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Motorola Engineer Defends Moto X: Jabs at Samsung’s “Not True 1080p” Display, Calls HTC’s LCD Inferior to AMOLED, and More

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The Moto X has been both praised and criticized over these short few days since its unveiling. The praise seems to have come from those who have used the device (mostly press), while the criticism arose quickly from consumers once they saw the price ($199) Motorola had attached to a phone that – at least on paper – appears to have inferior specs to phones like the Galaxy S4 or HTC One. I don’t want to necessarily say that Motorola engineers and executives have been in damage control to defend the phone, but they have certainly been vocal in trying to explain their reasoning behind their hardware choices.

One of Moto’s top engineers, Iqbal Arshad, sat down for a Q&A with CNET today to discuss his thoughts on the Moto X, why he thinks it has “world’s first” type of features, and why the technology used in the GS4 or One are inferior to what they have accomplished. This is certainly worth a read. If anything, at least jump to the last question where he talks about future customizable features through MotoMaker.  

Arshad on why you don’t need a quad-core CPU, and why their dual-core CPU is not “last year’s”:

For one, we are not using last year’s Qualcomm processor. It’s this year’s processor. It is a dual-core processor, but the thing people have to understand is that in mobile devices, more CPUs don’t necessarily mean better or faster devices. In fact, in most instances no more than two CPUs are being used at any given time. In order to save power, the algorithms controlling the device are often trying to turn off CPUs.

In the stress tests we have conducted on competing devices, we launched 24 websites at once on the device, and none of the devices used more than two CPUs at once to do this.

On changing how smartphones work, and the first dig at Samsung:

If you think about it, the market has been relatively stagnant. Everything is built on these standard chips and displays. And we are all trained to respond to those small incremental changes in these components. But Motorola’s vision is to really change how smartphones work. The small computers we carry around in our pockets aren’t really “smart.” I mean what can you do with the Samsung Galaxy S3 that you can’t do with the Galaxy S4? The answer is nothing.

We aren’t developing technology for technology’s sake. But we are trying to make mobile computing more intelligent.

On how innovative X8 architecture is and why no one else is doing it (Samsung and HTC):

We have come up with a new processing architecture that allows us to do things like touchless control without sacrificing battery power. For a Samsung or HTC device to offer the same kind of functionality would require three batteries. And that is the reason why no one else has done touchless control. Nobody has done it because it kills the device’s battery life.

None of those other processors could do all the noise cancellation and offer the same level of intelligence and still be low power. What we have done with the Moto X has not been done before. It’s the world’s first.

On defeating the spec war that chip and display manufacturers have created:

It’s hard because people are programmed by the industry to look at things like how many cores a chip has or whether the display is 1080p. That’s how chip and display manufacturers differentiate their products. But we’ve spent thousands of engineering hours building a new kind of processing architecture that will really change how people use their phones.

On the Galaxy S4 “beating” the Moto X’s display in terms of pixels per inch:

First of all, what Samsung has done with the GS4 screen is not true 1080p. Instead, Samsung is using a PenTile display. Each pixel is made up of three color sub pixels. It’s missing one of the pixels. We are using a true RGB pattern custom display that gives true color reproduction without wasting battery life.

Samsung is using a graphics processor, but they’re using it the wrong way and their performance is actually worse than ours. They are burning more battery life. In the case of HTC, they’re using an LCD screen, which is simply an inferior technology.

Also, the human eye cannot discern resolution beyond 300 pixels per inch. And we exceed that. So the eye can’t even see the difference. But the human eye can see big differences in color saturation and reproduction. In fact, I’d say that is even more important than resolution. So we decided to focus on that aspect instead.

On adding future customizable features to Moto X (like RAM, screen size, processor, etc.):

We do have a road map for extending the capabilities of the device and customization in the future, but I’ll talk about that in the future.

Yeah, I’d say Arshad has heard about enough when it comes to criticism of the specs of his Moto X.

If you haven’t yet, be sure to read our Moto X review.

Via:  CNET

  • Adam Schadt

    So tell me more about how being able to see your screen in sunlight is inferior.

  • Texazzpete

    Really difficult to take this man seriously when he dismisses HTC’s LCD efforts as ‘inferior tech’ while touting Motorola’s efforts at color saturation and reproduction, two areas HTC’s SuperLCD and LG’s LCD tech excel in.

