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?

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There were some thoughts that the first Motorola phone produced in conjunction with Google would go on to become a Nexus device. While it is not a Nexus in name, in many ways it is like a Nexus device.

Motorola Moto X

Here in the UK, the Moto X arrives with Android 4.4.2 and, beyond the exclusive Nexus 5 launcher, it looks identical - at least at first.

The status bar has the same white icons but is also the first place where something different – and slightly annoying – is found.

Your mobile network's identifier is shown top left of the screen all the time, taking up some of the space normally available for notifications.

Being a stock device, the monochrome Android theme is ever-present, and the gentle gradients that can be found in screens such as the settings are there as well. Unfortunately the screen on the Moto X can display a little banding spoiling the effect very slightly when compared with a Nexus 5.

The standard back, home and task switch buttons are exactly where you would expect at the bottom of the screen and the immersive mode introduced in KitKat works just as well here to remove those buttons when an app is setup to do so.

On the home screen, the attractive color fades from the top and bottom of the display really frame the interface nicely and make Android appear much classier.

Motorola Moto X

As the new launcher introduced with the Nexus 5 is not part of the Android 4.4.2 build on the Moto X, the older app drawer is present with its second tab for widgets.

Google Now is available by swiping up from the home button just as you would expect and the task switching screen is the standard Android affair. The quick settings introduced in Android 4.2 are of course present on the Moto X in their usual place on the flip side of the notification drawer.

Motorola has added a number of items to the settings, each reflecting one of the additions that you will find on the Moto X.

There are settings for the aforementioned Touchless Control and Active Display but also for Motorola Connect, which is a service that connects to a Chrome desktop browser plugin and allows you to receive notifications and send text messages. This is a useful addition, but there are other apps in the Play Store that do the same thing.

Inside the security settings, there is a particularly interesting feature, trusted Bluetooth devices. In essence, if you pair a Bluetooth device with the Moto X and then choose to secure your phone with a PIN or a pattern lock, whenever the chosen Bluetooth device is in range, your phone remains unlocked. Move out of range, and it is secured once more.

Motorola Moto X

Motorola has also included a lost phone feature, something that Google has been doing for a while now with Android Device Manager. I don't understand why Motorola felt the need to duplicate this feature, but thankfully it is the only feature that is a duplicate on top of stock Android and is simple to turn off.

It is well worth make sure you are using one or other of these lost phone security features, just in case!

The performance of the Moto X is stunning. In Geekbench 3, it scored 681 on the single core test and 1281 in the multi-core, but that only tells part of the story.

Motorola has done a fantastic job optimizing the software on the Moto X to make it lag free, fast and a complete pleasure to use. Apps open immediately and multi-tasking is a pleasure, no doubt helped by the 2GB of RAM on board.

When developing the Moto X, a premium was clearly placed on performance and having particularly fast storage helps it. Motorola was the first Android manufacturer to use a new file system optimised for the type of activity typically found on a smartphone. This has paid off, the Moto X's performance is great.