Google's two smartphone divisions offer a very different take on 'stock' Android

We love Android phones. That means we have a few of them laying around, and when a hot new one like the Nexus 5 comes out, we can take our time and compare our favorites against it. You've seen how we think the G2 from LG and HTC's One match up to Google's new Nexus, and now it's time for my take on how the Moto X fares against the mighty Nexus.

It's worth mentioning that I almost didn't write this. I'm pretty impressed with the Moto X and phones that can't duplicate it's features aren't going to win my heart. But in the end, since I've been using a Moto X every minute of every day since they became available, it fell on my shoulders. I'm also a huge Nexus fan, so I think we can keep things fair. 

That being said, let's have a look at two of the best phones money can buy on any platform today — the Moto X and the Nexus 5.

The stuff you can touch


These are two simplistic yet sexy phones. "Plastic done right" sounds a little corny, but the soft touch coating and hard angles where the back meets the sides make either feel really nice while they are in your hands. My particular color choices make things a little tricky, because the woven white of the Moto X shows every bit of yard dirt or grease from your hands, and the matte black of the Nexus 5 shows oily fingerprints no matter how much rubbing alcohol you clean your hands and fingers with. So far, both have easily wiped clean. I wouldn't carry the white Moto X in jeans lest it turn blue, and If I were eating ribs or something equally greasy, I'd not touch the Nexus 5 until I had soaked my hands in turpentine for fear of permanent fingerprints. 

The one difference in holding these two is the slight curve of the Moto X. If you like your phone to fill your palm you'll appreciate it. If you grip your phone tight from the sides, you'll like the Nexus 5 more and it's sharper angles. Chances are, you would like the way both of them feel in your hand, and the overall design and size of either is almost perfect.

When you move around to the front, things also look pretty much the same. Sure the round earpiece speaker on the Nexus is different than the traditional one on the Moto X, but both phones are a full sheet of glass housing a touch screen and a handful of sensors. They both have deliciously small bezels on the sides, and while the Nexus 5 has a larger bottom bezel it also houses a multi-color LED notification light. 

The buttons, USB ports and headphone jack are typical buttons, USB ports and headphone jacks. The ceramic on the Nexus 5 isn't special, and neither has any quality worth mentioning that you won't find on every other smartphone.

Plain and simple — both these phones look and feel great while you're holding them, and only personal preference will come into play to say one is "better" than the other. 

The screens


You're seeing both ends of the smartphone screen spectrum here. The Nexus 5 has a nice 1080p IPS LCD at 4.95-inches, while the Moto X has a 720p 4.7-inch AMOLED screen. Neither is as good as the HTC One, but neither is as bad as the Galaxy Nexus, either.

The 1080p screen is better on paper, but the only time I notice a real difference is when reading. As a life-long insomniac, I do a lot of reading on my smartphones and tablets. I appreciate the crisper text the 1080p LCD can deliver, especially if I'm reading online and can't change the color scheme from black text on white background.  For everything else, including watching videos, there's not enough difference here for me to notice. 

The nerd in me is an AMOLED fan. Being able to turn on a single pixel, and save battery based on color is pretty damn cool. Motorola uses this to their advantage, which we'll see in the software section below. But I can't deny that an LCD gives a sharper picture when it matters most. 

It's worth mentioning that my Moto X is slightly pink and my Nexus 5 is slightly green. You see this when they're side by side with a white background showing. Using them both at the same time makes me feel like I'm watching some sort of 1970s 3D movie, but when not side by side I can deal with it. Neither Motorola or Google has spent a ton of money getting the screens calibrated.

Because the text is sharper, I have to say the Nexus 5 has a better screen. It doesn't suffer from being 1080p while playing 3D games, because the Snapdragon 800 has enough ass to push all the pixels. Point to the Nexus here.

Lets do some core counting (Specs)

Android Central

Lots of numbers here. They all favor the Nexus 5 (unless a temperature sensor counts). You can look at these all day, and form whatever opinion you like, but the fact is that Motorola's custom micro-architecture — dubbed X8 — drives Android as fast or faster than the "superior" hardware in the Nexus 5. Until we have apps that require a certain screen density, or four (or more) cores for CPU threading — and those will come — whatever magic Motorola did with the MSM8960 works. And it does it for a lot longer.

battery stuff

I've spent a good bit of time looking at just why the Moto X gets better battery life for most people than the Nexus 5 does (don't hate — I easily get 10 or more extra hours myself from the Moto X). I think I found something relevant. I tossed both the Nexus 5 and the Moto X on the charger until full, then set them on my desk, face down and didn't touch them for about two hours. This is the result.

Not only is the Nexus 5 awake at least twice as often as the Moto X, but with both phones using a T-Mobile SIM card, on the same account, on the same desk, the signal uses more juice to stay alive on the Nexus 5, as indicated by the yellow "Mobile network signal" bar.

This is good news if the radio is causing the seemingly random experience with battery life. Having been a Nexus user since the Nexus One, I can tell you that they all ship with radios that make you say "meh." And they all get better after an update or two. My N5 has a good signal if you look at the bars or go into the settings to see the actual dbm, but it takes more battery to make it happen. We place a lot of emphasis on screen-on time, but that only tells part of the story. These devices spend most of the time with the screen off, and how well they manage battery life then is important.

If you like big numbers and reading about benchmarks, you want the Nexus 5. If you want the same performance, with better battery life, and don't care that your benchmark isn't the biggest in the locker room, you want the Moto X. To me, a phone on the charger is worthless no matter how well the specification sheet reads. I'll take the Moto X and it's battery life every time.

The Software


The Nexus 5 ships with KitKat. It will also get the inevitable updates to KitKat long before any other phone does.

This is a big draw, and can't be dismissed. That's why it's in bold, because it's so damned important. 

We can sit here and say "I don't see anything in KitKat that makes it better than Jelly Bean!" And we would all be wrong. KitKat is a huge update under the hood, and will change the way Android and applications are written going forward. The way applications load and run in the background has changed, and that's the reason you can get about 18 hours of battery from the Nexus 5 — even with it's small battery. And it really makes me excited to see how well battery management will be on the Moto X when it gets updated. You want KitKat, even if you don't care how things look on the surface. We didn't even mention critical security updates, which will hit the Nexus 5 before any other phone.

But that's where the advantages stop.

Motorola has taken what the Android team has written, and added some really useful features to it. They're not competing with Google's services, they're giving more that no other phone has right now. My favorite — and a must have on any phone I carry — are Active Notifications. A blinking LED tells me I have an email on my Nexus 5, but the Active Notifications let me see all the notifications I haven't looked at, and with a simple tap on the locked screen i can preview the latest. This has changed the way I use my phone, and frankly I've no need for a Pebble or any other smart watch right now most of the time. 

The more flashy software addition from Motorola is Touchless Control. Excellent while driving, your Moto X listens for the key phrase even when the screen is off. By default (you can change it if you're crafty) saying "OK Google Now" lets you have access to all of Google Now's voice actions, as well as extras from Motorola while Moto Assist has you in driving mode. With the Nexus 5 you have to have the phone on and be on the home screen to activate voice actions.

Yes, some Samsung phones can do something similar, but it rarely works, lags your system, and drains your battery. The reason it works well here is the processor arrangement on the Moto X. Using coprocessors clocked very low that use very little battery, the phone can listen while the main processor is asleep. If it hears the predetermined phrase, it wakes up ready to go. The Snapdragon 800 also has a low-speed low-power coprocessor, but Google chose to use if for health and fitness purposes like communication with a heart monitor or pedometer. 

On both phones you have "stock" Android. Motorola Mobility's Punit Soni and Dennis Woodside have promised 4.4 for the Moto X very soon, but the Nexus 5 already ships with it. That's an important distinction. But as long as nobody is pulling our leg and KitKat comes fast and furious, I have to give the nod to the Moto X on the software side. I can't add the features I like to the Nexus 5. Apps from Google Play do a good job trying, but they aren't as accurate and suck your battery.

The camera


If you're buying either of these phones for the camera, you're doing it wrong. Both have an adequate shooter, but neither is going to consistently produce great shots. Users who aren't afraid to fiddle with settings will get better results than those who only use automatic settings, but really either camera will produce pictures that are great for sharing on Facebook or Google+ with little to no post-editing.

The thing to remember here is that while the hardware is not going to change, the software can and will. This made a dramatic difference in the Moto X, and could do the same for the Nexus 5. All we can do is evaluate them based on their performance now. 