  • Crickerman

    I’m liking the screen, 720p RGB amoled > 1080p pentile any day… I wonder how bright the screen is for outdoor visibility because the sgs3 and 4 both are pretty bad…. The battery life is pretty amazing too especially since it has a 2200mah battery which is nice in itself since it will charge faster than the larger ones used in more inefficient devices…

    I’m interested in the device, once it comes out unlocked I may just end up buying it. It fulfills my requirements for what I need in a phone: battery life, screen quality, reception, light computing, gps, music, etc.

  • Runner15

    The Moto X sounds and looks incredible! Would you all recommend waiting on it, or going ahead and purchasing the Galaxy S4??? The Moto X has really gotten my attention now since I’ve learned about the battery storage, voice control, and smooth interface. I’m in high school too, so which do you think would be more of an asset to my studies and athletics? Thank you all! 🙂

  • Aaron Ellis

    My only problem with the entire device, and most of the high end devices of the day – Non-removable batteries. The weakest link in the device needs to be replaceable. I will take the extra 1mm (guestimation I don’t need equations and schematics on how much space it really takes to add this in) thickness.

    • flosserelli

      Agreed. That is why I will not buy another phone without a removable battery. It could make bacon and wipe my ass for me, but if it runs out of juice by mid day, then I don’t want it. And I refuse to carry a charger everywhere I go. Give me a full days’ worth of real-world usability, or give me a removable battery. Nothing less.

  • CreeDiddy

    What this means is that Android manufacturer’s are infiltrating marketing tactics that show meaningless performance gains in real world experiences, but only demonstrate gains in benchmarks.

    Plus this becomes a Android dog eat dog world. We like to hear the 80% marketshare, but you have Motorola beating up Samsung about RBG Pentile displays and true processing power. What a contradiction to success?!?!?

  • CreeDiddy

    That means Android manufacturer’s are infiltrating marketing tactics to unveil meaningless specs that don’t provide any performance gains, but only towards benchmarks.

  • Damian Allen

    All that bashing doesn’t justify the price of the device. Less cores?…Less dollars? Smaller screen?…smaller price? Like I’ve said before, either Motorola is charging way too much for this device, or HTC/Samsung is not charging enough. This coming from a guy that has a DNA and is looking to get something different. Sorry, the Moto X just won’t be it…

  • Taglogical

    “they’re using an LCD screen, which is simply an inferior technology.” -rofl, GG Engineer; kindly qualify that statement lest you look like you do. Aside from that, there has never been any question in my mind (going back to the first “smart phone”) that dedicated, task handlers on a core ala the X8 is the way to go in a mobile computing platform (where batteries are involved) and that Motorola was immediately kicking everyone’s ass who’s racing against each other to plug the next incremental “over 9000 series” chip into their new phone – bravo Moto for doing what everyone should have been doing with these things for many years now.

  • skzion

    In other news, my mom just said I am the best son ever.

  • Higher_Ground

    1 – no mention of pricing?

    2 – I think he meant “What can you do on an S4 that you can’t on an S3?” Otherwise it doesn’t make any sense.

    3 – “But the human eye can see big differences in color saturation and reproduction. In fact, I’d say that is even more important than resolution. So we decided to focus on that aspect instead.” – Well you f’d up because looking at the phone pictures next to the One and S4 the colors looked horrible. Maybe we can’t resolve over 300 ppi but we can tell the difference between two products when we’re looking right at them side-by-side.

  • AxemRed

    He probably just said it backwards. I assume he meant to switch those two.

  • Steven Elliott

    Awesome. This just solidified my resolve to get one in November when I can upgrade.

  • Aleksandr Ivanov

    I totally disagree about screen – IPS is the only way to go at the moment.

  • crazed_z06

    Did this Moto engineer have any hand in the development of the Droid Bionic? I Bet he thought that was a superior device.

  • AxemRed

    Moto doesn’t have to justify the processor and screen to me. I’m on board with those. I agree with everything that was mentioned above. But my two biggest concerns were not mentioned:

    1. Battery life – I’m impressed that Moto was able to add features that would typically suck up a lot of battery and still keep the battery life on-par with the competition. But I’m disappointed that battery life is only on-par with the competition. I really want a phone that can last from when I wake up to when I go to bed under heavy use. I find myself considering the Droid Maxx, but it’s an ugly beast. :

    2. Camera – The clear pixel thing interests me a lot. But I’m not sure how I feel about simplifying the UI to the point where there are almost no options. There are just certain scenarios where you just can’t get a good picture without being able to choose the point to focus on. If you don’t believe me, try to stand outside, hold an ice cream cone at arms length, and take a picture. When 90% of the frame is distant and you’re trying to focus on the 10% that is close, autofocus has problems.

