Android Refined: Moto X Smartphone Review

Introduction and Specifications

If not for Apple's impending launch of the next-generation iPhone, the Moto X would be one of the year's most notable smartphone launches. And honestly, that's saying something. 2013 has also been a year where the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 came to light, but no Android phone has captured as many eyes as Motorola's simply-titled "X." The reality is that Motorola has not been a force in the mobile arena since the days of the original RAZR. Believe it or not, that iconic flip-phone was released nearly a decade ago, and it goes without saying that a whole lot has changed in the years since -- not just in the smartphone arena, but in terms of Motorola itself.

Now owned by Google, Motorola Mobility is conjoined with one of the world's most innovative companies. And, as it happens, it's the company that makes the world's most prolific mobile operating system: Android. Google promised long ago to not play favorites with Motorola, and the Moto X is proof of that. It's not exactly a Nexus phone, but it's one of the most bloatware-free OEM models to ship without the Nexus logo. In other words, fans of the stock Android experience will find plenty to enjoy here.

The raw specifications of the Moto X leave a little bit to be desired. A lot of the pre-launch hype pegged the Moto X as a true iPhone killer -- a phone with cutting-edge internals, a host of new sensors, and new functionality that no other Android phone could match. Now that it's out, the truth is a little different. It's a high-end device, but not perhaps not the top echelon. On paper, it's not the most powerful Android phone you can buy, but as we learned in our testing, that's beside the point.

Let's give you quick hands-on demo tour and then take look at what's inside its shell...

Moto X
Specifications & Features
Processor and memory
1.7GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro CPU
16GB or 32 GB internal memory

Operating System
Android 4.2.2
LTE, HSPA+ 42Mbps, quad-band GSM / EDGE
CDMA / EVDO (CDMA devices only)
802.11a/b/g/n/ac (Dual-Band)
Mobile Hotspot

Bluetooth 4.0 LE+EDR
NFC, Miracast, USB 2.0
Ports and expansion
3.5 mm audio jack
micro-USB 2.0

4.7-inch RGB AMOLED (1,280 x 720) Display
Size and weight
5.09" x 2.57" x 0.22" (HxWxD)
 4.59 ounces

Cameras and multimedia
2 MP HD Front-Facing Camera
10 MP Rear-Facing Autofocus Camera, Full HD Video Recording
Other features: Active Display; Google Now; Touchless Control; Quick Capture; Migrate & Assist; Wireless Display

2,200 mAh Li-Polymer
AT&T, Sprint, Verizon Wireless, and T-Mobile:
$199.99 with contract and discounts

When we mentioned that it's "beside the point," here's what we mean.  For example, iPhone doesn't have the most impressive specs either. But the iPhone is built for the masses. It's quick enough to satisfy most people, it works fluidly, and it hits the right notes for most people. As it turns out, the Moto X feels like it mimics that formula, but with Android.

The screen isn't huge; it's designed for the majority. The specs aren't insane, but the usability will suit the masses. And, interestingly, the Moto X is assembled in the United States of America, in a plant located in Texas. The build quality is excellent, and there's no question that many American phone buyers will have their heartstrings tugged on by the whole "Made In The USA" thing. Does it all add up to a winning device? Find out in the pages ahead.

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