Android Central member GMC MaXx writes in our Moto X forums (via the Android Central app, no less):

Not pushing a button to see the time doesn't seem like a big deal, but holy cow, it's awesome!

On my Galaxy Nexus I would push the button countless times a day just to see if I missed any notifications or to check the time. Now when I pull the Moto X out of my pocket the time and any notifications are already shown without hitting a button to turn on the screen. And I don't have to hit a button to turn the screen off before going back in the pocket.

Also, when the phone is sitting on my desk I just give it a nudge and the screen shows me the time. Its such a minor thing, but makes a world of difference in the awesomeness of the Moto X!

We're inclined to agree. It really does change the way you use a phone — even more than that other phone screen gimmick we're toying around with.


Reader comments

Moto X best feature - Active Display


I kind of prefer having my GNex set up to a color per notification to see without looking wich message I have missed, text and phone calls are red and most important, and everything else is not.

Oh gotcha. I didn't notice that since I never really need to actually open the app after enabling. Thanks for clarifying.


Seems like it would be constantly activated when in your pocket. I know if my phone's screen happens to be unlocked in my pocket, I'll feel the short vibrations of the friction trying to figure out the pattern unlock. The fabric between one's pocket and leg is thin enough to do this.

I assume the battery life increase is a non-issue else they wouldn't have created this feature.

(guessing) Maybe they use the proximity sensor and keep the screen off while in your pocket. Lot of other devices do that already like tablets with covers.

(Edit: beat to the punch! Gah :p)
It uses the proximity sensor to detect when its in your pocket or face-down; it doesn't turn on in those situations.

It's also OLED, so battery life is very minimally affected by those few pixels.

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It's smart enough to know hen it's in a pocket. And why do you think there'd be a battery increase versus waking the entire display to check notifications?

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+1 school em Phil.... School em just wish this thing would release on tmo before the new Nexus comes out :'-(

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So the Motto-x uses at least three sensors in the always on position to determine if it has been nudged and or turned over, light has hit the front of the phone and if somebody says "OK Google now"? An according to all the "geniuses" who are doing nothing more then repeating Googlerola's marketing, there is no additional battery drain!
And nobody thinks this is suspect? Do the math people.
Yes, I know they claim to have special lower powered chips to handle all these always on features, but any power use, is power use. So having then all activated will in fact drain your battery more quickly,it's just science.

Do identical battery tests with every new gimmick on and off. Then post all the screen shots showing All the battery and screen on info.
Then tell me about the math again.

I think it is funny how any company breaks from the normal phone features and they are instantly considered a "gimmick". This is progression it is a good thing. Don't like it don't use it and don't buy the phone. I know change can be scary for adolescents.


As long as the battery lasts throughout the day then that's all that matters. There's no math needed.

STFU pencil dick loser. Get a life! Oh yea, oops, you don't have one :) HAHAHA. School starts after labor day for you BOY, so get your books and pencils together! Don't forget to have your Mommy tuck your shirt in for the short bus! LMAO dbag

I have a VZW Note 2 and the app made my phone lock up. It did not play well with my phone so I had to uninstall it within an hour of use.

I know this has been discussed to death, but I really don't get the extent to which this feature is being lauded. How often are you in a room with no clock? It's on the wall. It's on your computer. It's in the car. It's on your DVR. In my case, and I guess this dates me, it's on my wrist. Anyone else a watch geek, too? Or, what the Timezone crowd affectionately refers to as a WIS (Watch Idiot Savant, for the uninitiated)? And as for the notification piece, at least for the population likely reading this forum, Lightflow obviates the need to use the display at all, while indicating exactly what notifications are waiting. NoLed is another excellent option. Both apps offer a wealth of customizations. Not bashing this phone or feature, I just don't get how it is such a big deal.

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There is more to it than that. Say you pull out your phone. Well it's now breathing notifications and if you wanted to unlock all you have to do is swipe down where as otherwise you would have to activate a power button.

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With NoLed, you would just touch the home button to wake up the phone. It also has the option to touch the moving icon, which takes you to the corresponding app. No power button needed.

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I think it's funny how suddenly pressing a power button is somehow inconvenient... Your hand is basically positioned to press it when you are taking the phone out of a pocket.

But that's one extra millisecond that they won't know that (XXX) just posted on Twitter that he/she is brushing their teeth or some other world changing important notification.
How did they survive just two wrecks ago, before this game changing, must have, technological marvel was introduced?
It's baffling.

