As its successor nears, the Moto X 2014 has a new lease on life with the Android 5.1 update

Though we all cheered when Motorola swiftly updated the Moto X 2014 to Lollipop soon after Android 5.0's release, it was immediately clear that the jump from KitKat introduced some issues. Choppy performance, a few quirky bugs and a generally unstable vibe came with the update, leaving owners feeling a bit burned.

When it came to making the next jump to Android 5.1, Motorola clearly took its time. The relatively small jump from 5.0 to 5.1 on the Moto X 2014 took longer to release than the substantially larger move from 4.4 to 5.0, but there was a reason — this update wasn't just a small version bump. It was a complete smoothing out of the Moto X's software experience. And as we approach the launch of a third-generation Moto X, the 2014 model is feeling peppy and capable thanks to the update.

Stability, speed and function

Moto X (2014)

It's clear to long-time Moto X (2014) users — myself included — that Motorola seriously improved the overall function of this phone with the Android 5.1 update. The experience went from unreliable, slow and often stuttery to smooth, quick and enjoyable, just like the experience we all had with the KitKat software that initially shipped on the phone.

Motorola addressed complaints, and then added extra features.

Some of the biggest complaints, like a constantly re-drawing and slow launcher, have been completely remedied in the update, while more subtle changes like improved app launch times and general smoothing of animations are also there. Motorola noted at least a dozen distinct bugfixes in the update changelog, and there's far more under the hood as well.

Of course we got the full suite of minimal changes in Android 5.1 like improved quick settings, which we expected to get. But Motorola also used this update to introduce several useful little features like the "chop chop" motion to turn on and off the flashlight, and subtle improvements to the way interruptions and downtime work.

The update hasn't improved the battery life — you can only do so much with 2300 mAh — but I wasn't exactly expecting that, either. If you've used a Moto X (2014) for some time you know the battery limitations, and you get on with your life. The same situation applies for the camera, though I have to say I've been snapping a few exceptional shots lately — and don't discount the fact that Motorola has regularly updated its Camera and Gallery apps in Google Play

A year old, and plenty of life left

Moto X (2014)

It's always a good sign when a phone that's nearing a year old still feels "modern" and capable compared to devices that are far newer, and it's just as reassuring when a software update provides that much of a boost in performance. You can only do so much with the software — as I mentioned in the battery and camera departments — but the most important parts of how you interact with the phone still somehow seem up to date since snagging the Android 5.1 download.

I'm sure the new version of the Moto X will make most people forget about picking up the previous model (save for some bargain hunters), but for those who stick with the one they have now, they at least still have a very quick, capable and powerful device in their hands thanks to Motorola's software update team.