Now that Google(s GOOG) has taken the wraps off of the long-awaited Moto X, it’s only natural to wonder how it stacks up against the other big phones on the market. Sure, the Moto X promises a lot of experiential new features you need to use the phone to fully appreciate, but here we’re going to break things down by the numbers and see how the specs stack up against the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and the Apple (s AAPL) iPhone 5.
When it comes to price, each of these phones are pretty evenly matched. They all start at $199.99 on contract for a 16GB model, so none are exactly a bargain buy. But whereas the iPhone 5 costs $299.99 for a 32GB model, the Galaxy S 4 and Moto X are just $249.99. Apple is the only manufacturer to offer up a 64GB model, but at $399.99, it’ll cost you.
The Galaxy S 4 comes with an empty microSD card slot, so you can expand its storage up to an additional 64GB. Neither the iPhone 5 nor the Moto X can be expanded, though Google is tossing 50GB of free Google Drive storage space for the first two years with the Moto X. So both the Galaxy S 4 and the Moto X have an advantage over Apple in this realm.
As far as pure processing power is concerned, your best bet is probably the Galaxy S 4. Powered by a next-generation 1.9GHz quad-core Qualcomm(s qcom) Snapdragon 600 processor, the Galaxy S 4 should be a faster performer than the Moto X, which uses Motorola’s new X8 chip (which is a 1.7GHz dual-core CPU and a quad-core Adreno 320 GPU). The iPhone 5 is tougher to pin down, since it uses Apple’s proprietary A6 chip. No matter how you look at it, each of these phones are very fast, but if you’re a performance junkie, the Galaxy S 4 gets you the most bang for your buck.
Of course, you want to be able to view all the action on a pretty screen. Once again, the Galaxy S 4 comes out on top, with a 5-inch, 1080p display (which works out to 443 pixels per inch). On the other hand, the Galaxy S 4 uses a PenTile pixel arrangement, which causes text and images to look fuzzy to some people. The iPhone 5 has the smallest screen of the bunch, but at 4 inches and 1136-by-640-pixels, it has a higher pixel density than the 4.7-inch, 720p Moto X, which has 316 pixels per inch. Once you get over 300 pixels it’s hard to tell the difference, so really, each of these phones look great. Your best bet is to figure out which screen size you prefer.
But while smartphone screen size can be subjective, I’d like to call special attention to the Moto X, which just might be the best sized phone for a wide audience. It measures 5.09 by 2.57 by 0.40 inches and weighs 4.58 ounces, which is the perfect size for a large-screen phone you can still easily fit in one hand. The iPhone 5’s ultra-light 4-ounce weight is appealing, but the 4-inch screen can be too small for many users. The Galaxy S 4, on the other hand, can sometimes feel just a little too big when you’re trying to hold the phone and drag down the notifications bar with your thumb.
We haven’t had a real chance to test the Moto X’s camera, but at 10-megapixels, it falls right between the 8MP iPhone 5 and the 13MP Galaxy S 4. One important thing to remember is that megapixels don’t always tell the full story, since the 8MP iPhone 5 takes better pictures than most of the 13MP phones on the market. The Moto X camera does come with auto HDR, which can help boost picture quality for anyone that wouldn’t know when to turn it on otherwise.
When it comes to battery life there’s also no clear winner. The Galaxy S 4 has the biggest battery of the bunch, but it also has the biggest screen with the highest resolution, which is one of the highest battery draws there is. My bet is that the Moto X will win this round; its 2200mAh battery is much bigger than the iPhone 5’s 1440mAh battery, and not much smaller than the 2600mAh battery in the GS 4. Given the smaller screen and the lower resolution, it should definitely last for Motorola’s quoted 13 hours of talk time. Whether it will stand up to 24 hours of mixed usage is and other story.
There are lots of other elements that aren’t so easy to compare. The Moto X, for instance, will be available in a ton of customizable colors. The Galaxy S 4, meanwhile, gets you a ton of extra features Samsung has baked into Android. And the iPhone 5 gets you features unique to Apple, like the world’s biggest app library and Siri.
So while there may be no clear-cut winner, the good news is that each of these phones is available on all four major US carriers (in addition to a number of smaller carriers). The Galaxy S 4 and the iPhone 5 are available now, but you’re going to have to wait a month or so if you want the Moto X. Check back soon for more of our thoughts and impressions on the Moto X to help you decide.