Pressing the power button fully lights up the screen and wastes more battery.

Did you notice that the entire screen is black except the text? They did that for the same reason your notification shade and most of your menus are now black in stock android. There is a significant battery savings because only a few pixels are lit up. The people who designed these phones are a whole not smarter than any of us who claim 'common sense' reasons why they are wrong. The engineers inside Google and Motorola have already done the research for us and they would not have made such a radical change to Android if it weren't significant. Motorola is just expanding it and I would not be surprised if a variation on this was worked into key lime pie.

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And yet, Nearly Everything Google is Bright White with Incredibly hard to read Light grey text, Which forces one to crank the brightness... Go Figure

Heh, I know this post is old, but I stumbled across this site looking for active display tech specs... Anyways, if you have a suitable computer display you can always use they have been around a long time.

Just remember, it's mostly kids on these forms who always want the latest and greatest, even if they aren't either. But hey, it gives them something to bitch about later when they discover that. But then, there's always the next latest and greatest thing just around the corner, that they will need to "borrow" poor mom, dad's or even the grandparents current update slot so they can again show of their flavor of the week gadget.
Imagine if only the OEM's, Carrier's or Google saw this behavior coming, and anticipated it, they would be rich!

I find myself using my phone for the time instead of a clock frequently. There's at least one clock in every room of my house, sometimes just inches from me and I still use the phone.
Habit I assume, it's usually in my hands anyways.

Tried the one on the market wasn't to fond of it look forward to a better port

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The latest update to dynamic notifications has really improved it, I paid the. 99 cents and unlocked the lock screen and breathing features. I am using it on my optimus G for 3 weeks and love it.

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For the first time in my life, I may be slightly disappointed when I get the next nexus. The X is SO smart and I absolutely love active notifications. People got all caught up with the spec war...and its a shame.

Your assuming there will be a next Nexus!
The most up to date news direct from two sources in the know at Google is, the Google play editions are the new nexuses Google is officially out of the phone subsidizing game. Think of a $600+ Motto-x, sans the always on gimmicks, with android 4.3 and that's your new nexus

That's not true. There will be a next nexus. Google play editions are different and will not replace the nexus line.

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According to who? Web rumours? Wishful thinking? Google play is the new nexus, but you will discover this soon enough.

Hmm maybe because they have excess stock of the Nexus 4 and sales predictions say they won't be out of stock by the time Nexus 5 launches most likely in November like every other year. Did the same thing last year.

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Yes, that's what I'm saying...with sarcastic overtones.

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At least for 4 more years (until Google gets out from under the agreement with China) there will be a Nexus. I am pretty sure that there will be more after that as well.

I can see there not being a next Nexus. The Nexus exists to get stock android out there. The Moto X pretty much does that and on all carriers. The more I read about the X the more interested I am in it.

Yes, right out of two Upper management Google employees asses as you say. But hey if you web rumor and fanboy wet dream sources are more accurate or to your liking, stuck with them. Ask yourself this, why would Google loose $300+ on a phone. The 100% stock, no carrier intervention or delays GPE phones are selling at $600+. They already announced the GPE/ developer edition of the Moto-x. The writing has been on the walk for months all you have to do is read it. And since Verizon won't play nice, they have no other choice.

I love it when people like you make stuff up off the top of your head like that. Makes Phil's job so interesting because people actually believe it And they have to correct those misconceptions. Google was flat out asked about that when they came out and no you are incorrect. The Nexus program will continue.

You are also demonstrating how little you know about the GPE phones. They are NOT really stock. They are just skinned to look like it, and they are not pure AOSP builds. A significant portion of the code is proprietary and thus wholely unsuitable to be used as a Nexus. Oh and the updates come from the OEMS not Google.

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Except that the new Nexus 7 came out after all of the Google Play editions. Check video of all the latest conferences and interviews. Google is still plenty excited about the Nexus line.

You can use 'Auto screen settings' app available on the Android market to see the notifications or unlock the phone automatically when you lift the cover.

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If it is keeping the display active it must be using more battery. I wonder how big of a hit this takes? It is a sort of neat feature. I wouldn't use it but could see how it can be useful.

Yes read them. It DOES take a hit. Also the droid ultra with identical specs and software except a Bigger screen and a Smaller battery gets way better battery life. If you believe reviews and marketing stats.

Sure it takes a small hit, but 10 active notifications don't equal turning the phone on once.