I have a table I take all my pictures on. It's lit with lights leftover from a fish tank, and the lamps are really bright and mimic daylight very well. I have a handful of little Android figures there, because they make for a less boring background in pictures of phones and tablets. I put a smartphone attachment on my tripod, and placed it 21-inches away then took these pics. You look at them, and you decide — I can't give you any better than these in a completely controlled environment. For what it's worth, the non-HDR shot from the Moto X is what it looks like to my eyes, with the HDR+ shot from the Nexus 5 a close second.

Nexus 5  Nexus 5 HDR+

Moto X  Moto X HDR

To me, there's no real winner here. All four pictures look like they went through some hipster grunge filter, have too much structure, and have crazy lens distortion. That makes them perfect for Facebook, but not so much if you want to make a billboard out of them. Use the either camera often, get to know it, take lots of shots, and practice with Snapseed or the Google+ photo tools. You'll be fine.

If you want me to pick, I'll take the Moto X. HDR is better on the Nexus 5, but tap to focus then shoot is great. Install a third party camera app with it's own HDR and shooting modes, and it's back to a toss up.

My verdict


This is almost impossible. 

The Nexus 5 is the best phone in production today. Starting at $349.99, you will not find any phone this good that's this cheap. It's the best Nexus phone made so far, and is an improvement in every way (except maybe the sexy way, because the Nexus 4 and its glass back is ohmygod nice) over the previous Nexus phones. Samsung, Apple, Nokia, HTC and the rest make phones as nice and as feature packed as the Nexus 5, but they're double the price. You can not ignore this, and with this in its corner the Nexus 5 is hands-down the phone I would recommend to a smartphone enthusiast who probably spends too much money on devices.

That doesn't mean it's the phone I would recommend to everyone, or pick myself.

For the former, the Moto X isn't it, either. That distinction goes to the HTC One, which is another article altogether. I have a lot of smartphones here because I need them to do my job. The same way a plumber needs wrenches or a carpenter needs a hammer, we need phones. They're a tool to do our work with. We all have one tool we like the best, and carry in our pockets every day, every time, every where. For me, that's still going to be the Moto X. 

But damn that Nexus 5 is nice, and Google really has really outdone themselves. Phil has been using it steady, as well as Andrew. Alex had to review it, and we use a phone hard before we review it, so he doesn't count (sorry, Alex). I cant fault them for preferring it. 


Reader comments

The Nexus 5 vs. the Moto X


I'm having the same conundrum.
I love my Moto X, but having a difficult time using it over the N5 right now. Hopefully it receives 4.4 soon... Then I'll pick it up and start using it again.

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Jerry made a very strong very balanced argument for both, more balanced than I thought after all his recent gushing over the Moto X... Though he still left a few key points of differentiation out. Qi wireless charging on the Nexus 5 for one, he hasn't mentioned it on any of the comparison articles. I'm not sure if he's just not a fan of wireless charging or it's a simple mistake of omission. Then there's also the fact that the Nexus 5 will work across three major carriers, a fact that hasn't been highlighted enough IMO (by the press nor Google).

Likewise, it's worth mentioning that if you need Verizon's coverage then the Moto X is the only choice. Then there's Moto X, it's unfortunate that it was an exclusive for a while but I think that customization aspect is a huge draw for both enthusiasts and average Joes alike. There's a few more details about the X that are easy to overlook IMO, like the edge lip that raises the screen off any surface when placed screen down...

I'm curious why he'd recommend the One over either to the average non techie, is there gonna be another article about this? I guess the camera and build quality are strong arguments, specially if recommending it to someone coming from an iPhone... Though the Moto X's compact size is just as big an argument IMO.

The info about power usage while idling on both phones was interesting... But at the end of the day it means about as much as display on time (not much without a whole lot of context)... Most of the usage info displayed there is based on estimates set by the OEM, it's one big guesstimate really. It could be the Nexus 5 really idles worse, or it's just being misrepresented.

Jerry didn't comment on the number of wake spurts on the Nexus though, which probably contributed considerably to the extra power draw... That's down to either different background sync configurations or some optimizations on Moto's part... Moto's actually pretty clever when it comes to optimizations, there's a reason they've always had the longest talk times (even vs the iPhone), almost regardless of SoC, battery size, etc (just look at Anandtech's battery tests).

In any case, it's definitely something that's worth investigating further. I still believe Anandtech's test approach actual usage patterns closer than anyone's, and thus they're more relevant than screen on times, Jerry's idle time comparison or any other anecdotal evidence. It's just a shame they're the only site that seems to run such tests, cause they don't cover nearly as many devices as a dedicated Android site like AC.

FYI the moto x changed the tuning of their screens after the first batch. The newer moto x screens are much whiter and even slightly brighter. I've done a side by side comparison between my moto X and a later one... The difference is rather stark.

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Better in what way? It's not faster, won't get updates sooner, doesn't have as detailed a display, and from what I can see above, does not have batter camera (Nexus 5 HDR is sharper and not as washed out). And you get to pay more for it. Yay?

(disclaimer: I do think the Moto X is an awesome phone, but it's not better than the Nexus 5 in most ways IMO. Specs do matter).

Also the battery life is important, and the Moto X with a lil less battery gets a lot more time of holding that charge. People are saying that is because of the slightly lower specs and software in the Moto X.

PS anyone on verizon, you can get the original moto x solid white or black on sale till tomorrow for $450 and a "vzwdeal" get's you ten percent off.

Same is better and the case is better, but thats all IMO. For some people that will make it a better phone.

That's laughable, there is not one phone out there that takes better pics than even a three year old DSLR, or a NEX, or a micro four thirds camera... A Nokia phone might equal an advanced point and shoot, in the best of conditions, but that's as far as phones get.

Active notifications, touchless controls, do not disturb mode, and a much better experience while driving. It's basically everything that Kitkat should've been, but wasn't. Nexus 5 has better hardware, but is just same old, same old.

Did you not read the article? KitKat made some huge changes. I live the tweaks on the MotoX, but you make it sound like KK dropped the ball, when it certainly didn't.

Winter is coming. She's quite the screamer.

He says there are some changes under the hood, but doesn't specify what they are. Honestly, there really isn't a feature in Kitkat that I personally care about. Or even 4.3 for that matter.

It used to be that Google was doing all the good stuff in Android, while the OEMs just added fluff. Now it seems the situation has been reversed. That's not necessarily a bad thing, since these underwhelming updates means I'm not limited to Nexus devices anymore

That's all very subjective... Don't get me wrong, I do like how Moto implemented all those features (lean and mean, Play store updates for many), but they don't make or break the experience. Active notifications is arguably the standout and even that isn't gonna change everyone's usage like it did Jerry's or whomever's. Could say the same of wireless charging and that didn't even get a mention from Jerry.

If your phone is in your pocket or your hand the majority of your time, or if you already wear a Pebble, or if notifications just aren't that crucial to you; then it's not gonna matter whether they're a tap or a button press, slide and a tap away... And a good lock screen widget that previews the most important notifications (text/calls/emails) gets you halfway there on any jelly bean phone.

I'd dare say an even more subjective quality is probably a bigger draw to the Moto X than anything else: SIZE. Tons of people like large phones, sales numbers prove it, but lots of people want smaller phones too (sup iPhone). I'm a fairly average 5'10" with long fingers and I actually prefer the in-hand feel of the X!

I still bought the Nexus instead, but it was more a matter of economics and keeping my carrier options open (I'm on the tail end of a contract and Sprint's actually decent here). I would've never used touchless controls outside of driving anyway and I'm geeky enough to clobber together a Tasker substitute for auto message handling etc. (won't lie tho, wish Now/Hangout did it stock)

Kit Kat did introduce a number of neat little features too, maybe none are as obvious as active notifications but I wouldn't dismiss it as a lame update. The Moto X will get to enjoy it soon enough anyway, and hopefully with Google's backing they'll update the Moto X to the next version on deck after KK too.

Jerry didn't mention any KK specifics but he also didn't mention Qi (N5), or carrier choice/frequency band support, or Maker for the X, which probably drew in more non geeks than any other feature (except maybe size!). There were a couple of omissions which could make it an even tougher (or easier) decision.

I'm just pleased we have so many strong choices from so many underdogs or unlikely sources... And still, for a lot of people a removable battery or storage might trump all and they too get to enjoy a perfectly viable choice. Choice and variety is still one of the bigger things Android has going for it. Let's just hope at least some of these players continue to survive and actually thrive.

I had the Nexus 5 for a week, and returned it. I now have a Moto X. To me the Moto X feels much better in hand. It's more ergonomic, and it feels more solid. In comparison the Nexus 5 felt too light, and uncomfortable with is square edges. The screen on the Nexus 5 seemed washed out as well. The Moto X screen has good color, and nice deep blacks. The active notifications are fantastic as well. Something you only realize after using it first hand. Not only does it show you events, but when you pick up the phone you don't have to press the power button to turn it on. In terms of speed I see no difference in the apps I use. All apps open quickly on the Moto X.

