Moto X review (1st Gen) - now just £225 with Android 5.0

With its fantastic screen, amazing battery life and premium build quality, the Moto X sets the benchmark for mid-range phones

Motorola Moto X
Expert Reviews Best Buy Logo
Our Rating 
5/5
Price when reviewed 
265
inc VAT

Specifications

Processor: Dual-core 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro, Screen Size: 4.7in, Screen resolution: 1,280x720, Rear camera: 10-megapixel, Storage: 16GB / 32GB, Wireless data: 3G, 4G Size: 129x65x10.4mm, Weight: 130g, Operating system: Android 4.4.2

When Motorola first launched the Moto G last year, it completely redefined what we should expect from a sub-£150 handset. With its excellent screen and powerful components, it put all other budget smartphones to shame, so we had high hopes that Motorola might be able to do the same thing again with the Moto X for a mid-range handset - and we weren't disappointed.

Even better, the Moto X will be getting Android Lollipop soon after it launches along with the rest of Motorola's Moto handsets, including the brand new Moto X. Don't let the new Moto X put you off the old Moto X, though, as the new Moto X is a lot more expensive than its predecessor, taking aim at other flagship models rather than cheaper mid-range ones. The old Moto X, meanwhile, is now available for just £225 SIM-free, making it one of the best value mid-range phones you can currently buy.

MOTO X DISPLAY

The Moto X immediately sets itself apart from other mid-range handsets thanks to its stunning 4.7in AMOLED screen. AMOLED panels are normally confined to top-of-the-range flagship phones, so we were very pleased to see one here. It may only have a resolution of 1,280x720, but text looked crisp and clear on both desktop-based and mobile websites, and we had no problem reading the headlines on the BBC News or Guardian sites when fully zoomed out.

We were equally impressed with the screen's image quality. Colours looked incredibly bright and punchy and blacks were truly black, matching the phone's glossy black bezel. Whites were pure and clean, too, making this by far one of the best looking screens we've seen on a handset of this price.

To really put the Moto X's screen through its paces, we measured its colour accuracy with our colour calibrator. This showed the screen was displaying 100 per cent of the sRGB colour gamut, which shows it has better colour accuracy than both the Samsung Galaxy S5 and HTC One (m8). Its contrast levels were also off the charts, returning an unprecedented score of "infinity:1", showing its contrast ratio was higher than we were able to measure with our calibrator. Blacks were also as deep as they could possibly be, as we saw a true-black score of 0.0cd/m2. With the Moto X, you can be sure you're getting one of the best mobile screens currently available.

Motorola Moto X

While the phone looks good, it's even better to use. The phone weighs just 130g, and its curved, soft touch, water-repellent chassis is supremely comfortable to hold. Despite measuring 10.4mm at its thickest point, the phone tapers to 5.7mm around the edges so it sits perfectly in your palm. The Moto X feels every bit like a premium piece of kit.

MOTO X PERFORMANCE

The Moto X is powered by a 1.7GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, and handled Android 4.4 KitKat beautifully. We saw no signs of hesitation at all when swiping between home screens and web browsing was incredibly smooth and slick. It was also able to zoom in and out of large picture-based pages effortlessly, so we were a little surprised when its SunSpider JavaScript score came back as 1,089ms when using the Chrome browser.

This is by no means bad, but it was slower than we were expecting considering its subjective web browsing performance. The Dolphin browser was even slower, completing the test in 1,254ms. With scores like this, this means the phone's roughly on the same level as the Sony Xperia SP, but we think the Moto X feels measurably quicker and more responsive in everyday use.

More impressive was the Moto X's quad-core Adreno 320 graphics processor. This is the same GPU that powers the cheaper Sony Xperia SP, but the Moto X was a fraction faster in our graphics benchmarks. It produced an impressive score of 10,758 in Ice Storm Unlimited. This is impressive for a mid-range handset and means the Moto X will be more than capable of handling any app currently available in the Google Play Store.

MOTO X BATTERY LIFE

You don’t need to worry too much about draining the Moto X's large 2,200mAh battery, either, as it lasted a fantastic 12 hours and 30 minutes in our continuous video playback test with the screen set to half brightness. This is great for a phone of this price and it's over two hours longer than the Xperia SP under the same conditions, so you should be able to keep using the X all day without a top-up.

With 16GB of internal storage available, there's plenty of room for your apps and media files. Users also get 50GB of free Google Drive storage for two years, which is handy for sharing photos and video files with family and friends via the Cloud.

MOTO X CAMERA

The Moto X continues to distance itself from the rest of the competition with its 10-megapixel camera. In our outdoor tests, colours were bright and accurate, and we saw very little noise present in larger expanses of colour.

Motorola Moto X

The sky was a little overexposed in our outdoor test shots, but unlike other smartphone cameras in this price range, we were pleased to see the Moto X managed to capture some cloud detail rather than a mess of white. The camera has no physical shutter button, but we did like that we could open the camera app simply with a wrist twist gesture instead of having to open the app tray or hit the home button.

^ The Moto X's HDR mode really helped to brighten up our images, but it still struggled to expose the sky correctly

^ Without HDR, photos were a little dark, but there was plenty of detail present and hardly any noise

MOTO X APPS

That isn’t the Moto X's only trick, either. The Motorola Assist app, for instance, is by far one of the most useful and truly smart preloaded apps we've seen in recent months, as it can affect the behaviour of your phone at different times of the day. For example, it can automatically put the phone in silent mode at night, but still ring if a contact you specify calls or if someone calls you twice within five minutes.

You can also use the app in the car, either for reading out text messages, letting you know who's calling, or for playing music over Bluetooth when you start driving. It can check your calendar for meetings, too, and automatically set the phone to silent so it doesn't disturb you. You can even send an auto-reply text to any calls you miss, letting the caller know you're busy.

We were big fans of the Moto X's Active Display, too. This shows certain pieces of information on the phone's screen when it's off or locked, such as the time, email alerts and app updates. It won't waste the battery either, as Active Display automatically disables itself when the phone is in your bag or pocket, when it's face down, or when you're taking a call. You can also set Active Display to turn off at night or a period of time of your own choosing. All you need to do to turn the Active Display on again is pick up the phone.

MOTO X CONCLUSION

The Motorola Moto X is in direct competition with the Nexus 5 and Sony Xperia SP, but we much prefer the Moto X's AMOLED screen, longer battery life and useful, innovative apps. The new Moto X may be a better handset overall, but it's also targeting an entirely different type of price bracket, meaning the old Moto X is still one of the best smartphones you can buy for under £250. At £225 SIM free at time of writing, it's fantastic value and so rightly wins a Best Buy award.

Hardware
Processor Dual-core 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro
RAM 2GB
Screen size 4.7in
Screen resolution 1,280x720
Screen type AMOLED
Front camera 2-megapixel
Rear camera 10-megapixel
Flash LED
GPS Yes
Compass Yes
Storage 16GB / 32GB
Memory card slot (supplied) None
Wi-Fi 802.11ac
Bluetooth Bluetooth 4.0
NFC No
Wireless data 3G, 4G
Size 129x65x10.4mm
Weight 130g
Features
Operating system Android 4.4.2
Battery size 2,200mAh
Buying information
Warranty One-year RTB
Price SIM-free (inc VAT) £225
Price on contract (inc VAT) N/A
Prepay price (inc VAT) N/A
SIM-free supplier www.expansys.com
Contract/prepay supplier N/A
Details www.motorola.co.uk
Part code Moto X

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