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Moto X: 9 Things You May Not Know About Motorola’s New Flagship

moto x white back

It appears, at least from our readers’ standpoints, that the Moto X reveal yesterday rubbed many of you the wrong way. It’s pretty obvious that many of you were hoping for a price well below that of the typical $199 on 2-year contract trend. We sort of forgot about the idea that this phone could drop in at some sort of Nexus-like pricing once we saw the pricing of the DROID ULTRA, but it is what it is. And after all, this is Motorola’s new flagship – they fully consider this to be on-par if not better than the competition.

No matter what, we can tell that you aren’t exactly happy, since many of you were focusing on this as potentially being your next phone. I’ll just say this, you have to give it a chance. You have to go get your hands on it once it hits stores. By no means are we done with a review nor do we have final thoughts, but everything we have seen in the last day with the phone has been nothing but positive. It’s a different type of device, that’s for sure. It’ll take a different mindset, one that isn’t worried about quad-cores and 1080p. If those things are the most important thing to you, then maybe this phone isn’t for you.

Over the next week, we’ll be diving fully into this to decide if we are in that boat or not as well. For now though, we wanted to share some Moto X features that you may not be familiar with that might improve your thoughts on it. If anything, at least take a look at the CPU and GPU section, as there is some confusion on this front. 

Same GPU as the Galaxy S4 and HTC One, performs better in benchmarks.

ars motox bench2ars motox bench1

Worried about a processor that is a “year old”? We’re seeing that argument over and over again in the comments, so we thought we’d point out a bunch of tests ran by ArsTechnica this morning to kick this thing off. Before we dive into performance, though, we wanted to make it clear that the Moto X, even though it sports a dual-core CPU, uses the exact same Adreno 320 GPU as the Galaxy S4 and HTC One. The CPU is also more than likely using Krait 300 cores instead of the year-old Krait 200 cores that many think it’s using. By all means, this is a custom job with tech on-par with the Snapdragon 600, it’s just not quad-core, so it’ll lack some overall power, something that seems to be throwing you all for a loop. That said, this phone is no slouch.

In terms of gaming, you may see better performance on the Moto X than you will on the One and Galaxy S4. For one, the Adreno 320 GPU will run better on a 720p display than a 1080p display, that’s for sure. You can see proof of that in the frame rates generated in the GFXBench 2.7 onscreen test above. But even offscreen, where the benchmark scales everything to 1080p, to put all phones tested on an equal playing field, the Moto X tops the GS4 and Nexus 4.

Their series of benchmarks also shows the Moto X beating the Galaxy S4 in browser tests, but overall falling in a full performance bench, but that’s because it’s only a dual-core CPU.

The processor and GPU combo in the Moto X is nothing to worry about.

HD Display may only be 720p, but it sure as hell isn’t PenTile.

moto x display

Full Macro Shot

In the past, we have been extremely critical of Motorola for using terrible (and I mean terrible) PenTile AMOLED displays in phones like the Bionic and RAZR. So when we saw that the Moto X was carrying another AMOLED display, we were initially concerned. That said, Motorola is making it as clear as possible that this is not PenTile and is 100% RGB. There are no shared pixels, as each has its own red, green, and blue sub-pixels. We’re talking no blurring when scrolling through text and sharp images. You are looking at 316ppi for the Moto X’s 4.7″ display.

So no, it’s not 1080p, but you could argue either way that none of us truly need a 1080p display on a smartphone. From personal experience, I’ll simply say that as long as its a great HD display, I could go without the full HD resolution. Remember, I’m the guy that kept going back to the Nexus 4 and its 4.7″ 720p display, even after there were handfuls of 1080p phones on the market. Sure FHD is great to have, to say you have it, but if it’s a great 720p panel, your eye probably won’t tell the difference, other than icons and text will look bigger when compared to a 1080p panel.

Also, the 720p display on the Moto X should greatly improve battery life over other phones using 1080p displays.

Includes Crystal Talk for HD calls and better Touchless Controls.

