Android Refined: Moto X Smartphone Review
Summary and Conclusion
Performance Summary:Despite using a slightly older processor, the overall performance of the Moto X was laudable. It routinely ranked in the upper third of Android phones available today in our benchmarking tests, all while managing to squeeze nearly a full day of battery life from a 2,200mAh cell. In our estimation, that's a delightful balance of power and energy efficiency. Beyond the benches, the Moto X just feels fluid. It's obvious that vertical integration took place here; the hardware team and the software team were working together in order to make the Moto X feel faster than the average Android smartphone. When you have Motorola engineers able to work with Android engineers, you're left with an incredibly sleek user experience.
Put simply, there's just no lag at all when using this phone. The camera loads instantly; apps load without hesitation; changing screen orientations happens in a snap. The phone never feels as if it's falling behind -- it's always ready to tackle whatever you tell it to in an instant. Moreover, Motorola's unique extras are amongst the first installed by an OEM that we will have a hard time living without on non-Motorola Android phones. Assist, Touchless Controls, and support for the $20 Skip NFC clip all add a lot of value to the device. We wouldn't be shocked to see Google borrow some of these key traits and bake them into future versions of Android, so that even more of its OEM partners can offer unique extras that aren't yet available on competing platforms such as iOS and Windows Phone.
The hardware and design of the Moto X is exceptional. It's both designed and assembled in the United States, and the quality is notable. It's rigid, rugged, and feels like a premium product in the hand. The soft-backed cover is curved for perfect handheld operation, and the thoughtful Motorola dimple on the rear enables easy one-handed operation. Despite the fact that you can't pop a microSD memory card in (and you aren't able to order a Moto X with greater than 32GB of inbuilt storage space), we have high praise for the overall engineering of the hardware. The screen is gorgeous, the battery life is outstanding, it's slick and thin, and it has all of the markings of a class-leading device.
There really aren't too many downsides to the Moto X. The rear 10MP camera isn't at the top of its class, and the lack of storage expansion will undoubtedly turn some people off. It's also frustrating that the Moto Maker website -- which allows users to choose the color and accent hues of their phone prior to shipment -- is only available to AT&T customers. Then, there's price. At $199 on-contract, it's priced much like any other higher-end, LTE-enabled flagship phone. Yes, it's available on the Big Four (AT&T, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile and Sprint), but many have argued that a $200 price point should include the most powerful internals available.
It's true that the raw specifications list won't impress some, but the overall fluidity of the phone more than compensates. $200 is a bit steep, but remember: this phone is built in Texas. That's American labor (which is no doubt more expensive than in China), and that's a company that is choosing to provide U.S. citizens jobs when it could easily go elsewhere. We'll steer clear of getting political or being overly patriotic, but there's something to be said about manufacturing a phone in a high-cost environment like the United States and still being able to at least compete on cost. Finally, there's reason to believe that the Moto X will see a 50% price cut in the coming months, likely in the wake of Apple's next-gen iPhone release. At just $100 on contract, the price issue vanishes completely, and this phone becomes an all-out steal. Of course we'll believe that rumor when we see it materialize for real.
If you're an Android loyalist and have no interest in whatever Apple's cooking up, the Moto X is a terrific handset to own. It's fast, it's beautiful, it's solid, and it will no doubt receive Android updates in a timely fashion given that Motorola is now housed within Google's empire. The only lingering question is this: is the next Nexus phone on the horizon? We're guessing it's not due until at least 2014, leaving the Moto X to hold down the fort in the interim.