Quick Hit: Moto X a solid smartphone choice for Android fans

Tori Floyd

It’s a big job, being the first device out of a new partnership. Over a year since Google acquired Motorola, and the Moto X is the first product to be unveiled as the fruits of that union. And that means everyone is asking one thing about the Moto X: does it live up to those expectations?

I had the chance to use the Moto X for several days recently, and overall, I have to say that yes, it does live up to the hype.

Physically, the phone is heavier than I expected based on its look, but I personally prefer a slightly heavier device (so I’m not constantly checking my pockets out of fear that I’ve lost it). It comes in at 130 grams, which is slightly heavier than the iPhone 5 (112 g) and the same as the Samsung Galaxy S4. In fact, it has a similar overall feel to the Galaxy S4, with its rounded corners and a screen that feels comfortably large for a phone. The curved back on the Moto X feels nice to hold and fits most hand sizes; the only overall complaint I have about the form is the back – it looks textured, but still feels like it may slip out of my hand if I’m not careful.

[ Related: Moto X is here in Canada: What you need to know about this feature-packed smartphone ]

The biggest selling point being pushed for the Moto X is its myriad features: activating the camera with the shake of a hand, voice commands without needing to touch the phone first, etc. We did a full rundown of those features in an earlier post so you can read about them there, but I can tell you that they did work well, and I soon came to appreciate the convenience of both the Quick Camera, especially while at a recent convention here in Toronto. Compared to my usual iPhone, I found I was in camera mode much faster, and able to take photos quicker by clicking anywhere on the screen. The digital zoom is still no replacement for an optical zoom, but I’d say it’s on par with the zoom features on other popular smartphones.

I also spent some time testing out the Moto X’s voice command feature, Google Now. Overall, I found it understood what I was saying with relative ease, and came up with the answers I was looking for. I don't know if I would buy a phone specifically for this feature, but being able to give commands to my phone without touching it was very useful. For those who are wondering, I did indeed do some baking, and as I hoped, it was useful for providing me with conversions when I was covered in flour.

As for two of the other features outlined in our earlier article, Motorola Assist, which detects when you’re in a vehicle and switches to hands-free mode (or to other pre-set modes in other situations), and Motorola Connect, which allows for you to check your incoming calls and messages remotely, I didn’t end up getting to test these features because neither was necessary in the time I spent with the phone. As with any feature-heavy phone, there are bound to be features included that you won’t be making use of. That’s the potential downfall of any phone where features seem to be the priority; if all the effort went into the features, there’s little room for making a phone that just works.

Thankfully, even with its plethora of features, the phone still does all the things I’d want my smartphone to do. The Active Display, which shows at a glance whether you’ve got a tweet, text, or email message to check, simplified staying in touch and was a feature I came to miss once I had to return the phone. And yes, it makes phone calls. Call quality is good, and I didn’t experience any signal dropping while using the phone.

I’m still disappointed that the Moto Maker capabilities available with AT&T in the U.S. are still but a dream here in Canada, but having only two options for your phone’s colour shouldn’t be the deal breaker here. I mean, you can always get a case, right? With Motorola shipping out 100,000 of the customized Moto X smartphones from its plant each week in Texas, there’s also the possibility that Google will recognize what a success the program is and expand it to other regions.

Verdict: If you’re in the market for a new Android phone, you should certainly be considering the Moto X. Even when you look beyond all the bells and whistles, there’s still a good phone under there that will meet your needs and more. The Moto X is available now through Rogers for $169.99 with a 2-year contract.

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