Motorolas worst kept secret was made official today as the heavily leaked Moto X was unveiled in at an event in NYC.
Ever since Google announced their intention to acquire Motorola, theres been considerable buzz surrounding a handset that was built from the ground up by Google. Weve seen smartphones in the past that come from heavy Google influence mainly the Nexus line but never a device that was made entirely with Googles influence.
If youre familiar with the recent launch of the Motorola Droid line for Verizon Wireless than youre unlikely to see a lot of surprises today. What you will find is an impressive phone geared toward one-handed use with the first serious effort to make the smartphone experience personalized in both hardware and software.
The Moto X is not the biggest phone out there. It doesnt have the fastest processor, the most RAM, the largest number of megapixels, or even the most features. Its a 4.7-inch Android phone with a dual-core Snapdragon S4 Pro and 2GB of RAM. Nothing about that sentence should sound particularly impressive, and yet somehow the phone manages to be snappier than the HTC One or the Samsung Galaxy S4. While theres not been enough time to make a definitive statement, it is entirely possible that this is the smoothest Android phone experience available today. Every menu felt incredibly fluid and every list scroll felt, frankly, like I was using iOS.
Motorola explained during the event that the experience is due entirely to the work done in the X8 computing system. Motorola worked closely with Qualcomm and the manufacturers of the mysterious 7th and 8th cores in their X8 system to optimize what would otherwise be considered outdated hardware for the Android experience. The X8 is considered the most Project Butter friendly chipset available to Android phones today, and it shows as you glide through the OS. Theres not a ton known about how exactly these additional cores work, but Motorola was all too ready to show off what they were capable of.
The Natural Language Processor and the Contextual Processor in the X8 system sound an awful lot like marketing fluff until you try them out. The NLP is responsible for the Moto Xs ability to recognize you voice at any point while the phone is on. Even after hours of inactivity with the screen off, you can say Ok Google Now from across a noisy room and the phone will recognize your voice and start working. This feature works anywhere in the OS, even when youre in another app doing something. Moto X has taken Google Now and made it significantly more useful by making the service dependent on nothing but your voice. This isnt something just anyone can do by picking up the phone, either. Youll need to train the Moto X to your voice by going through a quick tutorial.
The Contextual Processor allows from some neat things as well, specifically the ability to show you notifications from your phone in such a way that it looks like all of the icons and images on the screen are a breathing light, similar to what you would see in a laptop that is hibernating. This is being called Active Display, and is delivered in a really unique way. If you have your phone on its face and flip it over, the breathing notification will start and slowly fade away after a period of inactivity. If you havent touched the phone in a while and reach over to touch any part of the glass front of the phone, youll activate the feature as well. Once this screen is open, you can either quickly glance at your most recent notification, unlock the phone, or dismiss the notifications and return to a screen off position.
Another feature that Motorola is particular proud of is their Clear Pixel camera, complete with new camera app. The Moto X is the first smartphone to use an RGBC sensor, allowing it to take in significantly more light than existing sensors according to Motorola. Given the low light mobile champions like the HTC One and Nokia Lumia 928, its a bold statement for Motorola to make.
In our quick hands-on tests, we found that the Moto X camera is no slouch. When compared to HTC and Nokia, the Moto X camera certainly seemed more than capable of competing and delivering a great camera experience. Combined with the new app, which focuses on removing as many buttons from the screen as possible and enabling comfortable one hand use in portrait or landscape, it is entirely possible that the Moto X is destined to be one of the better camera experiences in the mobile world.
Motorola has unveiled these features before in the recent Droid launch, but the Moto X is geared for many carriers across the globe instead of just Verizon Wireless. What makes the Moto X unique outside of its availability is the massive customization and accessory lineup the company has planned for launch. The front face of the phone will only be available in white or black, and if you choose to purchase the phone off-the-shelf, those are the only options you have for the backplate as well.
Should you decide youd like a personalized Moto X, the launch of this phone will include a website dedicated to making the phone yours. This website will allow you to choose from dozens of backplate colors, as well as custom colors for the volume buttons, power buttons, and the trim around the camera lens. Among those choices will eventually be four different kinds of actual wood, which will be available as soon as the phones pass internal testing. You can add a custom inscription on the back of the phone, and you can even have a customized boot animation that shows up every time you start the phone.
Geek.com will offer a more comprehensive review of the Moto X once weve spent some more time with it. For now, Motorola certainly has our attention and seems well on their way to having a smartphone experience unlike any of their competitors.
Moto X will be available for $199 for 16GB and $249 for 32GB at the end of August on AT&T initially, with plans to roll out to the remaining US and international carriers shortly after. At some point, Google will sell the Moto X through the Google Play Store, but not as a part of the launch.
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