With Moto X, Google may make Android, Motorola more approachable

With Moto X, Google may make Android, Motorola more approachable

Summary: Sure the Moto X phone has some interesting perks, but it may be more notable how Google and Motorola refrained from going spec-happy and eyed fashion sense.


With the launch of the Moto X, Google's Motorola unit not only gets a flagship phone but an avenue to retool its image to one that's more fashionable. Perhaps Android can appeal to a mass market sans the spec-happy, industrial and ridiculously large screens favored Google's phone partners.

Let's face it: Android historically has been for people that like specs, like to tinker and don't mind 5-inch screens. Why is there a Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini? Because the Galaxy S4 is basically a phablet. Motorola's previous Android devices also appeal to a certain niche.

The Moto X won't wow anyone with its specs and that's fine (see CNET review and roundup). It's a midrange phone that speaks to the masses at $199 with a two-year contract. There is a decent amount of fashion sense to it and a few features that may differentiate the device from the pack. But more importantly, the Moto X doesn't really alienate anyone. The phone will appeal to women as well as men. The geek and the non-geek. Is Moto X the reason Google bought Motorola? We'll see.



It's unclear whether Moto X, really a Google Phone, can develop that emotional attachment that Apple's iPhone has, but it certainly has a shot. Here's why:

  1. Customization: Via Moto Maker, an application that will land first at AT&T and Best Buy, colors and other features can be customized and delivered in days. That customization enables a bevy of colors for a device that can be held in one hand. There are two front colors, 18 back colors and 7 accents. That level of options is could be a supply chain nightmare. If Motorola can deliver, it'll be able to leverage its U.S.-based manufacturing hub more effectively than rivals building devices in China or Korea.
  2. Touchless control. After playing with Google Glass for a while, it's clear that there's something interesting about talking to a device to activate it. Moto X will listen for you to say "OK Google" and ask for something. From there, it's up to Google to deliver your answers.
  3. The phone isn't about the specs. Moto X doesn't have the best screen on the market and doesn't even run the latest Android. That latter point is absolutely crazy. However, running the latest Android may not matter much to the average bear.


Moto X is an interesting experiment in the Motorola-Google era. Two years since Google acquired Motorola, it's about time there's a mashup worth monitoring.


Topics: Mobility, Android, Google, Smartphones

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  • Fail

    Last year's tech, this years prices.
    • You are not wrong about that.

      Motorola (Google) is an Apple want-to-be. This is just another failed product from a failed company.
      Timothy Cook
      • Timothy

        And you sir are an Apple Fanboy.

        You are correct though in one thing. Motorola made this one more like an Apple. They took what it looked like as more important then what it actually does.
        I'll never understand why people don't want the most meat they can get, who gives a hoot what it looks like? I'd carry around a phone that looked like a cinder block if it had an i7 processor running at 4 ghz. The specs are the only thing that matter. Apple don't got 'em.
        • I hope this is sarcasm...

          I hope that's sarcasm but I can't tell. Out-of-the-box experience was what Android was severely lacking. Slow and a requirement to have high-specs to be responsive required any Android using to change or debloat the stock rom.

          Samsung Galaxy S3 had good specs but still lags between screens. When my wife switched from the Galaxy S3 to the iPhone 5, it was a massive improvement in speed and responsiveness.

          You don't have to be an Apple Fanboy to see that specs don't mean diddly unless you have the software skills to make use of it. I hope they get the speed improvement they still need.

          And if you need the meat, carry a laptop with Skype on it. That'll be everything you've alway dreamed of.
          • Define lags between screens

            None of the many S3's I've seen "lag between screens" so please quantify that lag. What, 1 second, 5, 10, 20 mins? Fck it, I still call BS that you've even seen one.
            Little Old Man
          • Yeah, I disagree

            I don't own an S4 but a lowly LG L9, while fooling around with an iphone5 it was fine, but not mind blowing. But unlike the author's opinion about screen sizes, the screen space is just too small on the iphone. Smartphones are ironically NOT about talking, but light computing activities ergo more space is better.

            That being said my 17year old likes his iphone 4s.
      • Something to consider...

        Well, technically, The X-Phone is assembled in the former Nokia factory in Texas.

        Remember, Nokia left the US to build a smartphone with Microsoft, that has a 41MP camera in it. Nokia likely closed because they couldn't find the talent in the US to build a real good camera phone, so they left the building for Motorola to lease. It's a bummer that Microsoft can't develop apps, because the camera is great!

