Aug 07 AT 7:53 AM Nick Sarafolean 34 Comments

Motorola is the first manufacturer to beat the specs race


Is it quad-core or dual-core? How many pixel thingamajigs does it have? Is it equipped with the latest gizmo, gadget, or other gimmicky feature? We’ve all heard those questions from a tech nerd before. We’re hoarders, always trying to get the newest, hottest technology on the market. If our phone doesn’t have it, we generally want it. But at a certain point, it gets to be too much. Where more and more specs are crammed in just for the sake of saying that the device has them. That’s where we are on the timeline.

I’m sure that you’ve noticed this pattern with the high-end phones being released onto the market. Every single time, the manufacturer talks up every new feature that the device has. One of the guiltiest manufacturers is Samsung, who’s built a reputation for cramming every feature possible into its Galaxy phones. But do we all really need to have S Beam, S Health, S Memo, and every other thing under the sun that Samsung could think of? No, we don’t.

The same goes for the hardware. It’s not really necessary to have a 1080p resolution in such a small display. In fact, the difference between 1080p and 720p is minute and in most scenarios, you’ll never notice the difference. And do we really need to have the fastest uber-core processor out there? Will our phones really not run without all of that extra power? Yet again, the answer is no.

One of the secrets that manufacturers usually try to keep hidden from consumers is that they don’t usually optimize a whole lot. Occasionally, you’ll get a company who optimizes software and hardware together for a truly beautiful experience but it’s often confined to a specific feature. But what would happen if the manufacturer optimized the entire hardware and software experience of the phone? Would they really need all of those over-the-top specs?

Indeed they would not. And that’s what Motorola has realized. That’s part of the entire point of the Moto X. It’s not about the raw power of the hardware but rather the way that the hardware and software work together. And while the specs may appear mid-range to those of use who crave the newest processors and highest resolution displays, you have to realize that the specs are still very good. Maybe the Snapdragon S4 Pro processor that’s buried in the device is dual-core but it’s paired with Motorola’s X8 mobile computing system. That means that there are other smaller processors dedicated to specific tasks. The combo allows for longer battery life and better overall performance.

“But how so?” you may think. Well, with specific processors dedicated to certain tasks, Motorola can optimize those for what they do and then have the dual core Snapdragon S4 Pro dedicated to other tasks. And so with that powerful CPU system, Motorola chose the Adreno 320 GPU due to the raw performance that it offers to allow it to flawlessly play games. This brings in another reason that they opted for a 720p display rather than a 1080p display. That lower resolution allows the CPU and GPU to perform even better without really sacrificing image quality all that much.

Yet another side effect of opting for these more modest specs is that battery life is improved. The phone simply doesn’t have to power so many excess things. There aren’t thousands of extra pixels that need power nor are there extra cores chipping away at your precious battery life. It allows for longer battery life in an even smaller package. That’s something that we all want, right?

So the key is in the software. Not only is optimization incredibly helpful but other features can then be added in the software.

“But wait, Samsung and HTC do that too!”

This is speaking in a different manner though. Samsung, HTC and LG certainly do add features into the software. But many of those features are rather gimmicky, things like drama shot, voice and picture, BlinkFeed and however many other things aren’t generally going to be used much. But Motorola has taken a different approach. Rather than including every feature possible, it’s adding in new features that are designed to make your life easier.

A prime example is the touchless control. The Moto X is always listening and awaiting your orders. To tell it what to do, you simply say “Okay Google Now”, followed by the task that you have in mind. This is perfect for when you want to do something simple but your hands are dirty or maybe you just don’t want to pick up your phone and do it manually. This isn’t a gimmick but rather a useful feature that is possible thanks to the unique hardware.

There’s also the active display which shows you rich notifications rather than just a pulsing LED light. Assist is the evolution of Motorola’s Smart Actions and aims to allow your phone to react to all sorts of things. Trust me, if you thought Smart Actions was good, you’re going to love this. There are more that I could name but for the sake of space, I won’t.

In short, Motorola has beat the specs race. Rather than constantly racing to be the top dog in specs like the rest of the manufacturers, it has realized that optimization is key. Instead of packing in everything new and exciting, Motorola is taking existing things and improving upon them. And it’s doing all of this while still innovating in the software department. That in itself is quite a feat.

So what do you think about the Moto X? Do you believe that Motorola is onto something with this new tactic? We’d be ever so pleased if you’d share your opinions down in the comments.

A nerd at heart, Nick is an average person who has a passion for all things electronic. When not spending his time writing about the latest gadgets, Nick enjoys reading, dabbling in photography, and experimenting with anything and everything coffee. Should you wish to know more about him, you can follow him on Twitter @Zricon15.

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