Motorola officially unveils Moto X smartphone

The Moto X has a 4.7-inch screen and will be available through US carriers at the end of this month

Google's Motorola Mobility unit unveiled the highly anticipated Moto X smartphone on Thursday at an event themed around innovation, but many of the handset's highlighted features were similar to those on the recently announced Droid smartphones.

The Moto X smartphone.
The Moto X smartphone.

The Moto X smartphone has a 4.7in screen, and runs on Google's Android 4.2.2 OS code-named Jelly Bean. The smartphone will be available at the end of August for US$199.99 with a two-year contract through all major US carriers, and an unlocked version will follow shortly after. The smartphone will also be available worldwide by the end of this month, but it's not yet known whether this will include Australia.

Moto X is the first result of investments by Google and Motorola Mobility in new technologies related to design and natural interaction technology, said Dennis Woodside, CEO of Motorola Mobility, during the media event.

"This was the first device that was built from scratch since Google acquired Motorola Mobility," Woodside said. Google completed the $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola Mobility in March last year.

The Moto X, which weighs 132g, offers 24 hours of battery life, and 13 hours of talk time. Users can shoot 1080p high-definition video through its 10-megapixel rear camera or 2-megapixel front camera, although the screen can display images only at a 720p resolution. The phone has 16GB of storage, and a 32GB model will be priced at US$249.99 with wireless carrier contracts.

On closer examination the Moto X is very similar to the recently announced Droids, including the Ultra, Maxx and Mini models, which will soon become available through Verizon Wireless in the US. The phones carry similar processor, camera, display and natural interaction features.

Moto X smartphone
Moto X smartphone

The Moto X differs from the Droids in its design, color choices, 50GB of Google Drive storage and wide availability through all carriers, said Rick Osterloh, senior vice president at Motorola Mobility, at the event.

The Moto X has a curvy design that could make it easier to hold than competitive handsets with rectangular designs. The handset will be highly customisable when ordered through Motorola's website, and a feature called Moto Maker will allow users to choose colors for the back and front of the handset.

The smartphone has what Motorola called "touchless control," in which the handset responds to voice commands, even when in idle mode. A key spoken phrase will prompt the smartphone to call people, navigate or even conduct a Google search. In a demonstration, the smartphone showed the score of a baseball game from the previous day after a voice question. The feature is also available on the Droid handsets.

Voice controls offer "a safe way to operate your phone, hands free and eyes free," Osterloh said, adding that the Moto X has three microphones and noise cancellation technology.

The smartphone also has the X8 chip system, a set of processors including the CPU, graphics processors, sensors and cores that is also used in the Droid smartphones. In the Moto X that includes a dual-core Qualcomm S4 Pro chip code-named Krait, which is similar to the chip found in the new Droids, Google's Nexus 4, LG's Optimus G and Sony's Xperia Z. Qualcomm in January announced the Snapdragon 600 and 800 chips, which will succeed the S4 Pro.

Motorola's Moto X smartphones and Sol Republic Tracks line of headphones
Motorola's Moto X smartphones and Sol Republic Tracks line of headphones

Another common feature with the Droids is the Active Display, in which bits of information, like time and notifications, are provided on the screen when the phone is in idle mode. Users will be able to see email, text messages, social network notifications and calendar information without putting the phone in active mode. Motorola has implemented a custom screen buffer for the information to be displayed on the black background. This is another feature shared with the new Droids.

"Not only can I see stuff as it arrives, it takes me into the message so I can respond," Osterloh said.

The handset incorporates camera technology called QuickCapture, in which a user can quickly take a picture without pressing a specific on-screen button. The camera automatically autofocuses and users can touch any part of the screen to take a shot. The camera sensor is able to capture more light, which allows for good low-light shots and less blur, Osterloh said.

Verizon will sell a developer version of Moto X, which can be unlocked through Motorola's website, though the price of that phone was not available. The developer edition will also be available through Motorola's website at a later date. Developers unlocking the smartphone will break warranty, though.

The phones for the US market will be made in Fort Worth, Texas, Osterloh said.

"People want a phone quickly," Osterloh said. "We realised if it was going to take two to three weeks [to ship], it wasn't going to be enough."

Making the phones in the US also keeps manufacturing close to the design and engineering teams, and the company can react quickly to market trends, Osterloh said.

Motorola is also testing a Moto X with a wooden frame on the back. That smartphone could be available in the fourth quarter, though Osterloh said "we're not sure what we'll end up with."

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Motorolaconsumer electronicsGooglesmartphonesMotorola Mobility

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Agam Shah

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?