Yesterday, my gorgeous, custom-designed Moto X Pure Edition arrived, and I spent much of yesterday afternoon installing and configuring apps and otherwise moving to the new smart phone. We’ll see how it holds up long-term, but my initial impressions are very positive.
It starts, of course, with Moto Maker, Motorola’s online configurator. Here, you can customize the storage, frame and front and accent colors, and, perhaps, most crucially, the back, which can be real wood or leather, each in a variety of choices, or one of several soft grip colors. You can even customize an engraving—which I don’t recommend, if only for resale purposes—and a custom onscreen greeting.
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I spent a lot of time fussing over this, as I think anyone would. What I ended up selecting was a white and silver frame with a bamboo wood back and metallic silver accent and no engraving. With 32 GB of storage—there are 16 and 64 GB options too—this handsome phone would set you back $475.
Moto does a nice job of keeping you abreast of the build process, and the phone actually arrived four days ahead of schedule. From China, no less.
The packaging is nice enough to give Apple a run for its money, though I think Apple might have trimmed the box size down by about half. Inside, you find the phone, some documentation, a clear bumper, a quick-charge charger (but no standalone USB cable), and the nicest SIM tool I’ve ever seen.
The build quality is mostly as good as I’d expected, and the bamboo wood back is superb and feels great in my hand. The silver accent around the edges—it gets a bit bulbous towards the top—is allegedly aluminum, but it looks and feels a bit plastic to me. There is a finger-sized depression on the back under the camera that naturally attracts a finger, but I keep thinking I’m touching the camera. I’ll get over that.
When you turn on the Moto X, you’re treated to a very clean Android 5.1 install, as promised.
After initial configuration, I started installing and configuring apps, plus updating all the built-in apps using Play Store. This took a while, as you might expect, though both Android and Moto offer migration tools to make this easier for those coming from another phone. (I prefer the clean install approach.)
Over time, I eventually arrived at a reasonable approximation of my Windows Phone Start screen, tailored for Android, with just the MSN Weather app used as a widget (for at-a-glance weather, of course).
I haven’t fully explored the handful of Moto apps that build on top of the core Android experience, but I will do so for the review. In short, Motorola provides its own camera app (which for now looks better than Google Camera), Connect (sort of like Device Hub in Windows Phone), Migrate (for copying content from your old phone to Moto X), and Moto, a sort of Siri/Cortana voice control app that also provides motion gesture support, glance notifications, and more. That last one will require a bit of time to configure and master, but long story short, this is a very clean Android install, and the Moto stuff looks nicely designed and additive (e.g. isn’t crap).
From a specs perspective, the Moto X is mostly very impressive. It features a 1.8 GHz hexa-core Snapdragon 808 processor, 3 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage (in the review unit, with microSD expansion), a gorgeous 5.7-inch Quad HD (2560 x 1440) IPS display, and a 21-megapixel main camera. It ships unlocked and works with every major carrier, and I immediately obtained LTE speeds using my AT&T SIM, something I’d not seen in a while due to my use of various international Windows phones.
Looking at the Moto X Pure Edition as a flagship alternative, I see some things I really like—the gorgeous screen, excellent core specs and performance, NFC, fast charging, and the stereo speakers. But I also see some missing features. There’s no fingerprint reader, which seems like an odd omission in late 2015. It doesn’t support wireless charging. And while it’s possible you can enable this somewhere in Android’s labyrinth-like Settings interface, there’s no double-tap to wake.
I’ll be using this as my main phone going forward and will report back as required, and certainly will at the least provide a full review. When it arrives, I’ll be pairing the new Moto 360 smart watch as well.
More soon. But so far I like what I see here quite a bit. And while I’m still coming around to Android, things have certainly improved on the OS front, and Android offers a reasonable alternative to iOS both from an app perspective and app/content quality perspective.