Yesterday, we received the Moto X (2014) at Ausdroid’s Sydney office, and after 24 hours with the phone in hand, I thought it was only fair to share a few impressions with you. I must, first of all, apologise for using a generic header image instead of photos I’ve taken myself, as I’ve not yet had the opportunity to take some great photos of the phone just yet.
After briefly holding a Nexus 6 the other day (before handing it over to its rightful owner), I was left with a bit of bewilderment, thanks in no small part to a case of shabby memory. You see, I first played with the Moto X (2014) back in September when Motorola held a press briefing in Sydney, and now that I read my notes and refresh my memory, I remember feeling the phone was a good shape and size, it sat in the hand well, and wasn’t overly huge. Fast forward to last week, and I was having conniptions thinking that the Nexus 6 was in fact the Moto X in different clothes.
Well no, the Nexus 6 is significantly bigger, and I felt that it lacked a certain sizzle for a phone of its price. Sure, it’s 6″ big, but it didn’t feel premium. It felt cheap plastic to me, and I was worried that the Moto X was going to be more of the same. Rather fortunately, it isn’t. The White Bamboo build of the Moto X is beautiful; it feels like its the right weight, the size is just perfect for one-handed use, and while the front is sort of white enamel plastic, the bamboo rear looks and feels great. Something about natural materials…
To me, one of the standout features that Motorola has been getting right for a couple of years now is that they make very little changes to the Android experience, only supplementing it with features that are, for the most part, quite useful. The Motorola Active Display is one such feature that other phones with AMOLED displays should definitely pick up, allowing you to see notifications and even simple previews without needing to power up the whole display.
Other useful features are always-on listening for voice commands, so you can tell the Moto X to load a YouTube video from across the room, or to post a new Facebook status for you. Not something you’ll need, or even use, on a regular basis, but it’s neat to have it there just in case.
Beyond this, you’re basically looking at a stock Android experience, and better yet, while the Moto X (2014) ships with Android 4.4.4, one of the first things it did after connecting to the Internet was prompt me to install a system update. Hidden down in the bullet points of features was a small reference to Android 5.0, and so I gleefully accepted. About twenty minutes later, the update was downloaded and installed, and there was Lollipop, right there.
Having used Lollipop on the Nexus 6 and Nexus 7, the experience wasn’t that different; in fact, besides some Motorola notifications popping up about privacy policies, special features and the like, this is as close to stock Lollipop as you’re ever likely to get without taking a Nexus phone. It’s fast, smooth, and fluid, and doesn’t miss a beat.
A standout feature for all the wrong reasons is the size of the battery in the Moto X. At just 2,300 mAh, it’s not all that big, and with a 5.2″ display to power, and fairly powerful internals as well, I have my doubts as to just how well this battery is going to last. At present, I’ve been getting around with a Sony Xperia Z3, which has a 3,100 mAh battery inside. That thing is affectionately known as a whale, and lasts easily for a day of heavy use, and probably two days of light use. If the Moto X can’t last a day, it’s going to be a real uphill battle. Time will tell.
Probably the other notable exclusion is Qi charging; while the Nexus 6 has it, the Moto X does not. Equally, the Nexus 6 costs a lot more, so you’d expect it to have a few more features, but like Scott said in his preview, once you’ve had Qi charging, it’s really difficult to go back to not having it. I’ve become kind of used to micro USB charging again with the Z3 (it has magnetic charging pins, but the docks are unreliable at best) so it’s not a huge concern, just a minor annoyance. Why Qi hasn’t become a universal standard in mobiles (or at least Android) yet is something I can’t fathom.
Obviously it’s hard to say too much useful in terms of an opinion after just 24 hours, but I think my time with the Moto X will be enjoyable, just so long as the battery holds out. I’m not the most demanding user, in that if I’m out of the house, I’m not generally using my phone all that much except for music and catching up on social media on the way to or from appointments, but I have my fears. If I can kill a Z3 by 8pm, I’m thinking the Moto X is not going to keep up.
I’ll check out the camera in more detail (first impressions are that it’s easy to use), flick through the software features a bit more closely, and see how it fares over Christmas before a full review early in the new year.