Motorola has included CrystalTalk dual mic noise cancellation and noise adaptive hearing enhancements to aid in voice calls in noisy environments. This tech features automatic vocal amplification, background noise filtering, and articulation enhancement, but also plays a role in making Moto X’s Touchless Control feature work well, even in loud situations. So in other words, you get better sounding “HD” calls for both you and the person you are having conversations with.

moto x white

Features dual LTE antennas.

This was rumored a week or so before the reveal, but the Moto X does indeed have dual LTE antennas. So you are looking at an antenna that carries the 2G, 3G, and initial 4G LTE signal, like you would see in a normal phone. But then Moto tossed in a second, dedicated LTE antenna to help it sustain and maintain fast connections on 700MHz LTE bands. They claim that this move means less power is needed to transmit and receive data, so in the end, you should see improved battery life and better data performance.

Has water-repellent coating.

To be clear, the Moto X is not a water-resistant phone. With that said, Motorola has used water-repellant coating on the outside and inside to keep you safe in a rain storm or something that would cause droplets of water to sneak onto your device.

moto x white

Custom-shaped battery.

This is sort of a random bit, but cool none-the-less. Motorola told us during a briefing yesterday that they are using a custom step-shaped battery in the Moto X because of the space constraints. To keep the phone small enough, they had to get tricky on the inside, which is also why they went with nano SIM cards. They claim this battery enables 31% additional capacity without impacting the size.

802.11 ac WiFi, custom vibration effects, and speaker membrane temperature monitoring.

The Moto X also features the newest 802.11 ac WiFi standard, uses new haptics technology, so that you can customize vibration effects (though I’m still looking for this feature on the phone), and somehow monitors the temperature and movement of the speaker membrane to enable up to 6x more sound power to be emitted.

Just sharin’.

  • Joe Blo

    BlinkFeed LOL HTC just blinked !

  • Joe Blo

    This phone looks so cool , shaped so nice , reeks of quality.
    I don`t like those slab-sided phones like iPhone/One…they look dated to me.

  • Jason Crumbley

    I just wish it had expandable memory. That’s the only reason I keep buying Samsung phones. I live in Las Vegas and have T-mobile. Cloud based services are not an option when travelling outside the Las Vegas area.

  • taglogical

    AMOLED is the dealbreaker – gorgeous phone otherwise.

  • ROB

    People are disappointed because they believe this phone will obsolete before their 2 year contract runs out….phones are now investments and no SD card and no removable battery run a higher risk of failure, perceived or not, and “investing” the time and money and recent moto phones makes this even more risky. Trust is earned…just ask HTC.

    Just my opinion and I am waiting to see this and the Ultra Maxx and the Note 3 in person and live. My biggest concerns are battery life and lag. If I can find a phone to address these two SIMPLE issues then that company will get my hard earned money.

  • Gem Jefferson

    The specs don’t bother me as much as some others. All I want the phone to do is stay on and work at this point. I find the longer I have android (G1, mytouch, mytouch slide, g2x, sidekick 4g, sensation, galaxy s 2, galaxy Nexus, note 2…also BB 9780 and 9900, iPhone 4S), the fewer apps I use and the more simplified my usage becomes.

    Most phones get 12 hours, 4 hours of screen time. The note 2 is better than that, but if this XPhone is better than everything that came out before it in terms of responsiveness and battery life, I don’t care what the spec sheet says. Of course, I’m skeptical until I have it in my hands. I think we should give it time to get tested in some hands-on videos and then judge the specs.

    I’ve gone over 48 hours of battery time with my note 2, but never with any natural use and not without rooting. If this phone truly can go a full 24, and the Droid Maxx a full 48… I’ll drop my Samsung bias and give it a shot.

  • Droid22

    anyone know if it will have the AWS bands like the droid editions on Verizon?

  • coolstory

    This phone has AMOLED?? Well now I know what will be my next phone.

  • eric stallings

    666 hahah

  • eric stallings

    google play edition moto x for me!

