Moto-X-Header

Our long wait for Motorola‘s first post-Google-acquisition smartphone is finally over. The Moto X was launched a couple of hours ago in New York. Let’s take a look.

The Moto X story began earlier this year as the rumoured “X-Phone”, a supposed “superphone” which could eclipse Google’s own Nexus line and it was said that new and advanced materials were being considered for the device’s construction and build. In fact, the Moto X may be the most-rumoured device of the year with an early Vietnamese leak (which also unknowingly showed us Motorola’s new logo), and despite a rumoured lack of Australian release we’ve been unable to ignore the device and still had to keep posting on it – and we even broke one of the rumours. Over the past couple of months, the “X Phone” has become the “Moto X”, and rumours and speculation have given way to reality.

It’s now August 2013, and the Moto X is Motorola’s new flagship phone. It’s going up against the Galaxy S4 and HTC One, and it’s taking a different approach.

The basic specs of the phone are straightforward:

  • 4.7-inch 720p AMOLED scree – 316 ppi
  • 1.7 Ghz Snapdragon S4 Pro (Krait) – dual core CPU
  • Adreno 320 GPU – quad core GPU
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 16 GB storage (32 GB optional)
  • 10 MP “Clear Pixel” rear camera, 2 MP front (both 1080p)
  • Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, GPS/GLONASS, NFC
  • Miracast
  • 2200 mAh battery
  • Nano SIM

The CPU and GPU, along with a couple of other processors said to handle “natural language processing” and “contextual computing” form Motorola’s X8 Mobile Computing System, which (when you add it all up) it claims passes as an “8 core system”. We’ll reserve judgement on the maths and the marketing until we get a chance to play with it ourselves.

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What the specs don’t tell you is actually how easy on the eye the Moto X actually is. We’ve seen the device’s shape and look leaked in a number of shots over the past few weeks, so the only real surprise here is how well it all sits together. The device bears more than a passing resemblance to a Nexus 4.

There’s very little bezel around the screen on the device’s sides, and a little more above and below the screen. It moves Android’s on-screen buttons ever closer to the bottom of the device, which is where you kind of feel they should have been all along. The small bezels contribute to making the device seem smaller than it actually is, similar to the way the Galaxy S4‘s 5-inch display fits a Galaxy S III-size body.

The most notable visual aspect of the device – customised backplates in a colour of your choosing – are available if you use Motorola’s Moto Maker website, but only for AT&T customers; everyone else gets a choice between black and white. You can also buy SOL Republic headphones in the same colour as your custom backplate.

Motorola’s sticking with AMOLED screens, which should play well with its “Active Notification” system that regularly lights up the screen to display notifications while locked – it only needs to light up the portion of the screen it’s displaying data on, so it shouldn’t tax the battery. They’re not necessarily defending their choice of a 720p display over 1080p, but explaining it’s better for battery life.

The 10 MP rear camera uses “Clear Pixel” technology, which Engadget says allows “75 percent more light for faster daytime exposure and low-light performance”. We’ve seen the discussions around light sensitivity played a number of times this year, most recently by HTC with the 4 MP “Ultra Pixel” camera in the HTC One. Early samples from the Moto X look promising, but we’ll have to wait and see how it performs in-hand.

You’ll find Android 4.2.2 is running the show, in seemingly Google’s best effort yet to show that they’re keeping Motorola at arm’s length. It’s close to “stock” Android, with the light touch we’ve seen from Motorola in last year’s RAZR HD and RAZR M devices also evident here. If you’re concerned about having the latest version of Android, The Verge reports that a Google Play Edition of the device is also on the cards.

Early suggestions that the Moto X would come in at a bargain price like the Nexus 4 sadly appear to be unfounded. The 16 GB version of the device is coming in at the typical US price of $199 on-contract, while the 32 GB version is a slightly cheaper-than-usual upgrade at $249 on-contract. Given these prices, it seems standard outright flagship pricing will likely apply.

Update: We’re hearing $630 is the off-contract US price. (Update 2: AT&T says $575)

Like everything else launched by Google recently, Motorola isn’t talking about international availability of the Moto X yet but Engadget says it’s expected to launch soon in a number of countries. Motorola did a reasonable job launching last year’s RAZR handsets here in a timely fashion, so we’ll be hoping to hear some local news soon.

We’ll be keeping our ears to the ground for local launch information. We’ve heard rumours that the Moto X has been spotted in a North Sydney venue, but you know how rumours are.

