Motorola is back in the Indian market and what a comeback it has been. First the Moto G and now the Moto X – Motorola has shaken up two key segments with just two smartphones. The Moto G changed the mainstream smartphone landscape and proved that we needn’t rely on local brands for good specs and low price. Now, we have the Moto X sitting in the mid-range segment that’s putting quad-core and octa-core phones to shame, thereby busting the myth that more cores equals a better experience.

At a price tag of Rs 23,999, the Moto X is proving to be unbeatable value as we had a glimpse of it just after a day’s usage. So the question is – does the Moto X deliver the best Android experience under Rs 25,000? How does it compare with other phones like the Gionee Elife E7, Sony T2 Ultra and the Samsung Galaxy Grand 2, all of which are available around the same price?

Design and Build

The Motorola Moto X comes packaged in simplistic box with minimal writing on it. You can check it out in our unboxing video of the Moto X. The phone feels really small especially after being overwhelmed with screen sizes north of five inches. In fact, it has the same screen size as the Nexus 4 but feels a lot smaller thanks to the much narrower bezel around it.

A handsome looking phone
A handsome looking phone

At 10.4mm in depth, it’s not very slim but then again it feels very reassuring in your hand. We also liked the bit of heft in it which makes it less toy-like. It looks a lot like the Moto G from all angles, or rather the Moto G has been heavily inspired from the Moto X.

The Moto X is very comfortable to use
The Moto X is very comfortable to use

The bezel along the side is half glossy and half rubberised from where the back overlaps. This adds to the aesthetics while preserving grip for when you hold it. The curvy edges lets you slip it easily into your pocket without tearing holes in them. The ports take their usual place around the phone. We have a nano-SIM tray on the X instead of a micro-SIM.

The 10MP shooter around the back
The 10MP shooter around the back

The back is non-removable features a rubberised coating. The black version gets a nice pattern so it’s not as bland as the Moto G. The X is also available in white, blue and two wood finishes. Up top is the 10MP shooter and we also have a 2MP shooter up front. Finally, we have a LED flash and speaker grille rounding off all the external features.

Motorola has done a brilliant job with the build of the Moto X. It feels extremely sturdy and well put together. I personally love the understated looks of it but I can see how some would find it a bit bland and boring.

Features

The Moto X features a 4.7-inch AMOLED display with a decently high resolution. The HD display ensures a healthy pixel count of 312ppi. Colours are richly saturated and level of detail in icons and text is super sharp. It doesn’t end here though as the Moto X has something called Active Display.

Active Display works extremely well at showing notifications
Active Display works extremely well at showing notifications

This feature takes advantage of one of the cool properties of AMOLED panels in which, only those pixels needed to form the image or text are lit while the others can remain off. This is also possible since the pixels themselves light up without the need of a backlight. The phone uses the accelerometer to light up the display each time you lift or tilt the phone and fades away. You can view the notification by simply holding the icon and dismiss it by swiping left or right. This works with any notification from any app.

Stock KitKat interface
Stock KitKat interface

The next big feature is Touchless Controls. If you thought “Ok Google” on the Nexus 5 was cool, this takes touchless controls to another level. You can train the Moto X to recognise your voice so only you can wake it up by saying “Ok Google Now”. This actually works pretty well and provided you speak clearly, it works even in places with lots of background noise. This is possible thanks to a natural language processor which is constantly active and listening. It’s a separate chip from the CPU which uses very little power so battery life is not sacrificed. Unlike the Nexus 5, where the voice command only works from the homescreen, this feature on the Moto X works on when the screen is off or even if you’re playing a game. If you have a password or pattern lock however, you will be prompted to unlock it first to display the results.

A very good performer
A very good performer

Motorola Connect is another very handy feature which lets you manage your messages and call through Chrome on your desktop. We had some difficulties with this as the widget refused to sync with the phone no matter what. Basically, you can reject calls and even reply to messages from the browser without having to unlock your phone. Other apps added by Motorola are available on the Moto G as well like Migrate for carrying your data from the old phone and Assist for automatic changing of profiles when you are driving or stop driving. It puts the Moto X in car mode, when it detects acceleration such as when you are driving.

