Aug 07 AT 1:38 PM Sean Riley 17 Comments

Moto X review roundup


Motorola’s first flagship under Google ownership, the Moto X, is due out on multiple carriers in the coming weeks, but the first reviews have already started to roll in. We have curated the reviews from around the web to get a picture of what critics think of the device. The big announcement left some of us a bit disappointed, but the real tale of the device is what it’s like to use and you can’t get that from a specs sheet. Read on to see how the first product of Googorola performed.

Moto X Review roundup

What critics are saying about the Moto X

  • Design: “the Moto X is one of the most comfortable smartphones we’ve handled. Ever.” “It’s a two-part design, with both top and bottom casings, but thanks to an incredibly well-molded fit, it feels as premium as any unibody design.” “The best part about the Moto X design is that it’s a big-screen phone that doesn’t feel like one.” “The volume rocker and power button…are loosely secured and flimsy.” “It’s a beautifully made phone, with the unique advantage of being highly cosmetically customizable.”
  • Display: “The Moto X’s AMOLED display packs a pixel density of 316 ppi, looks great from most any angle and has that signature vibrant pop of saturated color associated with this panel type.” “Whites are a touch pinkish…The screen is very bright, noticeably brighter than the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One…” “I expected to to be bothered by the step backward in pixel density, but it wasn’t an issue.”
  • Audio: “It (the speaker) looks pretty small, but it actually plays impressively loud.” “It’s extremely loud without distortion…It can monitor the temperature and movement of the speaker membrane to safely boost sound up to 6x more than normal without risk of blowing the speaker out.” “The Moto X’s speaker is actually significantly louder than the One’s, and there isn’t much distortion, either.”
  • Performance: “the phone is fast and smooth. It’s more than sufficient for everyday use.” “The result is a phone that feels very sprightly, with fast, smooth scrolling, few performance delays and great game play.” “I’ll simply say this – the Moto X has zero performance issues.”
  • Camera: “it’s somewhere above average, with times where it can be a rockstar.” “Most pictures I took were acceptable while a few looked outstanding.” “you can’t just tap and snap immediately; you have to allow the Moto X to adjust.” “In low light, Motorola’s ClearPixel camera is capable of much higher ISOs than the GS 4, at the expense of lots of noise.” “Yet somehow the Moto X’s post-processing is so aggressive and so ubiquitous that it ruins as many shots as it saves.” “While toggling HDR on and off helps a bit in certain circumstances, most of the X’s shots come out pretty lifeless.”
  • Battery: “It definitely gets a full day of use: I used it heavily for 15 hours before it died, and if you used it like most people use their phones, you won’t need to charge it during the day.” “Claps your hands, people. This is the battery life you didn’t know you were missing.” “Even with very heavy usage (tons of web browsing, navigation, phone calls, and playing HD games every chance we got) we’d generally make it to 1am with 15 percent battery to spare.”
  • Touchless Controls: “Sounds scary, but it’s actually very cool. There’s a ton you can do without having to even touch the phone.” “It worked quite well for nearly every task I could think of…But there’s a catch. The touchless controls are rendered nearly useless if you have any kind of security lock on your phone.” “I think the average consumer will be impressed by the feature.”

The Moto X certainly suffered a bit for all of the hype leading up to the reveal last week, but the early reviews should be turning around those initial impressions. Most reviewers seem to agree that Motorola’s function over specs approach delivers one of the smoothest experiences of any Android phone to date. While some reviewers took issue with the display the one area that seemed to be uniformly an issue for reviewers was the camera. Most reviewers found that while the camera is capable of superb images, it will all too frequently fail to deliver.

Video reviews of Moto X

Most underrated feature: Form factor

Yes we already covered it and some reviewers did bring this up, but I still think the size of this phone isn’t probably getting the attention that it deserves. Motorola went to great lengths to make a small device that still delivered a big screen experience. The recently announced HTC One mini is larger than the Moto X in all dimensions but thickness and has a screen that is about half an inch smaller. We see the complaint all the time that there isn’t a compelling smaller flagship device and the Moto X is positioned to own that audience.

5 Word Wrap Up: “Stop worrying about the specs”

The bullet point mentality that is pervasive in the mobile industry can make a reviewers job very easy. Just a few ><= and you can summarize how a new phone stacks up to the rest of the market. The Moto X seeks to get away from that and deliver a premium user experience regardless of what the numbers may say. Whether that is something that you can get behind or not it does appear from these early reviews that Motorola has delivered a phone that can hold its own with the other flagship devices in most areas.

The camera appears to be the one potential sticking point on the phone and based on what I’m hearing I think it is attributable to the processing that Motorola is applying rather than a fault with the Clear Pixel camera itself. That leaves hope that they could fix it with an update, but I wouldn’t hold your breath as I find the results to be very much in line with what I’ve experienced with Motorola’s smartphones for the last couple years. I often find the pictures perhaps closer to reality than what we see from some of the other manufacturers, but that isn’t what the average smartphone user actually wants.

Price of course is the other factor that we didn’t really get into with the reviews as while we know that the Moto X will run $199 on contract we still don’t have a definitive off contract price. AT&T has suggested that it will be $575 for the base model off contract, but that leaves the other carriers, the Play Store and direct sale through Motorola as potentially better offerings. In truth the average smartphone buyer will see the Moto X as being $199 like basically all of the other smartphones they are considering so they aren’t going to be turned off by that. Whether enthusiasts share that opinion is probably another matter.

What do you think of Motorola’s new flagship now that some reviews are in? Anyone change their mind either way about picking one up?

Sean has been with Android and Me for over 4 years and covering mobile for the last 5. He occasionally muses about gadgets and tech outside of the Android universe at Techgasms.

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