Because he's on Verizon, and there's no Nexus 5 on Verizon (no insult intended).

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Why do you assume that I would have wanted a Nexus 5 on Verizon?

Why are people such a.s.s.h.o.l.e.s when it comes to phones?

I *specifically* wanted a Motorola phone this time around, and Verizon offered me a deal where I end up paying less with them over 24 months than I would with T-Mobile (even if I had a Nexus 5 on T-Mobile).

Why, given what I wanted and what Verizon was offering me, do you think I would have wanted a Nexus 5 on Verizon? I don't even HAVE to stay with Verizon. I'm in Chicago. I'm safe to go with another carrier if I want.

If it's okay for JERRY to prefer the Moto X to a Nexus 5, then why am I not offered the same level of respect?

Typical, you called me an asshole. That pretty much negates the rest of your comment.

I meant no disrespect and even alluded to that in my comment (which wasn't even in reply to you, by the way).

All my comment was alluding to, is that if you're on Verizon, and not looking to switch carriers, then the Moto X is the clear choice, because the Nexus 5 simply isn't available.

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Of course, you don't respond to the rest of my comment:

"If it's okay for JERRY to prefer the Moto X to a Nexus 5, then why am I not offered the same level of respect?"

Do note that you failed to offer me that respect BEFORE I called you any names. Even if you weren't responding to me, that sentiment still applies to anyone else. Why do you think it's okay to make assumptions about why someone would choose a Moto X over a Nexus 5? How do you know, and what difference does it make to you anyway?

And if you're not responding to me, then don't click on the reply button in my comment.

Okay, but I still didn't call you out of your name. I don't really care. And my original reply wasn't to you. Again, if you're on Verizon, and not looking to switch carriers, then the Moto X is the clear choice, out of the two.

Again, I meant no disrespect. I'll be the bigger man and apologize, even though I didn't resort to name-calling.

I'm not sure why you're even getting angry: I simple stated a fact, the Nexus 5 is not available on Verizon. It just isn't. Of the two choices here, the Moto X is the one that's available. You don't have to prefer the Nexus 5, we don't all share the same preferences. But, if you're not looking to change carriers, then the Moto X is the only choice. Period.

Take that as you will. We're really not debating anything.

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The fact that you stated was that the Nexus 5 is not available on Verizon.

But that wasn't the entirety of your comment. You also said: "Because he's on Verizon..."

That means that you assumed that someone on Verizon would automatically choose the Moto X as the superior phone simply out of availability. That's not true at all. Again, people can choose different carriers. Not everyone is trapped by Verizon.

So yeah, you were making an unfair assumption.

You're right, and I apologize, man. I can see how that comment could be misinterpreted.
No hard feelings, brother.

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This isn't related to any of your debate or anything, but I was just wondering, are you an OS or is that just the image that you using?

I'm an OS, brother. I'm still on my first tour as one, in Milwaukee, stationed right off Lake Michigan.

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Not out of it, but it's one of the units we support. With the merger of the ESU's support desk with the CSD, all the ESD's took over responsibility of supporting the District offices in each of their respective AORs, but the ESD where I work is just down the road from D9 federal building.

Oh ok, got it. I hope you like it. I'm actually enjoying my job, now lol.

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Not on Silver Spring. Do you mean the Silver Spring that runs through Glendale, WI? I used to live out there with a friend.

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Yeah, there's a military something or another I passed on the way to work every morning last summer. I'm from whitefish bay

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Nice! Yeah, I used to live between Glendale and Whitefish Bay, about 01 mile West of Bay Shore Mall. But, I work at the base right by the lake, next to the Lake Express ferry terminal.

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Okay, but I still didn't call you out of your name. I don't really care. And my original reply wasn't to you. Again, if you're on Verizon, and not looking to switch carriers, then the Moto X is the clear choice, out of the two.

Again, I meant no disrespect. I'll be the bigger man and apologize, even though I didn't resort to name-calling.

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You keep saying that you didn't resort to name calling, but that doesn't mean you weren't disrespectful.

But thanks, I suppose.

I'm still wondering, though, why people think it's okay to make assumptions about Moto X owners and why they would choose it over a Nexus 5. It's like people don't actually want to believe that the Moto X is actually an awesome phone.

Hahaha, it's all good, brother. I'm sorry, if my comment came off as disrespectful.

The Moto X is an awesome device. I'm not trying to take anything away from it. But, all I meant was: if I were on Verizon, the Moto X would be the clear winner, in this comparison. And, that's not to say the Nexus 5 wins, even if it were available on Verizon.

Of course, you should be afforded the same respect. We're all on the same team here, just have different preferences is all.

No hard feelings, brother.

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Dude, he was clear in that no insult was intended. Plus, he wasn't even replying to you. Your level of butt-hurt is astronomical and unwarranted. He makes a comment to another person and you go on a rant calling people a**holes? Are you taking crazy pills? You should apologize for being the disrespectful a**hat!

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The Moto X IS an awesome phone and Merc WASN'T disrespectful in his comment, YOU were the disrespectful and insulting one.

Winter is coming. She's quite the screamer.

His comment was off the cuff, but certainly not disrespectful. You, however, were the one calling people names. Sounds like you're a little too sensitive.

Winter is coming. She's quite the screamer.

It wasn't meant as an insult.

And, I get it, you don't like me. That's fine. Personally, I choose not to hold Internet grudges.

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No,I like you it seems like you know a lot of this stuff but you make smart ass remarks then when some one calls you out you back pedal on every post.

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Hey, it's all good, brother. It's a bad habit. I say something, then realize I could have been wrong, and then I find myself apologizing.

So, I'm sorry, if I said anything to offend you.

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No! I didn't do anything clever! Lol, I know what you're talking about, though.

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I'm curious. You said Verizon offered you a deal where you end up paying less than T-MO. Is this some deal that you negotiated and is not available to everyone? Or,is it something to do with a phone upgrade or other extension? I'm curious because I think we may be approaching a time when the larger carriers are willing to negotiate and I'm not aware of any Verizon plan in the same financial ballpark as T-MO.

He has a plan that's not offered anymore. He's paying 60 per month, for unlimited talk/text and 2GB of data.

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It is still offered. I just got it a few weeks ago. Just ask for the loyalty plan. Verizon bent over backwards to give it to me so I wouldn't defect.

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Why y'all getting so worked up over a "gadget?" Everyone's entitled to choose and buy whatever suits them cos its their money. That's the joy of being an android user not *coughs* iOS *coughs* user. Jeez!

Sent from the Android 5.0 Milkshake

Why is their an argument from merc on almost all android central forum posts? A phone is a phone and people can pick their favorite for the way that person will use that phone - therefore their is never a clear winner i.e. beauty is in the eye of the beholder? If I could apple that to my argument :/

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I'll still take my free gnex that is still looks good, runs 4.4 super smooth(using the shiny rom), off contract, and unlimited data. Author says screen is bad compared to these, but it looks better than my wife's iphone 5. For a two year old phone, I think it still has pretty good staying power.

Maybe I'm missing one, but so far, the verdict is "Equal to anything out there right now and impossible to decide."

No. The verdict is "The Nexus 5 is the best phone in production today". That is what Jerry actually said. And he's right.

Doesn't mean that the Moto X is not awesome or that it is not a better choice for some people due to some subjective criteria. But objectively, the Nexus 5 is better.

You neglect to add his following sentence, " Starting at $349.99, you will not find any phone this good that's this cheap."

So obviously price is a factor in its high rating. I agree that for the price, you can't find anything better on the market today. If you're willing to spend a little more though, there is more compelling choices.

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I'm on Verizon, can't switch carriers (long boring story), and just upgraded from a Verizon GNex to a Moto Makerized Moto X. Sure, I was hoping the Nexus 5 would come to Verizon, but in a way I'm glad it didn't, because I didn't have to agonize between the two. I've had the Moto X a couple of days and could not be happier.

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I know the moto x is more then nexus 5 but for those with decent sprint coverage the 299 moto x on republic wireless is the better buy then 350$ and a cheaper plan. This is why i just sold my nexus 5 and though i got 2 moto x att phones from dell for the 205$ bug if i stayed gsm it would be toss up but unlimited 3g/wifi for 25$ a month is just a killer deal with option of most of month staying on 10$ plan and just cache my podcasts and google play music and im set. if only i could get waze or google maps all offline for my area could live on 10$/ month almost always

Try CoPilot for offline GPS. It works great.

