If you’ve been watching the smartphone race for the last few years, you’ll notice the occasional purple or red rectangular Android smartphone. But by and large, we’ve been stuck with generic black plastic squares that have slightly different combinations of “Android + branded processor + branded display technology.”
Whether by focusing solely on the specs–processors, memory, storage and display–or tweaked design aesthetic–rounding the corners more, adding or removing a tenth of an inch here or there–it seems that smartphone manufacturers and marketers (other than Apple) haven’t succeeded in satisfying a broad consumer base. Phones are either for niche segments or a bland swath. Apple, again, is the outlier here, who has focused in many ways on making sure things “just work,” and avoiding the specification race while delivering a reliable, compelling customer experience.
With the Moto X, we have an Android smartphone that steps ahead of the pack–and delivers a solid iPhone competitor, too–by going to market with a device that also “just works.” Neither a bleeding-edge techno-phone nor a slouch in performance, it delivers a very balanced experience wrapped in a brand that delivered well in the past.
The physical design of Moto X itself is approachable, packing a 4.7″ screen into a solidly-built shell that isn’t imposing at all. The weight and balance is solid, and the materials feel high-end. The customization options available on some carriers give a very unique nod to the idea that a phone is as much accessory as technology. On the software side, Android 4.2.2 with very minimal tweaking by either Sprint or Motorola on top of the standard Android experience delivers a more consistent and responsive interface. And the “whizbang” features, namely Touchless Control and Active Display, are so nifty and useful that I can’t imagine having a phone without them.
To their credit, the Motorola marketing team seems to have struck a good balance between touting the hardware specs that geeks and early adopters love to chatter about, and featuring the useful features in a way that could interest your average consumer.True, there is talk about the Motorola X8 Mobile Computing System” but generally only in reference to the true innovation they power, like the dedicated natural language processor for Touchless Control.
Having used the Moto X for nearly a month, I’m sold. Admittedly I do pick up my Samsung Galaxy S3 on occasion and notice the ever-so-slightly larger display; but after a few seconds I remember how akward it can feel in my hand due to the size and shape. I’ll pick up my wife’s iPhone 5 to glance at the time or weather, and get frustrated that it doesn’t automatically turn on the display when I pick it up like my Moto X does. And that I have to press a button to get Siri to wake up.
I was a Motorola fan with the Razr, and again with the Photon. After a debacle with their support for upgrading Android on the Photon wavering and eventually backpedaling, I was wary of picking up another Motorola device. Google’s acquisition made a lot of sense, and with the Moto X, I think the blending of software and hardware has resulted in one of the most compelling smartphones available on the market. The Moto X brings enough spec to the party to sate the geeks, enough fashion to turn heads, and ease of use that allows my kids to use things like Touchless Control and the new camera interface without any prompting from me. I have no reservations about recommending the Moto X, and think it will be a very competitive phone for a while.
At least until the next Nexus comes out.