Hello (again) Moto: Motorola’s Moto X reviewed

Even Motorola’s decision to make the camera open up with two shakes of a hand — we’re serious about that — is cute, and provides an easy way for people to launch the camera from their pocket, which is especially handy if you know why you’re getting the phone out in the first place.

That camera is also an area where Motorola gets points. Not because it’s the best phone camera we’ve ever come across — it’s not, but it’ll provide great quality for most of what you need it for.

No, the Moto X’s camera is good because Motorola has tweaked the software to be easy to use, and easy to use in a way that iPhone owners expect.

It’s not enough to make the camera have loads of options or offer great quality; it has to be easy to operate, and that’s what smartphone owners from the fruit-flavoured persuasion are often expecting.

Fortunately, the camera in the Moto X has one of the easiest interfaces we’ve ever used, with a simple control wheel for switching on specific HDR modes, the flash, and even switching the shutter sound off (something the Samsung Galaxy S5 has issues with).

In fact, you don’t even need to worry about the settings if you don’t want, simply touching and firing a shot, often resulting in decent 10 megapixel images that might not be on par with what other flagships are offering, but still is decent overall.

One thing isn’t good on this phone, and that’s the battery life, managing barely a day. You can achieve more if you don’t use the phone much, though that does kind of defeat the point.

In fact, using our handset for emails, phone calls, Google chat, web surfing, tweeting, and more, we managed just that single day of performance, even when we were using that middle-of-the-screen special sauce for notifications that apparently increases battery life.

Part of this battery issue may come from this phone always listening, which means the microphone is essentially always looking out for you to say “OK Google Now,” ready to translate your voice and run your search on Google’s Now system, which itself doesn’t need to the “now” part of your “OK Google Now” phrase, even if Motorola seems to.

That brings up another point, because while the Moto X is easily one of the most voice friendly touch-less smartphones out, there are still things that it can’t really do.

For instance, while we could get the phone to read us our daily schedule and tell us the weather, and even set reminders and alarms, getting it to do some searches proved difficult, and playing music wasn’t quite as positive an experience when said out loud. Directions to places also wasn’t as positive as we’d hoped, but this could get better in time with more vocal training.

One last issue is that there’s no way of upgrading the storage. Call it a pet peeve, but just like last year’s HTC One, you’re stuck with the 16GB of storage inside, with the Moto X providing the same hardware limitation of the iPhone.

A nanoSIM slot, but no microSD expansion slot. Sigh.


There’s a lot Motorola gets right in the X, and even though it’s a year late and the battery only lasts a day, the Moto X is still an excellent performer that’s not only easy to use, but also encourages you to speak up.

Owners of the iPhone 4/4S curious to make the jump to Android will likely be intrigued by the $500 price and inclusion of 4G, as well as decent voice control and a bigger screen capable of offering more of the web in your hand, but if you have a hankering for something bigger and more powerful, you might just want to sit tight or see what the competition is offering, or even check out Google’s slightly less expensive Nexus 5.

Value for money
Ease of Use
Reader Rating0 Votes
Easy to use; Decent way of checking messages and notifications without needing to switch the entire screen on; Comfortable in the hands; A close-to-pure Android experience without buying a Nexus; Some cute little touches like Spotlight Stories;
Voice conversion doesn't always work perfectly; Battery barely hits a day of performance; No microSD expansion;