Got any information about local Moto X availability? Tip us!

Everything’s on the table now – are you interested in the Moto X? Why, or why not? Tell us in the comments!


Update (9.45am): We’ve received the following statement from Motorola Mobility Australia’s PR firm:

As our CEO Dennis Woodside said Moto X is just the first device in a new portfolio of products that show the best of Motorola as a Google company. We have exciting plans for all regions, although we can’t reveal specifics right now, this is just the start. We’ll be sure to update you as soon as we have more to share.

This, along with recent statements about the phone not heading to Europe or the UK seem to throw some cold water on the prospects of the device making it to Australian shores, although it also plays into some of the rumours we’ve heard in the last few months about there being more than one Moto X phone.

Our tipster earlier this year said Australian carriers had passed on the then-X-Phone – maybe there’ll be a different model that caters more to our local carriers. Make of this what you will!

Update (1.55pm): As time passes from this morning’s big reveal, it seems that the realisation that the Moto X isn’t leaving the US is starting to set in. The Ausdroid team has mixed feeling about this and will be articulating them properly later.

In the meantime, Ausdroid reader Shane has pointed out that Motorola’s Guy Kawasaki features in the TWiT Moto X reveal video, where he hints at future expansion into Latin America and Brazil but adds that Motorola’s focus is squarely on the US market at the moment.

Source(s): Engadget
  • Alexei Watson

    Just checked twitter, barrage of disappointment.

    Its expensive, mid specced, its got carrier bloat, it doesn’t look global, it’s boot loader locked, it’s already got out of date android, and it’s got a carrier exclusive deal.

    I guess I’ll keep waiting for that nexus

  • Jezz_X

    And that’s a really bad default background for the thin white text they have on it almost unreadable

    • kungfutigerr

      That’s the Texas Flag, reminding people that it is made in Fort Worth, USA.

      • Joshua Hill

        I’ve even seen Texans commenting to say it just didn’t work as a wallpaper whatever the sentiment.

  • John Gabriel

    so what does this mean for the nexus line? will there be a nexus 5?

    • Gregorian

      The Moto X is just an OEM phone with closer ties to Google. It will be updated on the timetable chosen by Motorola.

      There will be a new Nexus. Google always needs it’s “We update this phone quickly with our Stock Android”.

      The Play Edition phones are updated soon-ish, but not immediately. No 4.3 for them yet. Folks are interested in seeing how soon it turns up for them.

      Becoming a strangly layered system, eh?

  • SammyK300

    Not worth upgrading my Nexus 4 for this, looks like I’m waiting for a Nexus 5

  • Gregorian

    I can see myself with it. But not at a high price. Not some $600+ pricetag.
    I don’t need a Snapdragon 800 beast of a phone.
    I will await it’s price in Kogan/Mobicity.

    … but by the time it’s available here, the new Nexus will be on the cards and the world will have moved along.

  • kefir

    High price and lack of 4.3 is a letdown

  • Duncan_J

    In my opinion this phone isn’t made to go up against the Samsung S4 or HTC One.

    This is designed to pull a new market segment away from apple/ iPhone (and who ever those other people are who think they have a smartphone platform).

    When an android phone is activated Google wins.So if they convince me a high end tech nerd who wouldn’t been seen with less then 5″ 1080 p snapdragon 800 (and battery changer in my back pocket, car, office desk and bedside, which I am happy with BTW) to switch from a Nexus to a Moto so what. they make a bit on the phone but that’s it.

    Now convince me to switch my wife from ios to Android with handsets that I think suit her lower tech, high style and easy of use needs and bang a new account, app purchases, user info collection advertising revenue, and she shows her friends……

    Perhaps they will eventually move to the tech geek segment but unfortunately for me i doubt it. The Google edition of high end hardware seems to be the strategy there for now. Perhaps Samsung will make a move against “Google” and we might see things play differently but until then I’m waiting for the Nexus 5.

    • Fred

      So the market segment they are after is people who can’t compare specs and prices and see the S4?

      There’s nothing really enticing about this even if you ignore the specs deficit – always on voice input? Has anyone seemed to be excited about that? 1990s covers? Please.

      About the only segment who might buy this are rabid yanks who see the “Made in America” sticker, and don’t see the small print about how much is made there.

  • Luke Monahan

    Ars Technica’s quick benchmarking surprised me, as I was expecting it to be well below the SGS4 — which it isn’t.

