Top critical review
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Nice, contemporary Android
on 22 February 2014
Until recently, Motorola was owned by Google (and now Lenovo), and it shows in the Moto X and G devices designed and built under those auspices. The -G model is a chunkier, slower, and non-4G version of the X, but I've been able to compare the -X with the -G and a Nexus 5 directly. The 4.7" Moto X is notably smaller, lighter and slimmer in the hand than the Nexus 5, and visibly slimmer and lighter than the Moto G. The -G and the -X both share a rather rattly-sounding and -feeling vibrate function, and the speakers on the -X are nice and loud. The -X has a slight top-to-bottom curvature and fits easily in the hand, with a grippy, slightly rubberised faux-carbon fibre effect on the back. The screen runs almost the full width of the device (i.e. very small bezels on the sides), and upon first powering it up, is beautifully sharp, clear, and non-smeary when animated. The screen is a 720p, 1280x720 type. As of February 2014, this has KitKat 4.4.2 installed out of the box.
Inside, it's very close to bare-bones stock Android, but a little friendlier with some useful tools and guides installed that would be welcome on Google's Nexus devices - you get a migration tool for your old phone, some tool-tips on first use, and some useful utility apps like do-not-disturb and driving mode settings. Also, lacking a notification light, the -X uses its screen instead, pulsing notifications there. Google Now voice recognition is built in, but little else, and you'll either use it or not. Much like its' bigger LG Nexus 5 brother, you'll want to hit the app store for stuff like a decent SMS app to replace the "Hangouts" function; I use Textra. I've had trouble with Hangouts in the past; you can't force Hangouts to send an SMS as an option, and sometimes it'll send Google+/Google Chat IM instead, which is useless because no-one actually uses Google + anyway - when I want to send a text, I want to send a text, and I'd very much prefer it was neither obfuscated nor decided for me by an app. You also don't get useful stuff bundled like a decent calendar app with stock Android, or a decent MP3 player (Google Play Music is pretty horrible in this regard, as it'll pretty much only play music after you've gone through the storefront first.).
In general use, the dual-core CPU inside never feels sluggish, and it's all very seamless in use, albeit noticeably slower than the quad-core Snapdragon in the Nexus 5. The Moto X features a custom system-on-a-chip called the X8, which apparently has advanced power-saving built-in, but as with other Androids, you're not going to get more than a useful 24 hours of mixed stand-by and actual use out of 99% of smartphones anyway; it's a charge-daily device like all the others.
For around three hundred quid, however....you don't get a charger inside the box. This is stingy. You don't get headphones either, which is a little on the cheap side - you get a USB cable, but nothing to plug it into except the phone. Considering some people sell their phones and chargers to fund an upgrade, this is a bit curious. It's also worth considering that for about another forty quid, you could head to Google themselves and get a flagship 32GB, genuine-Nexus device instead....(with a charger included !). The usual caveats about non-removable storage apply as well, but you do get 50GB of Google Drive storage included for free in the box when you first register your Google Account with the phone. You also can't replace the battery on the Moto X either, identical to the Nexus 5 - the back simply doesn't come off, and the SIM is inserted in a small tray on the side. Concomitantly, this means you'll need to take care of the included SIM-tray removal tool inside the box, or at least, have a sewing needle to handle if you ever want to remove the SIM.
In all, this is a nice phone, but the price disparity with the 32GB Nexus 5 makes it hard to recommend unless the slimmer size of the Moto X is an absolutely make-or-break feature for you. As an edit to this review, some shopping around will also get you a 16GB Nexus 5 (same as the Moto X's 16GB) for considerably less than the Moto X itself; I have the feeling the people downvoting this review don't care for the harsh truth here - nice though it is, the Moto X is pretty severely overpriced. 6 months from now, if it's still available after Motorola's recent acquisition, it'll be a different matter, but as-is right now, since it's not an actual Nexus device, you've no guarantee of getting Android updates (at all, really), nor to the latest versions despite the Moto X being (for now) very-up-to-date.
EDIT : Rather disturbingly, the Moto X I received wasn't carrier unlocked despite there being no branding on the box and the full-price RRP tag here, and I'm now wrangling with Motorola's tech support to get an unlock code. While it works as an internet device on wifi, inserting a T-Mobile nano-SIM into it had it pop up a message requesting an unlock code. Slightly more disturbingly, Amazon's Vine support team wasn't interested in doing anything about it either. I got a perfunctory "it's yours now, no need to return it (?!?!)" message from them. I've knocked off another star for that.
EDIT AGAIN : continuing to have a very bad experience with this item. Having gotten an unlock code from Motorola - whose tech support has been excellent, BTW - the phone now seems to have a hardware problem. Some googling reveals that this is a known issue with this model - specifically a very low microphone level which makes it hard for call recipients to hear you when making calls. Motorola have offered a warranty repair, however, without too much quibbling.
Edit the third : Price is currently listed as two-hundred and fifty-eight quid, which is a lot more like it for this item. It was originally a little over three hundred, and consequently poor value for money (June 7th).