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Motorola Moto X hands-on review

£380 handset could struggle to rival the competition
Tue Jan 14 2014, 13:35

AMERICAN PHONE MAKER Motorola's Moto X is not a new device, having launched in the US to much fanfare in August 2013.

However, the Google subsidiary announced today that it will bring the smartphone to the UK next month, and we got some hands-on time with the device to see whether it's worth getting excited about.

When we heard that the Moto X would be launched in the UK we were excited, mainly because of the firm's Moto Maker customisation service that lets buyers personalise their handsets with different coloured casings, fronts and edging.

Moto X will not have Moto Maker support in the UK at launch

However, we UK punters will only be able to get our hands on the phone in black and white models, for now at least. While we have no major gripes with the phone's design in general, aside from the fact that at 10.4mm it's somewhat chunkier than other top-end phones on the market, we think it is arriving in Blighty lacking its main selling point.

Not only is the Moto X chunkier than handsets like the Samsung Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5S, its design also seems a little cheap. While the textured rear panel adds some grip to the phone and makes it sit well in the hand, when it's placed side by side with a Motorola Moto G we struggle to tell the difference between the two.

The screen on the Moto X doesn't sound like much, with the phone touting a 4.7in 720x1280 resolution AMOLED display that pales in comparison with most flagship phones that boast HD 1080p resolution screens.

However, while it's not the most impressive display we've used, it isn't all bad. Thanks to the screen's AMOLED technology, colours looked vibrant, text clear and images sharp. However, when we looked a bit closer we could see a hint of pixelation around some text.

Moto X coming to the UK with Android 4.4 Kitkat

Making up for this, we were pleased to see that the Moto X has a thin bezel surrounding the display, eliminating unneccessary bulk like the less expensive Moto G smartphone.

Performance and software
To match the HD 720p display, Motorola has configured the Moto X with a dual-core 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, which again pales in comparison to most top-end phones that now have quad-core chips.

The handset, which has 2GB of RAM, didn't seem slow during our hands-on time, however. It remains to be seen how well it will stack up against the iPhone 5S and HTC One, for example, but everything seemed slick and smooth during our time with the Moto X this morning.

The Moto X will ship with the latest version of Google's mobile operating system, Android 4.4 Kitkat, when it's released in the UK, an upgrade from the Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean release that shipped with the phone at its US launch.

Android 4.4 Kitkat is a bonus, as it means that as well as getting software updates ahead of the rest, it has all of the latest Android features. Motorola has added a swathe of its own features to the Moto X too, the most notable of which is Touchless Control, a set of controls that let you manipulate the smartphone without touching it, such as by using voice control. We have yet to fully test this feature, but will be sure to do so in our full Moto X review.

Beyond that, the Moto X appears to be running a largely vanilla version of Android, which is always a good feature in our books.

The Moto X has a 10MP rear-facing camera, which Motorola claims can capture 75 percent more light than the cameras on its rivals' smartphones.

The Motorola Moto X has a 10MP rear facing camera

We put this to the test at the Moto X launch event on Tuesday, and found that despite the handset lacking in other areas the camera did produce clearer, more vibrant images than other smartphones at similar price points. The camera is very quick to use too, much more so than the one on the Nokia Lumia 1020, for example.

First impressions
Our first impressions of the Moto X are a mixed bag. We're fans of its vanilla Android 4.4 Kitkat user interface and its 10MP camera, and the £380 price point makes it affordable for a broad base of users. However, the handset still seems somewhat lacking against the competition because of its HD 720p display, dual-core processor and lack of Moto Maker customisation support in the UK at present.

However, we'll reserve judgement for our full Moto X review. µ


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