Moto X for $300 with a $10/month plan. So tempting.

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Well, my HTC One is the first phone I haven't had a single issue with. I'm one of those grass-is-greener people, so I'd like to have a Moto-X and a Nexus 5 also...Thank God I can pretend owning them both through your eyes for a few minutes. You help keep my wallet fat! Thanks Jerry!

I have needed Jerry to tell me what to buy, I try to always go what he feels is best for him because that is usually what is best for me.

Great write up Jerry. I like how you mentioned how much the phones are awake when not in use. It's those little things that most of us don't know or think about, myself included. With keep that in mind in the future. I'm waiting for my 32G Moto X to arrive. The Nexus 5 is too big of a phone for me (feels more like a Note to me). Plus, I don't feel like I'm missing out too much since the screens are almost identical in size. Thanks again, for the review.

Excellent point about the phones being awake. I never thought about it before until he pointed it out. Just checked my Moto X and realized how little it's been awake as compared to how much I remember my GNEX being awake. I'm extremely happy with my Moto X, of course I bought the VZW Dev Edition to keep unlimited data and I'm currently running Nitro's Eclipse ROM. The battery life is amazing. Friday at work I watched 3.5 hours of Netflix and had a little over 4 hours of screen time and still came home with 31% battery. Can't beat that. At first when the active notifications were announced I didn't think that I would like it at all and that I would miss the colored LED's I could set with Light Flow I think it was called but the Active Notifications is amazing. I can't wait for the next Motorola phone to come out.

Yes and No. The Moto X is like a nexus with added features that make a great experience. You won't get updates as fast. That is the biggest tradeoff, IMO. Maybe the screen or possible the n5 is more future proof when it comes to specs. But really the only substitute for a nexus is the moto x. But if you want quick updates and a (possibly) more future proof phone get the nexus. Now I realize I should have posted this as a separate comment.

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If the moto x has features that stock android doesn't have, and it doesn't get updates fast like a nexus phone, then I'm sorry to say, but it's not “like a nexus"

But the nexus 5 isn't really stock android. It has features that stock android doesn't have. As for the slower updates, well you're right. I really meant it is somewhat similar to a nexus experience

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Agreed, and I think, we need to reiterate what exactly stock Android is. The Nexus 5 doesn't run stock Android, as weird as that sounds. It actually runs Google Experience software (I feel like, I'm pulling for straws here).

I believe Ars Technica did a write-up about the differences between AOSP and Google's Android. We still refer to it as stock Android, simply because it isn't "skinned." But, it is actually mildly skinned, now. The always-listening home screen and the always-on Google Now home screen are the clear (possibly only) examples of that. And, those are features that are currently only available to the Nexus 5, due to the Snapdragon 800.

I'm not sure, how this will affect Nexus devices, going forward.

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QUOTE: The always-listening home screen and the always-on Google Now home screen are the clear (possibly only) examples of that. And, those are features that are currently only available to the Nexus 5, due to the Snapdragon 800.

I have to disagree with you there. Neither my 2012 Nexus 7 or my Note 2 i605 sport a Snapdragon 800, yet both run the Google Experience Launcher and the always listening homescreens perfectly. The Snapdragon 800 is not required for them to work at all, it's actually Google who is keeping those item (officially) a N5 exclusive. They even stated they *may* bring it to other/older devices, but it would remain an N5 exclusive for the time being.

Oh ok, I didn't realize, Google planned to bring those features to the other Nexus devices. I stand corrected. Thanks!

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I sure hope they would, and arstechnicas write up on aosp vs. Nexus was pretty dang good. Also I think it is bs at they aren't updating the gnex anymore especially when there flaunting how little power kitkat needs

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Yeah at first, I went on and on about how it's a two-year old phone that can't be updated forever.

But, one would think, if you're making a claim, such as the one being made with kitkat, that you'd update an older device to support said claim, if for nothing more than bragging rights, at the minimum.

I think the decision to stop supporting the GNex was purely political.

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Yeah. I wish they would have updated it but honestly I understand that they wanted to phase it out completely

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I have to side with Gekko on this one. The Nexus 5's price point puts it in a league of its own. If it were the same price as the Moto X or other flagship devices, then it could end up as more of a toss up, with several factors possibly being at play.

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Yeah, price point makes the n5. If the n5 was the same price as the moto x it would be laughed at (honestly I still felt the moto x is overpriced it should have been at least a 100 dollars less)

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Agreed, if the Nexus 5 were the same price as the Moto X, G2, etc, then it would have no advantage, as the hardware (minus the camera and battery) is only on-par with and does not surpass the current flagship.

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More than that, though. Some of us just like the Google Experience more than any other company's experience so far. Updates is the real objective measure, though, I suppose--after that it gets to be a matter of preferring just the necessities or preferring a whole bunch of extra features. (To be honest, even the Google Experience goes beyond just the necessities, though. On my OG Droid, I supplemented the Google Experience some, but with Jelly Bean, I don't even take full advantage of the Google Experience on my GNex, because it's more than I need/want any more.) For those of us who prefer the slimmer feature profile, though, the Nexus line wins the software side against any other still (except those Google Experience editions, but you could argue pretty easily either way on those if you ignore the price).

It's worth noting that those are Verizon phones all with the Google Experience (I have had a HTC with Sense for about 3 months before I decided I don't want to touch Sense again, even though they've supposedly improved it so much, and I have also tried out TouchWiz for a while, but didn't like that either). I am switching carriers for the Nexus 5, though. Admit my bias. :p

Hahaha, it's all good, brother. I appreciate the reply. Yeah, it's definitely the slim software profile that I'm attracted to.

I will admit, though: for awhile, I was in love with my S3 and the "Nature" UX. But, as soon as I tried the GNex, I was hooked. I promptly got rid of my Note 10.1 for the Nexus 7.

The timely updates are nice, but the bare bones UI is sexy. I'm a simple person, and the Nexus devices suit me perfectly.

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Why would it be laughed at? Even when not considering the price, it's on the same level as the Moto X, LG G2, and HTC One.

Posted from my pure Google Nexus 4 using the AC app.

All other things being equal, it would only have a subpar camera and battery, when compared to other phones in the average flagship price range.

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Better battery life than the One (based on having the same capacity but a more efficient processor), better processor than both the One and the Moto X (future-proof), bigger screen than the One and Moto X, among other things.

I've never used the One, so I can't comment on its battery life. Spec-wise, it is better than the One and Moto X. I just wish it was optimized for its specs, like the X is.

Still a great upgrade for the Nexus line.

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Maybe not quite laughed at, but it sure wouldn't be a popular choice. If it were the same price as the other flagship's than it would like mercdroid said only be on par and not better. The price point puts the n5 in its own category.

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It's a pointless exercise in what if, if Google had no input on the device then it'd just be a G2, the phone LG intended to make for the typical subsidized carrier model. Price is gonna keep being part of the equation until Google pulls a Nexus out of thin air with no other phone as it's base, or until they just decide they wanna charge significantly more... Same with updates.

The only people that have the power to challenge that status quo are the OEM and even they are subject to the carriers at the end of the day (even Moto! /collective groan at Maker exclusivity).

I think whittling the Nexus down to price and software is a little myopic this time around though, it's the first phone to work across three major carriers for voice, 3G, AND LTE. That's huge, even if most people don't take advantage of it. It plants the seed for a shift that COULD really change the status quo.

It's probably to Sprint's detriment the way it works out right now (and also probably why neither Google nor Sprint are in a rush to highlight this), but who knows... Maybe not having this Nexus or the next Nexus puts the screws to Verizon and gives Google leverage. Maybe Sprint turns things around and having a phone like this turns into an advantage.

It just opens up lots of possibilities and options for the consumer, and that's always a good thing.

The way I see it is if your on Verizon buy The moto x. If your on tmobile buy the nexus, If your on a different carrier in the states, buy the HTC one. If you live elsewhere in the world, buy the nexus. Its arguably the best phone anyway and its way cheaper to buy it outright then spend like £10 a month on contract, compared to spending £35 a month on any other high end phone.

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Actually, the G2 is better than the Moto X (I have had Touchwiz, Sense, and now LG UI and they really don't push me one or the other since the main interaction with the phone is the launcher and I use Apex - I like Apex better than the JB 4.3 launcher on my Nexus 7s (2012 and 2013)). While the Moto X software may be more efficient than the G2 the 3000 Mah battery on it gives it killer battery life - the first phone I haven't had to worry about battery life with. It is/was especially great if you happen to have picked it up when it was on sale for $49. I am very happy to have gotten it two months ago for $139.99. The camera is superb, the phone runs great (including much better radios than my old S3). While I'm sure I would be very happy with a Moto X I got the G2 because I need 32 GB on the phone and there was no telling when the Verizon 32 GB Moto X was coming out. As for the whole own your phone/off contract thing I have been with Verizon for a long time and no one touches their coverage at home (small town in NV) or on the road - I travel a lot for work and always have better coverage than my colleagues.

