See what we think of the new Moto X after using it for two months
Many of us were eagerly awaiting the next version of the Moto X. Motorola took its time to follow the lead of their then-parent company Google, and produced a clean and simple version of Android on their flagship devices. Ask anyone who bought a Moto X and they'll likely tell you that the software was great, even if they have other issues with the device itself.
Motorola carried that through in 2014 with the release of the new Moto X. It looks and feels like a "stock" Android device, and the Pure Edition is completely free of any carrier-ware to bring you an unadulterated Android experience. While we see the value in the changes manufacturers make to Android, we also know that plenty of us want that "pure" Android feel.
We've been having those feels for a while now, and it's time to revisit the Moto X so we can share our thoughts. And we have plenty of them to share.
Is bigger really better?
Motorola bumped the size after some market studies told them consumers wanted a bigger phone. After using it for two months, do you agree?
Phil Nickinson: I griped. A lot. I still think one of the features of the original Moto X was that it wasn't huge. It was (and still is) easier to hold one-handed, while still packing in a pretty sizable display.
I got over it. A lot of that is relative as I tend to go through a lot of phones here (an occupational hazard), and with the likes of the LG G3, Galaxy Note 4 and especially the Nexus 6, the 2014 Moto X feels natural now, even with its larger size.
Andrew Martonik: I really, really would have been happy if Motorola had kept the size the same, or at least under 5-inches when it made the new Moto X. Dealing with the reality that it is 5.2-inches, I can't complain too much. It takes a bit more work to reach all the way across the screen for some things, but it isn't a life-altering issue that would make me consider not using the Moto X.
All I ask is that Motorola just doesn't go any larger next year — I don't think I can do it.
Jerry Hildenbrand: I get why people love big phones. I really do. Having said that, I'm just one of those people who wants their smartphone to be out of the way when I'm not using it. I don't want to know it's in my pocket, I just want it to be there when I need it.
I keep going round and round with the 2014 Moto X. It's not too big for me. But sometimes it is too big for me. It's crazy, because the G3 is a little bigger and I have no issues with it. I really want to love the new Moto X, but sometimes I can't. Sad Panda is sad. The size has pushed me to the Xperia Z3 compact. It's never too big for me.
But seriously — don't let this put you off the Moto X or any other phone. Too big for me is the perfect size for a lot of other people. Pick one up yourself and see how the size suits you.
The build and material quality
Now that trying to bend and break an expensive smartphone seems to be a 'thing,' what do you think about the way the Moto X is built?
Phil Nickinson: Motorola's never been one to shy away from having what we'd call a "solid" device. And that goes back to long before Android was even an operating system. The company simply knows how to make a product. We do, however, need to acknowledge that it also was the manufacturer or more than a few low-end devices that are best left forgotten. But the high-end stuff is, was and continues to be high-end, and put together as well as anyone's been able to make a smartphone.
Andrew Martonik: The addition of the full metal band around the outside of the Moto X instills you with confidence that this is a solid phone, and I have no issues saying it's well built. It doesn't bend, flex or creak in any way, just how you want your $600 phone to be.
Sadly I have dropped my Moto X once, so I do have experience with how it takes that kind of punishment as well. Falling from about four feet right onto concrete did bang up the Moto X pretty well, but it's not as bad as it could've been. One corner of that great metal band is scuffed and bent, pushing in the corner of my lovely walnut back and putting some stress lines on it. The rest is perfect, quite surprisingly, and I don't plan on dropping it again for further testing ...
Jerry Hildenbrand: If you put the Moto X in your pocket and sit down, you might break your hip. In all seriousness, this thing is really well built. It's not going to bend, and while metal can get dinged (hi, Andrew) nothing but the glass is likely to break if you abuse your phone like Andrew does. Sorry Andrew.
Hell bent for leather
We were curious about using a soft material like leather for the back of the phone. How is the leather holding up?
Phil Nickinson: I'm not exactly easy on phones. I don't use cases. And when I travel, phones tend to get shoved into a bag that's filled with even more stuff. So I've got a couple of spots on my cognac Moto X where you can see something pushed into it. There are a few surface blemishes as well. Nothing really that I wouldn't call acceptable wear and tear on a leather product, but it is noticeable. It's weathered. And I like weathered.
Andrew Martonik: I decided to go with a Walnut wood back rather than leather after seeing how it got scuffed up and worn down, and I'm relatively happy with my decision. The wood options just don't offer the hand grip that the leather does, but damn if the wood doesn't look awesome.
I have to say the wood back is definitely tough, though, and hasn't picked up any scratches or work down parts — even in the raised middle of the back that rests on whatever surface you set it on.
Jerry Hildenbrand: I went with the black leather back, in hopes that it will eventually look like the old leather motorcycle jacket I have in the closet that I haven't worn for 15 years. It's really not getting there.
Like Phil, I don't baby my phone. I toss it in the center console in my truck, or lay it on the table if it's not in my pocket — all without any type of case. I want the small creases and lines to appear, and if I can get that "weathered" look to my leather I'll actually like it. Having said that, it's holding up better than I would have expected, or like. You can see a few smooshy spots in the pic above, and a close inspection will show a crease or two, but for the most part it looks like it did the day I opened the box. This is a good thing, I guess.
