With its fantastic screen, amazing battery life and premium build quality, the Moto X sets the benchmark for mid-range phones
Processor: Dual-core 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro, Screen Size: 4.7in, Screen resolution: 1,280×720, Rear camera: 10-megapixel, Storage: 16GB / 32GB, Wireless data: 3G, 4G Size: 129x65x10.4mm, Weight: 130g, Operating system: Android 4.4.2
When Motorola launched its first Moto X back in 2013, it completely redefined what we should expect from a £250 mid-range handset. While not as fast as the Nexus 5, the Moto X’s 4.7in AMOLED screen looked great and its snappy internals gave it plenty of speed. This was then replaced by the 2nd Gen Moto X last year, which added full flagship credentials to Motorola’s top-end handset so it could compete with the Samsung Galaxy S5 and HTC One M8.
While we haven’t seen a third generation Moto X emerge from Motorola just yet, the original is by no means out of date, as it’s still on sale for just £200 SIM-free, and it’s just received an OTA update to Android 5.1, bringing it firmly up to date with today’s current crop of mid-range rivals.
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 1,280×720, 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. As we’d expect from an AMOLED display, colours look incredibly bright and punchy thanks to its complete 100% coverage of the sRGB colour gamut, and its perfect black levels of 0.00cd/m2 mean blacks are truly black, so much so that they match the phone’s glossy black bezel. Whites were pure and clean and the screen’s peak brightness of 317.02cd/m2 is still perfectly practical for outdoor use as well. It’s easily as good as the Samsung Galaxy A3‘s screen, which also uses an AMOLED panel, but the Moto X has the added advantage of a higher resolution, making this by far one of the best looking screens we’ve seen on a handset of this price.
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, making the Moto X feel every bit like a premium piece of kit.
MOTO X PERFORMANCE
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.
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
At £200, the Motorola Moto X is now in direct competition with the Samsung Galaxy A3 and Sony Xperia M4 Aqua, but we still prefer the Moto X’s AMOLED screen, longer battery life and useful, innovative apps. The 2nd Gen 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 £200. It’s fantastic value and so rightly wins a Best Buy award.
|Dual-core 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro
|16GB / 32GB
|Memory card slot (supplied)
|Price SIM-free (inc VAT)
|Price on contract (inc VAT)
|Prepay price (inc VAT)