Moto X review
Analyzing a product that has been on the market for eight months should be a bit of a challenge. But of course, it hasn't been in our market for eight months. The landing - at last - of the Motorola Moto X in our country has given us the opportunity to analyze one of the terminals that gave the most talk before, during and after its launch in the United States last August.
This almost deferred analysis will not discover much in terms of its characteristics or design. And yet, there is an argument that I think adds value to this text: the fact that precisely this veteran in the market gives us the opportunity to assess whether the Moto X is still worth 240 days after its launch. That itself is quite a challenge ... for any current smartphone, of course.
Motorola Moto X, main features
With the current specification race that we live in the mid-high range, a mid 2013 terminal may soon be left in its specification sheet. The main ones of this Moto X are the following.
Motorola Moto X video review
We start of course our analysis of the Moto X with a detailed review in video:
It does not look like a 4.7-inch mobile. That is the first thing that surprises the Moto X, especially when one has had a Nexus 4 in his hand for a long time. The latter gives the feeling of being bigger and heavier, despite the fact that the differences are very small.
Thus, the dimensions of the Moto X are 129.3 x 65.3 x 10.4 mm (against 133.9 x 68.7 x 9.1 mm) and the weight of 130 grams (while that of the Nexus 4 is 139). However, Motorola has managed to achieve a terminal that seems more compact, lighter and, above all, more comfortable to use, especially for those of us who like to be able to reach everything with one hand.
This is possible in the Moto X, a device with a plastic shell that does not give a feeling of protecting a "class B" device at all. Several factors help this, such as its slightly curved back, or the finish of that same back, with a smooth texture to the touch but which has a unique visual texture, with a kind of small scales that give it a certain differential touch.
Motorola have managed to achieve a terminal that seems more compact, lighter and, above all, more comfortable to use
The rear is dominated by the rear camera and its LED flash; in addition to a speaker - and only one, we will talk about it later - and that recognizable Motorola logo. On the sides we will find the slot for the Nano SIM card (on the left) and the power and volume buttons on the right. The microUSB 2.0 connector (with USB Host support) is at the bottom, while only 3.5mm headphone jack stands out at the top.
The front design clearly dominates that 4.7-inch screen we were talking about, which is bordered by discreet side frames and slightly wider upper and lower frames. The presence of software buttons for traditional Android accesses (the back button, the start button and the button that offers a view of the tasks in progress) helps in this sense to save space, and at the top we are with the speaker for calls, in addition to the front camera.
The design, in essence, is not at all revolutionary or differential. And yet the feeling in the hand is surprisingly good. The avalanche of phablets and that tendency to "the bigger the better" is - and this is obviously an especially personal opinion - tiresome, and finding yourself with a smartphone so balanced in this section is almost refreshing.
But of course, there are drawbacks. And they are not the fault of the smartphone itself, but of Motorola, which raised this device with the aim of conquering the United States. Whether he succeeded or not - the figures are not known, but the WSJ pointed to disappointing sales at least initially - his bet focused on a key section: assembly in the United States.
That assembly gave Motorola the opportunity to 1) gain brand image (patriotism is at another level), and 2) be able to offer its true differential feature: personalization. That customization, which at first we dreamed of being much more ambitious (processor, memory, screen ...) almost fell into a bluf when we learned that "only" they were limited to the customization of the case, the buttons and the screen printing of that back housing.
Quotation marks for "solo" are purposely placed. Because the color combinations for these elements were added to those of the textures of the casings, with those interesting variants with wooden casings that added, now, a differential touch to a device that Motorola wanted to make different both from outside and from inside.
The idea was in my opinion a conceptual success, although its result has been apparently discreet. No device can be customized with the level offered by the Moto X, and although there are covers and elements that allow for similar customization on other smartphones on the market, Motorola went one step further with a process much more tailored to users.
The launch of Moto Maker, the web application with which to configure the Moto X to our liking, shows how well things can be done, and in fact I recommend that you "play" a little with that service and personalize a Moto X, although you can not buy it. The reason? That Moto X is only available in the United States. At the moment, of course, because Motorola officials have already confirmed that its availability in Europe will occur during the second half of the year.
Performance and autonomy
Time is not forgiving, and it is not especially so in the field of mobile telephony, where the launch effect of smartphones tends to be short-lived. New processors or screens (among other components) mean that what was new yesterday is no longer today, and that means that the Moto X can be damaged, especially in this particular analysis.
In fact, the Moto X is on paper a device that we could almost describe as a lower-middle range. We were saying the same thing eight months ago, when that August 1, 2013, the keys to this model were finally revealed.
