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Tilt me baby one more time (or my Moto X review)

sheepdog
Level 26: Upbeat
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Ahem. I must first point out that there is a post on here that I was disappointed about the Moto X specs when it was first released. I was wrong, the Moto X is a benchmark phone to where Android should be moving to as a user experience in hardware and software.

Let’s start with the negatives. It has a nano-sim which is a real pain and I ended up getting a giffgaff nano-sim for this trial. Actually, the only other negative is that it isn’t water-resistant.

 

Screen & Battery life

The screen is lovely and easy to get on with. Compared to my Nexus 4, the Nexus 4 looks washed out. Surprisingly, the size and weight of the MotoX is near enough perfect even though screen-wise, is the same size as the Nexus 4.  Just doesn’t have the large surrounds which in turn makes it slender. Handle one and you’ll understand how good it really feels.

Big positive: oh the battery life! This is the phone to go for if you value using your phone throughout the entire day without needing to charge it. When I mean day, that’s a full 12 hours of using it in various ways and still goes on.  It can quite easily last a whole 24 hours under less intensive usage. One of the lesser-advertised hardware functions is the co-processor chip that deals with battery usage. Change the screen timeout to 15 seconds and you can get a little more life out of it. A little annoying at first but you do get used to it – my personal choice but has its benefits: primarily you tend to do things quicker before it goes blank!

Which brings me onto one of the advertising taglines of it “changing the way you use the phone”. We all do this – pick up the phone check for messages or something and usually press the power-on button. Not with the MotoX. You simply pick it up if you see the glowy light (or tilt it, now you see the headline 😉 ) and it will display how many messages, missed calls, etc. Even better, you just swipe up to read it quickly or to see the whole message via the application it comes from. To remove it, just swipe to the left and it’s off the list without unlocking the phone. You really won’t believe how much more productive this method is and you do stop picking up the phone “just to check”. Very similar to the Blackberry Playbook “swipe to turn on” so a big plus on that.

 

Voice controls

I was going to originally title this review as “OK Scotty, beam me up” but voice usage didn’t quite perform to my expectations and pretty much useless without a network signal.  I really wanted to dictate the review but that didn’t quite work out in the way I wanted. Ho hum. The built-in functionality of voice (another co-processor) for the Moto X is quite impressive but there is still quite a way to go to make it second nature to users. In addition, saying “OK Google Now” gets tedious quickly so expect it to fall into disuse. Like I said, it does work but needs work to make it mainstream.

Motorola Assist is fantastic. You can set this to disable functions if you’re in a meeting, driving or sleeping. The latter worked a bit too well one night when I was on-call and forgot that it was activated! Its more beneficial if you set things up in the calendar though it can work out if you’re driving or not. Unfortunately, the way I like to drive is have my phone connected to receive calls but it doesn’t have that option – just “ignore” and “send/read texts” to you. Nice functions though could do with more fine-tuning.

 

Camera

The camera is adequate but nothing spectacular and is fine for normal snaps.  Be careful of HDR mode especially indoors as it is on by default and tends to make people’s faces look like they are wearing make-up! The interface is a little frustrating where to zoom you swipe up and down rather than pinch. It’s difficult habit to break when you’ve been used to the standard Android way. But another really useful item that has been thought of is that to access the camera you just need to twist your wrist a couple of times. It then vibrates and it’s up and running. Seriously handy and yes, no hardware button pushes needed.

 

Call quality

Voice calls, as above, is unbelievably clear in all situations and far superior to the Note3/Xperia Z/Nexus 4. Coupled with good antennae capability, this phone really did impress me considering my area has no 3G and variable GSM coverage. Even with Wifi and location services on plus BT, I’ll just mention again that battery life is more than impressive. The phone is incredibly fast – it just doesn’t slow down with multiple apps in the background. Sadly still no 4G in my area but 3G speeds felt incredibly fast when in a 3G area.

 

TuGo

With previous reviews on the  Note3, Xperia Z, TuGo has always worked very well. However, on the MotoX it’s been erratic. I’ll explain – the first week whilst waiting for the nano-sim, I was using it in pure TuGo mode and it performed flawlessly.  Now, whether the Moto X didn’t quite like the giffgaff sim or more likely, some Moto X specific updates broke it, TuGo bizarrely started using the speakerphone when receiving or dialling!  Not to say the quality was poor – it remained excellent – it does take you by surprise when you’ve got the speakphone blaring in your ear. I’ll also add that I successfully sent text messages using TuGo on my o2 number without having a network connection other than giffgaff. I know, it’s using the o2 network, but was a pleasant surprise.

 

Conclusion

This phone is just about perfect for business use as I’ve discovered during the trial period  when it really was in use a lot. Call quality and battery life especially outweighs any spec heavy phone out there and there is no sacrifice with the display. Those co-processors do make a difference and I feel other hardware manufacturers should take note on what can be achieved. Save the 64bit octa-cores for the desktop, give me better battery life on my mobile device.

However, the problem with the Moto X is the Moto G. There are arguments to support saving the money but the premium is worth it. I fortunately have one to compare against (its my mothers phone) and it is a world of difference especially if I had to use the Moto G in a work capacity.  Light usage and go for the G, its perfect.  The Moto X is a great phone that you won’t be disappointed with if you look beyond the specs and music/photo quality/storage is not high on the list.  I’d go as far to say that in a couple of years and more it will still be a faithful workhorse with few peers.

As for me, that Nexus 4 of mine hasn’t yet broken but if it did tomorrow, Moto X is on the top of the list and above the Xperia Z I recently trialled. Hopefully – since Lenovo have bought Motorola phones – the second iteration should be an absolute classic, if that is, they continue the X range with this type of quality.

One last thing, check out the Windy Day under the Spotlight player. It’s a wonderful piece of interactive animation that is very impressive.  

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