We review the Moto X!
In case you didn’t hear, Motorola’s back in the Philippines. After their ungraceful exit back in 2008, the company is back, though now owned by Chinese giant, Lenovo. With their return to the PH, they come bringing several devices from last year, chief of which is the Moto X, their 2014 flagship. While it’s already a little long in the tooth and have recently been superseded by both the Moto X Style and the Moto X Play, it’s the flagship that the PH has for the meantime until the new devices are launched later this year.
Motorola Moto X
- 2.5GHz quad-core processor
- 2GB of RAM
- 5.2-inch full HD AMOLED display, Gorilla Glass 3 protection, 1920 x 1080 resolution
- 16GB of internal storage
- 13-megapixel rear camera
- 2-megapixel front camera
- 3G, LTE
- WiFi, GPS, A-GPS, Glonass, NFC
- Android Lollipop
- 2300mAh battery
A design that’s hard to beat, and undeniably Moto
The Moto X is easily one of the most comfortable smartphones we’ve held to date, which is surprising, considering that the company released it last year. It’s design is geared towards ergonomics more than anything else, and while it’s quite chunky coming in at 10mm, it’s still sufficiently compact and easy to store and use.
We like how the front of the phone looks like a monolithic black surface when the display is off, with the design broken up a little bit by the two speaker grilles on the top and the bottom. Turn the display on, and you’ll see the quality 5.2-inch full HD AMOLED display, as well as the sufficiently thin bezels on the side. The phone’s overall dimensions are further reduced by the on-screen Android navigation keys.
The frame of the phone is made out of metal, and when you turn it over, you’ll see the back of the Moto X sport a matte, almost rubberized finish for a better grip. A deep dimple with the Motorola logo is embedded on the back right beneath the 13-megapixel rear camera acts as a place to rest your finger when you’re holding it.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest draws to the Moto X experience won’t be offered in the Philippines: Motomaker. Motomaker makes it simple and easy to customize your smartphone however you want with a variety of customizable options including different backplates. It’s not hard to see why it wasn’t offered in the PH: since Motorola is just now re-entering the market with their new offerings, they still don’t know if the amount of devices sold will support the cost of putting the service up in the region. Still, we’re hoping that Motorola allows consumers in the PH the option to buy Moto X variants with wood or bamboo covers.
The AMOLED display of the phone is gorgeous, with deep blacks and fairly crisp whites, along with vivid color reproduction. The Moto X’s display is also capable of being used even under direct sunlight, which is usually the Achilles heel of AMOLED panels.
As for UI and customization? Well, Motorola’s phones are known for sporting a near pure Android experience, and the Moto X is no exception. You’re looking at pure Android 5.1 Lollipop – at least as pure as you’ll be able to get without buying a Nexus branded device. It’s not surprising, seeing as Motorola was once a Google company. The Moto X has been updated from Android 4.4 to 5.0 and 5.1 (we got an Android 5.1 update as soon as we opened up our review unit) which speaks volumes to the commitment of Motorola to keep their phones on the bleeding edge of Android.
One of the things that make the Moto X stand out from the pack is Motorola’s enhancements to the phone. The Moto X has infrared sensors scattered on the four corners of the display. This allows the phone to detect motion in front of it, and fires up the display to show you notifications, be it Facebook, email or text messages. You can then jump straight to the app that requires your attention by swiping from the display.
You can also wave your hand in front of the display when its off to give a peek at your notifications or the time, as well as silence the phone when someone’s calling you. The Moto X is also able to listen to your voice and respond to it, even when the display is off, kind of like Google voice. Instead of just saying “OK, Google,” you can customize the activation phrase yourself, and tell the phone to set reminders and alarms, as well as searching Google with your voice.
Snapdragon 801 isn’t the fastest kid on the block anymore, but it’s still beastly
When it launched last year the Moto X had the chops to run with the big boys as it sported a quad-core, Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor paired with 2GB of RAM. While it’s lost its edge compared to the hexa and octa-core monsters recently, the Snapdragon 801 processor is still a beast and is capable of running all the latest apps and games without any issues. It ran Marvel Future Fight well, with very little hiccups in the overall experience.
As far as actual user experience goes, the Moto X did not fail to impress. Navigation and transitions are smooth as silk, with no issues whatsoever. It’s clear that the Snapdragon 801 processor still has a lot of bite left in it.
Camera is good, though the camera app could be better
The Moto X sports a 13-megapixel rear camera with two LED flash units, though it’s not a dual-tone flash. On the whole the camera is pretty good, especially when there’s plenty of light or when you’re outdoors, filled with very punchy colors and accurate color reproduction. In artificial lighting, the camera still performs well, as you’ll see in some of our photos, but noise will become a problem. If you’re using this phone primarily for selfie taking, you’ll be quite disappointed to learn that it doesn’t use a wide angle camera, so you’ll have to extend your arm a little bit more.
The camera defaults to an automatic focus mode when you first use it, and touching the display in an attempt to focus it will only trigger the snapper. To do the traditional touch to focus method (which you’ll prefer since the AF is sometimes agonizingly slow), you’ll have to bring up the menu by swiping from the left edge. The manual focus feature also allows you to adjust the exposure of your photos.
Battery life is average, and will barely get you through the day
While the Snapdragon 801 processor is more than enough to power through most applications and games today, it’s not as power efficient as Qualcomm’s other offerings. While our PCMark Benchmark gave the Moto X an acceptable score of 5 hours and 41 minutes on their battery benchmark, our experience with the phone is quite different. We barely cleared 9 hours of use from the moment we unplugged it until it required charging at the 10% point with moderate use (no gaming, browsing, data on with streaming music). With even heavier use (same as moderate browsing, but with games, a bit of tethering), you’ll need to charge the phone at the 7 hour point. It’s safe to say that you’ll need to buy a power bank with each purchase of the Moto X if you don’t have one already.
Verdict: dated, but not obsolete
Despite being almost a year old, the Motorola Moto X is still a pretty solid smartphone. A beautiful design, relevant features (not just gimmicks to beef up the spec sheet) as well as a solid processor give the Moto X an edge over more recently announced phones in the market.
The question now is, should you buy it especially with two new flagships on the horizon? It ultimately boils down to immediacy – if you want a taste of Motorola’s magic now and are unwilling to wait for the eventual release date of the two phones (which, we’re told, is tentively set to launch before December of this year), then the Moto X may just be the ticket.
The Moto X is priced at Php 16,990.