Moto X Review: My favorite phone thus far
The Moto X was hypebeasted to hell by Android enthusiasts and bloggers such as myself as we awaited the first smartphone from Google’s Motorola to finally be announced. When it was, a lot of people, including myself, were disappointed that the number one touted feature, freedom to customize your smartphone, wasn’t that free due to carrier exclusivity. Others were upset to see that the Moto X wasn’t going to boast top of the line specs and numbers. Many people called this a mid-range phone with last year’s specs. +Guy Kawasaki +Punit Soni
and others told us to fear not, this would be a phone built for an optimal user experience. They were right.The Software: Gimme Android without the bloat!
Let’s take a quick look at the software on the Moto X. It’s stock Android. There is no custom UI. There is no graphical overlay. It looks exactly how a Nexus phone would look or how an AOSP ROM would look and feel. Motorola did add a few software tweaks and you know what? Those software tweaks actually complement stock Android versus bastardizing the user experience as some other OEMs do. Motorola found just the right amount of tweaking to stock Android to give users the perfect experience.
As a Verizon Wireless customer, I can’t get a Nexus device. I know, it sucks. The Moto X is the next best thing when it comes to software experience. There’s no need to root and run a custom ROM. And chances are, the custom ROM would slightly suck. Yes. It will. Chances are, it will never be as good or 100% perfect as a stock ROM. Sure, you’ll love that AOSP look and feel and you’ll convince yourself that a random bug is no big deal, which to some it isn’t, however, it will never run as good as stock. You’ll take 98% perfect with a stock experience because you want an AOSP experience. With the Moto X, you get that stock experience without having to sacrifice anything. You actually gain something.
So, what gives us this perfect experience? Motorola Assist, the Camera, Trusted Bluetooth devices, the ability to launch Google Now and perform voice searches completely hands free and then some.Motorola Assist: A Swiss army knife for contextual awareness
Motorola Assist is amazing. It’s extremely simple, yet enhances my phone use day to day. Motorola Assist knows when you’re driving your car and automatically puts your phone into driving mode. Text messages will automatically be read allowed and send a message back to the person who texted you, telling you that you’re driving and you’ll get back to them soon. Not only does this make driving safer, it makes getting an important message through easier. If you use your phone to play music while in the car, Moto Assist will also resume Google Play Music for you, where you last left off automatically. But, what if you’re not driving? What if you’re a passenger? Easy! Just tap from the notification window shade and you’re set.
Motorola Assist also automatically puts your phone into meeting mode when a calendar appointment starts, so make sure you keep your Google Calendar updated and accurate. First, your phone is automatically put into silent mode or vibrate mode for the duration of the meeting. However, exceptions exist. If a Favorite contact calls you or someone calls you twice, you can have Assist ring you instead. Also, while in meeting mode, your phone can automatically reply to text messages, similar to driving mode, letting them know you’re in a meeting and will get back to them soon.
And last but not least, Sleep mode. You can configure Assist to silence your phone during your designated sleep hours. As with Meeting mode, you can also have exceptions to the rule if a Favorite contact calls you or someone calls you two times within a 5 minute period.
While some of the features can be accomplished by third party apps, it’s great to have these features come right out of the box on your Moto X and setting them up is a breeze.Minimal Bloatware makes me giddy like a schoolgirl
Unlike the other Motorola phones on Verizon, the Moto X comes with very little bloatware. So little that I actually don’t mind it. Caller Name ID, NFL Mobile, Quickoffice, Verizon Tones, Verizon Voicemail, and VZ Navigator. That’s it. (Some might include Verizon Backup Assistant or My Verizon Mobile, but I won’t. Sadly some phones don’t use Google Contacts. The Backup Assistant will allow those users to easily transfer contacts. As for My Verizon Mobile, that’s a great app to have to keep tabs on your Verizon account. It’s near a must.) Googorola made deals with the evil carriers and thwarted their efforts to plague the Moto X with bloatware. All of the additional crap that you don’t want can easily be disabled from the Settings menu and you’ll never know they exist. I know I sure as hell don’t. I truly feel as if I don’t have any bloatware. I feel like I have a Nexus or Google Play experience.Just twist your wrist twice to launch the Camera
Yes, twisting your wrist to launch a camera can be seen as a gimmick, but you know what? It’s a gimmick that you’re going to continually use, unlike looking away from a YouTube video and having the screen pause or some other S-Junk that no one uses after the first month. Having the ability to twist your wrist twice to take launch the camera and then just tap the screen anywhere is extremely easy. If you’re a parent with kids, you’ll love this feature. I use it every time I go to take a picture and so does my wife (also a Moto X owner).
