Moto X had us all impressed when it came out. While it certainly didn’t have the top of the line specifications, it came with a stock Android user interface and many interesting features which made it a hit with the geeks. It also busted the myth that more cores equates to better performing phone, as it outperformed many quad-core processor sporting phones at the time. The second generation is also called the Moto X, but it comes with an improved feature set. Will the Moto X (2nd gen) recreate the magic that was the hallmark of the first iteration? Let us find out

 

Build and Design

Moto X (2nd gen) comes with a 5.2-inch full HD AMOLED display
Moto X (2nd gen) comes with a 5.2-inch full HD AMOLED display

Motorola has modified the design of the new Moto X to quite an extent. For starters, you see a beautifully crafted metallic edge all around the phone, which wasn’t the case in the original Moto X. Just like the original, the new Moto X has rounded corners. But with the metallic edges you will notice that they also have a rounded edge where it meets with the rear cover – a seamless transition from the metal to the rubberised back. The continuity of the metallic edge is interrupted with eight translucent strips on all sides around the rounded corners. The metallic edge also acts as the antenna.

The curved rear design that was seen on the original Moto X is present on this iteration as well. At its thinnest edge, the new Moto X measures 3.8mm whereas on the thickest edge at the centre it measures around 10mm. The curvature paired with the rubberised finish helps in gripping the phone with ease. The circular dip on the rear side housing the Motorola branding is larger in size and has a metallic circular edge. This dip is also where your finger rests automatically when you are on a call. Minor touches, but it sure improves the ergonomics of the handset.

The Moto X (2nd gen) has a curved back such that it measured 3.8mm on the thinnest edge and around 10mm in the centre
The Moto X (2nd gen) has a curved back such that it measured 3.8mm on the thinnest edge and around 10mm in the centre

On the right hand side, you have the volume rocker button, above which there is a textured power/standby button. On the top edge, there is the 3.5mm audio jack in the centre with the nano SIM tray on the left hand side (when the back is facing you).

Two textured metallic grills protrude on the top and bottom on the front face – the top being the ear piece and the bottom one being the speaker. The 5.2-inch display has thin bezels on the sides. The Gorilla Glass 3 layer atop the AMOLED display tends to merge with the metallic edge.

The Moto X (2nd gen) has an elegant metallic frame around the phone, which also acts as the antenna. Seen here is top edge, which has the 3.5mm audio jack and the nanoSIM slot
The Moto X (2nd gen) has an elegant metallic frame around the phone, which also acts as the antenna. Seen here is top edge, which has the 3.5mm audio jack and the nanoSIM slot

Unlike with the international markets, you do not have the Moto Maker program, which lets you customise the phone according to your colour preferences. In India, you have the Moto X with a black leather back, a black plastic black and wooden back. The one with the wooden and leather backs costs Rs 2,000 more.

 

Features

On the rear side you have a 13MP camera surrounded by dual LED flash unit. The Motorola branding on the dip is more pronounced on the Moto X (2nd gen) than on the original Moto X
On the rear side you have a 13MP camera surrounded by dual LED flash unit. The Motorola branding on the dip is more pronounced on the Moto X (2nd gen) than on the original Moto X

The new Moto X features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 system-on-chip which houses a 2.5GHz quad-core Krait 400 processor along with Adreno 330 graphics solution. This is paired with 2GB of RAM. This is the same SoC that was seen on the LG G3 as well as Sony Xperia Z3 which are flagship devices of those brands. Also, the Snapdragon 801 with quad-core processor is a considerable bump from the dual-core processor setup it featured in the first generation. It comes with a stock Android 4.4.4 KitKat OS. Although the OS is clean, Motorola has added its own personalisation in terms of certain apps such as Moto app and Motorola Migration which helps with data migration from other mobile devices.

 

Performance

The Moto X is a smooth performer and there were barely any instances where it lagged. It is able to handle Chrome browser with multiple open tabs – we tested with around 15-20 open tabs – without showing any signs of slowing down. The touchscreen is quite responsive and scrolling (sideways as well as top-bottom) is good.

