Google-owned Motorola Mobility recently released their flagship smartphone, the Moto X, generating quite a bit of buzz in the somewhat dormant tech industry. With no new big-name handsets due for release anytime soon (despite lively rumors about the iPhone 5s, S5, Note 3, Nexus 5, and more), the Moto X unveiling received perfect hype as Google’s own entry into the high-end end the smartphone market. And as is to be expected from the biggest tech name in the world, the Moto X has everyone talking, even days after the big reveal.
It was reviewed positively by most technology authorities, including CNET, Engadget, and TechCrunch, among others. But among all the praise, there are also those who think Google is just exaggerating its new product.
Moto X on paper
On paper, the Moto X isn’t all that great—its specs can barely keep up with the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One. Even the oft-criticised iPhone 5 (in terms of tech specs) looks more appealing on paper than this new Google offering. Consider this: quad-core processors are the industry standard for high-end phones, with the exception of the iPhone 5 and its dual-core A6 processor. This is a Apple processors in Apple products, so the integration is seamless and the performance is undoubtedly outstanding. The Moto X on the other hand, uses a 1.7 GHz Krait dual-core processor, with a custom-built Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro X8 chipset – a very wordy phrase that could be read as “for us, built by someone else.” We haven’t seen a fully functional Moto X yet, so we don’t know if its innards will actually stand up to the demands of real-world mobile computing.
Another aspect that seems to be lacking from the Moto X is its display. Yes, the screen is larger than the iPhone (the unofficial benchmark of mediocre screen size) at 4.7 inches. At 316 ppi, the resolution goes well beyond the standard 300 pixels per inch expected from a high-end smartphone. But that doesn’t make it spectacular: the iPhone 5, even with a 4-inch screen, has a pixel density of 326 ppi. The 4.7-inch HTC One and 5-inch Galaxy S4 have a pixel density of just over 400, at 469 and 441 respectively.
And last, but perhaps the most glaring concern with the Moto X specs, is the Android 4.2.2 Jellybean operating system. The Moto X could be considered Google’s pet project, but it sure is did not get the latest gems from the tech giant’s own mobile OS. The 4.2.2 update was available for devices last February 2013, so it’s not that old. But since then, significant improvements have been made to the Jellybean version of the green robot, and all of these are included in the recently released Jelly Bean version, 4.3. From a consumer perspective, this is a bit troubling because you’d be paying a premium for something you could have gotten for less. Yes, it’s a serviceable business and entertainment phone, but there’s nothing new we can expect from it. The Android and Moto X operating systems are both owned by Google, so it’s hard to understand why they would leave consumers unsatisfied.
Highlighting Useless Bullshit
Besides not going exactly all-out when it comes to specs (and consequently, performance), the Moto X lures consumers in with less important features they can’t afford to give up. The interchangeable color back covers and features curved glass panels on the edges can easily be mistaken for Nokia features—nothing new, but not particularly revolutionary. They managed to include such a feature, but failed to deliver aspects that are truly beneficial to consumers, such as having expandable memory. It may follow the guidelines of the HTC One, and the iPhone, but it’s very risky, considering it will be Motorola’s first foray into the high-end smartphone space.