  • woodraskam

    Headline: Moto X developer Coughs….more details to follow

  • Mike

    Insulting superior companies, telling the customer what they can or cannot see. Okay Apple…

  • The Truth

    So now I’d say the only thing the are not doing right is business… you have no idea how to market or sell your products because you are being smoked by both HTC and especially Samsung!

  • csd5

    i really want a droid maxx because its really all about the phone lasting all day on heavy usage, but goodamn who wants to walk around with a 5 inch screen

  • Joh

    Any answer on how the Snapdragon 800 chip has all the same low power touchless features the entire X8 chipset?

  • rfranken

    all i know is droid life showed the screens side by side of this and sgs4 and the one…and the moto x looked bad. whites were yellow.

  • legaceez

    Amen to that. Spec whores please do some research instead of flaunting them Mega Pixels…

    • Mike

      Garbage display is garbage, look at it next to ANY other flagship…its crap

      • legaceez

        Do tell me. You have it in your hand right now to compare all the flagship phones? Is your bionic eye permanently set on 10x zoom? Give me a break…

        Every professional review I’ve seen said they can’t even tell the difference.

        The display itself is not garbage. The technology behind it is on par or better than the screens on the Galaxy S4 and HTC One. Samsung’s is PenTile for goodness sakes so it’s effectively lower resolution than advertised…now that’s garbage.

        But hey I guess all that matters to some people is the higher numbers and it’s impossible to convince the uninformed otherwise.

        • Mike

          Im referring to how terrible those yellow tinted whites are. Everything else is close but you must be blind If you don’t notice the yellow tint.

          • legaceez

            Only noticeable if you have something purely white to compare it to. It’s a compromise for the truly black blacks. It’s a valid complaint though I suppose.

            Any AMOLED screen will have that issue. Even Samsung’s to some extent although masked somewhat ironically by it’s biggest flaw, PenTile. I mean the tech has it’s advantages and disadvantages but overall it’s a better technology. Not garbage by any stretch of the word. You get better color saturation and overall more vivid color generation. Better battery because of truely off pixels. Etc…

            I don’t get the way people label something as not obviously the best automatically garbage. Like there’s no in between. By that definition everything out there is garbage.

          • legaceez

            Don’t know what happened to my other response but too lazy to retype it.

            Basically it’s a trade off for the truly black blacks. It’s barely noticeable unless you have something truly white to compare it with. Even Samsung’s display has a similar issue just masked ironically by it’s biggest flaw, the PenTile display. No one display has it all, not even the best IPS LCD’s.

            Once again garbage is really a stretch … by your definition every display out there is garbage because none of them produce colors 100% correct.

          • legaceez


      • NeedName

        phonearena had the Moto X right next to the G2 in a video and they looked nearly identical. . . and that’s the point at this screen size.

  • Aweso

    “what can you do with the Samsung Galaxy S3 that you can’t do with the Galaxy S4? The answer is nothing.”

    err… isn’t that a good thing? o_o

    • chris420o

      for the s3

      • Aweso

        If anything, that statement just claims that the S4 makes no feature compromises over its predecessor.

  • bionicwaffle

    I would rather have the extra two processors of the Moto X/Droid Ultra than a conventional quad core. I like what they’ve done with those and the battery life gain. They were smart to use the S4 Pro for the faster graphics engine but there was no need to move to a quad core processor.

    I totally agree when it comes to the resolution, RGB verses PenTile, but disagree about the display tech. I’d much rather have a conventional LED notification light and an LCD display than an OLED display and the on screen notifications. This is for two reasons, the LED uses less power then lighting all the pixels needed for the notification, and LCD is much brighter and uses less power for a given brightness in most situations.

    I’d take the Droid Maxx, or even Ultra for that matter, over the Moto X any day because of the larger battery and the off screen buttons.

  • Jimmy Leang

    What cant you do with the S3 that you couldnt do with the Moto X? Every darn phone looks the same nowadays. Why are they all trying to put down one another?

  • Clearly he’s just hating on Samsung. Motorola wishes they could be as big and successful as Samsung. At the end of the day, the Samsung Galaxy S4 reigns supreme over all smartphones. It’s merely talking about the side of his neck. Oh and FYI the Galaxy S3 uses pentile display, not the Galaxy S4!

    • chris420o

      all these korean manufacturers with thier overly n unnecessarily large displays and phones are just overcompensating for their physical shortcomings…they can keep em

  • azndan4

    Umm.. No. There is no excuse for using outdated technology and charging the same price as competitors who use current technology. The human eye can’t tell the difference between 300 and 460 ppi? Give me a break. Just because he is blind doesn’t mean that everyone else in the world can’t tell the difference.

