Aug 02 AT 10:13 AM Sean Riley 54 Comments

Last stop! Everyone off the Moto X hype train!

Moto X Moto Maker

The Moto X hype train has finally pulled into the station and all passengers must disembark. As is so often the case following many months aboard the train, everyone is finding that the destination isn’t quite the panacea they had in mind. For those of you frustrated by some of the details of today’s launch I’m right there with you, and the comments will be a safe space for some venting. I do want to be clear about one thing: half the reason I’m so angry is that I think this is an important device and I hate to see Motorola and Google squander it. So lets start off with the good before we dive into the rest.

Put it in context

Context is king with the Moto X. All roads for Google lead to Google Now and the identification of what a user wants or needs without having to express it. As Google promised, Motorola is its conduit with the Moto X, the purest execution on the idea behind Google Now that we have seen to date save perhaps for Glass. The Moto X uses the vast troves of information Google has about you along with its on-board sensors to intuit what it is you are trying to do or may need to know at any given moment. Now whether it achieves these goals in practice may be another matter, but this is the vision that Google and Motorola have laid before you. It’s an ambitious and admirable goal.

Freedom isn’t free


Remember this ad for the Moto X from early July? It’s a nice idea isn’t it? Free to customize your device however you want. In fact I would say it’s fair to characterize this idea as the central theme of the Moto X marketing to date.

Well it turns out that only AT&T customers are free, something I’m sure many of them would find ironic. Nonetheless, at launch they will be solely blessed with the ability to create a customized Moto X. To paraphrase Henry Ford, the rest of us can have whatever color we want as long as that’s black or white. Yes, the customization option will come to the rest of us eventually, but hamstringing one of the most celebrated features from your marketing campaign at launch is a huge misstep.

The price is wrong

We’ve known for some time now that the Moto X would feature fairly midrange components. While this was a disappointment to some, the consolation was that Motorola and Google could deliver the Moto X at Nexus 4 pricing. We were half right. The middle of the road specs were spot on, but at $575 off-contract for 16GB and $625 for 32 GB, it is in a dead heat with the absolute top-of-the-line on price. No doubt some of this is attributable to the more expensive US assembly, but the pricing here seems nearly 50% higher than what one would expect for this hardware.

Motorola’s CEO, Dennis Woodside, has stated that a cheaper version will be available for the prepaid and international markets in the future. But if you are hoping that will be just a slightly reduced version of this Moto X, you can stop holding your breath. Woodside implied it would be a sub-$200 version, which you can bet will be severely diminished. Perhaps there is a glimmer of hope that the Google Edition coming to the Play Store will be discounted, but that’s probably just wishful thinking.

Wrap up

Google promised that Motorola would be a test bed for new things once the backlog of devices created under the old regime were out the door. And again I think the Moto X hardware does reflect that promise. It’s not the hulking spec monster that people envision as a flagship device, but it is using unique hardware and software to deliver what may prove to be a superior experience. That, it seems, is where Google stopped and the Motorola of old took over. The distribution and pricing model for this phone are completely run of the mill. The one unique feature is the customization, which has been gutted with exclusivity.

The Moto X launched yesterday is just the first of what Dennis Woodside has said is the brand they are most focused on. I hope that is the case; there is real promise in what Google and Motorola have built. I confess it was too much to ask that Google would use its clout to turn the industry on its head with the first real offering from Motorola, but it won’t stop me from hoping for it all over again next time around.

Your thoughts

Alright we wanted to do a quick poll to gauge your feelings about the Moto X, but I also highly recommend the aforementioned venting in the comments as it can be really cathartic.

Sean has been with Android and Me for over 5 years and covering mobile for the last 6. He occasionally muses about gadgets and tech outside of the Android universe at Techgasms.

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  • Michael

    I was holding out for something around the 300 price range with 32gb AND no bullshit exclusivity. Wonder what ATT gave Motorola in bed to get on board with this limited exclusivity? Must have been one heck of a ride…

    • John Patrick

      My bet is that the Moto X AT&T exclusivity is to make-up for the Droid exclusivity.
      In a way that’s true, the Ultra is an X with a 5 inch screen and the Max is sort of OK at 300 dollars because you’re getting a 32GB spec bump plus a monster battery,
      At the same time though, the Ultra is 16GB only and so are all non-AT&T Moto x’s.
      I don’t know about other folks, but you couldn’t pay me to sign a $200 + 2 year contract for a 16GB phone with no storage expansion – who cares what the “experience” is.

      It’s still a “great – I’m friggin out of space AGAIN, now what do I delete?” 16GB 200 dollar phone!

      Ok, I’m done now…

  • Dave

    Motorola flat out FAILED! Welp that’s fine, gives me enough time to save up for the Nexus 5. Hope the Nexus 5 is just as affordable as the previous Nexus offerings like the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, and the Nexus 4.