  • Jordan Caviness

    and here i was bashing this phone on phandroid…..im actually liking it more. i just need moto-maker for tmobile….and a 32gb option

  • Luisito Mercado

    This phone is highly underrated cause of the specs list, but people just don’t give things a try anymore… Come on ppl, it’s Motorola… They wouldn’t hype this product so much if it was crap…

    • ROB

      one word…BIONIC

  • Ahku Droid

    I agree, on a phone with a 4.7″ screen at typical viewing distance, you wouldn’t notice that much difference between 720p and 1080p. Also, the X8 distributed processing in theory should make up for it not being quad core. At current technology levels, this is likely a good thing for us and will give it longer battery power. The 2GB of RAM will probably give it the most noticeable performance boost.

    I have a couple questions, though:
    -Is this water-repellent treatment the same as what the RAZR uses, or is it protected to a lesser degree? The protection on my RAZR MAXX probably saved me lots of times. I replaced my OG 3 times…
    -How is the partitioning? Is it the same split used on the RAZR that keeps me running out of space with the main OS and apps part being 5GB?

  • Simon Belmont

    Hmm. The higher GPU scores makes me wonder if Motorola integrated some of Android 4.3’s big GPU improvements into their build of Android 4.2.2.

    There are definitely tangible improvements in Android 4.3’s GPU performance. It would make sense.

  • James Hill

    I respect your review. I am pleased that a phone, this nice, is made by Americans.

  • droidrazredge

    What I find funny is that after reading the comments I get the idea that despite what Kellex said in the post , what the other benchmarks, and what people say about the zero lag in the UI people are still stuck on the fact that it’s using dual-core instead of quad-core and that the dual-cores are based on last years krait 200. If it was using last years dual-core it would have an Adreno 225 GPU with a Qualcomm MSM8960 Krait 1.5 GHZ processor. This phone obviously is not using an Adreno 225 GPU it is using an Adreno 320 GPU. That alone should signal that it’s based on the same kraits as the S4 and HTC One. What I think Motorola did is realized that with their new computing system that the difference between X12 (using quad version of the krait 300’s) and going with X8 based on a dual core krait 300 warranted no benefits in the cost/performance category. That’s why they most likely went in the X8. They basically were like we can go with top specs but we want to show people the same performance can be done with less.Motorola is probably thinking lets “do more with less”. As you can see from the benchmarks this “old tech” as people are saying is keeping up pretty well with the big boys. That right there should tell people that Motorola has done something that no android manufacture has done before. I feel as we go on from here we will see Motorola make devices that will give the higher spec phones a run for their money sort of like a “David vs. Goliath” battle where David is Motorola and Goliath are the high end spec phones. Until people start seeing that I guess once you go Quad you can’t fathom going back. In the end I think Kellex had a well written article that summed up how we got caught up in the specs and have not really given this phone a fair trial. I will definitely be giving this phone a try and comparing it’s UI experience with other phones on the market.

  • E. Tasche

    Well written and such.

    However, I really really hope Motorola puts out some info on something that does not rely on the old pricing model so heavily very soon. Even if it is two months away, if I buy a different phone now, then I won’t be buying a Motorola device (for at least another year, if not longer). Amoled+big batter+Motorola Radio+reasonably durable+clean looking+justifiable expense= $ from my wallet to theirs.

  • Sporttster

    Really want to like the Maxx, this phones ‘big’ brother. But I cannot get past the small storage space!! It really REALLY sucks that they decided to not include a sd slot.

  • Ryan Verley

    This phone sounds fantastic and once the customizations come to VZW it will be my next phone. I was a tad put off by the price tag which means that I can’t get it anytime in the next 5-6 months, but the phone itself still stands out to me over the other guys.

  • edmicman

    Is the battery replaceable? Ultimately I’d like to know how this compares to the LTE Galaxy Nexus, and how you think it will hold up over the next couple years.

