Like LG's G3, the front-side of the Moto X is almost all screen with slim bezels in every direction. The earpiece and microphone share the same horizontal grill design, creating a nice balance between the top and bottom of the phone, with the front-facing camera on the top right being the only component that slightly offsets things. The symmetry continues to the backside, with a circular flash wrapped around the center-aligned camera, perfectly matching the concaved Motorola badge just below it.
Using Moto Maker, you can purchase a Moto X in a variety of color combinations and different materials for the rear case, including plastic and wood. Our review model features a black bezel, a dark frame, and a black leather casing that looked and felt good. Only time will tell how the real leather backing deals with scratches and scrapes over the years, but the phone remained pristine during my time with the device.
The screen has been updated both in terms of size and resolution, with the Moto X now equipped with a 5.2-inch 1080p display, up from last year's 4.7-inch 720p version. OLED technology is still being used, so you can expect the deepest blacks you can find, as well as Motorola's intuitive at-a-glance Moto Display feature. Colors generally looked great, viewing angles were never a problem, and the screen's pixel density of 423ppi kept jagged graphics away from sight.
If you've seen what Android is like on a Nexus device, then you'd be familiar with what comes with the Moto X. Nothing about the general UI has been altered, and Motorola's few software additions are more helpful than gimmicky. Moto Display (formerly known as Active Notifications) lets you see the time and preview notifications when glancing at the phone or waving your hand above it, and does so without using a lot of energy since the OLED technology only activates the pixels that are used instead of lighting up the entire screen. Moto Voice is an extension of Google's built-in voice controls, but you can now customize the greeting phrase and can utilize it even if the phone screen is off. Unlike Nexus devices, however, the Moto X can be littered with carrier bloatware, and our AT&T unit had at least half a dozen extra apps installed.
One particular area where the original Moto X lagged behind high-end alternatives was its camera, and while the 13-megapixel shooter is a welcome upgrade from its 10-megapixel predecessor, it still doesn't quite stack up to the competition. Photos are acceptable in properly-lit situations, but they lack the bright and bold colors of a G3 or iPhone 5S and the clarity and detail of the Samsung Galaxy S5. The Moto X also underperforms in low-light situations, often producing grainy and blurry photos.
- +Beautiful design.
- +Speedy performance.
- +Near-stock Android with useful tweaks.
- +Unrivaled hardware customization options.
- –Lackluster camera.
- –No removable battery or expandable storage.