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Moto X deep dive review: Hype aside, it's a really good phone

Barbara Krasnoff | Aug. 12, 2013
The Moto X Android smartphone may not be as groundbreaking as expected, but it offers consumers a great mobile experience.

So what does the Moto X bring to the table that offsets the Droid Ultra's larger display? And, for that matter, how does Motorola/Google plan to complete with phones such as the HTC One or the Galaxy S4, with their 1080p displays?

Look and feel
To begin with, style. The Moto X has been specifically designed as a consumer-focused smartphone, and company representatives emphasize the device's look and ease-of-use features.

According to company reps at the press introduction, the Moto X has been purposefully made smaller in order to be more comfortable to hold and use. This is in contrast to what seems to be a general trend toward larger screens; as this was being written, rumors were spreading that Samsung was about to introduce a smartphone with a 6.3-in. display.

And the phone is very comfortable, although I'm not sure how much the rounded back has to do with that, since I tend to hold my phones by the edges. The case is made of a composite material with the feel of soft plastic, but I didn't get the impression that it was at all flimsy or fragile.

The general slimness of the phone is emphasized by the fact that the bezel around the 4.7-in. display is narrow and takes up as little space as possible. Motorola accomplishes this by not adding the capacitive hardware buttons that so many smartphones come with (unnecessarily, since current versions of Android come with onscreen versions of those buttons). In addition, the Moto X doesn't include any type of LED to signal new emails, messages or voicemails, something that the Active Display (more on that in a moment) makes moot.

Besides the front-facing and rear-facing cameras, there is the usual micro USB port on the bottom for power and a hardwire connection, and an audio port on the top. Both the power button and the volume rocker are on the right edge, an arrangement I've never been that fond of, since I occasionally hit the power button when I'm trying to increase the volume.

There are also three microphones for noise reduction. I have to say that, as far as simple calling is concerned, I thought the Moto X worked extremely well. I made and received calls in some fairly noisy conditions, and at no time did any of my callers complain of any problem in hearing me (nor did I feel the need to raise my voice). I also found the sound at my end to be very clear.

There is also a speaker on the back; because of the curve of the phone, the speaker is not muffled when the Moto X is face up on a surface. I found the sound quality to be quite adequate -- more so than with most of today's smartphones.


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