The new Moto X is a highly covetable phone—and I don’t say that lightly. The first generation of Moto X, released in 2013, was an impressive device but as an Android loyalist who nonetheless runs through smartphones fairly quickly, it’s been a couple of years since I’ve used a smartphone and immediately raved about it to family and friends.
In the case of the Moto X, looks make a big difference. With a gorgeous 1080p 5.2-inch AMOLED display, the new Moto X is slightly larger than its predecessor (the original was 4.7), but it’s far from bulky, even with a metal frame—and it looks far sleeker.
Users can customize the color and design accents of their Moto X through the online Moto Maker tool. While last year’s wood backed option was a newly added premium, for this year leather’s been added to the mix. After holding the newly leather backing option, I can say that it looks and feels like a far pricier, more luxe device. The bigger issue is how the leather stands up to prolonged daily use, which remains to be seen.
And while looks are great, the Moto X’s software features are the real stars of this show. The phone runs Android 4.4. KitKat out of the box and an Android L upgrade is scheduled for later in the year. I was impressed with the improved voice control functionality, which I test it out while rushing from one event to the next in a cab. I managed to look up directions, make a phone call, and later, post to Facebook without touching my phone—and in lightning-fast time. Not to mention, the front facing speakers on the phone made the directions easy for my cab driver to hear over a lot of traffic noise.
Adding to the customization features, users can program the phone to respond to any name of your choosing (if you’re into that.) At a recent press event, Motorola revealed that a few of employees named their phones “Jarvis,” a la Tony Stark. I stuck with Google, because I’m uncreative, I guess.
Other Moto X features include Moto Migrate, which migrates a user’s contacts and media from their other smartphones) and the impressive Moto Assist, which can be programmed to go dark overnight as you sleep, play music on command, or silence your calls and notifications when you’re busy. Unfortunately, the test version of the Moto X didn’t come with the much-touted Moto Hint, a Bluetooth earpiece device that enhances the voice control functionality.
2014’s Moto X sports a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera with a f/2.25 lens and also supports 4K video recording. The pictures I took were fairly crisp and detailed without having to do much adjustment, but I wasn’t able to fully test out the camera’s Best Shot functionality, which analyzes photos for blurriness, eye blinks, etc.
The smartphone will run at $499 and $99 on contract and will be available later this month. Good looking, customizable, and surprisingly affordable considering its impressive look and features, Moto X is an impressive step up for Motorola’s flagship device.