    • surethom

      I agree & hopefully a nexus 5 with very good low light camera aswell?????

      • Trevor Cameron

        WOW! This phone has almost the exact same specs as the Motorola Droid Ultra, and is the same price and has some super sick customization options and a better camera and we’re griping about price. Why?

        Sure I would love to see it be like a Nexus device and be $300 off contract, but this is not a Nexus device and it was never billed as Nexus device. Because we all read the same rumors and got our hopes up for a cheap amazing phone, doesn’t make this a flop.

        They have made a great looking device, that is going to be fast, take great pictures and be the coolest looking phone of all time, and all they get is hate. I’m really disappointed in the response from our community. Also, they are going to have it on all four carriers and be able to customize it for each eventually. I can’t imagine how long the backlog would have been and how much complaining about waits we would have had if they had done all four at the same time! AT&T is the test run.

        In closing, I will not be buying the Motorola X. Not because it’s a disappointment, but because as a power user, I would rather have a Droid Maxx, LG G2, or Nexus 5.

        • Chris

          It wasn’t the community who got our hopes up about the price, it was Dennis Woodside when he announced that they wanted to release this phone with a price tag that’s is unbeatable so that, people like me, could afford a phone OFF contract.

          The specs and everything else about this phone aren’t mind blowing, but they would be if the price was $349 and or $399. But they aren’t.

          • Lancelot9201

            I agree with every single word you wrote. You saved me from all that typing..

      • Dave

        It’s possible. It was said that they want the Nexus line coming up to have really great cameras and working on the camera department. It was also rumored it’d have a trip camera senor with Nikon branding.

  • redraider133

    The features are nice and expected its the price that has everyone up in arms. I know made in America will be more but this is a prime example of how rumors can kill a phone with the rumored low price being way off is what is kind of making people scratch their heads

    • Trevor Cameron

      Clap, clap, clap… I couldn’t agree more. The rumors were wrong, let’s not hold them to false rumors! That’s just not fair. It’s not a Nexus!

      • SGB101

        It’s a very nice phone, and tbh specs are good, and using this against any top phone will be indistinguishable. Motorola are saying the specs aren’t important, the software is.

        For far to long now oems have just thrown faster cpus to cover shoddy coding. Look at the sgs4, supper fast but laggy???

        I like the mix of colours, the one in the pic above looks very cool,720p is fine, but the price seems to high for the spec, it isn’t much different from the nexus 7, except the standby cores.

        I think they could of come in at $400,still made a profit, kept the customers happy, and not annoyed Sammy et al, making it no look like Google is spring them up.

        It’s a really shame as the phone looks great.

        Biggest bugbear (for me) is it isn’t avaliable in the UK, but out side of USA no one care about made in USA, so we won’t pay the USA premium. Maybe the next one has a made in EU for us euros.

        I also have big reservations about the battery life, after listening to Guy Kawasaki talking last night.

        • MrMrMan

          Sorry but that is Apple’s excuse. When the specs suck say they don’t matter.

  • Troik

    Talking about disappointment: When I read “design a smartphone as unique as you are”, this did in no way translate to me as “there will be color options”, which for me is the shallowest form of customization.

    • Justin

      I knew there would only be color options but to limit to AT&T only was an epic fail.

  • wyatt

    i’m hoping the pricing lines up with the nexus 4 on the play store site. Goog and moto missed a prime opportunity. The mind share was ramping up and that momentum was killed with a price product that is hindered with contracts.

    regardless of performance, the gadget media has proclaimed this a mid-range phone. no one wants to pay $200 on contract for something they perceive as mid-range.

    also, the customization being locked to AT&T is a major set back. i would honestly consider the phone at full cost, but I WANT THE WOOD PHONE.

  • Peter

    With a locked bootloader, the Moto X is anything but free.

  • John

    It’s made in the US, if you wanted a mid-level phone at a cheap price it needs to be made in China. You’re getting a good phone with lots of customization, the only problem is that you’re getting a “Made in the US” price.

    • Kb

      It’s assembled in the US. Most of the parts are made elsewhere. If the labor cost of assembly puts the price on par with a high end phone fully produced in an Asian country, US manufacturing resurgence is hopeless.

  • Orkhan

    There’s nothing bad with Moto X.
    If you think you disappointed about Moto X that’s because of dumb rumors, pointless posts about upcoming devices. You hear something about smartphones, does not matter right or wrong, you write a topic about it and post it here.
    I see related posts about Moto X – all much much before the official release, and all are pointless rumors.
    I’m not disappointed about Moto X, but modern social media and news that all depend/make money/blog on rumors.

