Moto X (2013) review

Google and Moto almost made a truly standout Android phone

Motorola Moto X review
Arriving 6 months late from the States, can the Moto X make it in the UK?

TechRadar Verdict

With its swoopy, curvy looks, the Moto X has a thoughtful design both inside and out that is full of charm and power, backed up by great software that is let down only by its endurance and camera.


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    Great design and feel

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    Excellent performance

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    Near stock Android

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    Useful software enhancements


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    Poor battery life

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    Weak camera

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    No expandable storage

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    Slow charging

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Check out the new Moto X 2014 review for our take on the updated handset.

It was August of 2013 when Motorola released its first all-new phone under the stewardship of Google, and the Moto X caused quite a stir.

While the Nexus line of phones was always meant to be the showcase for Google's vision of the ultimate Android device, it felt like with Motorola it could show how influence rather than control would bring out the inner beauty of Android.

Five months on Motorolafinally gave the first progeny of its relationship with Google a wider release, so here it is on official UK release: the Moto X.

Without a doubt, one of the most widely discussed and generally lauded phones of the second half of 2013 has arrived, but how does it fare today in the ever-evolving smartphone market?

When it was first announced, there was an almost audible intake of breath as it became clear that Motorola was going to try and sell a phone with apparently mid-range specs at a high-end price.

However, this did something of a disservice to the overall aims Motorola had for the Moto X. It is not a device that cares about specs, it is all about the experience.

Motorola Moto X review

In the US, Motorola launched a novel concept called Moto Maker, which allows you to customise the look of your phone.

It is quite possible to get a white fronted, pink backed Moto X with blue buttons and a custom engraving too. Unfortunately, Moto Maker hasn't found its way to the UK - although it is tipped to arrive in March 2014.

This bold gamble does not appear to has paid dividends for Motorola with the Moto X, evidenced by its numerous price drops in the US.

Considering the track record, it's a little bit of a surprise that Motorola is bringing the Moto X in at a relatively high recommended retail price point of £389.

Considering the price of the better-specified and larger screened Nexus 5 is just £299, you have to wonder if this makes sense.

Motorola Moto X review

The pricing of the Moto X on contract puts it in a similar category to the HTC One Mini and Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini, not quite the lofty comparisons that Motorola would want us to be making.

Pricing is not the only issue for the Moto X: it simply does not have high-end specs any more. The beating heart of the phone is essentially a 1.7GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 Pro chipset backed by 2GB of RAM.

Compared to today's quad-core 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800 rival, this is a little lacking, and definitely puts it in the mid-range, at least on paper.

A 2200mAh battery is sealed inside the body and there is no microSD expansion so the standard 16GB model - what you get for the £389 recommended asking price – will have to do. Motorola has not said whether it will bring the 32GB model to the UK.

Motorola Moto X review

The basic layout of the Moto X is highly conventional, with a microUSB port at the bottom, power and volume rocker buttons on the right and a standard 3.5mm headphone jack up top.

Talking of those buttons, they are really well sited. Lots of phones have their buttons in terribly inaccessible positions or just out of natural reach. Motorola has got this right on the Moto X, and made buttons that are responsive to use.

What is less usual is the SIM tray on the left side of the phone which holds the rarely used nano-sized SIM.

Given that the only other mainstream phones using a nano SIM today are the iPhone 5S and 5C, that might give you a clue as to which type of user Motorola is targeting here.

Motorola Moto X

That's a nano-SIM slot, that is

In the UK the Motorola Moto X is currently available in the white I had to review and black. I prefer the Moto X in black though, as the white highlights the major flaw in the industrial design that Motorola has employed.

There is a visible seam round the sides of the Moto X and the white plastic used to frame the screen is of a different shade to the white back. The white bezels around the screen, which sit behind glass, are of a third shade, making the front look a little messy.

Overall though, this is a very well designed and constructed phone and definitely has a premium enough feel to justify its price - even if there are some concerns about what is on the inside.

The Moto X blends into the background quite nicely most of the time, and the screen takes up the vast majority of the front, which is a great achievement.