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Why You Should Consider the Moto X [Opinion]

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The Moto X is the first Android phone in a long, long time that I have actually wanted. If you’re tempted to stop reading right there because you think this is going to be another biased fanboy rant, stop right there. My primary phone is an iPhone 4S and the next phone I buy will be another iPhone. Motorola isn’t paying me and I don’t have a gun to my head. I really do like this phone and I think you should too.

Carriers & Brand Recognition

I think this is going to be the first Android phone since the Droid or the Galaxy S where people will be proud to say that they have this phone because their friends have it too. The Moto X is distinct from the Droid and the Galaxy S (and its successors) in that it offers a level of customization yet consistency that enables a sense of community and individuality at the same time. Like the S4, they’ll be able to walk into any carrier and buy it. Like the iPhone, there are simple options and a built in level of customization to make up for the lack of accessories that iOS users use to create a sense of individuality. In short, it takes the customization that Android is well known for and packages it in a way that I think people will be proud of.

Specifications & Android

This phone is coming at a time when the spec wars have effectively ended, which enables Motorola to emphasize what actually matters: software. A lot of people appear to be complaining that the Moto X has mid-range specs. The truth of the matter is that mid-range specs have been more than enough for a top-tier phone for a long time, but Android hasn’t been ready.

Android devices are somewhat notorious for having issues with framerates, IO performance, and general lag. Many users reported having issues with a phone slowing down with use. While I definitely had many of those problems, I always attributed it to running custom ROMs or my perception after seeing newer hardware. I can remember being frustrated that iOS users often had superior performance despite having less RAM and a slower processor. It turns out that Android needed some enhancements to deal with those issues.

Starting with Android 4.1, the Android team began to address performance issues dealing specificaly with framerates through Project Butter. In Android 4.3, Google has added TRIM, which greatly enhances IO performance. Between increased framerates and better IO performance, Android should be feeling better both out of the box and after being in use for months at a time without a wipe.

While the Moto X isn’t launching with Android 4.3, it is launching at a time when Android has reached enough maturity so that having an insane processor and tons of RAM isn’t necessary. Obviously having top of the line specs does help, but the vast majority of people don’t need a phone with top of the line specs. What they need is a phone that will perform well over a two year contract. I have no doubt that the Moto X can be that phone for most Android users, especially after it receives Android 4.3.

Hardware Customization

This is something that I’ve wanted for a long time. For Android enthusiasts, Android has always been about being able to customize the phone to your liking. A lot of the debate between iOS and Android enthusiasts has been about the level of customization available to each user. A lot of the debate centered around the idea that if you want a simple phone that is easy to understand, you get an iPhone, but if you know what you’re doing then you get an Android phone. While I have a lot of scruples with that idea, I get it. I’ve spent many hours customizing my home screens with widgets and icon packs and launchers and tweaks only to flash a totally different ROM on my phone to enable slightly different tweaks. The Moto X takes that kind of a obsession with software design customizations and brings it to the hardware.

While the customizations are essentially limited to colors and engravings, I love the idea of being able to select the colors I want for my phone. I think giving people tons of options to color their phones and have them shipped to your home in 4 days is going to resonate well with consumers. People already buy cases and covers for their phones to make their phone feel more personal; personalized color options takes that to the next level.

Software Customizations

The Moto X is not shipping with stock Android, but the customizations they have added are designed to enhance and simplify the phone. These aren’t gimmicks like pausing video when you look away; these are real features that change the way you use the phone for the better.

Like I said on the Droid Life Show, I think the ability to launch the camera with the flick of a wrist will be an amazing feature for enthusiasts, moms, students, and everyone in between. The fact of the matter is that people want to be able to take good photos quickly. The Moto X doesn’t come with the best camera on the market, but from what I’ve seen it takes good shots and the interface is brilliantly simple. Tap to shoot, swipe from right to left to enter Gallery, swipe from left to right to adjust the camera settings. Most people don’t want to have a million options when taking a picture. They may want to make some edits before posting a picture to Instagram, but other than that people just want to take a photo to remember a moment.

Active Notifications are another software enhancement that I find ingenious. I personally hate a notification light for two reasons. First, it just keeps blinking at me to tell me something I usually already know: I have a new notification. I don’t need a constant reminder. Second, while some phones allow a great deal of customization in terms of notification light colors and blinking patterns, I still find I would rather know precisely what the notification is so I can decide if it warrants my attention or not. Some of Nokia’s phones have implemented a similar idea for showing bits of information on the screen without lighting up the whole thing. Motorola takes this a step further by adding functionality to respond to notifications in an intelligent manner with swipes.

Voice recognition integrated with Google Now is another feature that I think is innovative, but probably not life changing. I like that you can train the Moto X to listen just for your voice. If anything, having voice recognition prepares for a future where multiple humans in one space are trying to use Google Now with their voice. While I’m praying that history does not go in the direction of people talking at their phones in public, I still think this is a neat way to give voice feedback more security than other intelligent assistants (I’m looking at you, Siri).