    • V

      If you’re not disappointed by the price and are willing to pay top of the line prices for a mid pack phone…then the only thing I can say is: “A fool and his money are easily parted”

      • Trevor Cameron

        You are way off V… How is this a mid-range phone? Has a top of the line cutting edge processor, an amazing camera, 2GB RAM, Wireless a/c. What it doesn’t have 1080 screen? Only 720 HD? Sorry but I would prefer 720 and better battery life. That is a smart decision.

      • Trevor Cameron

        Final thought and then I’m off my rant. Please no more “Mid-Range” talk. The specs are low high end at worst.

        Bleeding edge = Note 3, LG G2
        High End = Droid Maxx
        Low High End = Moto X, Droid Ultra, GS4, HTC One

        I’m done… Sorry flooding this post, but I’m just really bummed about the response to something that is really unique and cool. It’s not for everyone, me included, but that doesn’t make it a flop or a bad phone. Let’s put things in context people!

      • Orkhan

        Oh really? Half of country are waiting for another iShit product which they are ready to pay how much Apple wants and you think Moto X price is over the line?
        And it’s not a mid-range device. For me it’s just like Nexus 4 with better camera and some SW tricks and color options, which will find more users than Nexus 4.

    • Nick Gray

      It turns out that all of the rumors were true except for one (price). We still don’t know what Motorola will be charging for an unlocked Moto X, but it’s doubtful that they will undercut carrier partner pricing.

      The phone itself is not a disappointment. It’s exactly what we expected it to be. But it’s hard to justify the price when the only thing that’s truly unique is the phone’s back panel and trip color options.

      • Trevor Cameron

        Nick, do you feel that the Droid Ultra price is out of line?

    • Alex

      Right on. But I still wish the rumors were true lol

  • Russell Heimlich

    I’m still interested…

    The AT&T exclusive won’t last forever and I want to know how much they will be willing to sell it for direct and unlocked so I can use it on T-Mobile. If I can order it in September for under $400 then I’ll be happy.

    Processor specs aren’t important to me anymore. I just want something that has long battery life while remaining snappy and responsive. Eagerly awaiting full reviews.

  • surethom

    There are 2 main problems for me

    1. No UK/Europe launch (this is the best Android market to sell in)
    2. HOW MUCH for sim free price.

    Motorola could be way better.

  • kishan

    Why would anyone buy mid-range phone for $200 ON Contract?
    We have high-end phones like HTC One,, S4, available between $130 – $150 on contract. (as of now, in some stores)

    Google and Moto lost their senses? did they research before setting this pricing?
    At least they should know N4 was a great success because of its affordable pricing yet with high-end specs.

    Who cares if this phone is made in US or elsewhere. For the consumer, quality is quality no matter where it is made, and this phone does not seem to be higher quality build than HTC One..

  • phi

    Those complaining about price should be reminded that these phones are being assembled in the USA where wages are a lot higher than they are in China. Components might be cheap but labor is not here.

    • Esteban

      Nobody outside USA cares a thing about “made in USA”. Quality is quality no matter from where it comes from.

  • snowbdr89

    I was never on the train in the first place!!

  • mattcoz

    The only thing that has me still holding out hope for the price is the pricing of the Nexus 4. From T-Mobile it was $199 on-contract and $549 off-contract, compared to $349 off-contract on the Google Play store. Could the same thing happen with the Moto X?

  • Mix

    Why would you even consider this an option when you can get a cheaper, better, Nexus 4?

  • halo0

    I would have gone for this phone at $400 off-contract, but $575 is crazy. Also let’s not forget that it’s ASSEMBLED in the US. I guarantee most if not all of the parts that get assembled are Made In China.

  • GrendelJapan

    There are two pieces to the price issue.

    First, there are some folks that were expecting a lower price, or would expect a lower price based on the specs. The customer expectations issue is what it is.

    Second, and arguably more important, is how the Moto X fits in the competitive market. At $200, is the Moto X a compelling product? S4s and HTC Ones are by many technical measures, superior phones and can be had at a potentially lower price. Samsung, it should be noted, has a massive marketing presence too. The iPhone 5 has fairly similar specs and is the same price, but is an Apple product (i.e., everything that conveys, in terms or “value” to a sizable portion of the market). What’s more, a new iPhone could be coming out in fairly short order and could change the comparison fairly dramatically (iPhone 5 could get a price cut. Next iPhone could easily be a discernibly better value than the Moto X).

    Obviously, the Moto X had a very data-driven design, but there is a potentially huge gap between what people actually do and what they value (i.e., the marketing standpoint). Designing a device to fit what people do could fall very short, if the average customer either perceives their own use to be one of a ~power user or aspires for that level of functionality. An easy example of this is mobile screen resolution. An average person may not be able to tell any difference between a 4.5 screen at 720p and one at 1080p, but do they perceive a difference and if so, what value do they put on that difference?