Motorola, of course, had its case for selling us that hardware in a different way. The so-called Motorola X8 Mobile Computing System was a rather bombastic name for what was essentially a rather "normal" processor configuration. But of course, they had to take advantage of the name. The X8 was very important, even if it was a trick.
The 1.7 GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro CPU (MSM8960Pro) provided the first two mics, while the Adreno 320 GPU and its four cores increased the sum dramatically. We already had six. To complete the set, the company added two low-consumption cores, one for natural language and one for contextual computing.
The unique octet was already shaped, but its power seemed clearly below the powerful Snapdragon 600 and especially the Snapdragon 800 that were beginning to be protagonists in other developments by other manufacturers. How is it possible that the Moto X competes with such beasts?
The answer is as surprising as it is logical: you don't need to do it as we tell you below because of our day-to-day experience.
But let's continue. That processor is accompanied by 2 GB of RAM and two storage capacity options: 16 or 32 GB. Here is an important handicap for many users. Motorola has decided not to integrate microSD slot, something that can be an important factor of purchase for many users. Taking into account the amount of content that we store on our mobiles today, the 16 GB model perhaps falls somewhat short, although it is not a bad option to also have a solution taking into account that cloud storage is also a clear trend in the market.
How has the performance of the Moto X been in the day to day? We were already commenting that a priori those eight months of seniority and such a discreet hardware bet could go against the smartphone, but the Moto X has left us very pleasantly surprised.
In fact, as we mentioned, we don't miss most of the great features from other competitors. The processor - modest, to be sure - is capable enough to smoothly move the operating system and its applications.
Obviously, that performance is not comparable to that of the powerful Snapdragon 600 and especially Snapdragon 800, but if you are not especially dependent users in this section --perhaps for playing demanding games-- you should highly consider this terminal as one of the most prepared for the regular use experience.
With the Motorola Moto X it is convenient to forget about the specifications and enjoy a terminal that "works"
In "gross" performance the Moto X ranks between devices such as the Nexus 4 or HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 last year. Of course it does not achieve the power of the latter, but the differences are not so wide as to rule out the Motorola terminal for possible "bad grades" in this regard.
Thus, while the Moto X scores 8,965 points in Quadrant 2.0, the S4 exceeds 12,600 and the Nexus 4 manages to pass close to 5,000. On the other hand, tests with AnTuTu also confirm those data: 18,612 points in Moto X, 26,282 in S4 and 16,208 in Nexus 4 serve as a reference for those performance data in synthetic tests.
But of course, that comparison is not entirely fair, since both the S4 and the N4 are not devices with which the Moto X now has to compete. The modern Samsung Galaxy S5, HTC One (M8) or even a Nexus 5 a lot more parallel for its price, they exceed in pure performance the Moto X, with Quadrang scores that reach 21,000 points and in AnTuTu that are around 36,000.
Those figures could scare us if we hadn't seen Moto X in action. But we have, and the fluidity of the system and the applications is, as we mentioned, total. That raises the logical debate: do we really need that much processor in today's smartphones? Uhm.
Even the screen, one of the weakest points as you will see below, has a remarkable performance in that habitual use. That 720p resolution that a priori could be criticized for its low ambition joins that processor to reinforce a fundamental section: battery autonomy.
It is at this point where the 2,200 mAh battery of the Moto X demonstrates its potential, with an autonomy that allows you to reach the end of the day without problems with medium use (pulling demanding) and that guarantees our peace of mind in that regard. It is not a spectacular battery, of course, but for the dimensions of the device it behaves, again, with plenty of solvency.
The screen, of which we spoke previously, is perhaps the section in which this device loosens the most along with its camera. It is a 4.7-inch diagonal AMOLED screen with 720p resolution (which gives a pixel density of 316 dpi).
That density is not very remarkable today, especially with the avalanche of 1080p terminals and with that promise of devices with 1440p screens in the coming months. And yet, there is no problem in that regard: the definition of all the visual elements is outstanding - the Retina screen of the iPhone 5 is 326 dpi, a useful reference - but where there are certain problems is in the brightness and contrast from that screen.
It is not a dramatic problem of course, but it is true that the Moto X loses points with respect to its competitors, especially if we speak of a high range in which the screens are prodigious. Although the Moto X's screen behavior is more than decent indoors, the brightness and contrast are limited outdoors.
Where there are no disappointments is in the sound. That single Moto X speaker shouldn't compete with systems like the HTC One's dual front speaker, and yet the sound we get is of good quality. But above all, it stands out for the volume: it is one of the phones with the highest volume that I remember, and it will be difficult for you to not hear the ringtone or notifications if you set it to maximum volume.