    It’s beating the S4 not only in on-screen tests (1080p vs 720p makes that pretty easy), but edges it out in off-screen graphics tests as well.

    It’s also beating the S4 (just) in the javascript benchmarks. It’s well down in the Geekbench test, probably due to the 2/4 core difference.

    All said, they seem to be getting the Moto X running much better than the sum of it’s parts.

    http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2013/08/performance-preview-the-moto-x-sports-a-great-gpu-respectable-cpu/

    Early hands on tests seem to find this phone feeling and looking better than it’s mid-range spec sheet, also.

    I still wish it was introduced at a much lower price point — and really make a splash — but I might consider replacing my GNex with it.

    • Jason Murray

      One phone is running Touchwiz…

      • Joshua Hill

        My SGS2 running stock Samsung android 4.1 ( with touchwiz) is more often than not faster than custom Roms based on android 4.2. So even without the 4.2 speedup Samsung with touchwiz is still faster. The one exception I can think of at the moment is Slimbean ROM which was about 20% faster in benchies and real world use ( you could feel the difference). Unfortunately it’s Mail drivers weren’t stable like so many S2 custom roms.

        • Alexei Watson

          AOSP rom’s on a device where the hardware drivers are closed sourced is not really great evidence; the developers have practically had to code for the SGS2 blind.

          While they’ve achieved incredible results, of course Samsung is going to be able to out perform them even with their clunky touchwiz simply because they have all the manufacturer source code for the hardware.

          • Joshua Hill

            Touchwiz may be clunky to use but doesn’t result in clunky performance based on the one benchmark comparison I could find between the regular S4 and the Google edition.

            Congrats on finding a flaw in my argument. The HTC One vs. S4 comparison I provided is also flawed as far as I am concerned.

            However when you stack up the two flawed arguments plus the Google edition comparison I think it makes a very compelling case for debunking the misinformation the Ausdroid member was posting without even attempting to justify his argument.

          • Montalbert

            that’s because Samsung fudge their benchmarks. It is written into the touchwiz code that when a benchmarking app runs it will clock the processor higher than normal levels.

          • Joshua Hill

            Yes a flaw in the S4 v HTC One argument. Even without the slight bump in clock speeds that Samsung claims all apps that don’t display the notification bar receive (not just a few benchmarks) the standard clockspeeds of those devices are completely different.

            Now if somebody could explain to me why there is no difference in performance between the regular S4 and the Google edition I’d have to eat my words and apologise to the probably nice guy from Ausdroid. However, I personally can’t see any flaws in that argument and I could see multiple flaws in my other cases.

          • Montalbert

            you didn’t believe that excuse from Samsung did you? Why is it that many people with Touchwiz S4s are experiencing lag? I think that Samsung bank on most people either not noticing or not caring about a small amount of lag.

            BUT i think the reason it CAN rank so well in benchmarks is that Samsung have the source code for their processors. They can optimise the phone to the hardware so much more than the GE can/does. This is why I was looking forward to the Moto X. A phone with software so perfectly optimised for the basic hardware it is running on.

            BUT in everyday use most people I speak to with touchwiz hate it and feel it slows down their phone. Most people know that benchmarks are a terrible way to judge a phone in everyday use. I put slim rom onto my mate’s SGS2 and he is once again amazed by it. Samsung or touchwiz had made it slow, laggy and buggy over time.

          • Joshua Hill

            I don’t believe the Samsung statement but I don’t believe it’s not true. I believe that in a few specific apps Anandtech showed the GPU running about 10% faster than usual. Until Anand or somebody else does a more detailed follow up I’ll reserve judgement.

            As for your anecdotal statements about Touchwiz lag affecting everyday use. I made no comment on this. I took exception to the unfounded and based on evidence I’ve presented erroneous statement made by an Ausdroid member.

            Anecdotally my 2 year old S2 never suffered lag from Touchwiz. S4 users seem happy with the update Samsung released shortly after launch to fix lag.

          • Montalbert

            but then, that is the best thing about Android. Choice. If you prefer Touchwiz then more power to you. I do know a few people who prefer touchwiz styling to stock AOSP. Different strokes for different folks.

          • Joshua Hill

            I’m not a big fan of the bloated touchwiz on the S4 but I don’t mind the older version on my S2.

      • Joshua Hill

        If touchwiz makes it so slow how come its noticeably faster than the HTC one with less bloated skin?

