Motorola Moto X specs review


X literally marks the spot for Motorola latest creation - the Moto X smartphone. Having forgotten to actually drink some secret Chemical X, though, the Moto X seems to be a bit light in the specs department. In other words, it's not as impressive as other flagship devices out there (think Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One), at least on paper. Of course, that doesn't mean that Motorola hasn't tried to get away with it by coining an interesting catch-phrase - X8 Mobile Computing System - which is supposed to be an octa-core computing solution. But, just in case you're about to fall for that, be sure to read on, as you might find the following info of utmost interest.

Design

You'll probably agree with us that the Motorola Moto X isn't going to take the crown in a beauty contest anytime soon. Built from two pieces of plastic, the body of the Moto X is designed to fit comfortably in the hand, rather than inspire anyone with breath-taking visuals. The phone is 129.3 mm high and 65.3 mm wide, while the thickness of its profile varies from 5.6 mm to 10.4 mm. This makes the handset slightly smaller than the Nexus 4, which is equipped with a screen of identical size. Meanwhile, the Moto X weighs 130 grams, which is slightly lighter than the Nexus 4, and as heavy as the Galaxy S4 - ultimately meaning that the phone is quite light.

The most interesting aspect of the Moto X's design are the numerous color options that you can choose from. While purchasing the Moto X, users can select from 2 front colors and a total of 18 (eighteen!) back colors, as well as 7 accent colors. Needless to say, there's going to be something for everyone. What's more, Motorola (should we say Google?) gives you the chance to have a personalized print on the back of the phone, which is a very cool feature — one that can also make the Moto X the perfect present for someone special.

Display

This is where it shows that the Motorola Moto X isn't exactly a cutting-edge smartphone. Equipped with a 4.7" 720p display, it's not the size, but the resolution that may make some customers prefer some other device, seeing that most flagship smartphones arrive with 1080p displays these days. Still, the 720p screen makes for a pretty nice pixel density of 316 pixels per inch, which is just enough for comfortable viewing and reading. Sure, extremely small text in the web browser may look a bit crude, but who's reading text like that, when you can just pinch-zoom your way in?

Inches and pixel densities aside, the new phone will have an AMOLED screen, but thankfully, it's going to be with a standard RGB pixel arrangement, not the PenTile one. We can't make any conclusive predictions about the quality of the display right now, but chances are that it's going to sport vibrant colors and an extremely high contrast. It'll be interesting to check the color balance and daylight visibility, as those are usually the weak sides of AMOLED displays. Samsung is the biggest proponent of AMOLED screens right now, and to tell you the truth, those panels have been getting better and better with each new iteration. Whether Motorola is going to do a similarly good job, though, remains to be seen.

Processor and Memory

And this is where it gets interesting. Why? Because Motorola has installed the so-called X8 Mobile Computing System on the Moto X. And while the name of this system sure sounds scary, it's actually nothing that can make competitors feel bad about the chipsets installed on their own devices. The X8 does feature eight cores, only thing is that just two of those are CPU cores, courtesy of the Snapdragon S4 Pro (1.7 GHz Krait cores). The other six consist of the 4 GPU cores of the Adreno 320, a dedicated natural language processing core and a context computing processor. Sorry to disappoint those of you who were hoping this to be a competitor to the Exynos 5 Octa of sorts, but there's no octa-core CPU in the Moto X. There isn't even a quad-core one, further cementing the fact that Google and Motorola aren't looking to wow us with specs.

Still, we do expect the Moto X to offer a wonderful user experience and performance. With the 2 GB of RAM on board, that certainly seems easy to achieve.

When it comes to internal memory, the Motorola Moto X is yet another proof that Google hates microSD cards, as there is no such slot on the phone. Instead, users will simply have to choose between a 16 GB and a 32 GB model. Thankfully, Google is at least throwing some cloud storage into the deal, with every Moto X granting you access to two-years of free 50 GB Google Drive storage.