There's plenty of gnashing of teeth over the smallish battery in the Moto X. Is it working for you?
Phil Nickinson: It didn't seem to bother me as much before as it does now. (We're all of, what, barely three months into this phone?) Again, we have the likes of the LG G3 and Nexus 6 and Galaxy Note 4 to thank for that. Fortunately Qualcomm finally got its Quick Charge stuff up and running, so it's much less painful to charge up the phone during the day. I'm OK with it. But I also make sure I've got my external battery in my travel bag.
Andrew Martonik: I was coming from using a Nexus 5 every day, so I obviously didn't have that highest expectations of battery life on the Moto X. That being said, I'm still very underwhelmed by the longevity of this phone. It makes it through my standard work (or fun) day without issue, but only does so with 10 or 15 percent left at the end of the day. If I need to do something extra that day like hotspot for any period of time, or do a lot of streaming, the Moto X has me reaching for a charger during the day.
And that's a bit rough considering it doesn't have wireless charging available for the occasional bump while I'm sitting at my desk — I'm stuck tethered to a wall while the big charger does its thing. I really would love if Motorola could've gotten another 20 percent or so more life into this thing just as an insurance policy for heavy use days.
Jerry Hildenbrand: The Moto X gets me through the day. But just barely.
I've no idea if there is room inside for a bigger battery, and no opinion about any underhanded evil corporate conspiracy to get you to buy a turbo charger. I just know that Motorola used a battery that is barely enough to get me through one day with my use. I'm also one who takes advantage of the active display features, so I'm not waking my phone up as much as I would another. I could recommend the 2013 Moto X as a phone that will get you through the day on a single charge. I can't do that as easily with the 2014 model.
Who does Lollipop better?
We all thought that Motorola did a better job with KitKat than Google did. Now that Lollipop includes features like trusted devices and ambient screen, who does it better?
Phil Nickinson: I've used the Moto X extensively. I've used the Nexus 6 extensively. And I can easily say that Motorola's just made those features feel more natural. Google's stock ambient screen feels half-baked compared to Moto Display. Almost as if they didn't want to completely copy the feature. Trusted devices are well done, and the addition of trusted places with geolocation is a good one, but we need to remember that it's not nearly as secure. A 100-meter radius is a big circle. And Google flat-out messed up notifications and do-not-disturb with its mess of "interruptions" and "downtime." At least the Moto X with Android 5.0 can choose whether to observe the "Downtime" rules. But still, it (and the lack of a simple volume-button-enabled mute function) is an over-engineered step in the wrong direction.
Andrew Martonik: Considering that Android was really catching up to what Motorola was already doing with its extra features all the way back on Jelly Bean, I still think Moto does it better. The only issue for me is how the features interact, with odd collisions with how Moto Actions can poorly mix with Lollipop's new notification modes. That needs to be ironed out, and I wouldn't mind if Motorola took out Lollipop's implementation entirely for its own solution.
Jerry Hildenbrand: With the Moto X in one hand, and the Nexus 6 in the other hand, I still have to say Moto does it better. Crazy, right?
As mentioned above, Google baked in some features that Motorola had already been doing, so Moto has a bit of a head start here. They do notifications on the screen better. They do trusted devices better by making the process simple. The Moto app rounds up these features and gives the user who doesn't read AC every day a simple way to implement them, with easy to understand language. I like simple, because it means my mom isn't calling me asking how to do "stuff."
I don't want to see Motorola remove the Lollipop downtime feature, though. I think there should always be a choice. But i would like to see a quick setting to disable all the Google notification settings if you would rather use Motorola's. I'm certain that this is an area where Google will get better, and hopefully this means Motorola can also get better.
What we would change, if we could change anything
If you could change one thing (and just one thing) about the Moto X, what would it be?
Phil Nickinson: Give me my mute function back. Full stop.
Andrew Martonik: I'm going to cheat and make this a two-thing combo — I need the vibration motor improved and the curved back to be a bit less curvy. For as solid as the Moto X is, the quality of the vibration motor for notifications and haptic feedback isn't the best. It feels a bit loose and rattly, and you can really tell that there's just one big motor in there that's not well mounted.
That compounds with the ultra curvy back, which is nice for when its in your hand, but not great when it's sitting on a hard surface. My phone spends a good bit of time on a table, and the raised back means it rocks and spins around — you can't get it to stay put, and when you get notifications it rattles around. It may be a personal thing, but I wish those two little areas could be improved.
Jerry Hildenbrand: Find whoever is responsible for not including Qi charging, and make them sit and look at the Droid Turbo and Nexus 6. For hours. Think about what you have done (or didn't do), good sir.
So, this is what we think about the new Moto X after using it for a while. We still like it well enough, but it doesn't earn a spot as the overlooked favorite that it did last year. We still understand when anyone says it's the best phone for them, though.
If you've been using the Moto X for a while, be sure to sing out in the comments and tell us all what you think after using it!