The much anticipated smartphone that also takes the title of being the worst-kept secret in recent times is finally here. Well sort of. Motorola today unveiled the Moto X, the first smartphone made after Google announced it was acquiring the company almost exactly two years ago. To be available initially in the US for $199 with a two-year contract and in Canada and Latin America (sorry, no word on India launch but we’d suggest not holding your breath for it), the Moto X aspires to be the iPhone of the Android world. Rather than concentrating on specifications, Motorola claims it is looking at enhancing experiences. The core propositions being a battery that lasts all day, a camera that clicks great photos and a user experience that does not require users to touch the phone to get information.
Rather than going for the most expensive silicon, the Moto X is powered by a custom Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual-core processor that has two Krait 300 cores clocked at 1.7GHz and a quad-core Adreno 320 GPU. Along with this, Motorola has added two additional DSPs – one that always listens for “OK Google Now” command to fire up Google Now and another that keeps a track of the phone’s motion to power up the information display or turn on the camera. Motorola calls it the Motorola X8 Mobile processor.
For a touch-free experience, users can simply use the command “OK Google Now” even when the phone is in sleep mode that wakes it up and will initiate Google Now. The phone’s information display also turns on when the user picks it up or takes it out from the pocket to display the time and notification icons. Rather than keeping the main processor turned on all the time, the Moto X uses the two low-power DSPs for these tasks, ensuring there is minimal battery drain.
Then there is the camera, which Motorola claims enables the users to click a photo from the lock screen in the shortest time when compared to rival smartphones. A flick of the wrist signals the phone that a user wants to click a photo and turns on the camera automatically. Motorola is touting a 10-megapixel Clear Pixel (RGBC) camera, which it claims takes better low-light photographs. There is a 2-megapixel front facing camera too.
Surprisingly, despite being a Google company, the Moto X still runs Android 4.2.2. Yes, Google had promised that Motorola will get access to Android at the same time as its other OEM partners but it remains to be seen how long the charade lasts. Thankfully, Android 4.3 has been a minor update and we will get to know for sure whether the wall between Google and Motorola Mobility indeed exists or if it is a mere smokescreen for other OEMs.
Talking about hardware specs (yes, despite focusing purely on experience, the specifications are important too) we are looking at a 4.7-inch Super AMOLED 720p display, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, a 2,200mAh battery, Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac. We have already visited the processor and camera.
Motorola is also offering users over 2,000 customization options where they can choose the back panel (there’s a wooden option too), the accents, engraving and much more. This is limited to the US for the moment and it remains to be seen whether Motorola extends it to other markets as well.
The Moto X marks the beginning of a trend when Android device vendors finally understand that importance of user experience over core hardware specifications. But, as things would have it, we are not sure if users are ready to accept what’s eventually good for them. After all, most pay for the hardware they get and the market value of a smartphone is still pegged on the basis of the hardware it runs rather than its capabilities and the experience it provides. And that is where Motorola probably lost the opportunity. It could have passed on the cost savings of using last year’s hardware to potential customers rather than matching the price tags of today’s flagship smartphones.