The Moto X, Motorola’s first phone with design input from parent company Google, made its debut this week, ending months of speculation.
Motorola calls it a flagship phone but some Android enthusiasts aren’t buying it. That sentiment may change after hands on time as I’ve spent a few days with the device and it has impressed me so far. It has more “smarts” baked in than any Android I’ve used prior and because of intelligent design decisions, performance of the Moto X should appeal to a wide audience.
The handset is the smallest device I’ve seen yet that can fit a 4.7-inch display; it’s not much bigger than an iPhone 5, which has a 4-inch screen. Moto X uses a 720p display, which is a lower resolution than other flagship phones. It still looks crisp and clear; perhaps a bit color saturated due to the use of a Super AMOLED display.
That helps save battery life though: I used the phone all day in mixed use — no video playback and more time on Wi-Fi than on mobile broadband — and after over 12 hours, had 51 percent battery life left. That’s a good sign.
What makes the phone unique is how Motorola integrated sensors and software. You can take many actions through Google Now simply by speaking to the handset, which is always listening for your command. Think of Google Glass functionality in terms of the interface. You can also take the phone out of a pocket and twist your hand in the air to quickly fire up the camera app. And when the phone is sleeping, it can still show minimal notification pulses on the display. All in all, it’s a clever package.
Motorola software helps the Moto X too, which after seeing the company develop MotoBlur a few years back, may surprise many. I found three interesting Motorola apps that improve the phone experience. One lets you customize how the phone reacts to calls when you’re driving or in a meeting: It automatically recognizes these situations due to the GPS and your Google Calendar. Another helps you migrate data from an older Android phone to the Moto X. And a third works with the Chrome desktop browser to push phone notifications to your computer.
Moto X will arrive on all four major U.S. carriers and U.S. Cellular around the end of August but only AT&T will initially support MotoMaker, a website where you can customize the colors of your handset. You can choose front, back and accent colors and you can add an engraving to the phone as well through MotoMaker. A number of color-matched accessories will also be available. Motorola says to expect your customized handset within four days of ordering, which is impressive.
I’ll be spending more time with the Moto X and will follow with a full review, so stay tuned. And just as the Moto X arrives in stores, we could see the next really big thing from Samsung: The company is reportedly announcing the Galaxy Note 3 on September 4.
Where the Moto X may be considered a lightweight by some when it comes to hardware, the Galaxy Note 3 is expected to be a beast of a phone. It’s pegged to use a Snapdragon 800 chip, have a 5.7-inch 1080p display, possible 3 GB of memory and 13 megapixel camera. Of course, being a Note, it will also have support for Samsung’s S-Pen complete with digital inking software.