As for the quality, I’m not complaining. I’ve taken great photos with optimal lighting. I’ve taken great photos with slightly less than optimal lighting. When it comes to taking pictures at night or when there is very little light, sure, they could be better, but they aren’t horrible. You’re taking a picture a night here people. I don’t often take photos at night. I take’em during the day and when I do, I’m very happy with them. They are better than my previous phones could do and that’s all that matters to me.Let me read those notifications without unlocking my phone
With Active Notifications, you can easily see, read, and manage your notifications without having to unlock your phone. Best of all, you're saving on battery because with Active Notifications, only the portion of your screen required to view them is light up. Sure, it's not the stock lock screen, but you know what? I don't even mind because it's more useful. If you're not sure what I'm talking about, with Active Notifications, the center of your screen pulses when a notification is active. You can then swipe up to view a portion of the notification, let go to open the corresponding app and view the notification or swipe left or right to dismiss it entirely.I don’t need no stinkin’ password, I’m connected to my Bluetooth speakers!
One of the cooler features of the Moto X is being able to setup and use Trusted Devices for managing your phone's security. Everyone should be using some sort of pattern lock, PIN, or password on their phone. These little handheld computers hold a ton of information, a ton of personal information. They need to be protected.
Sometimes, security can be a burden and it makes people disable these features to make life easier. The Moto X can help solve that issue with Trust Devices. That is, if you often connect to Bluetooth devices. While connected to a Trusted Bluetooth Device, the Moto X can automatically disable your lockscreen security features. For example: Maybe you’re at home connected to your Bluetooth speakers, in your car connected to speakers or your Bluetooth headset, or maybe you have a smartwatch or wear Google Glass. If you’re connected to one or any of these devices, chances are, you’re very close by and don’t need your device security turned all the way up. You really only need your device secured when it’s not by your side such as you leave it at your desk and walk away from it or worst case scenario, someone steals it or your lose it.OK Google Now, always listen for my commands
With the Moto X and the new Droids on Verizon, you can say OK Google Now from anywhere, even while the screen is off, to launch Google Voice Search. There are an insane amount of questions that you can ask Google and you’ll get an answer too besides making phone calls, setting reminds, and sending messages. It’s great and very useful. Being able to perform voice commands without having to first turn on the screen or launch Google Voice Search is pretty darn cool.
I don’t use this feature as often as I would like, but that’s because I have Google Glass always on my head. There are some features that Google Glass can’t do, such as reminders, that I’ve used the Moto X for though. Anyways, as for functionality, it’s great. If you’re not a Glass Explorer, I would bet this feature would be one of your favorite.
What exactly can you ask Google Now? Here’s a list of commands and a great demonstration video. While these aren’t performed on a Moto X, they still apply.
Video: Google Voice Search Revisited The Hardware: We're past the age of specs, right?
The Moto X is not a hardware spec beast so I’m not going spend a lot of timing trying to convince you that specs don’t matter. I don’t think specs matter in this case. If you’re someone that loves big numbers over anything else, then this phone isn’t for you. I will say that I have not experienced any user interface lag and the Moto X can run everything that I need it to run.
Coming from a Droid DNA, it took some getting used to when it came to typing on and using the Moto X. The Droid DNA is a larger phone with a slightly larger screen. The Moto X can bit a little misleading though. It’s a small phone, but the screen is larger than appears. The Moto X has a 4.7” screen with very little side bezel and very little top and bottom. It’s very compact. An example of this is it fits inside the Galaxy Nexus yet the Galaxy Nexus has a smaller screen at 4.65 inches.
Battery life on the Moto X has been great for me. I’m getting 24 hours on a charge with 3 hours of screen on time on average. On days where I make more voice calls or spend more time on LTE, sure, I’ll get less. And when there’s days where I’m on WiFi only and spread my usage out throughout the day, I’ll get a day and a half of usage. I’m happy with the battery. It’s better than my previous phone.Dem feels bro, dem feels!
Over the years, I’ve felt and held phones that feel more solid than others and phones that aren’t very well balanced. The Moto X feels good in your hand. It’s weighted perfectly. It’s small and compact. It’s a very solid feeling phone. This is a phone that feels so good, you’re almost afraid to put a case on it as you don’t want to ruin the way that it feels. The truth is, this is the best feeling phone I’ve ever owned.
After 7 days with the Moto X without a case, I did finally cave in and get a case. That past 2 days I’ve been using a Cruzerlite case. As cases go, Cruzerlite cases are minimal cases that don’t add a whole lot to your phone. It adds just enough to give you that little extra grip and the right amount of protection on the sides and back so you don’t get any dings or scratches. So what case did I get? This one: http://goo.gl/33HhJd
Besides, I can’t use Moto Maker. I don’t mind covering up the back of my phone.What about the Nexus 5? The Droid Maxx?
Well first of all, stop calling it the Nexus 5 until we know what it’s going to be called. Secondly, that is up to you. If you need a phone now and can’t wait 2 months, then get the Moto X, you won’t be sorry. If you’re on Verizon Wireless like me, you won’t see a Nexus again until hell freezes over. The Droid Maxx is a great choice if you need an insane amount of battery life. If you’re someone that needs a lot of battery life, doesn’t care about hardware keys and doesn’t care about the overall look and feel of your phone, then the Droid Maxx might be a better choice.TL;DR
My wife and I are both very happy with the Moto X and we’re both very different smartphone users. Me, the tech geek that needs to have something amazing in my hand. My wife, the person that just wants her phone to work when she needs it most. Both of us couldn’t be happier.