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Moto X review (2nd Gen 2014) - Android 5.0 update due

Katharine Byrne
17 Oct 2014
Expert Reviews Best Buy Logo
Moto X 2nd Gen Moto Maker header
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
420
inc VAT SIM-free

Page 1 of 2Moto X review (2nd Gen 2014) - Android 5.0 update due

With its beautiful screen, clever apps and range-topping performance, the gorgeous new Moto X is the best phone Motorola's ever made

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Specifications

Processor: Quad-core 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, Screen Size: 5.2in, Screen resolution: 1,920x1,080, Rear camera: 13-megapixel, Storage: 16GB / 32GB, Wireless data: 3G, 4G, Size: 141x72.4x9.9mm, Weight: 144g, Operating system: Android 4.4.4

It has only been eight months since Motorola launched the first Moto X in the UK, but its successor (also called the Moto X) is anything but an incremental upgrade. Whereas the old Moto X was an excellent mid-range phone, sitting just below the Google Nexus 5 in terms of price and specification, the new Moto X is a fully-fledged flagship handset with the sort of hardware and innovative features to give the Samsung Galaxy S5, Sony Xperia Z3 and even the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus a real run for their money - especially since it's guaranteed an upgrade to Android Lollipop soon after it launches.

Read about all the latest details and features in Android 5.0 Lollipop

While its predecessor was merely decent-looking, the new Moto X is a beautifully-made handset. The phone's metal frame makes up its slender, tapered edges; while the soft-touch rear curves outwards so it fits perfectly in your palm. At 9.9mm at its thickest point it's not slim on paper, but the overall effect is remarkable yet understated. We're big fans of the phone's smaller details as well, such as the ribbed power button and the circular flash that loops round the main camera.

New Moto X Moto Maker rear panels

You can customise the appearance of the new Moto X too (a feature only available in the US previously), as Motorola's Moto Maker service is finally available in the UK. This makes the phone a little more expensive, but the sheer range of options available, including genunine wood or leather back panels, makes a very refreshing change from the usual swathe of plain blacks and whites available on other handsets. Moto Maker also lets you increase the phone's storage from the standard 16GB to 32GB as there's no microSD card support.

MOTO X DISPLAY

The screen is one of the best we've seen from a flagship handset. It's kept the original Moto X's beautiful AMOLED display, but the screen has now swelled to a sizeable 5.2in and has a wonderfully crisp Full HD 1,920x1,080 resolution. This gives the new Moto X a pixel density of 423ppi (pixels-per-inch), putting it comfortably in front of both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in terms of overall picture clarity and just behind the Galaxy S5.

Motorola Moto X New face on

As we'd expect from an AMOLED display, the Moto X's colour accuracy was superb. It covered the full 100 per cent of the sRGB colour gamut and its blacks were a perfect 0.00cd/m2, meaning you won't get any light leakage even when the phone's set to its maximum brightness setting. Admittedly, its peak white level of 292.18cd/m2 isn't hugely bright, at least not compared to the Xperia Z3's massive brightness of 592.19cd/m2, but we found the screen was still perfectly legible both inside and out. Its superb contrast levels, which were so high our colour calibrator couldn't give us an accurate reading, also means the screen can be clearly seen at all times regardless of viewing angle.

MOTO X BATTERY LIFE

AMOLED consumes less power than LCD, allowing you to make the most of the Moto X's battery life. In our continuous video playback test, the Moto X's 2,300mAh battery lasted 12 hours and 47 minutes with the screen set to half brightness, so you should definitely be able to get through a whole working day on a single charge even under heavy use.

Admittedly, it can't compete with the 20 hours we saw on the Xperia Z3 Compact, but Motorola's included several features to help stretch the battery further during everyday use. For instance, the new Attentive Display option makes the Moto X go to sleep faster when you're not looking at the screen.

An AMOLED panel also goes hand-in-hand with the Moto X's improved Moto Display. This shows the time and up to three notification buttons such as email and social media alerts when the screen is off or locked, allowing you to see new interactions at a glance without turning your phone on. It only activates when you reach for the phone or pick it up (and will automatically disable itself when it's in your bag or pocket, face down or when you're taking a call), and the AMOLED screen means it only consumes a tiny amount of power to illuminate these handful of pixels.

The Moto Display notifications save time, too, as tapping the icon and swiping upwards will take you straight to the respective app once the phone is unlocked. This was something we saw on the original Moto X, but now you can also dismiss those notifications by swiping to the side of the screen. The only problem is that dismissing one dismisses them all, and we think it would have been much more useful if you could choose which notifications you wanted to ignore before tending to the ones you actually wanted to respond to. This is a little disappointing, but that doesn't stop it from being one of our favourite Moto X features.

MOTO X PERFORMANCE 

Like its previous handsets, Motorola has gone with pure Android 4.4.4 for the new Moto X, and an upgrade to Android Lollipop will be available once it's released. Icons were lovely and large on the app tray, and swiping through menus felt very smooth and responsive thanks to the phone's quad-core 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor.

Web browsing was quick, too, and its score of 805ms in our SunSpider JavaScript test in Chrome puts it just ahead of the Sony Xperia Z3 and LG G3. It may not be as fast as the Galaxy S5's score of 391ms in Samsung's proprietary browser, but in practice we barely noticed the difference. The Moto X took image-heavy pages in its stride, loading up The Guardian's desktop home page almost instantly without any signs of judder as we scrolled up and down the page.

The Moto X's graphics performance was even more impressive. Not only did it max out our 3DMark Ice Storm and Ice Storm Extreme tests, but its score of 19,408 (or 79.2fps) in Ice Storm Unlimited is one of the highest we've ever seen and is second only to the HTC One (m8). We were also pleased with its score of 56.6fps in Epic Citadel on Ultra High quality settings, so it should be more than capable of playing games at the highest quality settings and the best frame rates.

Page 1 of 2Moto X review (2nd Gen 2014) - Android 5.0 update due

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