Thanks for writing this up, Jerry - this has been my biggest question as I see these two phones come out. Even without a conclusive answer, covering all the different usable features of these phones really means a lot more than any comparison table with random numbers ever could.

While I think the Moto X is great, if you're thinking about the future and not being outdated in the next year, the nexus 5 is the clear winner.

Yeah. I think with the moto x you need a Tmo jump or Verizon edge type plan so you can upgrade in a year (that is unless you buy it unlocked)

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This. As of this moment the Moto X may have the advantage over the Nexus 5, but in a year, the difference in hardware will shift that advantage to the Nexus. Right now it seems the Moto X is about as optimized as it can get on Jelly Bean, while the Nexus should see some improvements to its camera and radios that will make it that much better.

I don't understand this reasoning. The requirements for Android are going down not up. Less powerful phones will be able to run Kit Kat.

true but that's not not the same as they will be getting it.. new entry phones running KitKat will still be left out of OTA's almost as soon as they leave the factory.. The main allure of a Nexus is getting updates when they are released..

"Right now it seems the Moto X is about as optimized as it can get on Jelly Bean"

As optimized as it can get? You are aware that Kit Kat is actually optimized for phones with as low as 512MB RAM, right?

The Moto X has four times that amount of RAM. It will be fine.

Yeah that's true but still optimization isn't everything. Phones are meant to become less powerful in 1 or 2 years to give you a reason to by the new one. And as the future goes on this kitkat with 512 mb of ram being supported will just go up.

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no its not!.. Kit Kat is CAPABLE of running on 512MB ram but not optimized. Why would the Nexus have 2GB of RAM.. yes the Moto X will be fine on KitKat, but it will excluded from OTA's WAAAAY before the Nexus5..

Meh, if you're a Sprint user in a market Sprint is actively upgrading (no flames please, they ARE making big upgrades in places) then you definitely want a Nexus 5 (or a G2), cause it just supports more frequency bands of LTE. If you absolutely must have the latest OS update in a timely fashion then you definitely want a Nexus...

Outside of that I don't see the Moto X aging particularly worse because it's running two faster clocked/throttled cores rather than four.

Just look at the history of multi threaded optimizations on the PC side for proof, or just look at how previous phones with a slight performance delta agreed... Say, SGS2 vs anything HTC (Snapdragon of that year was somewhat behind Exynos and even OMAP remember? then Qualcomm came back with a vengeance)

Either phone will still be more than fast enough after a year and either phone will be getting long in the tooth after two full years. Just the way it goes, and that's the worst case scenario, best case scenario is the breakneck pace of smartphone innovation slows down a touch (it's gonna happen ) and both phones benefit.

I mean, if you're a power user with some sorta fringe usage case that might be a different story... But these are phones, few people are doing anything that really pushes the hardware, outside of gaming, and the vast majority of Android games are written for the least common denominator.

The HTC One will be on 4.4 by January according to HTC...We're currently on 4.3. Hardly "outdated". I know this is between the X and the 5, but Jerry mentioned the One at the end.

I don't think he meant in software he want hardware. Also the HTC one has nothing to do with this comment

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Great review and comparison. Many people debating which of these 2 phones to get.

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Great writeup Jerry. Spotted a typo "My particular color choices male things...."
Think you meant "make"

I have the S4, the Moto X and the Nexus 5. All three are great phones but right now I'm using the Nexus 5 as my daily driver. I personally think it's the best of the three. The only thing I miss from my S4 is the camera software. I miss a couple of things from the Moto X- the speakers and the fact that when I took it out of my pocket the time appeared on the screen. I didn't really care too much for the always listening feature (I still haven't set it up) and active notifications (I still use the notification bar).

Lastly, I don't know how you're getting ten extra hours out of the Moto X. I've been getting about the same battery life out of both devices.

Wow! We have the same three phones and am using the Nexus 5 as my daily driver also. I do use touchless on the moto x and it is sweet but I like think I like the screen size and icons size etc more on the Nexus 5. Might have to grab a galaxy gear to give my S4 some more pocket time.

On the technical specs, the Moto X doesn't even stand a chance. This phone is so overrated and so expensive and I'm still trying to get an answer for that.

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The price recently dropped, and it is already proved that specs don't matter anymore. Maybe you just need to use one to realize that.

I'm with you there. I am hoping for a i7 haswell quad core, a 4K display, a 50MP cam and 16GB ram with 128GB of storage on my next phone.

I don't need any of those specs to run android OS smoothly, but they should be there for bragging rights....

Are you kidding me?!?! Those are measly 2003 specs. For a 2013 phone, I expect at least two six-core Intel Xeon processors coupled with three quad-core i7s, a 4320x7680 3D screen (for 1762 ppi), four 1 gigapixel UltraPixel camera (two on each side, for 3D pictures and videos), 128GB RAM, a 1TB SSD, and Android 5.0 KLP!!!!!11!!1!!

(and an SD card slot)

It's more expensive because:

A) It's assembled in the US where wages are higher

B) It's produced in smaller numbers, thus, less discount on bulk component orders

C) The assembly process is more complex due to the vast color combinations

D) Google subsidizes the Nexus line and makes up the difference in app/music/movie/etc sales. Motorola (as well as the rest of the OEMs) makes their money from the hardware only (just because Google owns Motorola, doesn't mean they aren't responsible for their own profit margins).

So there you have it. The answer that you've been seeking. dare you say Google subsidizes the Nexus 5! lol

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I mostly agree with you... Although the Moto X will probably outsell the Nexus 5 and not all of them are sold thru Maker, which makes some of those points moot. I don't see anything wrong with the X's pricing regardless, it dropped to $99 fairly quickly (as EVERYONE expected, just in time for the holidays too) and last I checked Moto is still TRYING to turn a profit... Not exactly the time to experiment with lower price points or alternative pricing schemes.

That being said, stating that the Nexus 5 is subsidized by Google is kind of inaccurate IMO... Carriers pay OEM part of the cost of a phone in order to make it back thru the contract, that's a subsidy. Who's Google paying in order to make anything back thru the Nexus devices? They may not be making much (if anything) on the devices but they aren't losing money hand over fist on them either.

All the Nexus devices are still sold at prices that easily cover the build of materials, specially the phones, the OEM's getting paid for their work off that... If they weren't then the prices wouldn't change as Nexus hardware got slightly more premium this year... Hell, Google certainly isn't spending a ton on distribution either given what they charge for shipping and how hard it is to find them in stock initially.

So unless they're getting raked over the coals for those made for what matters TV ads, I think it's more accurate to say the Nexus is sold at cost (rather than subsidized). Also, Google isn't making any more money off the Nexus devices (in the long run) than off any other OEM's, which is another flaw in that way of looking at the Nexus line. It's kind of a pet project, sorta like the Apple TV to Apple, on a much broader scale.

Most importantly for those who are outside the US and Canada have no choice!

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Did you know that Rogers is the carrier than has the Moto X and the cheapest plan $70!

Posted with Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0

Well as a UK resident and a recent Android convert I don't have the choice well not easily. But have to say the Nexus 5 is a beautiful phone and it should feel cheap and plasticy but it feels soft and smooth. The battery life is an issue with the Nexus 5 but probably because I am playing with it so much. There is a little to be said for Apple's do as we say policy - where as now I have apps that can do things like closing apps and prioritising Wifi!!! I think though I chose good with the Nexus 5 for my first real Android (I played with a HTC One X for a month as a trial run). Oh and as I use Google apps etc a Google designed phone works as smooth as....almost.

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Both are amazing phones, I guess it doesn't matter which you choose, you won't get disappointed. Think the Nexus 5 camera is slightly better, would have to compare other shots (low light for example).

Thanks Jerry. This one sounded like it was no fun to be backed into a corner and forced to render a verdict.

If I was on contract, I'd be torn with the current deals on the X (and now that the customizer is finally available, horrible move on their part to make that exclusive...) However, I'm on Tmobile now with my new Nexus 5, the off contract price made it no contest for me, it is an equal phone for much less.

They made it exclusive for a reason. They wouldn't have been able to keep up with production if all carriers went live with it at the same time.

