Motorola’s big Cyber Monday (which turned into Wednesday/Monday) deal convinced me to get a Moto X phone to replace my cracked-screened HTC Droid DNA. Well, truthfully, it was the visit to Verizon where I discovered breaking my contract and buying new phones for everyone would cost $1000+. Not this Christmas.
Naturally, I’m going to move to T-Mobile and the Nexus 5 — I know I can get a Nexus 5 on a prepaid plan — when the time is right.
It’s not all perfect
Overall, I’m satisfied with the Moto X. But the phone does disappoint me in two core areas: cell connection and camera.
I’d heard wonderful things about the Moto X camera, and since I take a lot of “point and shoot” pictures, I was excited for a good camera. I’d even heard good things about how Motorola fixed some camera issues.
To say my Moto X’s camera took abysmal looking pictures would be too generous. Even after applying Motorola’s update to “fix” the phone’s camera issues, I couldn’t get any love. My images looked washed out and fuzzy. Hardly anything to brag about, especially when compared to my HTC Droid DNA’s wonderful camera — there’s some issues there, too.
Admittedly, the Moto X phone’s camera isn’t too bad if you’re using the camera in a well lit environment, or if you want to take some photos in rapid succession. I do wish that the default camera allowed you to adjust settings like exposure and white balance.
Fortunately, I applied a simple fix by sideloading this Android Gallery app, which gives the Moto X a stock Android camera and the ability to shoot Photospheres directly from the camera. This improves the camera 100 times, eliminating any of the fuzziness or quality issues. Add Snapseed to the mix and you can create some stunning pictures.
The second issue, which I’m not sure how to fix, is that the Moto X’s cellular signal isn’t great. What I mean is that sometimes, in places you’d expect to have “5 bars”, I’m plagued with only three . . . or less.
Normally this isn’t an issue, since signal strength isn’t indicative of call quality. Except in dungeons (basements) or inner building corridors (like a courthouse) where one bar can quickly turn to none. I rarely had issues with the HTC Droid DNA’s cellular signal strength, especially in the city. I usually had five bars.
Moto X seems to average about four bars in most locations that aren’t my house or in the open. In my office on the 6th floor, where I typically saw 5 bars on the Droid DNA, I get three bars on a good day. That’s a disgrace, especially considering the fact Verizon’s tower sits on the roof of the building next door. Unfortunately, there’s not a consistently strong signal even when I’m in a metropolitan area.
The not so bad, or what I really like
There are two Moto X features I’m really loving.
First, Moto X has a dynamic notifications feature that allows you to see whether your device has a notficiation without having to turn on your screen.
You can get something close with the Dynamic Notifications app, but actually seeing the real thing is believing.
Moto X also features active listening, which means that you can trigger Google Now voice commands even with the device locked.
This isn’t a feature specific to Moto X, but having the active listening feature sure is nice. I find myself using the “Okay, Google” command more often.
The second aspect I love is the smaller form factor of the Moto X.
I wasn’t sure I’d love the smaller 4.7 inch screen, especially after using the Droid DNA with its 5 inch screen, but I’m not too disappointed. Yes, you lose some screen space, but I find myself using the phone less for surfing the internet, especially since I have two larger screened devices.
If you’re an iPhone lover who isn’t sold on the large screen Android phones, you’ll definitely like this phone. The screen is larger than the iPhone’s puny 4 inch display, isn’t so massive that it’s overpowering. Note too, the Moto X screen is only 10 ppi less than an iPhone 5s.
Despite some of its flaws, the Moto X camera has a really cool “Quick Capture” feature that allows you to flick your wrist and activate the camera.
This setting came in quite handy on Christmas morning as I snapped photos of The Droid Tots opening their presents. Quick Capture gives you some real options in using the camera.
Moto X isn’t going to blow away some bigger battery devices like the Droid Razr Maxx, but I can usually make it 8 hours or so on a full charge.
I’m also following some of these tricks to help minimize battery drain.
My biggest mistake
I made the mistake of purchasing a 16 GB model instead of the 32 GB model. I don’t store a lot of extra information on my phone, but the extra space would guarantee I’d never run out of room. The cost difference for doubling the storage space was only $50, so it should have been a no-brainer decision.
Moto X is worth the purchase price
Getting Moto X on a deal like I did is certainly worth it. The $350 price tag for an off-contract device places it squarely in competition with the Nexus 5. Don’t make the mistake though, Nexus 5 still wins.
Android 4.4 is a gem, and you’ll certainly be happy if you get a Moto X for yourself. The extras of Moto X make it a second place phone in the “best of” competition.
Click here to check out all the Moto X specifications.
Update: I should have added that Moto X supports Miracast broadcasting, so you can use one of these devices to mirror your phone’s screen to your television.
Update (01/02/14): I’ve used Moto X for 2 full weeks. I’m still really loving the phone. I’ve reverted back to the native camera for most functions, particularly Photospheres (although I don’t take too many of those because for some reason Android 4.4 can’t render them well). The 10MP camera is a huge bonus, plus I’ve noticed that the native camera does a pretty good job of taking pictures. Most functions, like exposure and focus, are device-driven (which I’m not a big fan of), and they function fairly well. I do find myself using Snapseed to edit many of the pictures to correct contrast, exposure, or lighting.
I’m a really big fan of the “Okay, Google Now” command, and find myself talking to Moto X quite regularly.
The smaller screen still bugs me, though I’ve learned to adjust. Since I use my Nexus 7 and ASUS Transformer Infinity for most task, I’m not missing too much with the smaller screen.