Motorola…oh how far you’ve come. I can actually still remember when I used to think “damn, Motorola is done for…” prior to their Google buyout of course. Since then, Motorola has been on a strong uphill climb and don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. The Moto X (2014) is one of their newest devices, flagship of course, and they seem to have refined a few things since. Having only seen the Moto X (2013) from a far, never really owning one, this is my first Motorola device since the RAZR. I know, you must be thinking “damn…” But let’s see how this new flagship stacks up with the competition.

Hardware

Its ideal to start with the hardware and Motorola has only been getting better. The device has actually “matured” since the last Moto X in several ways. First noticeable difference is the display which went from a 4.7″ inch display at a resolution of 720p to a larger, yet comfortable, 5.2″ inch display and bumped up resolution of 1080p. It’s also worth mentioning that the display is once again AMOLED, it’s a bit more saturated, which we all know and love, but I’ll get to that later.

The new Moto X also comes with a new metal frame trim, which gives the device a significantly better aesthetic – and gives it that touch of premium feel we all want. With this, it also adds an incredible improvement in build quality that makes the phone feel like it can handle a drop or two. AT&T sent us a review unit with the wooden back panel that has grown on me over the time I have spent with the device. There are several internal upgrades made to the Moto X. A new Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor was added with 2GB of RAM clocked at 2.5 GHz, Fast Battery Charging, a 13-megapixel rear camera, a 2-mplegapixel front facing camera, and a 2300 mAh Li-Ion battery. This years Moto X is no average Joe.

Software

Motorola doesn’t really add much weight to the Android experience besides some useful touches. Its still the closest thing to stock Android on a device that isn’t a Nexus. It’s like adding salt to your fries. Moto Display makes its return allowing your notifications to be shown once the device is taken out of your pocket or when you wave your hand over the device. Though when I first received the device, it was absolutely murdering my battery but has since been updated. The Moto version of the “personal assistant” is back as well and seemingly more accurate than the last version of the Moto X. Being able to change the phrase used to activate it is awesome but I never really used it after the first two days of having the phone. There really isn’t much to touch on except that its as nearly as pure as stock. I was hoping to run into an Android L update before getting around to this update, but I guess I wasn’t that lucky.

 Camera

Motorola has had almost as much trouble as the Nexus phones when it comes to getting the camera right. With the new 13mp camera it was a 60/40 type of success rate when it came to getting a good shot. Now, of course, with great sunlight and the ideal situation you have some great shots. Super detailed, vivid color and very accurate pictures are taken and fun to play with. Since that wasn’t always the case, I did find that sometimes the image processing would end up giving me a picture that was too cool or the colors seemed off slightly. I’d have to take the picture several times to get it right, if that was even possible. Of course in harder situations, like dark settings or very minimal lighting, the camera suffers unless flash was used. The surrounding ring around the lens being the flash actually caught me by surprise at how good it turned out. It’s a very decent shooter at best.

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Performance

I’d be lying if I said the performance wasn’t as fluid as any other flagship on the market. With the most up to date specs and Android KitKat, it’s a recipe for silky smooth transitions and multitasking. I do enjoy my front facing speakers or should I say speaker.  It is slightly misleading since the bottom speaker functions as mono and the top is just for the head piece.  It is still better than any other speaker that faces any direction but it caught me off guard.  Actually thought I had a defective device at one point.

My biggest gripe though is the battery life. Even with turning off the Moto display, I barely got through just the work day. I’d have to hug the wall or use one of my battery packs before even getting home without me really having used the phone all that much. Considering how heavily I use my devices, I would use more caution and kind of pull back on several things I’d do. Not being able to remove the battery to replace it with another is also not available on this device.

Not having expandable memory didn’t help either. Its just one of those things where when you get to almost full storage the phone starts to lag or have issues and it feels like you don’t have anything you want to do delete. If it was anything like the Droid Turbo, I’d be more than satisfied. Damn you, Verizon.

Speaking of carriers, AT&T service was as usual. I had very consistent internet speeds that ranged from 10-20 mpbs down to 12-15 mpbs up. It depended really on the time of day and how far into the city I was (New York City) but I had rare occurrences where my data gave me any issue.

Wrap-Up

The Moto X has all the right tools with a few missing bolts.  Granted, if they put the goodies inside the Moto X as they do the Droid series, you’d have one hell of a flagship.  Until then, you have a very capable smartphone that can please your stock android experience needs.  It improves on some of the things Nexus lacks but doesn’t really go above and beyond that.

The Moto X is available now over at Motorola.com for a variety of prices unlocked or under AT&T or Verizon.  Go experiment a little on Moto Maker, it’ll probably kill 2-3 hours of your day.

Mobile Review: Moto X 2014 (AT&T)
Motorola's newest flagship will please many, but its just a bit too many misses for it to be great
Hardware8.5
Software9
Camera7
Performance8.5
Battery Life6.5
Positives
  • Greatly improved build quality
  • Front-facing speaker
  • Customizable phone
Negatives
  • AMOLED can be a bit warm
  • Inconsistant camera
  • Shaky battery life
8GREAT!
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