  • Jamin

    I truly love this phone. The design is beautiful and the specs are more than what you need (except there can’t be a too big battery).
    That they offer real exterior customization is just awesome. Maybe they offer a similar offering in Europe next year and I won’t be shy to spend a few more bucks to stand out of the crowd.

  • Kanaga Deepan N

    I can agree that 441ppi pentile is about <300 ppi in theory… But calling One's display as inferior can't be agreed, imho…

  • Vini a.k.a SThrill

    Im I the only one super excited about always on? For me what motorola has done with motox is the next big thing in mobile tech since iphone. X8 and always on and customization awesomely brilliant. Yes it lacks 2 cores that rarely get used and some pixels we hardly see. I can totally imagine the excitement in the engineering depart when they made the x8 system. I am flabberwhelmed so many are missing the big picture. This is JARVIS in the making. What is sad is we have been brainwashed to think spec before this happened. Motorola will have to strongly market this.

  • Bobby

    I dont know about you guys but working for Verizon and selling phones all day, I can definitely tell the difference between a 315 ppi screen compared to a 450 ppi screen. HTC’s LCD screen is a beautiful thing and I think looks better than AMOLED and more realistic. Just my 2 cents.

    • Avery Dejuan Herron

      Does working for Verizon give you phones that airn’t even on the network yet? Does it also let you sell them? Because apparently what droid doesn’t verzion does! …. and yes I started a sentence with because.

      • Bobby

        I have nothing relevant to respond to that weird reply…

        • jpxa

          lol, they barely even get a discount. an exclusive employee edition every once in a while. even then they gotta buy em.

    • Tim242

      You cannot tell the difference in pixels. What you can see the difference in, is color reproduction. LCD screens show blacks as gray. That is not realistic. Samsung’s Amoled displays allow you to choose your color saturation, and you get true blacks. You might want to familiarize yourself with settings menus. Set to movie mode, it looks very natural.

    • Tim242

      You cannot tell the difference in pixels. What you can see the difference in, is color reproduction. LCD screens show blacks as gray. That is not realistic. Samsung’s Amoled displays allow you to choose your color saturation, and you get true blacks. You might want to familiarize yourself with settings menus. Set to movie mode, it looks very natural.

  • Kane Desousa

    Yup my gs4 definitely looks worse then my nexus 7 2013 because amoled. Doesn’t really bother me as I love the phone but can’t deny that he wasn’t right about everything.

    • Tim242

      This will make your GS4 display better than LCD.

    • Tim242

      This will make your GS4 display better than LCD.

  • Donald Motley

    Even granting that all he says is so, the Moto X still has no SD slot and a nonremovable battery – either of which by itself is a deal-breaker. The Samsung GS 4 is my only prospect right now.

    • hkklife

      Same here. Such a disappointment they axed microSD on the G2. I SO had my hopes up after seeing the leaked manual a few days ago.

      Why the F doesn’t Sandisk or one of the other large flash medias companies start petitioning the handset manufacturers to not jettison external storage?

      • CoreRooted

        Because, it’s Google that is leading the charge against SD. The *only* reason Samsung hasn’t caved into it is because they are looking to go full Tizen by 2014. They want to compete with Google whereas the other manufacturers have no such plans or desires.

  • KleenDroid

    Ok, let’s hear what a Samsung engineer has to say.

  • Kizaru Hiruko

    I find it interesting that Motorola makes jabs at Samsung for using PenTile when they used PenTile screens for their own phones in the past. As a matter of fact, the displays on the Droid RAZR and Droid RAZR HD are from Samsung.

  • James Hill

    How many cores does Facebook use? This, I would like to know.

  • Daniel Marcovici

    If they want the Moto X to blow the rest of the competition out of the water, then they need to hurry up and offer customizable specs like ram, processor chips, screen size, storage etc. And they need to do it fast!

  • Knlegend1

    He’s correct these phones are using two cores. Download cpuz and it will show you.

  • crazed_z06

    It’s all fine and dandy if Moto has decided they dont need the sheer horsepower of the GS4. The problem is they’re charging the same amount as Samsung. It’d be like Ford charging 50k for a Mustang GT. At that point, why not get a Corvette? Yea, you might not use all the Corvette performance, but if I’m paying for something, I dont mind more performance on tap… just in case.