Camera

So, Motorola has come up with a new fancy camera for its smartphones, called Clear Pixel. It's a 10-megapixel sensor that you'll find on the recently-announced DROID line-up for Verizon, as well as the Moto X. The thing about this camera, as almost every other smartphone camera, is that it's designed to capture good low-light photos and blur-free daylight photos. Whether it'll succeed in doing so, we can't say just yet.

It's worth noting that the Clear Pixel camera relies on 1.4-micron pixels, which is bigger than the 1.12-micron pixels found in 13MP shooters like those in the Galaxy S4  and Xperia Z. This should supposedly help the camera perform better in low-light scenarios. Motorola claims that the RGBC ('C' stands for 'Clear') technology in use by the Moto X is capable of capturing up to 75% more light than the traditional RGB Bayer sensors, but it remains to be seen if that's really going to have a positive impact on the images.

Naturally, the device also supports 1080p video recording using the rear, as well as the front-facing camera, which has a resolution of 2-megapixels.

The Moto X is introducing a new gesture shortcut allowing you to quickly launch the camera app. Simply pick up the phone and twist your wrist two times. At least, it's simple on paper, though, naturally, we can't be sure yet if it'll be so simple to do in real life. Thankfully, for those of us with inborn resistance to new things, there's always the camera app that you can use to start the camera.


Software

If you've been hoping to find Android 4.3 on the Moto X, you're in for a small disappointment. The handset will be loaded with Android 4.2.2 out of the box, with an update to 4.3 expected soon. This actually isn't such a big problem considering that Android 4.3 is a minor update, but still, who wouldn't want their smartphone to be running the latest OS available?

Anyway, even though Motorola is owned by Google and all, the Moto X isn't going to run a pure Android build. There will still be some software customizations by Moto, and there's also going to be our favorite carrier bloatware. (Remember, the Moto X will be sold by the five biggest US carriers!) Thankfully, a Google Play Edition of the phone is expected, which should solve this issue for those users who can't stand having some junk on their devices.

When it comes to special features, the Moto X won't blow your mind, but it does seems to have a few handy tools that you won't find on many other phones. First off, there's Active Display, which makes a good use of the AMOLED screen technology, as it will light up only some portions of the display in order to show important notifications or the current time. Meanwhile, Touchless Control will let you issue commands by using voice alone - you won't even have to press an on-screen button in order to activate Google Now, or anything like that. You just say "OK, Google Now," and are ready to issue a command.

Expectations

We can't deny it - Motorola has managed to get us really excited about the Moto X, despite the fact that the specs aren't top-notch. Sure, there isn't a 1080p screen, or a quad-core processor, but hey, it's really the experience that matters, and with a pixel density of 316 ppi, as well as a well-optimized user interface, we can easily see the Moto X offering a comparable or even better experience than the flagship phones out there like the Galaxy S4 or the One.

Design-wise, the Moto X is nothing fantastic, but the rich customization options make up for that, while the construction quality of the phone will certainly be at a very high level.

The Moto X is obviously lacking in terms of feature count, but we do like where Motorola is going with this, as it has aimed to enhance those areas of the phone that are most important to all - accessibility and battery life. It's not a phone for those looking for bragging rights, but a phone that will try to get the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible. And we like that.

Stay tuned for our full review!


Related phones

Moto X
  • Display 4.7" 720 x 1280 pixels
  • Camera 10 MP / 2 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro, Dual-core, 1700 MHz
  • Storage 16 GB
  • Battery 2200 mAh(13h talk time)

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35 Comments

1. RORYREVOLUTION

Posts: 3131; Member since: Jan 12, 2010

Wait carriers are going to offer this device for 200 dollars on contract? Whatever happened to this being a cheap phone to buy off contract? What a fail.