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Can't really go wrong with either. It all comes down to preference. I've had the nexus 4 and was contemplating getting the 5. After seeing the mediocre battery performance and once again extremely weak speakers I decides to look into the x. I couldn't fathom using another nexus device with a battery that can't last a day for me or I can't watch simple YouTube videos without being in complete silence. I ended up purchasing the x. I'm extremely happy. The phone just feels great in the hand and battery is great. Active notifications are seriously one of the best things to come to android in a while.

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The Nexus 5 battery life is better than the Nexus 4 for me. The Nexus 5 idles much better than my Nexus 4 ever did. And the percentage drop per hour is considerably better on the Nexus 5. I'm much happier with the battery life on the Nexus 5.

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Jerry, how big was your battery life improvement going to the MotoX from the Nexus 4?

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I bought a Nexus 5 minutes after they were available, and received it a few days letter. It's a great device, with an unbelievable and unbeatable value. And yet, it just wasn't what I wanted. There is no one thing wrong with it, but a combination of several little things. The battery life is inconsistent, the camera takes poor pictures unless you are using HDR+ and then it takes forever to snap a picture, the screen is noticeably yellow tinged, the buttons rattle, etc... None of them are big deals, but add them together and they get a little irritating.

So I took a big risk and swapped my Nexus 5 with somebody for a Moto X. And I love it. I'm a sucked for an amoled screen, and the one on the Moto X is nice. I absolutely adore instant notifications. How they aren't a standard feature is beyond me. Hands free is amazing, and the fact that my phone knows when I am in the car is brilliant. The combination of these little things just make for an awesome user experience.

The Nexus 5 is a great phone and a great value. But it isn't the phone for everyone. I think that mobile lovers looking for a powerful device at a great price should look no further than the Nexus 5. It's that good. But for people less concerned about raw power and are looking for something that has awesome usability features in a really comfortable and compact package, the Moto X is probably the best phone on the market.

Nexus 5. Moto X is a great device don't get me wrong but updates and support give the nexus it's edge.

Glad I have both! Using the Nexus for 2 weeks and the screen is nice with larger icons. Cannot go wrong with either although the jury is still out on the speed of updates for the moto x. I have heard a lot of talk, little action.

Sent from my bada$$ Nexus 5

i think moto x might be a better phone for those who drive a lot and like touchless control and be able to make use of voice commands a lot. For people who don't need that I feel that nexus 5 is a better choice. They are both awesome phones though.

I think the battery life on the nexus will get better in the next 1 or 2 updates to that device. The battery life always seems to be a problem when a nexus is first released and then as apps are updated and the phone is updated by google the bugs that were draining the phone go away and battery life gets better.

My girl replaced her galaxy nexus with the nexus 5 and she loves the battery life right now. She used to come home from work with like 10-20 percent battery left. Now its 40 to 50 percent.

I am definitely buying the the next moto x upgrade coming from Motorola.. What had not been mentioned here is how moto x uses its cores to do different functions like always listening when the phone is sleeping without using all CPU resources just like the new Apple M7 chip. This saves better in Moto x and can also be used for various other functions in the future. I hope the upgrade gets better camera.

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The G2 is obviously a very nice phone and is getting a lot of love from Android enthusiasts. I just couldn't deal with carrying a phone that looks like that. (I obviously use my phones naked.)

Thank you Jerry. I'm on Verizon, so there was really never a choice anyway, but I was interested on how you felt these two stood up to each other.

Jerry if you were on Verizon and needed a phone "right now", would you pick the moto x I've the HTC one?

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I would roll the dice and get a Droid Maxx. 

Being a Droid, you still have too much Verizon in the update chain for my tastes, but I'd risk it based on how quickly the first OTA came after the MX. 

The Maxx has most everything I love about the Moto X, but with a monstrous battery.

This piece was well written and gave such good insight into each device. Well done and thanks Jerry.

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I've been sitting on my upgrade still enjoying my Galaxy Nexus on Verizon actually. Been hearing a lot of great things about the Moto X. How does it compare to the Droid Maxx if I'm stuck on Verizon? My main beef with my GNex is battery life and if the Maxx is a bigger X only with capacitive buttons (which I like on screen) wouldn't that be a great choice too?

I've held off because I can't decide what I want. The One and GS4 seem a little old to be getting at this point. Was intrigued by the Note 3 but think it's maybe too big. I think the G2 looks like a good phone too. My problem is there are too many good ones to decide on. Only missing the Nexus 5 and Xperia Z1. I'd have gotten the Z1 if it were available for the water proofing since I coach track and it would be nice to not worry about the rain.

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Motorola's extremely poor track record with updates would definitely make me lean toward the Nexus 5. Remember, they've promised updates before and then withdrew them without warning on the last day of their update time frame.

Yeah... But it makes you wonder if Google did change a lot of motorola. We will see this week when the Verizon soak test of the moto x starts... Who knows maybe googarola will deliver as promised

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Easy decision - the Nexus 5, because the Moto X isn't available outside the US, nor is it unlocked. A great phone means nothing to me unless I can buy it.

It's available in many places throughout North and South America, but you're right its not available everywhere. Its also available unlocked, but only in those places where its being sold locked also.

You're being a bit US centric here Andrew. Being available in the US, Canada and a couple of Latin American countries doesn't mean it's "not available everywhere", it's more like "hardly available anywhere" .

Motorola is becoming irrelevant from a global perspective, if it isn't already. The Moto G won't fix it either, another low cost Moto handset is not going to put them back in the premium brand conversation.

It's a start, though. But, I do agree: Moto does need to release a worldwide flagship.

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I think the Moto G will be a huge success. Its priced at the point many thought the 5c would be and the U.S. phones will be shipped with 4.4 supposedly in the new year. Very tough to contend with for the masses that are on a tight budget

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But its available in more than the US, which the original commenter assumed it was not. Fact is that the Moto X is available in several (dozens?) of countries in the Americas, just because its not in the countries you want it to be doesn't mean that its a failed launch or failed manufacturer.

Motorola went from not making a single relevant phone for 2-3 years to having a phone (Moto X) out that's at the top of every Android enthusiasts (and even regular people's) minds, and following it up with a great inexpensive device in the Moto G. And you're going to fault them because it wasn't a global launch? Not at all surprising that its happening this way, I think everyone is over-estimating what Moto is capable of doing in a short period of time.

Yep, I need to fault them on the lack of a global launch. Simply put, every other flagship is more or less global. Hardware wise only minor changes would be needed to make it work in Europe and Asia. It just seems that historically anything outside the US market has been an afterthought for Motorola. And I won't even get started on their after sales support outside the US.

Look, I love Motorola devices, my first android phone was a Milestone, but as someone posted, the fact is that outside the Americas they haven't had a popular device since the flip RAZR. I heard they may release the X in Europe, but this kind of six months late launch is really just more of the same.

Hopefully with Google's support they can start pushing up that global profile, it's a crime to have the most innovative phone of 2013 being so geographically restricted. I'm sure we can agree on that.

To be fair, Motorola hasn't been relevant on a global scale since the original RAZR flip phone.

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See jerry... Great review and you were unbiased... I never thought of the wakeups like you did.

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I feel as if the Moto X would be a more interesting experience. I would grab a Moto X if it wasn't so over priced.

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I just received my moto X today (coming from a nexus 5). I absolutely love the nexus 5 besides the speakers but I kept hearing great things about the moto x do I decided to give it a try. So far so good, I love active notifications, I prefer kitkat on the nexus, I prefer the battery on the moto x and I prefer the display on the nexus. Both are great phones. Nexus is definitely future proof and will have more development but moto x has awesome features and once it gets updated to kitkat it's gonna be even better.

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Thanks. =)

I wish I did, lol. I wish T-Mobile would carry it in-store, so I can finance it.

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Oh I misunderstood some earlier comments. Lol

Yeah they need to. How are you liking T-Mobile? I'm seriously contemplating switching to them when my contract is over in March.

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I love the service. I just happen to be in a great coverage area (Milwaukee, WI). If I were you, I'd compare the coverage maps to areas that you live, work, and frequent. If you don't travel a lot, and you live in a great coverage area, then I'd make the switch, especially if it's going to save you some money.

Definitely do the research, though. And good luck!

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Jerry, based on things you've said, I picked the X over the Nexus 5. I currently use an HTC One, and from what you and others have said, it seems like the features of the Moto X line up almost perfectly with how I use my phone. I'll be passing my One to my father in law. I do wish the X had a better camera, but you can't win them all. Maybe I'll by a Sony Q10 or Q100 to take with me for when I know I'll be taking lots of pictures of things that matter. I have a good Sony point and shoot already, but I'm 100x more likely to use a picture that auto uploads to Google+ than one sitting on my SD card or hard drive.

