Motorola revamped its smartphone line on Tuesday, introducing a pair of new Moto X handsets as well as an updated Moto G.
From a design standpoint, there aren't many changes. That's OK if you like Motorola's prior models. I do, mainly because the handset's aren't simple slabs. Instead, they have rounded backs with stacked batteries, making them easy to hold and use.
Since Motorola thinks it has winning designs, it wisely chose to improve some of the device's internals -- the cameras, in particular -- while also trying to hit appealing price points. I'd say the company has delivered on that mark.
Let's start with the new Moto G.
It costs $179 off-contract for the base model of 8 GB storage and 1 GB of memory. Motorola will offer a version with 16 GB of storage and your choice of 1 or 2 GB of memory and the Moto G can be customized through the MotoMaker site. An updated 1.4 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 410 powers the now-waterproof phone and the display has grown to 5-inches. It's still a 1280 x 720 screen; to be expected at this price.
Motorola is using the same 13 megapixel camera sensor with f/2.0 aperture in the Moto G that it chose for last year's Nexus 6 phone. That's a solid jump in camera capabilities and with just a few minutes of hands-on time, I captured plenty of solid images.
Overall performance of the phone itself felt like I was using handset costing $100 to $150 more. I saw very slight delays when tapping the screen to open apps or visit a webpage, but I wouldn't call the experience slow.
My first take? Motorola has brought the new Moto G close to an older Moto X in many ways but kept the price low. I'll be doing much more testing, of course; Motorola provided me with a review unit. I'll make the $179 handset my daily driver for a week or so and provide a full review.
I wish Motorola had handed out the new Moto X Style Pure Edition, an unlocked phone that works on every U.S. carrier and starts at $399. Unfortunately, the handset doesn't arrive until September, so review units will probably appear next month.
Motorola took the same approach with the new Moto X: Tweak the design a little but improve certain features by a lot. In particular, the phone uses a 21 megapixel rear camera sensor that's supposed to capture much better images.
It's too early to say for sure but some hands-on time suggests to me that Motorola has finally integrated a camera worthy of the Moto X. I captured several fantastic shots -- granted, in a very limited setting -- and found the auto-focus to be lightning quick.
Motorola has finally gone with a quad-HD display for its flagship phone as well. The bad news (for some) is that the screen size has increased as well: It has a 5.7-inch display.
I was among those who didn't like it when Motorola boosted the Moto X screen last year: I simply prefer a phone that's not too big. Even so, holding the new Moto X didn't feel like a chore.
The handset feels smaller that it really is, boasting thin bezels and a high body to screen ratio. Put another way: Holding an iPhone 6+ feels like holding a larger phone to me, even though it has a smaller screen than the Moto X.
The new Moto X also has front-facing stereo speakers although I really couldn't get a feel for how they sound at the event. Overall usage was quick as expected: The phone has 3 GB of memory and a 1.8 GHz Snapdragon 808 chip along with some additional sensors and cores. And at 520 pixels per inch, the display looks fantastic.
The real kicker here though is the price. Although it's a model with only 16 GB of storage, the $399 pricetag is very compelling for the overall package in the new Moto X Style Pure Edition. That's just my first take, of course; I hope to have a review unit of my own in the near future. On paper, however -- and with a short hands on session -- I'm very impressed by what Motorola is offering.