3. TheLolGuy

Posts: 483; Member since: Mar 05, 2013

There was never an official statement saying it was going to have a subsidized pricing model. A lot of people just assumed that it would super cheap. If anything though, Motorola probably should've said something to stay people's expectations...

2. Danishs

Posts: 147; Member since: May 23, 2013

I don't get it. Will this not be available off contract?

19. InspectorGadget80 unregistered

Buy it through direction on Motorola's website

35. Malique001

Posts: 58; Member since: Jun 08, 2012

It will be available off contract but will not cost the $300-349 price point that everyone thought it would. AT&T's has been confirmed to cost about $575 for the 16GB and about $630 for the 32GB version.

4. softfurryanus

Posts: 232; Member since: Jul 09, 2013

Funny thing is everybody is getting all pissy because it doesn't have 4.3 even though it will probably get it faster than some flagships that are already out. Either way, I wouldn't be buying a non nexus phone until 5.0 KLP is released.

5. Univice

Posts: 39; Member since: Jun 15, 2010

I like that it is made in USA and the new voice stuff is intriguing, but NO SD CARD - NO SALE to me. Choice, openness and customizability are why android is as popular as it is. How can anyone feel that paying $(100?) for 16 GB more storage is the way to go when you can buy a fast 64 GB card for less than $50. Also performance specs do matter, as apps will continue to rise to meet the hardware and vice versa. Let's see something that beats or matches the GS4 category in all aspects and is waterproof and rugged. All the better if it comes in cool colors.

6. xpr3ss10n

Posts: 58; Member since: Dec 15, 2011

What a dissappointment. I was so pissed when I saw the unveil that I actually, for a very small split second, considered looking at the upcoming iPhone! Motorola has completely screwed this up. The whole idea of even considering this phone was the fact that it would be around $299 and customizable. Motorola hasn't been influenced by Google at all! They aren't even shipping with the newest version of Android. Talk about throwing a mid-range phone out and hoping that your marketing hype gets enough people to think it is better than it is. At this point, I guess I am just going to wait for the Galaxy Note 3. I can't wait to see this thing crash and burn. Everything about this phone disgusts me. I would blame the media, but really EPIC FAIL MOTO

7. darkkjedii

Posts: 31616; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

I expected more from Moto, after being aquired by El Goog.

8. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

The customization is only for the looks and feel. This is no customization that i was expecting at all.

10. darkkjedii

Posts: 31616; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

I thought they were gonna bring it with this one Nathan.

11. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

I'm not so sure about this one, but the Droid trio might do good there in the US.

31. buccob

Posts: 2980; Member since: Jun 19, 2012

I agree... I lost my faith in Moto after my experience with the original Atrix... and even after Google bought them, it does not seem like they can take full advantage of the adquisition. I know some PA authors are really biased, but for this price and model range, I would rather buy the Sony Xperia ZR... (slight differences... -smaller internal memory but microSD slot, -a tad smaller screen, -but better resolution, -a tad bigger overall but IP58, -similar processor and graphics, -camera 10MP with 1.4um pixels vs 13MP with smaller sensor Anyway, I am not falling for the hype that this particular device has created... a bunch of marketing but there is nothing that truly set it appart

9. jgmoto unregistered

What makes this device different then the Ultra and Maxx???

14. xpr3ss10n

Posts: 58; Member since: Dec 15, 2011

The difference between this and the ultra/maxx is that the specs are crappier. Oh, but you will pay more for those crap specs. O and furthermore, they will screw you even more on all carriers instead of just Verizon.

12. snowgator

Posts: 3621; Member since: Jan 19, 2011

Outside of the display being 720P, I am not too worried about anything else. I would give this a look see. Funny..... I can remember posting on a WP7 article when HTC was touting the 4.7" Titan that it was way too big. Who would want that monster of a device to contend with. Now, 4.7" is considered nearly small. Pretty amusing.

