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Moto X (2014) deep-dive review: Android done right -- again

JR Raphael | Sept. 22, 2014
With a distinctive and customisable design, superb software and exceptional features, the new Moto X shows just how good an Android phone can be.

The main reason for the size increase, of course, is to allow for a larger screen. The new Moto X packs a 5.2-in. AMOLED display, which provides an impressive amount of screen real estate for a device of its class. For comparison, the Galaxy S5 has a 5.1-in. display while the HTC One (M8) has a 5-in. panel.

The new Moto X's 1080p, 423ppi display looks fantastic both indoors and out: Colors are bold and brilliant, images are crisp and text is easy to read. As is typical with AMOLED screens, contrast and saturation are especially high and blacks are satisfyingly deep, though whites are slightly less pure than what you'd see on a comparable LCD display.

An elevated design
The second-gen Moto X sports a new metal frame that separates the display from the back panel. That eliminates the awkward seam seen on the original model; it also makes for a more premium and sophisticated vibe. It's a welcome addition that goes a long way in elevating the phone's appearance.

Beyond that, the device's look and feel is largely up to you: With Motorola's online Moto Maker customization tool, you can create a Moto X with your choice of plastic backs, real wood backs or real leather backs (the latter two will add an extra $25 to the phone's cost). You can also pick a white or black front for the phone and select from 10 accent colors for the device's trim. That level of choice and customization is a clever option you won't find for any other smartphone.

I've had a chance to check out the new Moto X in all three of its available materials, and each configuration is appealing in its own way. The plastic backing is the same soft-touch material used on the original Moto X; it feels great and comes in a variety of color choices. The wood, meanwhile, is elegant, unique and just plain cool -- and it actually works better with this new design than it did with the original, thanks largely to the presence of the new metal frame.

The leather is perhaps the most unusual of the materials -- and to be clear, we're talking genuine leather here, not the tacky faux-leather plastic popularized by a certain other Android manufacturer. It's an interesting and distinctive texture to have on a phone, though I am a bit worried about how it'll wear over time; I can already see small scuffs and dings on the review unit I have in front of me.

With all of the materials, the new Moto X's back is gently sloped, making the phone feel thin and manageable. The trademark Motorola "dimple" is present on the upper part of the device's back, though it's far more pronounced and less a natural part of the design than it was on the first-gen model. Still, it's a distinguishing touch and makes for a nice place to rest your finger while using the phone.

 

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