The connectivity section is also perfectly served. We find a terminal with LTE support (800/1800/2600 in Europe) in addition to the possibility of connecting it to 802.11ac WiFi networks (as well as previous WiFi standards, of course), Bluetooth 4.0 (A2DP, LE, EDR), support NFC, and the aforementioned microUSB port with USB Host support. Much and good in that sense, of course.
We are dealing with a device based on Android 4.4.2 (when it was presented in the United States, it did so with Android 4.2.2), but above all it stands out for having very few customizations. Here it is likely that the fact that Motorola was from Google - it is now part of Lenovo, as you know - had an impact on that section. In Moto X we have practically the same experience as with a Nexus 4/5 or with "pure Android" terminals.
That is highly appreciated in the usual boast - often exaggerated - of custom elements and components offered by the greats of the Android segment. Not only in the visual section, with launchers, icons or widgets of debatable good taste --but for tastes the colors, of course - but in its offer of integrated applications.
Here the obligatory reference is that of Samsung and that Galaxy S4 that a year ago made a really ambitious software proposal. The "S" assaulted us everywhere: S Health, S Translate, S Voice, and they did it accompanied by other gestural control options such as Air View or Smart Scroll. Where have all those improvements been? Despite having been inherited by the Samsung Galaxy S5, its relevance in the announcement of the latter terminal has been minimal. English-speaking countries have an especially valid term to qualify these novelties: 'gimmics', tricks, gadgets. And the gadgets are at risk of staying in it.
In the case of Moto X, the bet has been more restrained, but much more practical. Software innovations are important in several sections, but there are two with their own names that stand out above all others: Touchless Control (with an imprecise translation in the Spanish version, "Voice control") and Active Display ("Active screen").
Both are already well known by our readers, but it is good to remember their benefits. In the case of voice control, the magic comes from one of those low-power processors that are part of Motorola's X8 mobile computing platform. That processor is always vigilant, and allows us to activate the device with a voice command.
The command, as you know, is none other than "Okay, Google Now"(the same in Spanish, which we must pronounce as we can, but always in the same way). What differentiates this system from voice recognition in the Google search engine is the fact that in Moto X we can, as we said, Wake up the device even when it is with the screen off.
The configuration of this feature is done by repeating that phrase several times, which will make the user authenticate by his voice: try to get other people, even with a similar voice, to activate the phone: it will be difficult for them to do so.
Once activated, the Google Now wizard takes control and awaits our orders and queries, and we can carry out any search or take advantage of specific system commands to show us the results with the attractive visual design of these cards or " Usual cards "in Google Now.
On the other hand we have the Active Screen, a substitute for the lock screen that elegantly alerts us that new messages, emails, etc. are arriving. It does so only by illuminating the screen pixels required for that notification - an AMOLED advantage - which saves energy.
In these notifications we can preview part of the message that originates the notice by dragging your finger upwards. If we release it in that upper part, the corresponding application will be launched to be able to act in a much more direct way, while there are also associated actions when moving the finger to the sides, for example to dismiss those notifications.
The problem with both one and the other is the natural obstacle that our terminal locking system poses. If we use a PIN or a pattern to protect it, when trying to carry out certain actions with voice control (for example, send an email) or launch WhatsApp after receiving a notification on the Active Screen, we will be prompted for a PIN or pattern. Logical, but uncomfortable. Perhaps Motorola is evaluating improvements (direct voice authentication, for example), but at the moment the system is somewhat inefficient if we have protected the phone, something that on the other hand is highly, highly recommended to avoid unwanted access. The company has already made moves in this direction, as demonstrated by the launch of the curious Motorola Skip accessory, which takes advantage of the "magic" of NFC technology.
In the case of the Active Screen, there is another additional drawback: at the moment we can only act on the last of the notifications received, so in this sense if several arrive there is no option to choose which one we want to open the corresponding application.
Motorola Assist is another of the important solutions at the software level, and it is an assistant to be able to use a good part of the Moto X functions from the car, for example, or in certain time ranges, such as at bedtime. This application connects to our calendar to prevent us from being bothered in those busy times that we mark for this type of appointment in which we do not want the phone to ring before calls or notifications.
The feature also uses the smartphone's GPS - which obviously we should always have activated, something that can represent a problem due to battery consumption, among other things - to detect if we are driving and thus offer its advantages. If we activate this operating mode, the phone takes the attitude of "Do not disturb" and we will be able to establish these hours in a personalized way.
The phone is capable for example of activating the hands-free mode in the car when we receive calls, or of avoiding that we have to be distracted to read a message that comes to us while driving.