        With an Ausdroid tag after your name I would hope you have some evidence/reasoning behind that comment. I’ve presented two arguments to refute your inflammatory claim. Can you refute either of mine or provide evidence/reasoning for your claim?

      • Joshua Hill

        After 5 mins trying to find comparison benchies between S4 and Google edition S4 I found only one article with Quadrant score 12 200 to 12 600, a 3% variation. This is well within the margin of error for phone benchmarks (there’s at least a 10% variation on Quadrant benchmark).

        This also seems to suggest Touchwiz has little to no effect on benchmarks.

    • Joshua Hill

      It doesn’t surprise me it’s beating it in graphics benchmarks. They have the same GPU. With all the talked about Motorola optimisations to the kernel and dalvik code it’s no wonder it’s faster than the S4. I doubt it has anything to do with Touchwiz.

      • Luke Monahan

        Yes, GPU benchmarks are pretty much “as expected”. The javascript benchmarks are probably more surprising given the older CPU with lower clock. I’d like to see some subjective opinions on web browsing with Chrome on this phone.

        If you offered me the choice of an X or an SGS4, I’d take the X — but I’m more of a Samsung hater and stock Android fanboy than your average buyer.

        • Joshua Hill

          Didn’t realize the dual core benched well too. I have been saying to others in the last week a properly optimised dual is more than sufficient for phones and should give us better battery life.

          • Luke Monahan

            Moto know what they’re doing with battery life — I borrowed a Razr HD all last week and it was the best battery life of any smartphone I’ve ever used (it wasn’t even the Maxx version).

            Given the X8 SoC is their own design, you would hope that it improves on this base.

        • Joshua Hill

          The only released phone I’m interested in right now is the Xiaomi Mi2s. A SGS2 sized phone packing HTC One / S4 hardware with the option if a big battery for a price much cheaper Han the Moto X.

          Of course the Sony i1, LG G2, Nexus 4 (2013) could all change that :)

          • Luke Monahan

            The problem with living in Aus: by the time one phone/tablet gets here, the next one is on the horizon. Still… always waiting for the “next big thing” has saved me a lot of money over the last couple of years.

  • Luke Monahan

    Ars Technica’s quick benchmarking surprised me, as I was expecting it to be well below the SGS4 — which it isn’t.

    It’s beating the S4 not only in on-screen tests (1080p vs 720p makes that pretty easy), but edges it out in off-screen graphics tests as well.

    It’s also beating the S4 (just) in the javascript benchmarks. It’s well down in the Geekbench test, probably due to the 2/4 core difference.

    All said, they seem to be getting the Moto X running much better than the sum of it’s parts.

    http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2013/08/performance-preview-the-moto-x-sports-a-great-gpu-respectable-cpu/

    Early hands on tests seem to find this phone feeling and looking better than it’s mid-range spec sheet, also.

    I still wish it was introduced at a much lower price point — and really make a splash — but I might consider replacing my GNex with it.

  • Blake

    This is not a $630+ phone. If its $630+ AUD, then I doubt you’ll get many takes from people who know phones.

  • Patrick

    one word sums it up, disappointing, despite the almost apple like leaking of bits and pieces. Listening to this week in tech podcasts leo laporte built up anticipation but in the end, nothing here that cheaper (or an s4 if you look at the right spots) phone can’t do. What about LTE for here?

  • Justin Flynn

    I think this could be quite a compelling phone. However, being that they are offering the choice to the consumers to swap backs within two weeks of purchase and the fact that they have stated that it’s a complicated process, I can see a few issues arising. Believe it or not I would have thought Samsungs user replaceable back was a better option. Users don’t really care that much.

  • Joshua

    Well that’s disappointing. Should have been $399 US ($449 AUD) unlocked from the play store from day one. They should have opened some plants in Asia, and brought customisation options to everyone.

    • Venatoir

      Should? “Should”? According to whom?

      • Montalbert

        me. :P
        Seriously though. Very disappointing. And the outright prices are ridiculous. Maybe we have all been ruined by the nexus 4?

  • Tim

    But it is plastic… What happen to all the Kevlar talks, water resistant solid wear and tear phone. This seems a step back compared to the Razr HD of last year.

    Samsung got slammed for having plastic (call it what you will) yet Moto went down the same path. My tradie family used Moto mainly due to the hardiness – here is hoping the Galaxy Active rears its head in Australia.

  • f

    anybody know when is RAZR HD coming to other networks here like optus, vodafone ??