Compared to the phones in its price band
Compared to the phones in its price band

The X is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro SoC. The MSM8960T packs in two Krait 200 cores running at 1.7GHz each. This is slightly old chipset but it’s still very much relevant as its built on the 28nm fabrication process, which is still used today. We also have Adreno 320 graphics onboard, which is a proven GPU. There’s 2GB of RAM as well for faster loading times in apps. Many will be put off by the fact that the X only has two cores when you can get quad-cores and even octa-cores for cheaper. However, it’s not the number of cores that matter but how efficiently you utilise them. We feel the AnTuTu score below amply proves this point

The Moto X sold in India will have 4.4.2 KitKat out-of-the-box and hopefully, will continue to get timely updates in the future even though Motorola is no longer part of the Google family.

Media

Since this is stock Android, we get the default ‘Play Music’ app for audio and the stock player for video. KitKat now supports a good range of video codecs by default so AVI and MKVs will playback. The audio player had some trouble playing back some FLAC files but other than that, we didn’t have any issues. Out of the 16GB onboard, around 11.6GB is usable.

Very good audio production
Very good audio production

The volume level for the earphones and speaker is very good as well. Even though the speaker grille faces downwards when you place the phone on the desk, the curve prevents it from being blocked so it’s still easily audible. You can even adjust the audio quality on a system level for both the headphone jack and speaker.

Connectivity

The Motorola Moto X supports 3G and quad-band 2G. You also get dual-band Wi-Fi ‘ac’, Bluetooth v4.0, USB Host, NFC, Miracast, GPS and GLONASS. That’s a healthy mix of connectivity options that’s hard to find in this price bracket. Web browsing is a smooth experience and even heavy websites are rendered with ease. The phone stays very cool for the most part and only gets a bit warm while playing a game or shooting a video.

Very handy features
Very handy features

Camera

The 10MP rear camera and 2MP front camera are both very capable given the right lighting. The sensors are able to pick up good detail but images lack punch and end up feeling flat. The UI is very minimalistic just like the Moto G. The X however gets a new feature which lets you quickly access the camera by flicking your wrist. Since there’s no way to change the resolution for stills and video, you’re stuck with 1080p recording at all times. This can be an issue since you only have a limited amount of space to play with.

The 10MP shooter is not bad
The 10MP shooter is not bad

Battery Life

The 2200mAh battery will easily give you a full day’s worth of usage. The Moto X easily completed our 8-hour battery test which included a mix of calling, music, video and YouTube streaming. We still had about 36 percent battery to spare. There’s a power saver mode that kicks in once the battery hits orange level and cuts off packet data. We noticed that the battery drain rather rapidly once it reaches 15 percent.

Easily the best phone under Rs 25,000 right now
Easily the best phone under Rs 25,000 right now

Verdict and Price in India

At Rs 23,999, Motorola is easily offering the best Android experience outside the Nexus clan and we feel this is the phone to get under Rs 25,000. For this price, you’re getting features that are not available even in the most expensive Android phone today. Add to that support for Wi-Fi ‘ac’, Miracast and the latest version of Android and you have yourself a pretty future proof device. The Moto X proves that it’s not how many cores you squeeze in that matters but how you utilise them. The dual-core CPU gives even octa-core chipsets a run for their money.

The Moto X and Moto G might look similar but that’s where the similarities end. The G remains one of the best budget droids around but the Moto X offers you so much more. Not only is it more powerful, it has a better display, camera, intuitive controls and fits everyone’s pocket (quite literally as well). We do have a few niggles with the phone like the over-simplistic camera UI. It would have been nice if we had the option to drop the video resolution as not everyone shoots in 1080p. Provision for a microSD card would have also been welcomed. But if you have the budget, look no further than the Moto X for the best Android experience under Rs 25,000.

Photography: Joshua Navalkar

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