Motorola’s new flagship smartphone – the Moto X (Gen 2) is undoubtedly Motorola’s spearhead in it’s hunt to cement its place at the top tier of the smartphone market.
While it’s moniker reads as ‘Gen 2’, this device is in fact, not a direct replacement of its predecessor.
Instead it is a high priced smartphone that puts out a very impressive spec sheet, with most of the important boxes ticked in terms of features, and should thus meet and exceed a lot of people’s expectations.
So how does it stack up? Let’s find out!
Motorola upgraded the screen resolution from 720p to a Full-HD 1080p, while also bumping up its size from 4.7 inches to 5.2 inches; thus joining the group of many modern smartphones in the market today, that go above and beyond the 5.0 inch benchmark.
Continuing with an AMOLED display, yet it’s not a carry-over. Despite the increase in size, Motorola have also managed to upgrade the pixel density to a respectable 400+ mark. And it shows!
Text, images and everything else appear sharper and more real-world.
Thankfully, Motorola has also upgraded the protective glass to Gorilla Glass 3, which offers much better protection against the occasional drops, as well as the frequent use with overly-sharp fingernails
The new Moto X is well crafted and feels very slick. The front panel glass seems to float right to the device’s edges.
While this looks good and adds to the allure of the device, given that it has a healthy Screen-to-Facial Area ratio of over 73%, however it is protected only by a thin strip of plastic on the sides and corners, where most large phones use strips of metal for protection.
This makes us a little worried about how well the device will stand up if dropped, particularly if it lands on a corner.
On the other hand, Motorola has decided to go with a metal body this time, and the exposed parts of the frame look very well crafted. The rubberised back feels nice and textured, contrary to what we’d thought prior to reviewing the device.
On the whole, the Moto X (Gen 2) feels premium and well-balanced, even though its not in the league of full-metal-body devices.
This is where the Moto X (Gen 2) shines! It has an absolutely great spec sheet, especially for it’s price bracket.
Let’s start from the most important family member – the processor. It has Qualcomm’s top-tier Snapdragon 801 SoC, which integrates four 2.5GHz processor cores and an Adreno 330 graphics unit.
Add to that, Motorola has added its own touch in the form of dedicated hardware for motion control detection and voice recognition. These specialised processors power Motorola’s unique software features and help minimise battery-life impact by allowing the device’s other hardware to remain asleep while they (the co-processors) handle some of the mundane work.
The 2 GB of RAM proves adequate for the current Apps-landscape and the performance output is great – as can be expected given the high-specification configuration which are amongst the top dogs in the market.
The overall experience is very light and smooth which is the most striking benefit of the Stock Android that the Moto X (Gen 2) runs.
Battery life was also on the high side, with 9 hours, 36 minutes in the video loop tests. You’ll easily get a day’s worth of heavy usage – we didn’t notice any significant drain on the battery caused by the voice and gesture features in ordinary usage, though these might become apparent over a much longer period of usage.
The only gripe that people will have with the Moto X (Gen 2) is the rather surprising restriction of 16 GB of internal storage. This is very disappointing especially since Motorola has not included a memory card slot!
Going back to our reference of Stock Android – the Moto X (Gen 2) is another Motorola device that comes with Stock Android.
Thankfully, Motorola has not gone out and created an Android skin of its own, which may please a lot of people! We definitely loved it!
Other manufacturers seem to be overdoing their UIs in their attempt to cram in everything they can. It sometimes seems that they want customers to control the International Space Station with their cute little smartphones! Thankfully Motorola does not subscribe to that ilk of thinking, and like always, they’ve been circumspect in their tinkering.
The new Moto X runs Android 4.4.4, almost as pristine as a Nexus device. The only thing you might find out of place will be a little prompt in the Google search field encouraging you to give the phone instructions out loud.
One of Motorola’s tricks is passive listening, so you can give your Moto X voice instructions or start searching for anything without having to actually touch anything to trigger voice recognition.
Another benefit of sticking with near-Stock Android is that you can expect quite a few OS upgrades to reach this device in the coming months (since Motorola doesn’t need to squat on the releases, at the behest of tweaking it like it’s competitors have the tendency to).
I’ll be honest. Cameras have never been Motorola’s strong suit.
Not that Motorola seems to try very hard, either. It often seems that Motorola is simply going through the motions, just to stay up with the Joneses, or the Andersons.
The Moto X (Gen 2) has a 13 megapixel rear camera (up from 10 megapixel in the original Moto X), but somehow the output doesn’t feel like that of a 13 megapixel unit. Unless you’re out in the sunlight, in picture-perfect conditions. There’s graininess, a slow shutter, a slow UI (albeit a fortunately simple one).
The flash is par for the course, but still a single-LED one. Indoor photography continues to be a challenge with the second iteration of the X, irrespective of the lighting conditions or the assistance of the LED flash.
The front camera too, is a paltry experiment. It seems to have only been provided to tick in the box- of video calling. Forget selfies.
Motorola just needs to spend more time, or hire better camera-specific engineers to crack this problem. What’s even more disappointing is that despite a great processor, a decent GPU, minimalistic camera app and an even more minimalistic OS, there’s still a significant lag between your hitting the ‘click’ and the camera actually honoring it. So don’t be surprised if you miss more moments than you catch.
There’s not much to write about here for the Moto X (Get 2).
There are the regular 3.5 mm jacks and the front speaker (which gives out decent voice quality, especially as a speakerphone for calls).
That said, the Moto X could have done with some bells and whistles in this department, given that people use their device for a quite a lot of content consumption.
Two saving graces – Bluetooth 4.0 which lets you stream out music to a bluetooth speaker, with adequate client-end controls (i.e. the speaker can control/trigger things via it’s own onboard buttons etc.), and the pixel-rich screen that doesn’t let you down while watching videos. AMOLED helps too, keep the blacks nice and black!
There’s not much to write about here, that’s standalone Motorola.
What the device does, it does well thanks to the growth of Android and the focus that it’s developers have had towards device and business security.
The stars of the security suit are undoubtedly the Face recognition (though it doesn’t always work) – it’s a first step; the Lost Device locator and the Remote Device Wiping features, that will keep you safe should you misplace your device.