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 8 years and covering mobile for the last 9. He occasionally muses about gadgets and tech outside of the Android universe at Techgasms.

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  • Taylor Wimberly

    I really want to design my own. Might pay full price and just unlock the AT&T one to use on T-Mobile, but I want to see how long the exclusive for MotoMaker is.

    • stenzor

      It’s because you want a pink one, right?

    • Sean Riley

      I really hope that’s a 30-60 day exclusive. I can’t believe Motorola would give it to AT&T through the holidays.

      • Adam Jones

        The news is now out. ATT has it until at least the beginning of November. I was hoping 1 month at most. I need a MotoMaker fix. I’m killing to build one too.

  • jerrbomb

    I’m right there with yu.. The phone sounds incredible.. I’ve just been turned off by price.. But as they say.. They weren’t aiming for specs to be the main point anyways

  • pjamies

    My only concern with its low specs, is future proofing this phone.
    The talk around the web is that Android 5 (KLP) is on the horizon, as with
    almost all new OS’s, each new iteration of OS comes the need for a
    faster CPU/GPU to accommodate the latest features.
    I am just hoping that this phone will make it over the next OS spec hump!
    (tho, I am sure Motorola has made previsions for this ..)
    I think I am going to wait for the new Nexus phone (and hopefully KLP) to
    emerge before deciding on the X.

    • Jeroen

      Do you really think Android 5 will be so much heavier than 4 that it will bring a mid to high end device to a crawl? Come on, don’t be ridiculous.

      Other than that, future proofing in tech is an illusion. You will probably have gotten a new phone / contract before it does reach that state of not being able to keep up anymore.

      Android Jelly Bean brought very significant speed improvements over it’s predecessor Ice Cream Sandwich. There have also been reports on 5.0 being optimized for older hardware (old by today’s standards)

      I suspect that any phone release in the last two years (at least) will be able to run 5.0 just fine.

    • Paradigm

      Please stfu about specs. Do iPhone users give a fuck about whether their iPhone while run the next iOS? No, because they know it will, because Apple made sure the END-USER experience was butter smooth. MotoX does the same, so why care about the Specs. This is the iPHONE of Android people. You no longer have to give a fuck about specs just like the iPhone fanboys, it will work smooth as fuck, smoother than SG4, HTC One, yet they have better specs. Keep bitching about specs when ur battery life and userinterface is crappy as fuck, and laggy yet with BETTER SPECS. You guys must not use computers anymore, cause anyone that uses one knows the highest end processor is not necessary anymore, not even the one right below top end. Think Intel’s 12-core processors. It’s there, but does anyone buy it? Hardly, because you don’t fucking need it. Does anyone cry foul when Intel doesn’t release a processor that beats their previous 12-core? NO. Because they don’t give a fuck. People buy fast fucking processor, that doesn’t spend a dick load of power. THANK YOU INTEL for not continuing pumping out the fastest fucking processor possible and thinking about fast + efficiency. People did the same shit in CPU/computer wars, specs specs specs. Even the CPU companies gave up on specs and focused on the ENTIRE experience. The amount of spec this spec that on here is deplorable.

      • masterpfa

        I agree with what you are saying “In principle” I just would not have worded in the same eloquent manner that you have.
        I love the idea of this phone and the idea of Software and Hardware working in harmony as has been proven with the Nexus devices which have never really been cutting edge. I have owned both the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One, both with ‘superior’ specs to my Nexus 4, but after short periods with both (luckily I had kept my Nexus) they were both dispatched after for me offering far inferior user experience.
        Motorola and Google have designed a product that should have no problems with running 4.3 and 5.0 (if it is to be given that version number). I also believe Google with have an eye on releases in the future of an OS that would require minimal work to be applied to as many handsets as possible.
        Good on you Motorola, just a shame the Moto X as we see in this guise will not make it’s way to Europe.

  • aholland1

    Thanks for putting all these reviews in one place! I hadn’t seen many of them and am definitely on the fence about this one over the Maxx or maybe some other device that will work well with Cyanogenmod. My experience with the GNex has taught me to go where the Devs go if I want to get full use out of my phone for the life of the device/contract, so holding out for a new Nexus or something with a fully unlock-able bootloader might be the way to go (fat chance on Vzw if the GNex has been any sort of example).

    Kellex’s review though on DL ( really contradicts the positive comments about battery life here, and that is probably the most important feature to me after dealing with the GNex’s struggle for life by 4pm usually if I forget to or can’t plug in at some point during the day, even on the 2100 MaH battery.

    Here’s hoping the best phone will make itself apparent soon as my contract is up for discount next week which is going to make it difficult to hold out much longer!

  • Pravas

    Wow..specially love the colors.

  • mattcoz

    “The recently announced HTC One mini is larger than the Moto X in all dimensions but thickness”

    The One Mini is 63mm wide and the Moto X is 65mm wide. Still, that’s quite impressive for a phone with a 0.4″ bigger screen. My EVO 3D is 65mm wide, so I’ll be happy to upgrade the screen without gaining any extra width.

  • donger

    Still want to try this phone before the Nexus 5.

  • cameron

    Nice review!

    Is the software exactly the same between the Moto X and the new Droids?

    I am torn between the beautiful form factor of the Moto X and the battery life of the Droid Maxx.

    However, I like all the software features of the Moto X

    • Austin Hutchins

      Actually, the Moto X software is very similar to stock vanilla Android, while the Droid line is heavily skinned and filled to the brim with bloatware.

  • Iain

    Thanks for the round up guys!
    Pocketlint just added theirs:

  • deg

    I don’t know what these reviewers are talking about. The Moto X has the weakest tiniest Speaker I have ever heard on a smartphone. I over sleep three alarms for 3 hours each day. And the battery life sucks. About 5&A half hours maximum. The current monitor is showing a half an amp regularly. The battery case makes phone a heavy brick. Goodmit, just put a real freakin battery moto, a 3.5 or 4 amp hour battery would be rather nice.