Motorola Moto X – Software and Apps
Much like the Moto G and Moto E, the Motorola Moto X has a largely unchanged interface, using – at launch – Android 4.4 KitKat and the Google Now launcher. It’s very similar to what you get with the Google Nexus 5, and it’s great.
Phones with custom versions of Android rarely touch the super-fast responsiveness of a vanilla or near-vanilla Android phone. As we suggested in the first part of this review, though, Motorola has made some changes. And they’re mostly very positive indeed.
The ‘glance’ lock screen is top-notch, letting you see your notifications without having to unlock the phone. It’s the immediacy of this interaction that the Motorola Moto X aces. It’s very snappy, with not a hint of extra animation to clutter things up.
You can also kick off voice commands without touching the phone, using a phrase that you specify – “wakey wakey, sweet cheeks” if you like. We doubt whether many people will use this, but it’s a good one to setup if you want to call your mum in the kitchen with cake mix all over your mitts, having fouled up a recipe.
Despite the extra elements, the app menu of the Moto X is even more sparse than it is in the Moto G. There’s very little there apart from what you get in the normal Google apps suite. The apps we’ve seen previously in Motorola phones are still here, but everything apart from Motorola Migrate has been squashed into a single Moto app. Those who are sick of bloatware – and who isn’t? – will love this approach.
The things it does add try to subtly enrich what the phone is like to use. For example, you can make it behave slightly differently when you’re in the car or in a meeting, automatically. It can go silent in meetings by cross-checking with your calendar, and read out messages when it senses you’re driving.
The most useful for many: you can also set the phone to stay off and silent during set night-time hours. It’s particularly handy when the Moto X has a habit of turning its screen on at the slightest movement.
Motorola Migrate is the one conventional add-on app. And it’s there to help you transfer data from your old phone to the Moto X.
A truly streamline style keeps the phone looking very clean and clear. Some of you may miss things like a brightness slider in the drop-down notifications menu, not provided in standard Android, but we found the auto-brightness settings to be quite good anyway.
Despite having very few preinstalled apps, you still only get 10GB of space to play with from the original 16GB, and there’s no microSD card slot. There is a 32GB version and it costs an extra £40. Be sure to upgrade if you want to store lots of games, or any serious amount of movies and music files.
Motorola Moto X – Games and Performance
Aside from limited storage, there are no serious compromises in the core hardware. The Motorola Moto X uses the 2.5GHz variant of the Snapdragon 801 CPU, the same kind found in the Samsung Galaxy S5. This is paired with 2GB of RAM.
Just like the other phones at this level, it’s capable of playing any 3D game available on Google Play with no speed or visual compromise, and benchmarks are just as we’d expect. It scores 2935 points in Geekbench 3, just a smidge more than we got out of the Galaxy S5 when it was initially released.
However, the Snapdragon 801 has already been outdone by Qualcomm’s own processors. The Galaxy Note 4 has already arrived and features the Snapdragon 805, offering significantly better GPU performance. Given the Motorola Moto X only has a Full HD screen rather than a QHD one, we’re not convinced it really needs the extra power at this point, though.
General performance is excellent, too. Thanks to the pared-down interface, it’s extremely nippy.
How we test phones
We test every mobile phone we review thoroughly. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly and we use the phone as our main device over the review period. We’ll always tell you what we find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.