The Moto X is a whole lot of first. It's the first flagship device Motorola has produced since it was snapped up by Google. It's the first Jelly Bean Android flagship with LTE that's under five inches. It's the first mass produced phone that lets you customize its look to a ridiculous degree. It's also the first stock Android phone with LTE - unless you count the now discontinued HTC First, which is pretty ironic.
The answer is yes, if Motorola and Google can get the word out on how great and simple to use this phone is. And people can forgive the camera.
This is one of the best constructed phones around. It's dense and solid but not too heavy, a lot like an iPhone 5 or an HTC One. Unlike those metal bodied phones however, it's polycarbonate (read: plastic. Good feeling plastic) body stands up to scrapes and drops with getting mauled.
It stand ups to wear and tear. We've seen iPhones and Ones that look like they'd been run over with a lawnmower simply because they didn't have a case. That won't be an issue with the Moto X, which spent a week in our pockets, bags and even took a drop or two (oops, butterfingers) without taking on as much as a nick.
You can easily use it with one hand. Unlike a Galaxy S4. And the buttons are in a spot that's easy to reach. Unlike the HTC One. And it can be carried in a tight jean pocket without the feeling of denim that's about to burst, unlike either of those phones.
The battery actually lasts all day. We've torn through the charge on an S4, a One and an iPhone 5 by five o'clock, and while we hate that, we'd never carry a ridiculously large phablet just for its ridiculously large battery. It is still possible to drain a Moto X before the day is out, but you'd have to try. Like, stream a few movies on Neftlix try. With moderate to slightly heavy day-to-day use, you'll never need to charge the Moto X before the day is out.
There's a promise of customization. While we haven't gotten to use the Motomaker (we will soon, update incoming), the idea of being able to add to color and unique personality to our phone, with out spending 20 bucks on a case that bulks up the device, it absolutely something we want.
Some of Motorola's apps need work. The voice recognition needs you to parrot yourself exactly, and Motorola Connect is well below the standard set by Apple's iMessage.
Despite lower wattage specs, it performs just fine. Yes it's a dual core, but it also has 2GB of RAM and the difference between it and a quad-core Galaxy S4 is negligible in day-to-day use. We only noticed it when loading up a game like Riptide GP 2.
It has several great features you won't find on any other Android phone. We're talking about opening the camera with a gesture, hands-free voice recognition, the iMessage imitating MotoConnect, the unique notifications and Motorola Assist. These features are unique enough and strong enough to make the Moto X worth the purchase.
The camera sucks. It's capable of taking a good picture, but more often than not it doesn't. It's terribly erratic when it comes to judging exposure, and most of pictures are plagued with color noise. That's really disappointing, because the we love the camera opening gesture. The failings of the camera are the Moto X's biggest flaw, and the main reason it has four stars, not four and a half.
While acceptable, the screen pales in comparison to that of the HTC One. It's not insulting to the eyes, but it's a noticeable downgrade.
On paper, you're getting less internals for your money. After day-to-day testing, it feels like a moot point, because we could hardly tell the difference between an S4 and the Moto X's performance except during intense gaming tasks, but if you're looking for future proofing, you might be more comfortable signing up for two years with a quad-core rather than a dual.
There's no microSD. This is mainly for the Samsung fans who love their SD cards, but having to pony up $250 to get 32GB of storage probably won't sit well with them. It has allowed Motorola to build an extremely solid and pretty thin device, whereas the S4 feels hollow, so the choice is yours.
The OS, or whatever else, takes up 5GB. That means your getting 11GB of useable space on a 16GB phone, one that does not have microSD. Like we said in our new Nexus 7 review, companies really need to start advertising the formatted space on a device.
It's Android 4.2.2, not Android 4.3. They're both Jelly Bean, we just find it weird that Motorola, a Google company, couldn't launch a phone with the latest version of Google's OS. Even though 4.3 hardly adds much, no one likes waiting on carrier updates.
The Moto X is a good, good phone. In fact it's a great phone. Is it one of the best Android phones out there? Well that depends. Yes, if you value a reasonable size and useful services over raw power, a massive HD screen and microSD support.
It's odd to call a phone with a battery that makes it through the day and a size a human hand can actually manipulate a niche device, but we're not sure if it's what Android users want. It's certainly what we want, in fact we're considering a purchase.
It could also be what incoming iPhone expatriates want too. We've heard complaints about the iPhone 5's battery life, and if they find an S4 too big, a One too fragile, this could be a very happy medium.
If only the camera were better and Motorola's apps were a little sharper, we'd give it a no holds barred recommendation. As it is now, the Moto X deserves to be in the conversation when discussing the best Android has to offer, but a few key flaws keep it from being called an excellent phone.
It is a great phone though, one we'd be happy to champion. We just can't, in good faith, give it any higher than four stars.