you possibly can a minimum of disable them. AT&T is definitely recognized for having a lighter contact in terms of service customizations, so I am awfully curious (and somewhat apprehensive) to see what the X appears like if/when carriers like Verizon and Dash sink their claws into it.
In equity, these service-mandated apps aren’t the one issues which were added to an in any other case pristine Android gadget. Motorola carried over the contextual smarts (each within the type of apps and a bit of specialised hardware) that made the unique Moto X so nice regardless of its shortcomings, albeit with a little bit of rebranding. The primary noteworthy trick — Moto Show — allows you to see your notifications at a look, and bounce straight into the associated app by swiping an icon on the darkish lockscreen. The nifty half is what is going on on with the show itself: Because it’s an AMOLED display, the X can hearth up solely the pixels that comprise the time and notification icons so it isn’t burning battery life each time you wave at it.
Moto Actions is second, and it includes that small constellation of IR sensors on the X’s face. A fast wave of the hand over the display (the vary appears to prime out at about 10 inches) will silence an incoming name, or coax a sleeping display into telling you what time it’s and displaying your notifications. I nonetheless want I might unlock the factor by waving my hand in entrance of it, Jedi-thoughts-trick-fashion, however alas. Always gesturing at your telephone could seem a bit of obtuse (to not point out humorous wanting), however it is not lengthy earlier than it turns into second nature.
Let’s be actual, although: The star of the present is the X’s capability to quietly pay attention in your voice instructions, even when the display is off. It was that you simply needed to utter, “OK, Google,” to get your telephone to concentrate, however now you possibly can outline your personal command phrase. I am a fan of maintaining issues informal, so after a little bit of trial and error (you will be nagged through the setup course of in case your magic phrases do not have sufficient syllables). I settled on the jocular “Hey Moto, you there?” From there, you’ll be able to ask the Moto X to set alarms for you, arrange reminders and publish inane statuses to Fb or WhatsApp, along with looking Google together with your voice.
Should you’ve performed with Google Now earlier than, you understand what kind of accuracy to anticipate (it is fairly good), however my favourite use for Moto Voice is pretty mundane. You see, within the week that I have been testing the X, I’ve used my voice immediate almost a dozen occasions simply to assist me discover the telephone when it is nestled deep in a bag, or hiding beneath a pile of garments. Lo and behold, the display virtually all the time sprung to life and an audio cue helped me work out the place it was. There have been a handful of events when background noise obscured my voice or I wasn’t emphasizing the fitting phrases, however the X heeded my instructions on the primary attempt about ninety % of the time. Not a nasty hit fee, all issues thought-about.
Every function by itself is neat sufficient, however when mixed, they assist make the Moto X really feel like greater than only a lump of metallic and silicon sitting in your desk. On the danger of anthropomorphizing a gadget, calling out for the Moto X and seeing it deal with my duties typically made it appear to be an trustworthy-to-goodness assistant… and never one I’ve to carry down a button to talk with. Sorry, Siri.Digital camera
Up to now, Motorola has a executed a advantageous job of fixing what it did not nail with the unique Moto X, however the digital camera expertise on this yr’s mannequin nonetheless is not as persistently good as I might hoped. The brand new X hosts a thirteen-megapixel digital camera (up from the ten-megapixel ClearPixel sensor we acquired final yr) surrounded by a twin-LED ring flash, and when the solar’s out otherwise you’re in a properly lit room, your photographs’ll function punchy colours and loads of element — particularly for those who’ve received HDR mode on. Anticipate to see fairly a little bit of grain in all however one of the best-lit circumstances, although, and ready for the digital camera to focus correctly might be an train in frustration typically. I’ve discovered it is best to allow the guide focus and publicity controls so you’ll be able to simply take issues into your personal palms. Within the occasion that you have to hearth up the flash to throw round some extra photons, you will discover that the ring across the LEDs smooths out the in any other case harsh mild, nevertheless it is not staggeringly higher than different flashes I’ve seen on trendy smartphones.
On the plus aspect, movies shot in 1080p are usually colourful and nicely-uncovered, and the X allows you to shoot in 4K (although you will have to dump the information onto one thing with a suitable show to get the complete impact). The uber-easy digital camera interface continues to be a pleasure to putz round with, too. As an alternative of giving the digital camera app a discrete shutter button, you possibly can faucet anyplace on the display to snap a photograph (which could be a little odd when you’re used to interfaces the place you faucet to focus). Holding your finger down on the display kicks off burst mode, taking photographs at a machine gun tempo till you launch your maintain on the display. You possibly can dig into HDR, flash, Fast Seize, sluggish-movement video and panorama settings from a menu that slides out from the left aspect of the display, however anybody in search of actually in depth digital camera controls may get annoyed by the app’s lack of depth.