There are other options of interest in the software section. For example, Motorola Connect, a Chrome extension that displays phone notifications from the browser on our computer, and that for example allows us to reply to messages from the keyboard of the PC or laptop. The Motorola device ID allows you to locate the device in case of loss - something that is complementary to Google's own service -, while the "Transfer screen" option in the settings allows you to take advantage of Miracast technology if you have a compatible television .
The software offer, with its small shades, is as complete as it is balanced, without big or striking proposals that later run the risk of becoming anecdotal. Touchless Control may be seen like this, but believe me: for someone who - like me - gets used to it, dictating messages, making calls or making small queries without touching a button is a small revelation.
Talking about the Moto X camera is inevitable (the 1.4-megapixel front camera is not particularly relevant), because today the cameras integrated in these smartphones are a crucial part of the whole. In the case of the Moto X, we find a 10-megapixel sensor (10.5, to be more exact), f / 2.6 aperture and Clear Pixel technology.
This latest marketing concept tries to highlight the fact that according to Motorola the Moto X camera sensor is capable of capturing 75% more light than the average thanks, above all, to its 1.4 micron pixels, a A very decent size that, yes, is far from the Ultrapixel sensor of the HTC One, whose pixels measure two microns. In a way, HTC and Motorola's approaches to the problem are the same, trying to capture more light instead of betting on higher sensor resolutions.
However, the results may be conflicting. It happened with the Moto X, which had some initial problems with its camera. Motorola released a software update that fortunately corrected those conflicts with image post-processing, and since then the behavior of the camera has improved significantly.
Which does not mean, by the way, that it is a camera comparable to that of more modern and ambitious models. The Moto X loses when trying to evaluate its performance against the Galaxy S4 / S5, HTC One or iPhone 5 / 5C / 5S. The Moto X camera is correct, with an acceptable behavior outdoors and almost remarkable in low light conditions. And yet, if you are looking for the perfect hybrid between mobile and photo camera, you will be wrong with this Motorola smartphone. We leave you with a gallery with some samples.
See complete gallery »Photos with the camera of the Moto X (12 photos)
If you can give a certain pass to this section, you will find a solvent camera in many situations. Among other things it is appreciated its speed of launch and firing, which without being comparable to those of the iPhone 5S are quite remarkable. The camera application is, like the rest of the Moto X software, a delight for those who avoid overloaded and gimmicky tools.
There are several shooting modes, with an autofocus selected by default that we can modify to manual focus (selecting the point that we want to focus on the screen), and with alternatives such as HDR mode (default in automatic, I would try to disable it depending on the situation) , panorama, or burst mode that keeps your finger on the screen quickly capturing images.
A curious detail of Motorola is the integration of a gesture that we can do with the hand and that allows us to launch the camera as an alternative to the usual on-screen access. To achieve this, simply take the Moto X and do the same gesture a couple of times that we would do when opening the (circular) knob of a door or the one we do when screwing and unscrewing. That gesture is unique enough that it is not confused with the movement of the mobile when we have it in our pocket or in a wallet, for example, and it works reasonably well to access the photo taking function quickly and comfortably.
The Moto X records video in 1080p / 30fps, but we also have a slow motion mode (without sound, yes) that records at more frames per second, although it later shows it at 15 FPS to offer a somewhat exaggerated result. Of course, this mode then allows you to edit and trim the video to remove the part that we do not like.
The opinion and note of the Moto X in Xataka
The analysis of a terminal that arrives in our country so many months after its launch seemed to condemn the Moto X to an unequal battle, but the truth is that the terminal has left us a fantastic taste in the mouth.
In fact, the reflection that we already pointed out that the Moto X offers us after using it all these days is overwhelming: a balanced configuration can perfectly satisfy all the needs of a current smartphone user.
Moto X's performance in almost every area is remarkable, and that battle for specs that other manufacturers are immersed in is far from a Moto X that demonstrates what's possible with a modest setup. With its shadows (camera, screen, lack of SD), the Moto X is a perfectly valid option even at the present time. And it will do even more when Moto Maker also reaches our country.
Too bad, yes, price. Even though the set is clearly remarkable, it is difficult to defend that cost against more advanced terminals at the hardware level and with the same price range. That Moto X defense, however, becomes simple once you start using it.
See complete gallery »Moto X (16 photos)
7,7Design9 screen Performance7 Camera6.5 Software9 Autonomy7.5
- Compact and light
- Customizable design (in the future)
- Performance and autonomy
- Toucless Control and Active Screen
- Screen quality / resolution
- Camera performance
- No MicroSD slot
- Price / performance ratio debatable
The terminal has been loaned for testing by Motorola. Can inquire our policy of relationships with enterprises.