    • NeedName

      You need to read more. The Moto X outperforms the GS4 in every real-world task I’ve seen thrown at the two side by side, and it’s getting 2x the battery life of the HTC One under similar situations while giving the user on-screen notification and touchless control. . . .

      They are charging for their work, like every other company. Just because that work has gone into the X8 architecture Vs buying an off the shelf S800 does NOT mean they should not be charging for it.

      FYI, Moto’s profit margin is lower than Samsung’s on handsets.

      • crazed_z06

        As a consumer I couldnt care less about Moto’s margins. I dont work for them and I dont own their stock. Once again, according to the review posted on this very site, the battery life is NOTHING to get excited about. It was just like every other smartphone. And where can I see these “real world” tests against the GS4?

        • NeedName

          This site is the ONLY review I’ve seen where battery wasn’t excellent, and I stated real world comparison Vs. HTC One.

          Again, you need to read more!

  • crazed_z06

    lol He mad..

    Someone should link him to the Droid Life review where this thing gets the same battery life as the Bionic.

  • Tony Stark

    While you guys argue about dual core vs quad core without any real knowledge of Operating Systems and/or context switching… Someone explain to me why that xphone is laying flat on its screen on dirt?!

    • Knlegend1

      Because Google develops software and the hardware was developed by LG.

      • Tony Stark

        But if the whole goal of the N4, like Larry Page stated, was to deliver a high end experience without a high end price, why not drive the price even lower with a dual core if performance does not suffer?

        Besides, you know very well that Google handpicked the LG and that hardware.

        • Knlegend1

          What part of what I said didn’t say LG made the hardware and Google software lol?

    • brkshr

      The MX has two additional cores that unburden the “dual-core” immensely. This tech didn’t exist when the N4 was made. The MX is very different from the dual-cores available at the time of the N4 or even any other dual-core now. They went with the best processor available at the time of the N4.

      • Tony Stark

        You do realize that the apps running on the two additional cores are coded to run on the extra cores, right? They have to ask the OS for that permission. Otherwise, they would be running on the primary cores just like they would on any other device. My point is, if Google Now was coded to work on the secondary cores instead of the primary onees, then you could practically emulate the X8 architecture on any quad core device!

        I think Google was future-proofing the Nexus 4. Not to say that the Moto X is not future proof, since as you elegantly pointed out, there are 2 additional cores.

        • brkshr

          Yes, I do realize that. You would take an immense hit to battery life if you did port most of these new features to any other phone (besides the new Droids). That’s why they made the two separate low power processors to handle these things. I forget how low a voltage they said the add-on cores are, but I think it was around 10% or less than normal processors.

          • Tony Stark

            Not necessarily, that’s where software engineering and optimization of the app would come into play. But it is easier to just throw on a couple of lower voltage cores than to rewrite your code to be more efficient…

  • Ron_Swanson

    better keep the damage control coming….this phone is gonna get beat down in the coming months by the G2, the Note 3, the S4 still, the HTC One and HTC One Maxx

  • Johny M

    In most instances only 1 core is active. Does that mean we should just put a 5gig single core in it?
    True answer;
    In most instances most people won’t know the difference so we are cutting cores, saving our money and increasing margins.

  • Nazzi_Muhammad

    That’s the reason(s) I’m getting this phone.

  • Sporttster

    Screw Moto. Used to love em but they ditched sd slot and HDMI support. Not wasting my time with em anymore…

  • sk3litor

    Alright everyone says their phone is the best. Someone’s lying dammit. I’ll call the police.

  • Brian Wolfman

    Its kinda like the argument, why buy a car that goes 0-60 in 4 seconds with a top speed of 180mph. You will never go anywhere close to that and yea, maybe once in a blue moon youd love to have all that power to accelerate onto the highway, but otherwise, youll never use it 99.9% of the time. Or you could buy another car that does 0-60 in 5-6 seconds and a top speed of 130mph, which is still fast and most people would never notice difference. A lot of people are going to buy the faster Porscheanyway, just because it can, even though you really never do.

  • justjmatt

    While “specs aren’t everything” is debatably true (and the Moto X does look impressive and I would totally get it), I honestly don’t like where Arshad went with this. I feel like this kind of response is kinda immature (to be very bashful of the competition) and somewhat uncalled for.

    • calculatorwatch

      I just wanna say I really like your re-purposing of the word “bashful” here. Mainly because your use is almost a complete 180 from the original meaning.

  • Malav Desai

    well said Arshad! I couldn’t agree more! It’s sad how the smartphone industry is driven by purely a CPU and Display standard; more focus needs to be put on software development aspect.