This build — now with a 5.2-inch screen versus the previous
4.7-inch — has been improved in a number of ways, which we could
attest to in our brief hands-on time ahead of the device’s official
launch today in Chicago. It runs Google’s stock (read: unmodified
and lovely) version of Android 4.4 KitKat and is, as the screen
size suggests, a larger device: it’s a little taller and wider, but
is also half a millimetre thinner. That’ll balance out the fact
that it’s a notch heavier at 144 grams.
But while still riding the improvements train the Moto X now has
a full HD 1080 screen that pushes 423 pixels into each inch of
AMOLED display space. That’s near-as-dammit the same as Samsung’s Galaxy S5 and Sony’s Xperia Z3. If anyone says they can tell the difference,
they’re either wrong, stupid or in possession of hitherto unseen
levels of eyeball talent.
Behind that screen lies a 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 CPU,
which is also the same as the Galaxy S5 and Xperia Z3. In our
hands-on time we weren’t able to clarify how much RAM the system
offers. Last year’s Moto X had 2GB and so it’s highly doubtful it
will be any lower than this (for reference, the S5 has 2GB, the Z3
In the hand the device is lightweight, with an extremely sharp
screen. It’ll come as no surprise that it was responsive and snappy
to navigate, but one would expect no less from a quad-core-powered
The Moto X runs stock Android, which is arguably a feature to
its credit — no clutter from third parties trying to differentiate
themselves is, ironically, a good way to differentiate oneself.
It’s a feature, or lack thereof, often reserved for lower-end
devices from manufacturers that either can’t, or won’t, spend time
or money developing customised Android skins and apps. Combined
with the power on offer from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chip, therefore,
the use of Google’s intended incarnation of its operating system is
an exciting match.
A neat feature we tested was the ability to start the camera
while the phone’s screen is off by shaking your wrist a couple of
times. The phone recognises the gesture and boots up the rear
camera. A Motorola spokesperson explained it was “the fastest
pocket to picture time on the market” and in practice this did seem
to be the case, if only over and above the competition from Samsung
and Apple because of the fewer button presses required.
Motorola’s “Moto Maker” feature is also making its way to the
UK. This lets British buyers tweak the look and feel of the device
before it’s even put in the box by warehouse staff. A slick
web-based interface, accessed at the point of sale online, lets you
choose a range of finishes for the rear panel — now including a
leather back — as well as the colour. This extends to the colour
of the phone’s outer rim, its speakers and even the wallpaper
shipped inside Android. The idea is to make the phone more
personal, and Stateside it was a well-liked feature by reviewers.
— it costs no extra to customise the phone in this way.
In summary of our short time with the device, it’s an exciting
device. It combines the power of Samsung’s Galaxy S5, the screen
size of Sony’s Xperia Z3, the simplicity of Google’s native Android
look-and-feel and the customisable aesthetic Motorola seems to be
nailing so well at the moment. The simple question is why wouldn’t
you want this instead?
Maybe we’ll find out during our full review before the phone
goes on sale at the end of September in the UK. SIM-free the phone
will cost £419 for 16GB of storage (32GB is available) and this is
likely to be lower on contract.
Moto G gets an update
Motorola has also updated its popular Moto G, which by anybody’s standards stood out as 2013’s
must-buy when looking for a budget smartphone. With a £145 price
point without a contract, this new version looks to continue that
This updated model is a 5-inch Android 4.4 KitKat device that
feature’s the same 1.2GHz quad-core CPU as last year’s version and
sports the same 1280×720-pixel resolution of display, albeit it now
spread of five inches instead of 4.5. It now has an 8-megapixel
rear camera and 2-megapixel front companion (versus 5- and
1.3-megapixels respectively on last year’s model) and feature’s
The big news is that it now has a microSD slot — hurrah! It’ll
support up to 32GB of removable storage in addition to the 8GB or
16GB built into the phone itself.
The new Moto G will go on sale today.