Motorola is owned by Google, and you knew that sooner or later that the combination of these companies would produce a smartphone to get your attention. The Moto X provided to me by Rogers (which has an exclusive on this phone by the way) is the phone in question. Will it get your attention? Let’s find out.
From a construction standpoint, it’s thin, light, and also easy to hold. It also fits decently in your pocket as long as you don’t wear pants that are too tight. It comes in black (but it’s also available in white) and has a glossy screen with a matte back. The back hides fingerprints well as it’s built from a polycarbonate plastic that looks good. However the screen when off does not. However, when the screen is on it hides them well. Speaking of the screen, it’s a 5″ screen that’s bright and vibrant, but not quite as sharp as some of the phones that I’ve tested recently. It only displays at 720P which might explain why it isn’t as sharp. In terms of buttons, there’s a volume control and a power button on the right side.
The only thing that you can pop into the phone is the SIM card. There’s no other expandability. So the 16GB that it comes with will have to be carefully managed. It has a dual core processor running at 1.7 GHz. This makes the Moto X feel snappy. Anything I tried opened up quickly and never lagged. What really set this phone apart from every other phone I’ve tested this past week was the performance of the Moto X on the Rogers LTE network. I averaged 59 Mbps downstream and 25 Mbps upstream. That pretty much crushed any other phone I tested this year with the exception of the BlackBerry Z10 which was also on the Rogers network. Though I will admit that the Z10 was slower than the Moto X, but not that much slower. That validates why PCMag.com named Rogers the fastest wireless network in Canada. You also get the usual Bluetooth, NFC and WiFi connectivity as well.
The Moto X comes with Android 4.2.2 and Motorola hasn’t gone out of it’s way to make it overly unique in the way that many other companies like Sony and Samsung have. Though it does have one feature called Google Now which is Android’s answer to Apple’s Siri. It’s always live so you don’t need to press buttons to use it. You simply say ” OK Google Now” and then say what you want the phone to do. It only requires a short amount of time to train it and the results are pretty great even in noisy environments when it comes to voice recognition. That’s an advantage over Siri. The problem with Google Now is that it’s rather limited and inconsistent in what it can do. For example take this command:
“Directions to work”
What Siri does with this phrase is it open Apple Maps and gives me directions to work if I have a work address stored in my contact info. Google now simply Google’s the phrase. I then tried “directions to home” and it opened Google Maps and directed me to my home.
Google Now also bills itself as being a hands free.
Well, not so much.
I tried to text message my wife as a test. The way that Google Now wants you to do it this way:
- Say “OK Google Now”
- Say “text 416-555-1234″
- I had to then click the screen a couple of times to then be able to activate voice dictation.
- I could then voice dictate “I’ll be late”
- Click send
If I tried to say “text 416-555-1234, I’ll be late” it simply Googles that phrase. If I was using an iPhone 5, it would have sent a text message to that number. Now I am assuming that I haven’t mastered the method that Google Now wants me to use my voice to control the phone. Perhaps if I did, I would have achieved better results. But as it stands, I think Google Now would be likely best suited to quick text dictation and other simple tasks.
A couple of other things to mention. When you have a an email, a text, a missed call or whatever, a white alert icon blinks slowly on and off on the phone’s otherwise black screen. It does this at steady intervals, and its not so annoying that it would bug on your night stand as you sleep. It also lights up the second you pull your phone out of a pocket or purse. Nice! The Moto X has lock screen apps and it allows you to have widgets and shortcuts at your fingertips as soon as you’ve unlocked your phone. Another feature, if you twist your wrist twice, it activates the camera.
Speaking of the camera, I like the camera interface. Swipe from the left of the screen and you get all the controls that control the camera. Swipe from the right of the screen and you can browse the pictures you’ve taken. Zooming in and out is a one finger operation. Place you finger in the middle of the screen and swipe up and you zoom in. Swipe down and you zoom out. It has the ability to automatically turn on HDR automatically which may be handy for those who want to make sure that they get the perfect shot. But you cannot control things like white balance or ISO. In short, this camera is best aimed at the point-and-shoot crowd as opposed to those who want to control every aspect of their picture taking experience. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
The camera takes pictures at 10MP and does 1080P video. Good on paper, but let’s see how it performs at Pearson International Airport. Click the picture to see it at full resolution:
The picture was decent and clear. It should be noted that I used the Moto X’s ability to shoot video and take pictures at the same time. As for the video, here’s what the camera captured. Make sure you set it for full screen and 1080P:
One thing that I noted was there was a lot of auto focusing by the Moto X mostly at the start of the video before the plane enters the frame. The image also had a tendency to go dark for a second and then come back. I have no explanation for that.
Battery life was pretty good. I got just over a day on a charge which is pretty good and is what you want from a phone. Though you might see better results based if you’re a heavy user. The Moto X has a battery saver mode that if you enable it, it comes in when you drop to 15 percent charge. It disables background data use and also institutes aggressive screen dimming and time outs. That’s a welcome feature.
So what’s my bottom line? The Moto X is not a bad phone and is worth looking at if you’re in the market for an Android phone as it has some unique features that may appeal to you. It won’t wow you, but it is a very competent phone for the most part. It’s performance on Rogers LTE network will wow you though, and that may be all you need to put your credit card down for one. It’s $149.99 on a 2 year term or $549.99 at Rogers. Try one out and maybe you’ll be saying “Hello Moto”.