If you follow technology news, you’ll know there has been a fair amount of press regarding the Motorola Moto X. Overall the phone has received positive reviews while being the first phone released by Motorola after being acquired by Google. It was these reviews, along with the added bonus of being “made in the USA”, that swayed me into purchasing the phone. While the reviews are pretty accurate, I feel like I never saw a good accounting of the smaller details that make or break a phone on day-to-day use.
Out of the box, the phone is pretty impressive, but it’s just a touch too big in my opinion. The curved back is comfortable to hold, but the one item that takes getting used to is the location of the power button: it’s on the side, above the volume buttons. Unfortunately, there is a bit of setup required to customize the device, remove any bloatware, and activate some of the features, so it does take a little bit of navigating and setup time.
Some Great Features
Just like the power button, the phone’s speaker is in a slightly different place than a lot of standard phones. The Moto X speaker can be found on the back of the phone next to the camera. I was a little worried about the speaker location, but calls and music sound quite nice and not muted at all (probably due to the curved back). Testing the speakerphone, I was very impressed by the voice quality of the caller and the ability of the phone to pick up my voice without feeling like I’m shouting.
One of the features that I’ve come to enjoy the most is the Active Display. The Moto X will display new notifications on the phone’s screen automatically without the need to press a button. While I thought this could be distracting, it’s a nice signal that I have a new text, email, etc without the need for a blinking light. Pressing the message shows a short excerpt of the message, with the ability to open the message or dismiss it. While that’s helpful, here’s where it starts getting exciting.
When I take the phone out of my pocket or otherwise bump, jostle, or jiggle the phone, the active display will light up showing the time and any notifications. Since I use my phone as my watch, this simple feature improves my day tremendously. I don’t need to push a button to see the time, or if I have any messages. Instead, I simply take it out of my pocket and the information is already displayed.
Camera and OS Updates
After receiving a number of complaints about the camera’s picture quality, Motorola released an update that improves quality. This was a great move by the company. In addition, the phone was also updated from Android Jelly Bean to Kit Kat after bringing it home from the store. These two updates helped improve the phone and bring its features to the latest and greatest; also showing that Motorola is standing behind its product.
Not so Touchless
One of the selling points of the phone was the touchless ‘OK Google Now’, that responds to your voice without the need to turn on your phone. Overall, I’m a little disappointed. First off, it often takes a couple of tries before the phone registers that I’m saying ‘OK Google Now’. Secondly, and most importantly, if you have your device secured with a password or pattern, you will need to enter it in before your command is processed. While this may not seem like a big deal, the requirement to enter the password or pattern, makes the touchless feature not so ‘touchless’. For me this was a big downfall, as it kills the touchless aspect, requiring me to still unlock my phone before I can call, text, etc.
In addition to the touchless feature, I’m a little disappointed in the phone’s calendaring capability. My calendar is my saving grace during the business day, telling me where to go and who I’m meeting with. I was used to the ability of using a Microsoft Exchange calendar with the option to accept or decline with or without sending a response. The Moto X is lacking this feature making it a little less convenient for those who are attached to a corporate calendar.
Overall, I think the Moto X is an excellent phone that is comfortable and capable. My biggest issue stems from the inability for a ‘touchless’ experience with a password or pattern set. However, the phone’s Active Display, great speaker quality, and other features such as remote wiping/locating or ability to silence my phone if I’m in a meeting (Motorola Assist), make this a powerful phone. The Moto X takes a good step in the direction of a phone being intelligent enough to help me manage my day rather than a day spent managing my phone.