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Motorola Moto X: Apps, Games and Browsing

Andrew Williams

By Andrew Williams


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Review Price £379.00

Motorola Moto X: Social Networking

There’s no provision for social networks built into the Motorola Moto X, beyond the Google Hangouts app. This hooks into Google Talk chat, and can even be used as an all-in-one messenger – when you first run it, it asks if you want to use it to read SMS messages as well as chat online.

To connect to Facebook, Twitter and any other networks you dip into, you’ll need to download separate apps from Google Play. Some of you may prefer to have everything in place from square one, but the Moto X’s acceptance that it can’t do everything itself is refreshing. And it means the phone is almost entirely bloat-free.

Motorola’s contribution to how the Moto X functions is seen more in how you interact with the phone than in its apps library. It’s about the Active notifications screen – an alternative to a simpler LED notification – as well as the way you can flick the phone twice to launch the camera and how you can talk to the phone to make it work. Admittedly that last one's a Google addition that, as with the Nexus 5, we couldn’t get to work properly.

Moto X Facebook

Motorola Moto X: Performance

Keeping its software simple is a way for the Moto X to ensure good performance. It’s fast, it’s responsive – more so than the Motorola Moto G, and even the Samsung Galaxy S4, which at times is slowed down by its TouchWiz interface.

However, in pure hardware terms the Moto X isn't impressive. It uses the 1.7GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 Pro CPU and has 2GB of RAM.

The S4 Pro chipset is a few steps behind the competition. From late 2012 to the end of 2013, phones at first moved from the S4 Pro to the Snapdragon 600 chip, and then on to the Snapdragon 800, which is now the most popular high-end Android chipset. The ageing Snapdragon S4 Pro is behind the times, especially given how much you're paying here. You won’t notice the difference if you don’t know the spec figures, but it makes the Moto X a tougher sell. The Geekbench 3 scores tell it all, as the Moto X comes out with 1200 points, the Galaxy S4 around 1650 and the Snapdragon 800-toting Nexus 5 around 2700.

We didn't find any top-end 3D games – including our usual benchmark, Real Racing 3 – to pose any kind of problem though. This may be in part down to having a 720p screen instead of a 1080p one. Fewer pixels to render means less stress on the CPU/GPU.

Moto X Real Racing 3

Raw power doesn't impress, but the phone can easily handle Real Racing 3

Motorola Moto X – Keyboard and Browsing

The Motorola Moto X is a fantastic web-browsing phone for a number of different reasons. First, it has 4G for even faster web trawling than a lower-cost mobile. Second, its relatively narrow frame makes the screen easy to navigate with a thumb than a larger 5-inch-plus phone. The Moto X hits a sweet spot in this regard.

It also has the power and the software for great browsing. It uses the Chrome browser rather than the ‘stock’ Android browser – missing out on text reflow but otherwise offering a good browsing experience.

The X uses the standard Android keyboard, which offers a simple but solid layout. As we noted in our Moto G tips and tricks article, we recommend switching to the Google keyboard, which is available for free from Google Play. It’s almost identical, but supports gesture typing. This is where you draw a line over letters rather than tapping on them. It’s faster, and often more accurate for speed typing.

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Prem Desai

January 21, 2014, 3:27 pm

Decent enough phone. Shame about the price.

I was hoping that the Moto G was the shape of things to come but alas, sound like it was a 1-off.

Ripping off the brits

January 21, 2014, 6:01 pm

Amazon uk are seling it for 350 quid which improves the value proposition a bit. Still more expensive than in the US where the cost work out to roughly 290 quid after including 20% VAT.


January 21, 2014, 7:09 pm

Based on how it has sold in the US, I'd expect to see the price drop gradually over the next couple of months.
It's also worth noting that it's already listing on Amazon for £349.99 rather than the £380 indicated here.

Prem Desai

January 22, 2014, 8:37 am

Still too high. I think the Moto G has set an expectation for quality/price - for me anyway.

I suspect this phone will do well on the contract market where it will be heavily subsidised or free.


January 22, 2014, 2:20 pm

I agree but I'm hopeful the downward trend will continue. I can't think of many devices that were listed at less than RRP before they were even released.


January 22, 2014, 3:48 pm

No mention of the "always listening" voice stuff - is that not working in the UK model?

I seem to remember one of the big things was you could have a glass-esque experience and say "okay google [action]" and it's do that for you?


January 30, 2014, 2:53 am

The Moto X is now selling for $300-$350 (~£180-£212) in the US. Is that enough to make it a better value than the Moto G?


February 23, 2014, 10:46 am

I actually own this phone, and I think the performance issues are more of about what's on a spec issue than what an owner will find with day to day use, even power use. The way Motorola has configured the hardware and lightly skinned Android means that for most users, this phone will work as well if not better than phones loaded down with loads of bloatware.

What Motorola has added to Android is brilliant. Touchless control, Motorola Assist (lets you configure situations where you don't want to be bothered or who can contact you), and the few other additions Motorola has laid on top of KitKat really are things that the majority of people will find useful. In addition, the screen and optimisation has allowed for superior battery life.

Where it falls short is the camera. The updated app is meant to be an improvement, but it is a very basic camera with HDR and a couple of other additions. Being basic doesn't mean user friendly. I'm constantly misfiring it and the phone lacks a dedicated camera button. I've not been able to get the twist to launch to work, but people who have seem to like it. Low light photos are slightly better with HDR enabled, but this is not going to compete with this generation's best phone cameras. Rather than the photos being washed out, however, I'd say that when HDR is enabled, the colours are truer to life than the poppiness we've become accustomed to expecting. I am hoping that the remaining camera issues will be addressed with a software update.

You can get it sim free for around £300 now, and we were able to pick them up free on EE's lowest 4G contract. It's a shame that for now, MotoMaker isn't available in the UK. I considered the Moto G for my husband as he is traditionally a light phone user, but we both picked up Moto X's. He's coming from a Windows Phone and has adapted quickly. I'm a long time Android user and I can honestly say that this phone is the most satisfied I've been with an Android device, including a vanilla Nexus 7. I think most people, even power users would be pleasantly surprised by this piece of kit.

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