Conclusions

The Moto X is not the best Android phone if your expectations include the best processor, the best display, stock Android, and no carrier interference for updates. If that’s what you want, then keep dreaming. If, however, you want a phone lets you customize its hardware and software, has pleanty of power, and is going to be available on every major carrier, then I think you ought to consider the Moto X. There will always be another phone with a higher resolution screen or a processor with more power than you need or more megapixels. If you want power and top of the line specs, go get an S4 or a One; you’ll be happy with either phone. The Moto X isn’t about overwhelming you with specs; it’s about meeting your needs as a device while tailoring itself to your aesthetic tastes. The Moto X really is the first phone that can be designed by you in a meaningful way.

  • Mike

    The spec wars have ended? I’m running 4.1.2 and I still experience lag, stuttering, and even episodes of waiting for the phone to respond with everyday tasks such as media playback, web browsing and Google maps. Sorry, you are simply incorrect. While Google may have started “dealing with” performance issues, unless 4.3 is going to be nothing short of a biblical miracle, the spec wars have in fact, not ended.

  • blackmagick20

    I actually enjoyed the article and he’s allowed to share his opinions on here. I don’t understand why so many android fans feel the need to attack people with that other phone. Does it really matter to you what phone someone else has? Get the phone that makes you happy and that works for you and go on about your life. It’s sad that we’ve come to a day where people want to verbally attack someone on a comment section just because of the phone that they use. Just be happy that we’ve come to a day when there is a selection between phone makers and software and hardware…everyone must forget (or be too young and ignorant) to remember when the only choice was between which way the phone’s keyboard slid out from behind the screen or if it used T9 texting or had a physical keyboard.

    Oh yea…and it’s also just a fargin phone…not a burial plot…get over it…there will be something better announced or rumored tomorrow

  • Jay Michael Headley

    First World Problems

  • Anthony Bottari

    I’m not sure how to respond to this article..my mind went blank as soon as i read “my primary phone is an iphone 4s”…

  • Sporttster

    You lost me at ‘no sd slot’ Googlerola……it’s as simple as that….

    • Taglogical

      I agree. There are a number of times Moto has lost me with this round – I will stick with my Bionic (jeeze right?) while I look for something that is an upgrade to the Bionic; to lose SD, HDMI out, removable battery, and a display that is visible on my dashboard in sunlight… all of the new Motos are substantial downgrades in functionality for me : / Sad day I love Motorola… gosh the soft Kevlar on that Ultra Maxx is sexy…

  • Hoffman

    Does Ron have a Moto X or is this just speculation? If he doesn’t have one then how does he know if these enhancements actually add value and are to his liking? There have been many phones that sound good on paper, but are useless in reality, especially the iPhone. On paper it sounds great, but when I have used one it was amazingly impractical.

  • Shantheman1073

    Really? I rarely comment on this stuff…but Ron…seriously…it’s great that you have a certain affinity for the motoX…but if you had not dumped the integrity of your opinion regarding why WE should also consider one when YOU won’t…then please don’t be surprised over all the confusion when I’m sure you would much rather have had the CONTENT be the topic of discussion.
    Either give the motoX a real chance or leave your opinion on the cutting room floor before expecting us to give it a chance as well. It’s like a Packer fan telling someone why they should be a Bears fan when they won’t be one themselves. Sure…what you say may be true…but the integrity of your recommendation is automatically suspect.

  • Weenie

    This is probably the worst written article I have read in a while but you guys should consider it one of the best. I also only use Mac OX and my next computer will be a Macbook Air but you should all use a Windows 8.

    • blackmagick20

      Then you obviously need to read more

  • XvierX

    This article, in my opinion does nothing to sway me to buy this phone. No offense to Ron, but I’d rather see you an opinion post like this done by Kellen or Tim. I take that back, I’d rather read an opinion piece written by Dave since this handset seems to be more his style.

  • Brien Gerber

    Going to be my next phone.

  • Michael Valentine

    I’d be interested in seeing a review comparing the Moto X to the Droid Maxx. Specifically, if you are on Verizon and want a 32 GB phone, is there any reason to not spend $50 more to get the crazy good battery of the Maxx? In that arena, does the X have anything over the Maxx in any category?

  • David Marzluf

    OK I get it I understand that you don’t need top tier specs. The only thing is I don’t want to get this phone to find out 3-4 months later that the new model is coming out. You know the same issue when I got my bionic to see the razor come out 3 months later

  • Chris King

    Its funny all the comments on here . But every site that HAS the phone likes it. Even M. Brownlee who loves his note 2 likes the phone. Nice review ron haters gonna hate. ALL The negative comments have to be paid Samsung chuckle heads since none of them have the phone yet hate it so much.

  • iamnotfan

    I don’t like it , but you must like it.
    Indirectly

  • tech247

    Why does this guy write for “DROID-LIFE” as in an “ANDROID” tech site??? Kellex, “get the typing” on that pink slip…..

  • bakdroid

    Oh god I actually agree and like a Ron post…… *shoots self in head*

  • Michael Kane

    ” My primary phone is an iPhone 4S and the next phone I buy will be another iPhone. Motorola isn’t paying me and I don’t have a gun to my head. I really do like this phone and I think you should too. ” MAYBE its because Apple is telling him to say all of this because he didnt read the TOS when he got his 4S and now he will part of the very first new HUMANCENTIPAD!!!!