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CHICAGO, IL — One of the most underrated smartphones of 2013 was the . But, unlike any other phone from last year, it stands as the one I still use today.
On Thursday, I spent a few hours with Motorola in Chicago testing out the new Moto X, Moto G, Moto 360 smartwatch, and Moto Hint headset. Motorola continues to bring quality products with unique user experiences to the market.
The first generation Moto X launched at a than we thought, especially when the spec sheet showed it was not at the level of other Android flagships. It turns out that the experience exceeded the pure specs, and Motorola continued to improve the device over the last year.
The new Moto X will be available as a subsidized phone for $99 (16GB model) and $499 as a GSM unlocked model. The 32GB variant should be priced $50 more, like last year. $549 for a SIM unlocked, no-contract high end phone is a reasonable price and $200 less than an iPhone (32GB).
The form factor, track record of getting Android updates as fast, and sometimes faster, than Nexus devices, and the comprehensive custom user experiences are what make the Moto X a compelling choice. The new Moto X offers a larger 5.2 inch AMOLED 1080p display, powerful 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor, 2GB RAM, 16/32GB storage, 2300 mAh battery, 13-megapixel camera with ring flash, four microphones, and turbo charge capability.
While most new flagships have the 801 processor, some have the new 805 as well. Motorola doesn't just have the 801, but they have an Adreno 330 GPU, a natural language processor, and a contextual computing processor. These three processor systems, with ten processor cores, allow advanced functionality to make the device more functional and efficient than traditional smartphones.
The optional Turbo Charger is perfect for the road warrior and lets you charge up the new Moto X in a short period. You can get up to eight hours of battery life with just fifteen minutes of charge. That sure makes airport power outlets more useful to me.
Motorola's new Moto X announcement shows it continues to listen to consumers with an increased screen size while keeping a compelling form factor, improved camera (the function that concerned people the most), improved the internal specs, and even more custom user experiences to make this new model Moto X another device that will last folks at least a year.
Moto Voice is improved with third-party application integration. Moto Display active notifications is improved with the ability to view the details of up to three notifications rather than just one. And, Moto Actions is improved with new front infrared sensors, which the activate the display as you approach, allowing you to easily snooze an alarm, for example. Motorola states the Moto X recognizes gestures at around four times the distance of other smartphone over-the-display gestures.
We also see some features from other phones making it to the Moto X. For example, HTC's highlight video functionality is present with the ability to make highlight reels with music, pictures, and videos. Highlight reels look a lot like HTC's experience, but that is one major function I like on the HTC One so I am fine with it appearing on the new Moto X.
The new Moto X has an aluminum frame that also serves as an advanced antenna. Motorola engineers stated that the antenna is adaptive, dubbed Dynamic Tuning, and holds the signal even when your hand may be blocking areas of the frame. The engineers said the Moto X should have better wireless carrier performance than anything else out there, making me wonder how that works out with T-Mobile.
The Moto X is nano-coated inside so it is splash resistant. Don't go dunking it in a cup of water, but if you are out in the rain you don't have to worry about water damage.
While there are two speaker grills on the Moto X, it does not have dual stereo speakers like the Moto G. It has one speaker that then uses software to offer an enjoyable audio experience. While the new Moto X did not sound as good as the HTC One M8, they were better than most everything else I have heard. Remember, the original Moto X had a pretty amazing single rear speaker too.
The customization was a nice touch and will be coming to the new Moto X in the next couple of months. We were able to take the new Moto Maker website for a test drive and I look forward to the new leather options, wood is also available again, for just a $25 premium.
The existing Moto G is Motorola's best selling smartphone of all time, beating out all of the Droids and various other smartphones from the past few years. I usually do not recommend low cost Android devices since they generally suffer from lockups, slowdowns, and more problems than they are worth.
That is not the case with the Moto G. It's a fabulous low cost smartphone that I easily recommend to people looking for an affordable and functional smartphone.
The new Moto G improves the current device while remaining at the same $179 starting price (8GB variant). You will find a larger 5-inch 720p display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 1.2GHz processor, Android KitKat with a guaranteed upgrade to Android L, microSD card slot, 8-megapixel rear camera and 2-megapixel front-facing camera, and dual front-facing stereo speakers.
The new Moto G has just about everything you could want in a smartphone and even includes several Motorola experiences.
Motorola was able to increase the screen size while still keeping the Moto G small enough to be very comfortable in your front pocket. I have one to evaluate and will post my full review after spending more time with it. It may actually be difficult to pony up the funds for the new Moto X when the Moto G is so feature rich.
Motorola is one of the last to announce its Android smartphones going into the 2014 holiday season, so we now have the LG G3, Samsung Galaxy S5, HTC One M8, Samsung Galaxy Note 4, Samsung Galaxy Note Edge, Sony Xperia Z3, Huawei Ascend Mate 2, and Huawei Ascend Mate 7.
It is likely that Google will announce the next Nexus, but I am not expecting much else for the Android world this year.
Based on pricing, size, and overall experiences, it looks like the new Moto X will be the device I buy for myself as we get to the end of 2014. I have my eye on the blue leather with orange highlights, the same color as my current Moto X.