Moto X: Week One

A photo of my Harley and I taken by my friend Katie.
After a good deal of debate, one of the first things I did upon returning home from Europe last week was to purchase a Moto X smartphone. I had previously been using an aging Samsung Galaxy Nexus which, despite having served me fantastically, was certainly beginning to show its age.

I probably could have stumbled along with the Galaxy Nexus for a while longer had it not been for the fact that it:
  • Couldn't hold a charge for more than a few hours, thusly causing me to carry one or sometimes even two spare batteries in my pocket
  • Ran the latest version of android at a blisteringly slow pace
  • Constantly dropped my Verizon service altogether, the remedy to which was restarting the phone
  • Took between 3 to 4 minutes to start
  • Dropped the connection to tethered bluetooth devices frequently
The Galaxy Nexus gave me a solid two years. I even went so far as to replace a motherboard back in April when it stopped charging. However, it was the 4 hour battery life more than anything that pushed me to upgrade to the Moto X sooner rather than later.

So I've been using the Moto X on Verizon wireless for a week now, and so far I'm absolutely loving it. The battery (notice how I keep coming back to that) literally lasts me a full day, even with heavy use. Whereas I found myself using my phone conservatively in the past, I've been cranking up the screen brightness and generally plugging away at on the Moto X with seemingly no impact on battery.

One of the most useful features I believe the phone offers is the ability to 'always be listening' for my voice. No matter where I am in a room, saying 'OK Google Now', causes the Moto X to turn on and listen for me to prompt Google Now with a question. The voice recognition works quite well in most cases as long as the background noise isn't too overwhelming.

Another big draw is the phones active-display screen. Active-display is essentially marketing hype for the phone's ability to 'pulse' on and off with important notifications. Instead of picking up my phone and manually turning it on to check things like new text messages, the Moto X displays messages in a really clean UI just by touching the screen. It seems like a novel concept but Motorola's execution of this feature is flawless.

There are a mess of other features like the twist-and-take camera (twisting your wrist to turn on the camera), Motorola Assist (features like auto reading-aloud of texts while driving), and Motorola Connect (syncing of text messages to your computer via a chrome extension), that despite working still feel a bit half-baked.

I found the twist-and-take camera functionality especially to be difficult to operate while for things like Motorola Connect I'm already perfectly content using competing services like +MightyText.

In terms of complaints, I don't have many. I'm disappointed that the phone isn't running the latest version of Android, but I expect that will be remedied soon. I'm also disappointed that the only carrier that offers color customizations at the moment is AT&T (I purchased my phone through Verizon Wireless). Verizon also took the additional step of loading my phone with bloatware like VZ Navigator which is impossible to completely remove from an unrooted device.

I also had some trouble tethering Google Glass to my phone via bluetooth since Verizon charges an extra $30 a month for the privilege to do so. I was eventually able to figure out how to connect the two without paying the extra fee, but it wasn't immediately apparent to me how to do so.

All said and done, I love a lot about what the Moto X has to offer. The hardware quality is solid, the Android build is the best you can find anywhere, and the phone is decently priced at $199 with a two year contract on most major carriers. If you're in the market for a new phone and looking to try something different, you'd do well to choose the Moto X.

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A photo of my Harley and I taken by my friend Katie.