Do yourself a favor and get a Sony/Panasonic camera with Wifi & NFC instead... They'll be more pocketable than the Qs, they'll be more responsive and easier to use (quicker to turn on, less shutter lag, no awkward mount process, more manual controls, etc etc), and will even take better pictures in most cases.

A Canon S110/120 or Panasonic LF1 > the smaller sensor Q for not much more money (they've been as low as three hundred), much better lenses on either. The Sony RX100 or RX100 mkII > the large sensor Q. I applaud Sony for the innovative form factor, the execution left a lot to be desired though.

I feel like the larger one is kinda pointless even though it's technically much more interesting... Putting a 1" sensor inside a lens barrel just leaves you with something far less pocketable than the RX100 with it's own 1" sensor.

I think the future of the line lies with the smaller model, instead of going for such a long zoom put a 5x or 7x zoom with a wider aperture and refine the software, then you've got a killer go-anywhere package.

The N5 wins on the fact the Moto X is overpriced like the iPhone. However, I prefer the experience of the X over Google's offering, but I'd buy a Nexus off contract before I'd buy a X on contract. Motorola could of priced it double the price of the Moto Q off contract and killed. Removable backs instead of Motomaker .

Well the Moto X is $549 unlocked, hard to call that "iPhone" priced considering its about $100-$200 cheaper than your highest end unlocked devices from any manufacturer.

You're right about that. That is a pretty significant difference to be honest. I exaggerated but I do believe it would of been priced better at $400-450 off contract or at least Motorola could of upgraded a couple pieces of the hardware(better camera,screen or battery.

If Motorola would fix there bluetooth connection problem that i keep having when i get in my car and they would allow Google Wallet i would start using the phone again... Till then it will sit in its box :(

The new Moto phones are amazing. For the most part they keep right up with the S800 firebreathers, and man that battery is awesome. I do like the Moto X - the screen is great, controls are right where you want them, and for once a feature I thought would end up stupid is in constant use - the active notifications. OK Google Now isn't as useful as, say Indigo, so I don't use it. I would like to have an SD card slot. But really, the phone is as near perfect as I've found.

I do wish I had the option of the N5 (darn you, Verizon) just for the horsepower. But I can deal with the Moto X just fine :)

Droid Life posted an article yesterday, saying if you're on Verizon, you can get an un-customized Moto X, for free on-contract, if you use the promo code "vzwdeal" at checkout.

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I waited for the N5 to come out and ultimately decided on buying a used Moto X. For me, I wanted a smaller phone and the 4.7" screen on the Moto feels even smaller due to the on screen buttons and tiny bezel. And I wanted better battery life then I was getting with my GS3. So far I really like the Moto X. Active notifications and screen wake when lifting means I never hit the power button anymore. Battery life has been great. Also, the version of android on the Moto is near stock. I detest the bloated skins from HTC and Samsung.

This is all around the best Android phone I have owned so far.

This was a write up I've been waiting for and Jerry didn't disapoint . I currently have both a moto x and a Nexus on AT&T and they both do so much so well. I've been on the nexus lately but no doubt I'll keep both in rotation. Damn its a good time to be an android fan!

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Comparing it to nexus 4 would be OK, but this??

you may now quit reading my post-Post forum signature:-)

Comparison seems to be more acceptable than not. Moto X was done right for user experience. I know many that choose it over the N5. Updates also don't excite me since I get a phone or 2 a year anyway. Even phones on a 2 year contract usually get the current updates.

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Thanks for the great comparison review. I wish I could see a similar one that includes the new Sony Xperia Z1, model C6903 world-phone. I was hoping Nexus 5 would also be a global phone at last, but no such luck. I need one that includes both US and European LTE bands for my travels.

Thanks Jerry for the comparison. This is conundrum for me because my network is Sprint and I would like to get the MotoX but ordered the Nexus 5 because the latter supports Sprint's new LTE bands (spark) while the MotoX does not. For me the battery life superiority of the MotoX and active notifications make the MotoX very appealing. Are there any rumors or indications that refreshed MotoX with supported LTE bands will be released on Sprint soon? Also the fact that the Nexus 5 has support for GSM world roaming makes it very appealing. I just wish you could get a MotoX with the Nexus 5 radios basicially....ugh...

Awesome write up Jerry. I'm a Nexus fan but I'm really loving the direction of Motorola since ownedby Google. On an Android standpoint, you can't go wrong with either and its going to be either Nexus or moto from now on.

I like that there is no clear winner. That should be the case for Android phones. There are too many personal preferences to ever be a phone that is clearly better than the rest.

^^^^^^ This is logical many take note (3) lol seriously though the above statement has it spot on. And i aint got much to add as i would just be repeating perhaps wording it a little different.. well said again.

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Is there really a clear winner here? Whether you go with an N5, Moto X, HTC One, or an LG G2 they are all great phones and offer something different for the user. What no other device offers like the N5 is quick updates and updates for a few years. If that is what is important to you, then there is a clear winner. If you like a pure Android/Google experience you also have to go with an N5. If neither of this matters to you then you have a much harder choice to make. There are some great devices out there! The real winner here is us, the users with all these great choices of phones.

Agreed. I wouldn't call it a harder choice, though. I prefer the word "fun." When you're shopping around for your next phone, it's awesome for the choice to not be so clear-cut. That means each OEM has gotten to a level where they're all on-par with each other, offering something unique in their flagships and other products.

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I have 2 requirements, unlockable bootloader, and factory images. So far the Nexus is the only phone that meets those requirements (as far as I know). I had the Note 3 AT&T and I would have kept that phone if it had an unlockable bootloader. I have to be able to root my phone and flash a ROM, and that's the bottom line. I also always end up flashing an aosp or aokp ROM so I might as well just use a Nexus.

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This also pushed me over the edge. The bottom line is the Nexus 5 is the only phone out of all the ones I've owned or considered that has an unlockable bootloader, and absolute control over my phone. Verizon doesn't offer much in the way of a phone that doesn't come with carrier bloatware And/or full control of the phone. Same with phones on AT&T.

Unlocked Nexus 5 FTW

And the winner by T.K.O the Nexus 5 lol its all great these versus reviews as they provide a clear basis to which its not set in stone that one has to abide, but they are helpful in painting that overall picture :-)

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I really hope the battery life issue gets resolved with software updates. It's a really great phone at a great price.

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The first thing that put me off is the camera comparison, my photos aren't even like that blurry Moto X HDR one, my pictures are actually pretty sharp a lot like the Nexus 5 one- I bet the writer wasn't using tap to focus. Also the screen... as Grahaman27 said, later Moto X batches has better screens and I think I have one of those, it's very vivid compared to other phone screens I've used. And lastly, it's not a slow phone at all, no lag whatsoever since the X8 processor has separate cores that takes care of different things rather than everything all at once.

Jerry, with the opportunity to drop Verizon, and a desire to have 32GB storage, what would be your off-contract pic, the N5 or the Developer Edition Moto X coming from a GNex? Or maybe something else?

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I really really like both of these phones. I'm a windows phone user, but the first time I saw the moto x I wanted it. It is sharp, it is the right size, I wish Google gave it the priority it deserves. It should have kit Kat as soon as the nexus 4 gets it. I'm using a nexus 4 right now. I love vanilla android with the nova launcher just to get the flexibility. But I love both of these phones. I saw the nexus 5 at best buy today, everything was crashing so I restarted it. But man it's nice.

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It's only bias if you don't agree. Jerry didn't call it 100% for the Nexus. He mist be biased!!!

I figured this post would draw some battle lines.

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Lol! No, I agree with the notion that there can't be a clear winner. At the end of the day, these "VS" posts should never be the end-all, be-all of choosing a device.

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"...but neither is as bad as the Galaxy Nexus, either."
Ouch. Since when was the Galaxy Nexus' screen bad? Lol.

You're guess is as good as mine, lol. I thought the GNex screen was damn good!

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Echoing all the above posters Jerry, great article. I got to visit the Motorola facility just outside Chicago on business just after Labor day and was lent a Moto X to play with over night. I compared it to my Note 2 and was extremely impressed. I noticed how "vanilla" the u/i was and immediately wondered if this was Google influenced and wondered how it would compare to the Nexus line.