Quadrant (left) and AnTuTu (right) benchmark scores
Quadrant (left) and AnTuTu (right) benchmark scores
3D mark scores on the Moto X (2nd gen)
3D mark scores on the Moto X (2nd gen)

The scores seen above are impressive for the Moto X second gen. In AnTuTu for instance, it scores 44498 which is more than the Sony Xperia Z3. Even with 3D Mark in the Ice Storm Unlimited preset, it scored 19710 which was greater than Sony Xperia Z3 as well as the Samsung Galaxy S5.

Display and Audio

The Moto X comes with a 5.2-inch 1920×1080 pixel AMOLED display, so the output is biased towards the warmer side. Colours appear a bit too saturated and the display can be quite bright on default settings. Legibility in daylight is good. Reds and oranges appear particularly vivid and seem to pop out more than other hues. Black levels are quite good and we didn’t notice any noise in the darker portions of a scene while watching movies. Despite there being a glossy screen, the reflectivity was under check and unless there was a direct light source behind us, we did not face any issues while watching content on the Moto X.

The Moto X (2nd gen) comes with an AMOLED display which makes the colours look saturated. It has a very thin bezel on the sides
The Moto X (2nd gen) comes with an AMOLED display which makes the colours look saturated. It has a very thin bezel on the sides

The other major draw is the active display which shows you a notifications as and when they come in, lighting up only the portion of the notification icons such as a Whatsapp message, missed call, SMS, twitter notifications. Thanks to the AMOLED display, only the pixels which make up these notification icons are lit up. When you hold down onto the notification icon, you will see more details about it on top. You can either swipe up to go to take an action, or swipe sideways to get rid of the notifications. While the original Moto X only showed one notification with the active display, the latest iteration shows you three.

Although the Moto X shows two grilles on the front face, the speaker section is only present behind the bottom grille, so you will not get a stereo sound output. Having said that the speaker is loud enough to allow you to watch a movie in a quiet room without any headphones. The Moto X box we got did not have any bundled earphones, so you will need to buy them separately.

Software

Just like its predecessor, the second gen Moto X also comes with stock Android OS. The Android 4.4.4 has no Motorola skin, but there are a few apps which Motorola has added to improve the overall experience. It houses a native low power audio processor which is always on. It will be activated when you use the unlock phrase using the Moto app. You will need to train the phone with your unlock phrase which needs to have at least 5 words. You will have to ensure that you set the unlock phrase in extremely quiet conditions, as even the slightest whirring of the fan or air conditioner in a quiet room, will prompt you to record your voice in a quiet place. Setting the phrase can be really painful if you aren’t in extremely silent surroundings. Once the phrase is set, the microphone is able to pick up your phrase from a distance of 2 feet comfortably.

Using Moto, you can search for a term, send SMS or WhatsApp messages, take a selfie or a photograph with the rear camera, navigate your way on maps, open browsers and much more even while the phone is in sleep mode. Some of the functions above are completed using Google search.

The Moto app comes with features such as Actions, Assist, Voice and Display to help you get a better usability experience
The Moto app comes with features such as Actions, Assist, Voice and Display to help you get a better usability experience

You can further tweak your preferences under the settings menu which has four main categories such as Assist, Actions, Voice and Display which are self-explanatory once you get into them.

Moto Migration is another Motorola app that assists with transferring your data from your older phone to the Moto X. It can work with older Android as well as iPhones. Motorola Connect is another software feature which lets you connect your phone to your system’s browser, your smartwatch and so on. You download a Chrome extension which will give you notifications (on your system’s Chrome browser), everytime you get messages or get a call on your phone.

Moto Actions for instance, lets you use gestures to check notifications, silence a call, switch off an alarm merely by waving your hand over the front face of the phone. There are four IR sensors located on the four corners of the display (not visible with the black coloured Moto X) which help detect gestures and movements.

The software bits add to the overall user experience of the Moto X and make it a unique offering as compared to its competitors.

