18 January 2014

Motorola Moto X - First Impressions

Key Features: 4.7-inch 720p AMOLED display; 1.7GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor; Adreno 320 GPU; Android 4.3; 2200mAh battery; 16/32Gb storage
Manufacturer: Motorola

What is the Motorola Moto X?

The Motorola Moto X is the US manufacturer's latest flagship Android handset and big brother to the wallet-friendly Motorola Moto G. Having launched in the US back in August, the X will finally be introduced to the UK on 1 February.

With a somewhat middling array of specs, the 16GB handset will set wannabe owners back £380 on a SIM-free basis. As well as missing the competitive pricing of the Moto G, the X is a full £80 more expensive than its superior specced rival, the Google Nexus 5.

Motorola Moto X: Design

Ergonomics and aesthetics have been well thought out in the design of the Motorola Moto X, with the handset featuring a slightly curved back that sits comfortably in the palm of your hand.

The phone lines up at 10.4mm thick at its fattest point and 130g in weight. Pleasingly, this moderate heft has been distributed evenly across the phone's form, giving the device a comfortable balance that is sure to aid continued use.

Although the X's front is very much on the cheap, plastic side of things, around back the handset's carbon fibre effect finish is easy on the eye and a welcome change from the masses. The Moto X is set to be made available in both black and white forms.

Despite its compact nature, the Motorola Moto X's svelte design manages to squeeze in an expansive 4.7-inch display.

Although featuring a panel as big as that on the HTC One, the overall phone is considerably smaller. This has been made possible thanks to the phone's minimalist bezel, a small feature that makes a very noticeable difference.

Motorola Moto X: Screen

Despite benefitting from streamlined framing, the Motorola Moto X's screen still lacks the added pop found on its high-end Android rivals. The phone's 1280 x 720 pixel HD resolution is an ample performer, but one which fails to provide visuals quite as sharp and detailed as those on the Samsung Galaxy S4 or LG G2.

During early video playback tests, images were detailed and fluid, although there was some slight pixilation concerns in parts. When looking closely at images, the Moto X’s screen lacks the depth of the Full HD panels, which have recently become something of a smartphone standard.

Brightness levels were strong and the phone handled moving from areas of bright light to shadowy darkness with consummate ease.

Motorola Moto X: Performance and Features

The Motorola Moto X processor is a 1.7GHz dual-core Qualcom Snapdragon S4 Pro offering backed up by 2GB of RAM. Although on paper these are far from ground-breaking, in practice they offer enough grunt to satisfy the day-to-day needs of most average users.

A feature being pushed heavily by Motorola is the phone’s active screen notifications. On first impressions this relatively basic functionality, which provides visual representations of notification types, is very much underwhelming. Despite the company’s best marketing efforts, this should not be considered as a serious reason to buy the Moto X over any other phone.

Powered by a 2200mAh Lithium-Ion battery, Motorola has claimed the Moto X will support a 24 hour usage time. While we were unable to fully test this claim during our hands-on time with the device, it will be addressed in our full review coming soon.

Further Motorola Moto X features of note include the handset’s integrated NFC and 4G connectivity options, as well as 16GB of internal storage which disappointingly cannot be expanded via microSD.

Motorola Moto X: Camera

Another area where the Motorola Moto X is an ample performer without ever shining is on the camera front. With a 10-megapixel rear-mounted camera benefitting from and integrated LED flash and 4x digital zoom, the phone also throws a secondary 2-megapixel camera in up front.

Sample shots in tricky indoor lighting conditions produced images which, when viewed back on the device's display, appeared detailed, although slightly flat, with decent colour management.

More impressively however, the Moto X was able to launch its camera and capture shots in under two seconds. This fast boot time and rapid shutter speed is sure to appease those snap-happy users.

Although 1080p Full HD video recording is available alongside slow motion video capture, these features, as well as a raft of photo modes, need further testing before we can pass judgement.

First Impressions

Where the Motorola Moto G dazzled us with its competitive specs and ridiculously low price tag, the Motorola Moto X falls slightly short on all fronts on first impressions. The middling array of specs see the Moto X mixing with the masses, with no discernible feature or pricing miracle to transform it from obscurity.

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