        So, from what I understand, the Texas Factory is where Nokia made faceplates for older phones. (Remeber those? There were a lot of Chinese knock-offs, but the Nokia-made ones were REAL good.) So likely, the phone housing is good quality.

        But with the new technology is awesome. It's a phone, that's always listening to personal conversations, while in your pocket. It can be a very powerful tool for Google, and also telecom companies like AT&T, who can show Google how to get Spy Immunity.

        Google could conceivably sell your conversations to the NSA first, then sell it again to advertisers. They'll pay off the cost to acquire Motorola real quick this way.
    • you are correct, sir.

      Moto X is only 4.7" with 720p --like LAST YEAR'S Nexus 4. And has a dual core CPU? Huh? All the top tier phones this year have quad core CPU with 5" (or a little more) full HD 1080p displays. Heard the Moto X was going to be a mid-tier phone, not top tier and specs confirm it. Passing.

      The color cases are to distract you from the poor specs.
      • I would look at it

        I don't need the best, just a decent phone at a fair price.
    • Add to the fact that is does NOT have...

      ...an SD memory card slot...as well as the other THREE new Droids from Motorola about to be released...that alone is a deal breaker. What are Motorola thinking?

      Storing ALL photos, data, etc. in the phone's on board memory is not a good idea.

      Yea...yea...I know...back it up to the "cloud". Not a solution I care for.
  • It's about price from now on

    Nobody is thrilled by anything in the smart phone market for the last year - unless it's where you can place a smart phone screen, as on a serious P&S camera or a car dashboard. Nobody thinks a handset is worth $600, period. Apple is in the pits for that reason. This is a challenge to Apple as in, what can you do for $200? This is much closer to the Amazon phone so many were speculating about a while ago.
    • Perhaps you meant value

      I try to look at the value of a phone. A phone on a 24-month contract is an additional $350-$450 cost to the device. Contract-free service is significantly cheaper, so full-price phones make sense to me.

      The value of the Nexus 4 is excellent. Other than the lack of LTE, it nearly perfect; it even runs Android 4.3 (my Galaxy Nexus also runs 4.3). I will consider a more expensive phone, but it has to have increased VALUE to go with the cost differential.

      The Moto X costs $200 + contract!? It is running Android 4.2.2!? A non-replaceable battery? No microSD card? Mid-range specs?

      I don't get it. Are the fancy colors, materials, etc. worth the extra $300? Not to me.
      • I'm a "value" owner

        Evaluating actual personal use, I bought a $49 Gingerbread LG for my $100 per year pay/go plan (Bell Canada). Gingerbread seems to be the frustrating "XP" of Android - too many users own it for app developers to abandon it, but Google desperately wants to leave it behind. My phone has a swappable battery and I have a 16GB Sandisk SD card (on sale at $20).

        Google wants developers to restrict their apps to internal storage and wants to make phones disposable because of internal batteries.

        Is any current phone a "value" at six to ten times my phone? Ridiculous. I think the new normal for new phones is going to be $100 to $250 and OEMs better read it and weep.
      • $200 + contract = Expensive

        My current phone has a MSRP of $200 without a contract and $50 with. Anywhere I look, you only get a major deduction on the price of the phone if you get it with a contract.

        So from my perspective, this phone is too high-end for a basic value customer who wants it primarily as a communicator, and too low end for the hard geek who wants a supercomputer in their pocket. I suspect that middle market is not a big market.
      • Except that ...

        ... there is NO DISCOUNT in services when you pay in full for the device. The service still cost exactly the same.
        • Really?

          Sim only plans cost the same as hardware subsidised plans?

          What a fcked up mobile market you live with. Even the UK doesn't get shafted that badly!
          Little Old Man
          • We're used to it

            K-Y Gel helps!
        • I've gotten discounts when I paid in full for the device

          T-Mobile gave me a $20/month discount three years ago on a no-contract plan when I bought a Nexus One from Google. Over a 24-month period I came out ahead as compared to buying the phone subsidized on contract.
          Spatha Spatula
  • Not Seeing It

    Billed as a top line device, top line price, mid line specs and capability, no off contract or Play versions ........

    Not what I expected nor hoped for.
  • Cheap copying

    Copying Nokia.... Shame...