    If Samsung can legitimately tout a better screen, faster processor, higher resolution camera, bigger battery, and better storage, how does that impact the Moto X’s ability to compete? Does it mean that the Moto X is relying essentially on voice input and assembled in the USA (there is a whole debate to be had here about how far “assembled” really helps) to distinguish itself in an extremely crowded market?

  • bigmixxx

    Gosh –

    THE ONE THING that’s horrible is the price, the rest is acceptable. I understand they are out to make money. But at 199 On CONTRACT, it’s just a slap in the face. Why not the $100 dollar price point? I think there was something carrier based behind that.

    How about 249 and 299 full price? This directly impacts Verizon’s droid line, so you can’t do that AND hurts the Google dollar with the nexus 4 at 299 and 349.


  • Paul Atreides

    I’m disturbed by the price and was hoping for swappable parts not just a one time customization. I’d end up throwing a case on it since that’s not possible which defeats the whole customization purpose for me. Sure they will offer a clear case but after a month or two it won’t be clear anymore you can bet on that. Unless the Nexus 5 has supreme hardware and Key Lime Pie, I’ll probably just wait to finish my contract out even though I’d like a new toy to enjoy. Ready for some HTC One-2 and Galaxy S5 leaks. So far I’m not impressed by the Nexus 5 rumors.

    • Paul Atreides

      I hope other companies take the customization flag and run with it!

  • julian

    I’m waiting for a full hands on review. Its not always about specs. This is close to pure android. So im Sure it will run smooth and fast. Yes I wish the price was a little lower and the exclusivity is my major issue at launch but I’ll hold my reservation till after review

  • david jones richrads

    Price is too high but there would be a cheaper version as per CEO of motorolla. See its price without contract

  • Jimmy Lin

    I was hoping for a phone at $300 off contract given with tmobile i am BYOB. At $575 or whatever they plan to sell it off, I rather get a Sony Xperia or HTC One. Yes if you are charging flagship prices, then give me flagship specs.

  • SakeSage

    “People are skydiving out of space ships.” But Google wont puts SD card slots in there phones?

  • qst4

    I guess my frustration is the connection to the carriers. I mean exclusivity, selling them on contract, labeling the phones with the carriers name. I just don’t get it. We are we still doing things this way. Frankly, I’m ok with a midrange $300 phone if it keeps my out of a contract. In this case we got neither. Nexus 5, where are you.

  • Zach Mauch

    Moto and Google had a chance to go all T-Mobile on this thing and set off a major shift in the industry. Instead, they sold out and squandered an amazing opportunity that would have really changed the future for the better.

  • jamal adam

    A well written article Sean. I agree with all your points, you hit it on the nail.

  • s_rob

    waiting on the Nexus 5. Moto X was a disappointment!!

  • slav

    Dear Moto, you’ve a lot of great PR job overhyping this device around the globe and now you only give it to one specific carrier in just one country, showing the middle finger to pretty much the rest of the world. What a clever strategy to loose faith and money of people who actually wanted to buy this device. Congrats!

    • sebastianyuke

      yeah, customization only for one carrier in one country what’s the meaning of that? assembly in US, and bet in US market. oh I don’t think moto x will raise much.
      So, just like the others, where’s Nexus 5?

  • slimx30

    actually, the price doesn’t bother me as much. What bothered me was the AT&T exclusive to customize the phone. That right there was flat out stupid. This is supposed to be one of the main points of this phone and it is an exclusive. I can’t believe they were that idiotic to do that. I don’t care if it is time limited that right there was a huge misstep. I would not get this phone for that reason alone.

    • donger

      Well said.

  • William Gazina

    There’s no SD card slot. So it’s completely inferior to my Galaxy Nexus. I drool over devices, but this device has me drooling over the $100 device I already own. LOL

    • somfw

      The Galaxy Nexus doesn’t have an SD card either Genius!

  • somfw

    You people are all Brain Dead, Including the Author!
    First: and hopefully for the final Time – this phone is NOT made in the USA Why are u people so naive on this fact? It has some minimal Final Assembly done by Minimum Wage Texicans 0 they are the snap on back, the snap on Buttons and the final packaging, the phones come completely assembled from china with a black or white front and No back or buttons. Thats it! Go research NAFTA and the tax loopholes Googlerola just jumped through To be “Patriotic”
    Second: This phone does not get 24 Hours of “Mixed Use” as advertised. It gets 2 to 4 hours of Actual Screen on Time and 20+ Hours of standby!
    Third: There will be no Nexus 5, Nexus is dead Google will not subsidize another Bomb like the NExus 4, either will the carriers. The future of Nexus is Google Play editions and probably all will be GSM only as Verizon refuses to allow Google to send OTA updates to their phones.
    Fourth: Stop crying about the Price and the Specs. It is a consumer Electronic in a highly competitive market. This phone will be $99 or less in mere weeks