Moto X Review — Motorola Smartphone Does Android Right

One of the last releases Motorola made before its transformation from a Google Inc. (GOOG) division into a Lenovo (LNVGY) company was the Moto X.

Moto X review, intro
Source: Brad Moon

The newest Motorola flagship smartphone remains true to the original — offering unique customization options, an affordable price and a nearly pure Android experience — but it grew much larger.

That size jump, from a 4.7-inch display to a 5.2-inch, caused considerable grumbling from some who saw the move as taking the Moto X away from being a near perfect hand-held device to caving into the “bigger is better” mantra that even Apple (APPL) seems to be following.

Our Moto X review shows my thoughts after spending a week with Motorola’s latest Android flagship smartphone.

Moto X Review:  Android Goodness and More

Moto X review, moto x unboxing
Source: Brad Moon

There’s a lot to like about this year’s Moto X.

It looks and feels like a more premium device than the original. A big part of this is Motorola’s decision to get rid of the plastic trim from the original and replace it with an aluminum frame.

The rubberized black back on my Moto X review unit was quickly a mess of smudges that detracted from the visual appeal, but Motorola still offers customizations that look stunning with the new metal trim, especially the bamboo and leather options.

One unusual choice: the front-ported speakers are slightly raised.

This breaks the smooth Gorilla Glass 3 surface of the Moto X. Motorola says the move protects the display when set face-down. That makes sense, and they certainly sound good, but the raised grills do have a habit of collecting dust.

Refreshingly, the Moto X remains essentially a pure Android experience. There’s no messy third party UI nonsense to deal with — I’m looking at you, Samsung (SSNLF).

One area where Motorola has left its mark is voice and motion control, and the Moto X is even better with these features this time around. I particularly appreciated the ability to wave my hand over the smartphone and have its OLED display show time and notifications, without having to push a button or wake the device.

Where the original Moto X seemed a little under-powered compared to the competition, this year Motorola made sure its flagship packs a punch with the latest Qualcomm (QCOM) Snapdragon 801 CPU.

The battery saw only a modest boost, but despite the bigger, higher-resolution display and more powerful CPU, I still only had to charge the phone every other day.

Moto X Review: Bigger Is Better, Honestly

Moto X review, moto X with iPhone 6
Source: Brad Moon

To clarify, I’m not blindly in the “bigger is better” camp. I bought an iPhone 6 over the bigger 6 Plus because I wanted something bigger than my old iPhone, but I didn’t need something that big.

In the case of the Moto X, the size increase is worth it.

The 5.2-inch display goes from 720p to Full HD. The larger size with the increased resolution make the Moto X a smartphone you can actually scan a website on without killing your eyes from squinting. At the same time, vary narrow side bezels and the curved back mean the Moto X fits nicely in your hand, despite the fact that it’s now a much bigger device.

Have a look at the photo showing the 5.2-inch Moto X beside the 4.7-inch iPhone 6. The Moto X is larger, but not dramatically so. It remains fully usable with one hand.

I suspect that most people, if given the opportunity to choose between the original Moto X and the 2014 edition, would prefer the bigger version.

Moto X Review:  Specs

moto X review, moto x specs
Source: Motorola
  • 5.2-inch AMOLED display at 1920 x 1080 resolution (423 ppi)
  • 2.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 CPU with 2GB RAM
  • 16GB or 32GB storage
  • 13MP primary camera with dual LED flash, burst mode and 4K video
  • Bluetooth 4.0, micro USB, NFC
  • 802.11a/g/b/n/ac Wi-Fi (dual band capability)
  • Front-ported speaker
  • 2300mAh battery rated at 24 hours mixed use
  • Water resistant
  • Customizable: 25 back options, 10 accent colors
  • $99.99 on contract, $499 (16GB) unlocked

Moto X Review:  Conclusion

Moto 360 review, conclusion
Source: Brad Moon

The new Moto X is a really nice Android smartphone and it certainly doesn’t hurt that you can get one at $99.99 on contract or $499 unlocked.

I would spend the extra $25 for a bamboo or leather back panel (the default rubberized black on my Moto X review unit was an absolute magnet for fingerprints), but even $524 for a flagship smartphone is a steal. Samsung gets $700 for an unlocked Galaxy S5….

There are two demographics I wouldn’t recommend the new Moto X for: iPhone fans (for obvious reasons) and photographers (the camera is okay but not great).

For anyone else, the Moto X is premium-looking and feeling flagship smartphone at a bargain price. One that also offers the best of the Android experience, free from the distraction of a third-party user interface.

As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

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