    Would also like to see some camera comparisons between the Moto X and all the other top end phones – how bout a lineup of photo samples from Moto X, HTC One, S4, and iPhone 5?

  • huffimus_prime


    What a fantastic write up. This is why I count on Droid Life for Android news. With the way most people have come down on this device, it’s a breath of fresh air to have someone talk about what the device actually is instead of what they wanted it to be.

    My only concern over the price is it means I won’t be able to afford one. Other than that, this phone looks like everything I want a smartphone to be. I can’t wait to play with one in a store.

  • aDROIDfreeworld

    this whole 2007 notion of being forced into carrier exclusivities is getting soooo old! I realize ATT got MotoMaker exclusively because Verizon got the DROID’s on top of the x as well, and thats also the reason big red will not be getting a 32gb version…

    See guys?

    DROID devices totally screwed up what could have been a fantastic unicarrier launch for the first (mostly) untainted android device to roll out of Motorola since the OG.

    So in this case DROID definitely DOESN’T give consumers on Verizon better choice, as Verizon didn’t want anything to do with the x phone to begin with.

    And the fact that it has 9 bloatware apps is a liitle much. Reminds me of the GS4 launch.

  • Fifth313ment

    No offense bro but it seems like you are making excuses for Motorola and Google. I don’t need a Ferrari but I’d like to have one, lol (comparison that you don’t need a 1080p screen). Lol, I think the price and the specs will make it a non-issue for 75% of customers and the other 25% will simply be customization nuts.


  • kkloster

    I know this is a droid news site and by and large, the patrons are Verizon customers but it sounds this dual LTE antennae is only helpful on carriers that have LTE networks on the ~700 MHz spectrum waves (Verizon and AT&T), and that it won’t help LTE performance on T-Mobile. Is that true?

  • DCABuckeye

    Hello, Moto didn’t build this phone, or any phone, for the the tiny fraction of smartphone buyers who are spec junkies and pajama-clad, parents’ basement dwellers consuming 20gb of data watching movies. There are plenty of things in life to really get upset about and accuse corporations and government of failing to be truthful or misleading the public, but this is a phone. A phone! I’m waiting for reviews and some educated opinion, including my own handling and observation before I make a decision on replacing m GNex, but whatever phone I buy it will still be a phone, and it will be on Verizon because it’s simply the best network with great customer service. There are lots of reasons to not like Verizon at times, but what in life can’t be held to that standard. Now, it’s a gorgeous day and the sun is shining. Go get some air and out of that dark basement.

  • Nathaniel Mosher

    I showed my sister (19, completely non-technical) the youtube ads Moto posted (and nothing else) and she is now switching from her iPhone to the Moto X as soon as Verizon releases it. I have told/shown her previous things about the One/S4 and she wants it over them as well.

    That is the thing every critic is missing. This thing has mass market appeal and will only get better.

  • maxx1987

    The thing is, i was more than happy with everything the phone had to offer. the specs/experience was exactly what i want in my next phone. my problem continues to be the pricing. they hinted at affordable phones when talking about this phone, and all the hype built up around the potential for a nexus-type sales approach, only to be let down by this phone becoming just another facilitator for carriers’ binding 2-year contracts.

    you are correct in stating that i was planning on this being my next phone. however, with the way the pricing ended up turning out, i will never own this phone because my contract won’t be for another 8 months, and that is pretty disapppointing.

  • joejoe5709

    Now… given the Nexus line isn’t always known for their top shelf specs in return for a much more optimized experience – anyone get a sneaky feeling this might be the basis for the next Nexus? Strike me down if I’m incorrect, but here’s my thought: The MotoX almost doesn’t make sense. The price/exclusivity is strange and the specs/features aren’t much different than the Droids released last week. The design of the phones is very very Nexus-esque. I know that Google had a part in this phone, but I have a feeling this is a test bed phone for the next Nexus. Let’s hope they at least give us a quad-core processor but the rest of the specs seem right in line with Google’s standards. Thoughts anyone?