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Motorola Moto X review

 Review: February 2014  

Rating: 5 stars

In a nutshell: Positioned somewhere between the budget-beating Motorola Moto G and the high-end Google Nexus 5, the Moto X is a well-specified phone with Android KitKat and a very good range of features. It's compact with a curvy shape, and offers a good AMOLED display, a high quality 10 megapixel camera and 4G connectivity. Battery life could be a little stronger though.

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Look & feel

Motorola has been gaining in confidence these past few years and the Moto X is one of its most confident designs ever. You see, it's curved. Yes, instead of a flat, ultrathin rectangle, the Moto X has a curvy shape - it's a little chunky in the middle, but really thin at the edges. It's designed to fit the shape of your hand, which isn't a bad idea at all now we come to think of it. It may wobble a bit on your desk, but it's very easy to pick up again.

Apart from that, there's nothing too special about the look and feel of the Moto X. It comes in a choice of Black or White and it has a textured back plastic panel to make it even easier to grip. The ultra narrow bezel makes it very compact for its screen size.

The display is a bright AMOLED high definition screen with HD 720p resolution. That's what you'd expect from a phone costing in the region of £300, and it does the job very well, with the usual eye-popping colours and contrast that AMOLED produces.

Android KitKat

This is one of the few phones to run Android KitKat (4.4), the latest release of Android. This brings you Hangouts, displaying all of your SMS and MMS messages together in the same place, alongside your other conversations and video calls.

There are other tweaks you might notice if you're upgrading from an older version of Android, such as the phone app organising your contacts based on the people you talk to the most and the Caller ID trying to match unknown incoming callers against businesses with a local listing on Google Maps. Clever, but not life changing.

What's perhaps more interesting is the way that Android now wants you to talk to it. It's always listening out for you. Not in a creepy way so it can report you to the NSA, but in a friendly, "how can I help?" kind of way. Yes, voice commands have stepped up a gear in KitKat, for better or worse.

The Moto X also features Active Display, which shows live alerts on the screen even when the phone is in standby. By touching the unlock button on the standby screen you can preview incoming emails without having to unlock the phone.

You also get a lot of core Android apps bundled with the phone, making the 1 million third-party apps less essential. The Android core software is definitely maturing nicely and can do many of the things most people want from a smartphone.


One glance at the specs reveal that this is no top-of-the-range phone. The processor, whilst fast enough is a dual-core Snapdragon S4, not the latest quadcore CPU. A guad-core Adreno 320 GPU is on board to handle graphics, so for gaming the Moto X is pretty capable nonetheless. Demanding games like Real Racing 3 run smoothly on the 720p screen.

The phone comes in a choice of 16GB or 32GB versions, and since there's no memory card slot we'd recommend the higher memory version. As a bonus you get 2 years of free cloud storage on Google Drive - 50GB, although this will only be usable if you can maintain a fast data connection.

10 megapixel camera

Well, that's unexpected, a 10 megapixel camera. It's more than the usual 8 megapixels on a phone of this calibre. Does it make a difference? Perhaps. The sensor is larger than normal too, and performance is good by smartphone standards. HDR mode helps add detail in low-lighting.

It's fast to use too, particularly if you use the special "flick" action to launch the camera.

As well as still shots, the camera can record video at full 1080p resolution and 30 frames/second. You can also shoot slow-motion at 720p resolution.

A front-facing 2 megapixel camera enables selfies and video chat.


The Moto X is a modern well-connected device with everything you could want. It supports 4G connectivity, so if you're one of the lucky people to live and work in a good 4G area, you'll benefit from fast data on the move. For everyone else, there's 3G HSPA and Wi-Fi.

Battery life

The battery supplied in this phone is rated at 2200mAh, which isn't really enough to power heavy duty phone use. Motorola quotes 24 hours of "mixed usage" for the Moto X, but we suspect this includes several hours tucked away in your pocket not doing very much. Heavy users will struggle to make it through 24 hours, and even moderate users may need to charge every day.


The Moto X has received some critical reviews, but unfairly so. Look at the price! Although not a budget phone like the Motorola Moto G, this is not a high ticket phone like the Samsung Galaxy S4. It's priced more like the Galaxy S4 Mini, which it outperforms in nearly every respect. So if you're looking for an Android phone with high value and good (but not cutting-edge) performance, you could really do far, far worse than choose the Moto X.

Motorola Moto X features include:

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Motorola Moto X user reviews

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Average rating from 3 reviews:

Reviewed by Thing from UK on 30th May 2014
The Moto X is a lovely design and I think it hits a sweet spot of screen size versus "in the hand" size. The screen fills the front with tiny bezels, the back is soft touch, grippy plastic and is a great curved shape. The whole phone feels superb quality with a great fit and finish. Now onto that screen..... It has amazingly saturated colours! They simply glow and blacks have no hint of grey, it really impresses and pops. Detail is as sharp as you'll need. Whites are ok with a slight pink tint, overall brightness is loads better than a Galaxy S4 but way off an iPhone 5.
Kit Kat runs great, with the occasional stutter but nothing to ruin the experience. The extra Motorola software tweaks are subtle yet very useful, the main one is the lock screen which shows notifications you press and hold to read a preview, swipe it up to open it fully in the app or swipe down to dismiss and just unlock to home. The screen also wakes (to a subtle lock screen) every time you move the phone or remove it from a pocket, I never ever have to wake it manually now! A superb idea which does't impact on the battery.
To sum up, a lovely device that works superbly. Don't write it off if you think the spec sheet is weak, it is smooth and brisk with some perfectly executed software additions.

Reviewed by Declan from Ireland on 7th Feb 2014
Is this an actual "hands-on" review of the Moto X or simply a review based on specs? It seems very sparse in detail, particularly in regards to the, on the face of it, innovative features such as Active Display and the way that Motorola have implemented full voice functionality. One other thing - other reviews have indicated that the battery easily lasts for 2-3 days because of the way Motorola have designed their software approach, so your criticism of the battery life has surprised me.

Reply by S21 from UK on 8th Feb 2014
Yes, real review, but if you were expecting a ten page essay about the phone, that's not our style. There are innovative features here, but we don't see them as life changing. As for the battery life, it will depend on how you use the phone, but we very much doubt that it would last as long as 3 days. Remember though that we gave the phone 5 stars - it's a great phone!

Reply by Thing from UK on 23rd May 2014
This "review" by Declan adds absolutely nothing helpful whatsoever to a user review section of this website! Once again, the irony here is just brilliant. He criticizes S21's review of the product, whilst providing absolutely no useful opinions, experiences or information himself!!!!!! I have just received my Moto X and will actually write a review ASAP after some real world useage

Reviewed by Peter from British on 7th Feb 2014
Got mine in white from phones4u last week. Build is much more solid than the moto G and the narrow edging makes it look sleek as well as keeping the size down compared with big android phones, reminds me of my old Google Nexus S with its curved shape. It's a very comfortable phone to handle. The HD screen is pin sharp to and I like the oversaturated OLED colours.

As for speed, honestly this is fast as a GS4 despite having a dual core processor. That's because its pure android, no Samsung bloatware. 16GB is enough as nearly all of it available to the user.

Now for the gadgets. Voice control works, although the novelty has already worn off for me, can't see it as a biggie, bit like Siri on the iphone. Kitkat is smooth and fast. Active Display notifications are helpful and save battery life whish is good because the battery life isnt stronmg, not a problem for me as I just plug it in to my laptop whn I'm at the desk.

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