“The new Moto X is more than a generational leap compared to its predecessor”
Right at the outset, we’ll make one thing clear – the original Moto X may not be a device that sold like hot cakes, especially compared to its value-for-money siblings, the Moto G and the E… but it did manage to impress us quite a bit. Its touchless control functionality set it apart from the crowd, and while it didn’t sport mind-boggling specs, it did come across as an outstanding smartphone when it came to other important criteria like the build quality, the latest build of Android, and other special features like the Assist automation app and the Active Display notifications. Today, Motorola took the wraps off its successor, and has decided not to change the moniker at all. Instead of being tagged the Moto X + 1 as the leaks suggested, the latest device is called the ‘new’ Moto X, and we’ll also refer to it as the Moto X (2nd-gen), just so that there’s no confusion.
Between the few months of the original X landing in India and the launch of its successor, quite a few things have changed as far as the Indian smartphone arena is concerned. We now have very worthy rivals present, so it remains to be seen if the new Moto X can set the cash registers ringing for Motorola. However, we’ve had a chance to spend some time with it today at the launch event, caress its gorgeous body and check out some of its cool features. Let us share our first thoughts, and also highlight a few of the major differences between the new and the old.
The very first thought that came to our minds when we first held the new Moto X in our hands was how light and compact it felt. The curved metal frame lends it a premium look, and the device just exudes pure class. The build quality feels rock solid, something we’ve come to expect from the brand based on our experience with its last line-up of devices. Not that the previous iteration was bad in terms of build, but the new model just takes it to a completely different level and looks quite different from its predecessor. Most of our time with the new X was with the standard black model but we got a peek at the one sporting the Bamboo-finished rear, and it looked absolutely divine. Do note that Motorola is using real wood for this, and it’s not just a mere finish. We’re told that another variant with genuine Horween leather will also be making its way to our shores soon. In comparison, the previous Moto X was available in black, white and red in the standard variants, and with bamboo, teak, and walnut wood backs priced a tad higher.
The front is almost all screen, along with dual-front speakers and the usual set of sensors and 2MP front camera on top. In comparison, the old X (the ex X?) only had a single speaker, placed next to the camera lens on the rear. The bezels around the display on the latest device are very slim, so it feels quite compact, especially considering its phablet-sized screen. Just to give you an idea of the dimensions and weight, the old model was 10.4mm thick, measured 129.3 x 65.3 x 10.4 mm and weighed 130 grams. The new one is larger and heavier at 140.8 x 72.4 mm and 144 grams, but actually slimmer at 9.9mm thickness. Those with smaller hands may find one-handed usage tough, but otherwise, the device shouldn’t be too unwieldy for most. You won’t find any hardware buttons on the fascia. The micro-USB port is at the bottom, while the headset socket is right on top. The left has been kept barren, and the volume rocker and power key are placed on the right spine. Like its predecessor, the new Moto X also accepts a nano-SIM, and the slot for this is placed in top, unlike the previous iteration that sported this on the left.
Flipping the smartphone over we see the primary camera lens, encircled by a circular flash, while the erstwhile model only offered a more conventional LED flash located below the camera. There Motorola logo is now larger, and almost looks like an additional hardware button, though it isn’t. A sealed 2,300mAh battery keeps the juice flowing, marginally higher than the 2,200mAh pack inside the older X.
When it comes to the core specs, the new baby can boast massive improvements over the outgoing model. The latter offered a 4.7-inch, 720p screen (~312ppi), and came powered by a dual-core Snapdragon chip at 1.7GHz, along with Adreno 320 graphics 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of non-expandable storage. As we’d noted in out review, the original Moto X didn’t really compare well with rivals priced similarly when it came to pure specs. The new one, on the other hand, rocks, specs comparable to current flagships, offering a 5-2-inch 1080p screen with 423ppi, a top-of-the-line quad-core Snapdragon 801 CPU clocked at 2.5GHz. The RAM and internal storage are the same at 2GB and 16GB respectively. There’s no microSD card slot for expansion – a 32GB variant is around too, but we aren’t sure if it will be made available in India. From 10-megapixels on the original, the primary camera has now been boosted up to 13-megapixels, with the addition of 4K video capture support. Connectivity options abound, and you’ll find the new device loaded pretty much everything you can think of, including dual-band Wi-Fi ac, and NFC, not being too different from the original X in this respect.
Software-wise, things look quite hunky dory, as you get the latest build of Android… KitKat 4.4.4. The older model shipped with 4.4.2, but was later updated to 4.4.3 and then to 4.4.4. The UI is completely stock as usual, and there are no custom skins or tweaks to mar the experience. Furthermore, there is the attached promise of timely updates, which makes it extremely compelling. The Assist automation feature we mentioned is still around, but is now included as part of a new Moto app. The said app also includes other features like gestures, actions, and voice, and while the older Moto X did have many of these, all of them have received major enhancements. Apart from modes like driving, sleeping and meeting, Assist also includes a new home mode that offers convenient usage when you’re at home. The camera includes a new Best shot feature that doesn’t let you miss a special moment, while the gallery app boasts a Highlights feature using which you can create short videos based on what you shot on a particular day.
The Active Display notifications have been enhanced too, and how include more apps, and better interaction with each, as compared to the old X. Voice control works straight from standby as before, but instead of using the ‘OK Google Now’ hotword, you can now name your new Moto X anything your heart desires, and create your own voice prompt. Motorola cites “what’s up Moto X” as an example, but truthfully, we like “what’s up new Moto X“ better. We’re perfectionists, and like to be technically correct, you know. If that isn’t enough, Motorola has also added the ability to control apps using speech, so you can actually do stuff like respond to a WhatsApp message just by speaking. Then there are gesture-based actions, such as the ability to silence alarms and incoming calls by waving your hands over the device.
Based on our brief time with the new Moto X, we are quite sure it’s going to be a speedy performer. That screen looks great, though we can only comment on the specifics on the camera quality and battery life when we get the chance to review it properly.
While we don’t have an idea how much the new Moto X will be priced at when it lands later this month (available exclusively online via Flipkart as before), we can say without an iota of a doubt that the smartphone has what it takes to be a very compelling choice if you’re in the market for a high-end smartphone that can take your usage to the next level with its path-breaking touchless control. If its US price tag of $499.99 can be taken as indicative of the cost, we’re looking at something in the region of Rs 30,000 to Rs 35,000 in India (though that’s mere speculation at this point), and for that kind of asking money, the new Moto X easily trumps the other contenders priced similarly – the Oppo Find 7a and the HTC One E8 (review), though the latter is still a very worthy option for CDMA users or those who need dual-SIM capability. We’re worried about what Motorola will call the next version in the X range though. The newest Moto X?