13. roscuthiii

Posts: 2383; Member since: Jul 18, 2010

What articles have people been reading? We all knew they were focusing on the user experience over the specifications. We knew this was a "mid range" phone. The contract pricing is definitely a let down, but that's the carriers doing, trying to push up their margins. They need to fix this marketing debacle with a good off contract price, otherwise they'll be DOA.

15. marbovo

Posts: 658; Member since: May 16, 2013

c´mon, do not just buy motorola marketing lies, what experience can this phone offer other than prism always hearing what you say and screen notifications?? this phone is a complete fail

23. roscuthiii

Posts: 2383; Member since: Jul 18, 2010

Oh, so you've actually had it in your position and used it for any amount of time then? And PRISM? If you're worried about PRISM on any one phone, you may as well worry about it on all of them and boycott smartphones in general.

25. number29

Posts: 185; Member since: Jan 25, 2013

That's the problem with Android, it can't offer any novel experience that another device can't offer. Android is nothing more than a specs race. You have to take your business to another platform if you want better experiences. It's really interesting that Motorola are trying to focus on experience rather than specs (and I for one welcome this wholeheartedly since how the device operates in the hand is the most important thing, not how fast the processor is) but I feel that Motorola really need a different OS to be able to properply focus on this element.

29. Pedro0x

Posts: 271; Member since: Oct 19, 2012

What about WP and IOS, they are all the exact experience on every phone, while on android you can have touchwiz or lg home on a htc device or visa versa. And you are wrong about that with experience rather than specs, the best thing you can do is to focus on both and android is the best current platform that you can do it on.

33. PK1983

Posts: 215; Member since: Aug 08, 2012

Each android manufacturer offers a different experience. Touch Wiz is very different from Sense or Stock, or whatever LG uses. Moto simply wants to charge more for a device that by the looks of it just adds a few features to Google Now which is on every newish Android and iOS device. They tout being able to shake it to launch the camera, yet is it really that hard to launch the camera from the lockscreen? They tout being able to control the device with your voice yet, I have yet to see it actually close any apps, just open them. This is to me less useful then being able to use air gestures. The device touts being customizable yet it has no SD card, and pretty much all you can do is change the color of it or make it woody.

16. DJ349GTX

Posts: 2; Member since: May 21, 2012

I am excited to get the Moto x in black and green. If it comes out to be around 350-400 off contract, then I'm buying!

17. bugsbunny00

Posts: 2267; Member since: Jun 07, 2013

when i look at a moto x,i see a nexus 4 nothing just no no.

18. DontHateOnS60

Posts: 872; Member since: Apr 20, 2009

Honestly disappointed with this. They took away everything that was great about the RAZR's and made it all about the software.

20. gazmatic

Posts: 822; Member since: Sep 06, 2012

its a droid but crappier

21. scsa852k

Posts: 331; Member since: Oct 16, 2012

I don't get it. Why is there so much hype about this phone? There's absolutely NOTHING special about it. Specs, Design, Pricing.. You name it.

22. indianapple89

Posts: 47; Member since: Feb 28, 2013

So technically, the Nexus 4 is an octa-core device? With 4 Krait CPU cores and 4 GPU cores of the Adreno 320. Am I right? Correct me if I'm wrong.. Coming to the Moto X, it was definitely over-hyped as far as the announcement. Unless those 2 special cores really provide tremendous value, this is DOA.

24. itreday

Posts: 68; Member since: May 24, 2012

I don't know why you guys are complaining. Who can seriously tell the difference between a 720p display and a 1080 display? Plus if the software is optimized to work good with the processor why does it matter if it's quad/octa core or not? The 4S runs great and it's only dual core.. Android has made you guys spec geeks.. I personally own a iPhone 5 & I know It's about the user experience, so don't criticize the phone if you haven't experienced it yet. I think the active display and touch less control features are awesome.

26. itsdeepak4u2000

Posts: 3718; Member since: Nov 03, 2012

Nice color palette. I want all...

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