Your comparison Jerry, more than answers the questions I had. It also emphasised this point to me. Moto could have easily equipped the Moto X with better hardware but by deciding to have the phone assembled in the U.S. (which I think is a great move for 'Merica), they had to look at cutting the cost in the hardware to afford the cost of labor and keep the phone at a comparable price. The optimization payed off!
Also it wouldn't look good to out-shine your new parent company on your first set of devices since the acquisition lol

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Nice article.....but i got to know the verdict from your first offence but a high end device will always be better than a mid device......and here theres no comparison as its a nexus 5 vs moto x. What i just saw being compared is battery life -_-

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Moto X for me. Just ordered one. And it was $40 cheaper than the 16GB N5. The N5 is a great phone, though. I like the Moto X's features.

I don't own either of these phones. But I did get a chance to play with both for about two hours total in Best Buy today. I have to say, the Moto X kept drawing me back. It just feels "right", from the physical aspects to the software. I own a 2013 Nexus 7 that made me fall in love with stock Android. But the vanilla Nexus 5 left me wanting more. Maybe its just too plain.

And as far as the cameras go, I think they are really about even. Granted, I was a limited in testing the camera I couldn't really lift the phones up off the store displays, but anything is an upgrade compared to my Epic 4G touch

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Do you think the weaker reception issues on the N5 could be fixed in a software update; or is this a hardware limitation?

I do like the look of the Moto X in the images, but we we can't hold them in the UK yet.

Awesome A C

Yeah, they can definitely be fixed with software, much like the GNex saw a few radio firmware updates, due to the Verizon reception issues.

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The deciding factor for me between the two phones was the updates.

Wouldn't the Moto X have to go through the carrier?

Jerry, please, correct your use of "its" and "it's". You're doing it wrong and a lot of people read your article. Otherwise, congratulations, nice article.

And this is why I'm thinking about waiting for the next Moto smartphone instead of getting the Nexus 5, I love what Moto is doing here.

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Exactly! I was going to get the Nexus 5 but decided to wait it out. I want to see the lineup moto has for 2014. I'm a Nexus guy but I love what moto is doing.

I'd be interested in revisiting this comparison when the Motorola X gets it's Kitkat update. I'm intrigued by the Motorola X but the big difference for me is the N5 has wireless charging. So would a Kitkated X have the battery life to make up for no charge pad? Hmm. Seems Moto is really doing a nice job with faster updates lately too. This could move the dial in favor of the Moto X as well. For the price gap though I would want Moto Maker available for unlocked versions. One should be able to customize the phone when paying full price and I'm not buying anything with carrier bloat ware baked in.

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Questions: Won't the Moto X still recieve quicker updates than most other flagship phones since it is somewhat closer to "stock" Android?

We all know Nexus devices get updates first, then Google Play Edition phones, then everything else. Would the Moto X fall somewhere in between the Google Play Edition phones and other phones (Like the GS4, Note 3, Xperia Z, etc?)?

Probably, between Moto's slight skinning (more like feature add ons) and their newfound commitment to speedy updates (going as far as updating many of their features thru the Play store, which ALL carriers should do)... They definitely stand a chance of beating anything non-nexus non-GPE to the latest updates.

Whether that potential is realized or not is up to Moto. They're still not gonna get the new OS code before any of the other OEM tho, unless they win a Nexus device bid or Google changes internal policy... So it's still gonna take them a month or two after a new version is released.

It takes most OEM at least three months (and as much as six, or never) to port skins, go thru carrier testing, etc. At the same time, carriers are often the biggest holdup and the Moto X is still susceptible to that. So it's all kind of relative, if updates are truly essential either get a Nexus or learn to flash IMO.

Otherwise just deal with whatever happens... I'd still opt for HTC or over Samsung (or even LG) based on their track record with updates tho.

"Whether that potential is realized or not is up to Moto. They're still not gonna get the new OS code before any of the other OEM tho, unless they win a Nexus device bid or Google changes internal policy... So it's still gonna take them a month or two after a new version is released."

Of course that didn't happen because Motorola and Google lie when they say a firewall is between them.

Well moto X is supposed to get KitKat in a couple if weeks. That's pretty good since they are close to stock anyway. Moto is in good hands since owned by Google.

Have you tried using DynamicNotifications to mimic the notifications on the Moto X? I have been using it on my Nexus 4 and it is very solid, plus you can customize which apps give you notifications. Plus, it is not a big battery hog.

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I use ver. 1.7 of that app on my N4 and my Xperia Z1. Because that particular version has the most features for the least weight I prefer it more than the more recent updates. And I'm happy to report that it performs great on both devices and doesn't even register as a blip on my battery's radar, unlike what some Moto X owners (who are upset that one of their key features has lost it's exclusivity) claim.

I feel this review is missing a piece to the puzzle: prepaid or postpaid customers. Which phone offers the best bang for the buck for each type of customer?


Nexus 5 at $350: Offers the best value for a customer on pre-paid, its $200 cheaper than the Moto X. Also, if you are a Nexus user, you are most likely to upgrade in 12-18 months to the new Nexus phone.


Moto X on contract: Depending on the carrier, you can buy the Moto X for $100-$50 ($0 if you have a coupon on Verizon). Fantastic value compared to the Nexus 5 at $350 or on contract with Sprint or T-mobile. If you are signing a two year contract, get the Moto X. Period.

The Nexus 5 isn't $350 on contract with anyone... Tmo sells it for more than the Play store off contract (but who would buy it that way?) and Sprint sells it for $150 on contract IIRC, might be $100, I forget... Not much different than the Moto X tho. They don't sell the 32GB N5 tho.

Contrary to popular belief, Sprint does have some decently priced no contract plans too though... So an off contract Nexus 5 can still be appealing if: you go for those plans, or if you're in the middle of a contract, or if you wanna switch soon, or if you're considering any of these.

I'm halfway thru my contract but got the upgrade bug, my options were either take advantage on the window they opened up and upgrade thru One Up, or buy a Nexus off contract. Probably wouldn't picked up the Moto if I went One Up because the only way that plan makes sense is if you commit for yearly upgrades.

Went Nexus 5 to keep my options open, take advantage of Sprint Spark (I'm in one of their markets often and Puerto Rico will probably be a second tier Spark market), and enjoy Kit Kat early. The Moto was tempting tho, cause of the smaller size more than anything.

Nexus 5 sells for $17 a month on T-Mobile and $150 for sprint customers. Att customers have to pay $350 to get it, whether you are on contract or not.

I wish sprint had prepaid plans for any phone. Right now it's limited to cheap smart phones.

I went with the Nexus 5 because I'm on prepaid and I like to upgrade yearly. The moto x would be great for battery life but for $550, its not worth it.

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Right, i think i misread the last line of your post (a comma would help).

Sprint ACTUALLY has an off contract smartphone plan btw, $60 for unlimited everything. It's not very well advertised for some reason but it's on their site. I only found about it thru a random comment on a news article here. It's listed explicitly for smartphones (the dumb phone equivalent is cheaper).

Not worth it for me as I only pay $64 for their lowest tier unlimited data plan, thanks to a discount (which would probably go poof if I switch to off contract). That plan actually works better if you're a heavy caller since it's got unlimited minutes too, mine's only unlimited to other mobiles.

I'm on one of the old 450 min plans (plus 300 random bonus minutes), I forget if the new "granted unlimited for life" plans moved to unlimited minutes too... I think not, unless you pay like $20 more right? Lowest tier is still X minutes plus unlimited mobile to mobile IIRC.

I'm soon to be in the market for a new phone....after the heartbreak of the galaxy nexus on verizon, I've been thinking about jumping ship probably in at&t's direction. I'm gonna give up my unlimited for a number of reasons some of it being the overbearing nature of verizon. One thing about this article everyone comes back to is the active display, the touchless controls and the battery life. 2 of those things are moto x exclusive I like those features and the reviews seems to indicate they work as advertised for the most part ... the evil side of me reminds me I can always buy the nexus 5 off contract later once I'm free of verizon. Thanks for the article more food for thought I think the moto x is my way to go.

If you're in the market for a new phone go with the Nexus 5! And if you do jump from the Verizon ship you should consider T-Mobile as your new wireless provider. Customer service and network outperform AT&T IMO.

Nexus 5 all day. I have the moto x note and while it it's a good phone, I prefer the nexus 5 for the display quality, kitkat and development

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I look forward to this being updated now that Kit Kat for the Moto X is coming out already.

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I look forward to this being updated now that Kit Kat for the Moto X is coming out already.

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I look forward to this being updated now that Kit Kat for the Moto X is coming out already.

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I look forward to this being updated now that Kit Kat for the Moto X is coming out already.

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@Jerry- You seem like the guy to ask. 1 question after reading literally every comment.
I am in the greater Los Angeles area, and don't travel a ton right now. I was reading somewhere that the N5 has a LTE band (13, if i recall correctly?) that works in LA and NY on VZW. Is that accurate?
TY in advance if you can respond.