Camera

The native camera interface comprises a circular dial that needs to be pulled by swiping on the side. Seen here are the video modes
The native camera interface comprises a circular dial that needs to be pulled by swiping on the side. Seen here are the video modes

Moto X (2nd gen) has put on a 13MP camera with a BSI CMOS sensor instead of the 10MP one seen on the original Moto X. While photographs taken in daylight did not throw up any issues in the non-HDR modes, the HDR modes sometimes tend to over-burn the skies. When you go in dimly lit surroundings, the cameras flaws start to show up. Focussing is a tad slower and in dim-light situations, painfully so. The native camera app has only the most minimal functions. We liked the fact that you can do 4K video and slow motion video recording on the Moto X along with the regular full HD video recording. Video quality is good and the SloMo mode adds a bit of fun to video recording. Auto HDR mode isn’t that great as we noticed a lot of images with bright surroundings being blown out. The image quality is great for sharing online, but we would be cautions with taking prints.

In well lit situations, the Moto X camera gives a good output
In well lit situations, the Moto X camera gives a good output
The slow AF speed is frustrating if you are into street photography
The slow AF speed is frustrating if you are into street photography
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Outdoor scenes come out really well. You can drag around the green coloured exposure and focus block to get a well exposed image
Indoor images tend to be a bit noisy, but you will notice it only when you are seeing the image at actual pixel level
Indoor images tend to be a bit noisy, but you will notice it only when you are seeing the image at actual pixel level
The HDR mode tends to give a wierd colouring to the overblown sky. Ensure you have the HDR mode on, only when you need it. Do not keep it on Auto HDR
The HDR mode tends to give a wierd colouring to the overblown sky. Ensure you have the HDR mode on, only when you need it. Do not keep the camera on Auto HDR

Call Quality and Connectivity

The call quality is good and the earpiece speaker is loud enough. The textured edges of the ear-piece section may not be to everyone’s liking. When attending calls while commuting in the trains or with moderate traffic on the road, the call was still distinctly audible. We didn’t face any random call drops.

The Moto X supports quad-band 2G, 3G and 4G – LTE (in specific circles). It sports 802.11 ac Wi-fi along with Bluetooth 4.0 (LE), NFC and supports tethering. In terms of sensors, it has an accelerometer, gyroscope, compass and a proximity sensor.

Battery Life

We ran out 8-hour loop test which includes 2 hours each of calling, video streaming, audio playback and video playback. At the end of the test we were left with around 33 per cent battery. On regular tasks the battery will easily last you a day before it needs to be charged. There is no dedicated battery saver mode, the likes of which we have seen on other flagships such as the Sony Xperia Z3 or the Samsung Galaxy S5.

 

Verdict and Price in India

The second generation Moto X comes with upgrades not just in terms of build quality, but also the system-on-chip powering the device. In terms of performance, the Moto X is at par with most of the flagship phones out there such as LG G3, Sony Xperia Z3 and so on. It comes with a good display and the call quality is impressive. Additional software features are definitely a value add. Battery life is decent enough, though not better than the Sony Xperia Z3 which gives almost two days on regular usage, if you activate the battery saver mode. Camera comes with its set of flaws, but it is good enough for sharing photos online. All in all, the Moto X(2nd gen) is a good overall package and it is confirmed to get the Lollipop 5.0 update whenever its out.

The original Moto X debuted at a price of Rs 23,999 for the 16GB variant. The latest generation Moto X which sports a top-end SoC has got a price bump to Rs 31,999 for the same 16GB variant. That may look like a big jump in pricing, but one needs to note that the changes – larger screen size, a refined build, powerful SoC. One major issue though is the user-available space on the new Moto X. Unlike the original Moto X which had 11.6GB usable space, the new variant has only 8.09GB available to the user. That is just not enough, especially since there is no provision to add in a microSD card.

At Rs 31,999, though the Moto X (2nd gen) is priced significantly lower than the Sony Xperia Z3 (Rs 51,990), note that the prices of Samsung Galaxy S5, LG G3 are not that far off. Samsung Galaxy S5 for instance with its plethora of features including a heart-rate monitor, ultra power saving mode and water-resistance comes for around Rs 37,000 (16GB + microSD expandable upto 64GB) if you search online. LG G3 coming for around Rs 36,000 (32GB) has a 2560 x 1440 pixel resolution and its rear camera which comes with laser auto-focus feature gives much faster AF and better low light performance. There are high chances of a buyer getting tempted to put in some extra money and going for the S5 or G3 with the current Moto X pricing. Under Rs 30,000 though, there are few competitors to the Moto X.

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