The hit is very small

I used active notifications on my nexus for weeks. It does basically exactly what Motorola's version does, just not quite as well yet. And I notice no battery difference whatsoever. If their is a hit to battery it is minimal. Try it for yourself before you knock it. You are coming off ignorant.


I still better get the nexus 4, than over priced Moto eksssss. You look stupid with that phone.

Your comment in itself was stupid. The X has received nothing but praise from highly journalist and tech heads. Who are well praised in their field. I am curious as to what credentials do you have to say that Phil looks stupid?

For a brighter tomorrow.

I want to reserve judgment for the usefulness of this feature on the Moto X compared to other similar available apps from the play store. However, I often push my power button to check my notifications and time. Having a phone that does it automatically is great for me. Although this feature may not be revolutionary it seems that even though similar apps were already available, people are now downloading and trying out those apps more because of the Moto X. That says a lot about the user experience associated with this phone. I love Motorola products and endured their struggle to find a sweet spot in the industry and now I think they have found it, user experience! I'm excited about a phone with less specs than many of the flagship because I desire a phone that works and has great actual useful features. So i will be grabbing this soon... Just adding my 2.5 cents.

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this is why all phones should have a small e-ink screen that lets you see messages or missed calls....

I don't personally care about the feature, but can see the merit. However, the likelihood of most/all the phones moving over to amoled in the near future isn't very high. It's a pretty big hurdle to overcome, for this to become standard.

It should have been released at $99 on contract as it is. I got my VZW Moto X yesterday, so I'm reserving judgement until I use it for a few days but... It's not even close to the HTC One I was finally able to get on Verizon last week. There's no way these two phones are in the same price category. Liking the X so far, but not worth the $199 price tag.

If all you I want it and I want it know children take a time out and don't buy it yesterday! It will be $99 or less before Halloween! It's a consumer electronic with never ending competition.
Now factor in the new I"lemming"phone will be here in mere weeks and Googlerola's pants will drop quicker then you whiney children can grasp.
This is their everyman's iPhone and the only way to get that elusive Everyman to buy an Android, is to make it cheaper

I know every one has been saying that waking a phone a bunch to check time etc wastes battery but has anyone figured out how much? Is it even enough to care for the average person? I feel like everyone is jumping on the bandwagon for this. I will say it's a clean and nice set up for a lock screen but I have my doubts....

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Free thinking using common sense will not be tolerated in a fanboy forum. You have been warned:)

What about the date? I always need to bring my phone out to see what today's date is. No??

And you do that more than once in any 24 hour period? If so, perhaps writing it on your hand or having your mom pin a note on your shirt is a better fit for you then a Smart phone. Just saying.

Anyone did try Gravity Screen Off application? I'm using it for long time yet before MotoX appeared. It does all you need! You take you handy from the pocket, screen is on, you see the clock and notifications in the notification bar. You put it back to the pocket, screen goes off. It uses two sensors for this - gravity and proximity. Battery usage is about 4% a day and may be neglected. There is nothing new invented by Motorola! Just the way you see new email/SMS / whatever was changed.

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I want this on my N4 without draining my battery by keeping the whole screen on!! On the plus side, my Nexus S works great with it!! If they could find a way to make it so only the pixels used are on with an IPS display I'm all over it!!

This is one of the best features in any smartphone. It will be in many more in due time. There unique features will hit the other manufacturers where it counts.

I realize a feature like this sounds ridiculous when you read about it. What's the big deal, right?!?! I thought the same thing...until I used it. The idea may not be original to Moto, but they execute it flawlessly.
Sometimes you need to step back and gain some perspective. Realize this phone is worth more than the sum of its parts. I've had my fair share of Android phones over the years and Moto X is gonna leave an impression.

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Just install the app called Dynamic Noyifications. As simple as that. Why need moto X for that?

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I can say this for whatever reason the dynamic notifications app does not play well with the Verizon galaxy note would shut my screen off randomly even while I was watching a pissed me off but I really like the feature

Joshua Jordan

I have had several android phones, and this on takes the cake. Other than a few Verizon bloatware, this phone is simple. Just about the stock android experience, and I love it. Almost two days of moderate usage without charging!!! I came from the galaxy s3, and although the camera was a little better, I'd take this phone any day. Not sure why so many people are complaining about it.

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On my Galaxy S4 I just wave my hand, or actually just approach the screen with my hand.

Still, Tasker can be used to turn the screen on when it senses the movement of bringing the phone out of a pocket, for instance.

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