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Motorola Moto X is impressive smartphone
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Motorola Moto X is impressive smartphone

Motorola spent a lot of effort studying the marketplace before launching its first flagship smartphone under Google ownership. As a result it is not a huge screen phablet with a overpowered CPU that could run the space shuttle.

Screen Shot 2013-09-16 at 12.15.48 PM

The Moto x is a nice looking phone that is surprisingly small considering it boasts a 4.7″ screen. It measures in at about 5-inches tall and 2.57-inches wide, making it both shorter and slightly narrower than the HTC One, which also has a screen size of 4.7-inches. This is mostly due to very small bezels, especially on the sides of the screen where the bezel is pretty much non existent. The phone is made of two pieces of high density polycarbonate that does not have the plastic feel of the Samsung Galaxy S4. On the contrary it feels solid and at at 5 oz has a bit of heft. The curved rubberized back combines with compact dimensions make this phone the best feeling smartphone in the hand of all the current models. P1050528 The Moto X sports a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon Pro chipset clocked at 1.7GHz, plus 2GB of RAM. It might not sound like the most muscular of specs on paper, and compared to other flagship phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One, some might call those specs middle of the road. Perhaps but I found the Moto X as snappy in operation as any other top of the line smartphone..scrolling is smooth and apps open in a flash and multitasking doesn’t slow the phone down. Motorola promises 24 hour battery life and I had no trouble matching that with moderate use. Part of the magic is two custom cores were made specifically to enable normally power sucking features like Active Display, Quick Capture and Touchless Control to function in a low-power state. That means that even when your screen’s off, these features are only a flip, wrist twist or voice command away. It is these special features that turn the Moto X into a very desirable smartphone.

Active Display:

Screen Shot 2013-09-16 at 12.23.46 PM

It is on by default, and shows the time and the phone’s notifications fading in and out when you take the phone out of your pocket, turn it over or pick it up You can use the icons to preview the most recent notification or launch the related apps.

Quick Capture:

The Moto X will go from pocket to image capture in under 3 seconds. Just grab the phone and twist it twice in your hand horizontally, and the camera launches without your pressing a button.

Touchless Control:

But the big deal Moto X feature is Touchless Control, which basically gives you Google Now voice controls without having to first turn on or even pick up the phone. After a short “voice training” session I found the system worked brilliantly: all you need do is say, “OK, Google Now” followed by a question and the phone will spring to life and seek out an answer. You can ask it to make a phone call, set a reminder, open an app, navigate to a location or, well, pretty much anything else. It’s certainly as effective as Siri, and while Siri perhaps “talks back” to you more naturally, the ability to fire off questions without touching the handset is a real step forward. Notice how well it worked here in the car with the radio on.

Screenshot_2013-09-12-15-36-45

Assist is another feature that takes advantage of Moto X’s awareness of time and place. While you are driving, it  will read text messages, tell you who is calling and reply with a text message. During meetings it can silence your phone, allow calls from Favorites or someone who calls twice within 5 minutes. It can also auto-reply with a text message. As well, Assist can quiet your phone during preset sleep hours and use the same call handling rules as the meeting function. A very smart phone indeed.

 

Cameras on Motorola phones in the past have not been especially impressive but, with the Moto X Motorola is catching up to the pack. While still not quite the best the shooter on the Moto X has impressive credentials:

  • 10MP with 16:9 aspect ratio
  • 1080p HD video at 30fps with slow motion
  • Auto HDR
  • Panorama
  • Photo burst
  • 4x digital zoom
  • Tap to focus

It is also quick to access just shake the phone twice, even if it is asleep and you are ready to shoot within three seconds which is at least twice as fast at other phones. Once fired up it takes pretty good pictures outdoors. IMG_20130910_122409434 Indoor pictures can be a bit iffy, I found the colour balance and focus dependent on the available light for example this scene is lit by an incandescent bulb in a lamp with an orange shade. IMG_20130909_202020615 On the other hand rake a look at this flash shot taken in pitch black..colour balance is bang on..try that with your phone. IMG_20130909_202056872 I also found 1080p HD video looks good as well. This was shot on a dull rainy day. http://youtu.be/yCYGZTwrj48 The Moto X is an impressive phone..it is well built, fits nicely in even small hands and it takes pretty good pictures under most conditions. It is by far the best software experience I have had in any smartphone..Motorola has taken a huge step towards turning the smartphone into a true digital assistant. The camera still needs a bit of work but should handle most snapshot and sharing needs.

I am so impressed with it that I gave it a 5 Star rating. It joins only two other phones, the iPhone 5 and HTC One with this high rating.

The Motorola Moto X is available exclusively from Rogers in Canada for $169.99 with a two year plan or $549 with no plan. In the US it is $199.99 with a two year plan from Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint.

If you want something different than the black or white model AT&T customers can custom design a phone at a special Moto Maker website. There is no indication when this special feature will be available from other carriers in the US or Canada.

Bob Benedetti

<p>Former RCAF Fighter Pilot Bob worked for CTV Montreal as a Reporter, Producer and Executive producer for 35 years retiring in 2004. Bob started reporting on personal technology in 1995 at CTV and continues today at Home Technology Montreal</p>

3 Comments
  • Jack Morin

    Bob, I may be nitpicking, but you need to do some spell checking and proofreading on the web site article(s).

    “As a result it is not a huge screen near phablet(?) with a overpowered CPU”
    “The phone is made of two pieces of hight (high) density polycarbonate”
    “On the contrary it feels solid and at at 5 oz has a bit of heft.”
    “The curved rubberized back combines with compact dimensions make this phone the best feeling smartphone(,) in the hand(,) of all the current models.”
    (scrolling is smooth and apps open in a flash due no doubt to the and multitasking doesn’t slow the phone down.”
    “Quick Capture (T)the Moto X will go from pocket to image capture in under 3 seconds.”
    “While you are driving(,) (i)It will read text messages,”
    I believe it is important to show your best face when you are publishing on the web, or anywhere else for that matter. It shows professionalism and attention to detail. If you can’t do it with your language, how much attention and professionalism are you representing in your articles opinions?

    My own web site is not very elaborate, but I do believe that the spelling and grammar are correct. If you happen to check out my web site and do come across any errors, you may feel free to let me know.

    September 17, 2013 at 12:07 am Reply
    • Bob Benedetti

      Jack,

      Thank you for the comment..it seems WordPress published an earlier draft. It does that occasionally. Usually, I check the final post but in this case was a bit rushed. Thanks for spotting the typos and bad edits, they have been fixed.

      By the way I did take a look at the front page of your web site. I question the use of caps on all words of job descriptions and neither requires the use of nor.

      Cheers

      Bob

      September 17, 2013 at 12:45 am Reply
      • Jack Morin

        Thank’s Bob for your quick response. It tells me you are “on the ball”.
        I also appreciated your comments regarding my web site. I will have another look and see to implementing the suggested changes.
        By the way, I am a regular subscriber to your newsletter and always enjoy the insights you provide.
        Regards,
        Jack Morin

        September 17, 2013 at 1:48 am Reply

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