Fan as I’m of the occasional selfie, the X’s entrance-dealing with digital camera is very disappointing. It isn’t a lot the standard of the photographs it captured that bothered me — although they’re usually filled with noise and never value writing residence about. What actually killed me was the latency between shifting the telephone to border a shot and seeing that motion mirrored on the display; the digital camera all the time feels prefer it’s a half-step behind the place it ought to be, and the quantity of blur that comes into play when you’re angling the telephone round is absolutely obnoxious.Efficiency and battery life
Final yr’s Moto X may’ve been Motorola’s flagship, however it lacked the sheer oomph lots of its rivals did because of its curious chipset (a twin-core Snapdragon S4 Professional plus some further contextual modules, keep in mind?). That is not the case this time. When it comes to uncooked efficiency, there is not an ideal distinction between the Moto X and most different prime-tier smartphones. That basically should not be a shock: In any case, the Moto X shares the excessive-finish Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chipset as heavyweights just like the Galaxy S5 and the One M8.
You’ll be able to peep our benchmark checks under for those who’re the numerical type, however what this all boils right down to is that the brand new Moto X merely screams. There’s little or no you are able to do to stymie these formidable guts (although all of the silicon on the planet won’t be sufficient to make Fb for Android really feel clean). Swiping via net pages is fluid, as is making an attempt to take these tough corners in Asphalt eight, and apps launch in a jiffy. The purpose is, do not fret: The Moto X will not depart you wanting for horsepower.
Energy is peachy, however we’re left with one other query: How lengthy can we use it earlier than the X runs dry? In our commonplace video-rundown check (looping video with WiFi on, however not related), the subsequent-gen X lasted for a strong 10 hours and 34 minutes earlier than it gave up the ghost. That is just a few minutes longer than what we squeezed out of the Galaxy S5, however alas — it nonetheless falls about an hour in need of the quantity the HTC One M8 put up underneath the identical circumstances. Likelihood is your days might be just a bit extra concerned than that, and Motorola managed to maintain its phrase with regard to an all-day battery — the X caught with me for simply over a day of on-and-off net searching, texting, Kindle studying, YouTube watching, Rdio streaming and Google Maps navigating. Oh, and this is one other tidbit to remember: Battery efficiency for some unique Moto Xs tanked over time, so we’ll maintain our eyes peeled for any lengthy-time period modifications.The competitors
When you’ve made it this far, you’ve got already found that the Moto X compares fairly favorably to premium telephones just like the One M8 and the Galaxy S5. Each of these units value $200 on-contract, and the 32GB Moto X in all probability will too (Motorola hasn’t formally confirmed the worth but). There’s actually no fallacious selection among the many three, however their strengths are scattered. You are higher off with the One M8 when you’re a stickler for metallic our bodies and music — these BoomSound audio system are one of the best available on the market. Eager on snapping loads of pictures? In case you want the most effective digital camera of the bunch and do not thoughts some gimmicky software program, the GS5 is your pal. And if a shocking display is your overriding concern, there’s all the time LG’s G3 to think about for a similar worth. With a lot happening on the $199 degree, why do you have to contemplate the X? Lengthy story brief: There’s hardly any cruft to sluggish it down and it pairs thoughtfully crafted hardware with a couple of key options that basically add to the Android expertise. Fan of simplicity? You will discover lots to love right here.
And hey, for those who’ve embraced the cloud and have gigabytes of empty area floating within the digital aether ready to be crammed, you may need to go for the 16GB mannequin because it’s solely $ninety nine on-contract. Oh, you hate service agreements? If all you are involved about are off-contract worth tags, pay shut consideration to the OnePlus One. It too packs an awfully comparable spec sheet, together with a a lot bigger display and a less expensive sticker worth — assume $299, in comparison with the bottom mannequin X’s $500. Good luck getting your palms on one any time quickly, although.Wrap-up
Motorola’s plan with final yr’s flagship appeared fairly clear: It set it to construct a better sort of smartphone. The corporate principally succeeded, however the method simply did not make sense for individuals who needed probably the most oomph for his or her buck. One yr later and it is obvious Motorola has discovered from its errors. This yr’s Moto X nonetheless is not good — the digital camera is sometimes simply irritating, and its battery life is only common in comparison with its rivals — however it’s the closest that Motorola has are available a really very long time. Moto fanatics may lament the passing of the extra compact unique, however don’t be concerned: The brand new Moto X is the flagship Motorola ought to have made within the first place, and it is earned itself a spot within the pantheon of smartphone greats.
- Key specs
- <a href=”http://www.engadget.com/merchandise/motorola/moto/x/2nd-gen/” title=”Motorola Moto X 2nd-gen evaluations” goal=”_blank”> Critiques • thirteen </a>
- Sort Smartphone
- Working system Android (KitKat [4.4])
- Display measurement 5.2 inches
- Inner reminiscence sixteen GB
- Digital camera thirteen&#one hundred sixty;megapixels
- Dimensions 5.fifty four x 2.eighty five x zero.39 in
- Weight 5.08 oz
- Introduced 2014-09-05