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Hands On With Motorola's Moto X 120

Posted by timothy
from the variable-names-never-change dept.
adeelarshad82 writes "After months of speculation, leaks, and cryptic tweets, Motorola's new flagship smartphone is upon us. The Moto X runs Android 4.2.2 and is powered by the new Motorola X8 mobile computing system that includes several chips: a 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro, as well as a natural language processor and a contextual computing processor that handles the sensors. The phone carries a 4.7-inch, 1,280-by-720 display with 316 pixels per inch. Also since the phone features an active display, time and other selected alerts — text messages, missed calls, etc. — are shown without having to wake up your phone. Among the other features that Motorola talked up was the touchless control. Once activated, you can talk to your Moto X from up to 15 feet away. The Moto X differentiates itself from the other droid phones with customization options, and since Motorola is assembling the Moto X in Fort Worth, Texas, the company expects users to have their customized Moto X within four days of placing an order."
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Hands On With Motorola's Moto X

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    yes... but does it run carrier-mandated bloatware that you can't remove?

    • No. Android 4.2 added a feature to hide any app regardless of whether it is put on by your carrier or not.

      • Re:yes but.... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Archangel Michael (180766) on Thursday August 01, 2013 @06:47PM (#44452117) Journal

        Hiding is not the same as removing.

        • If the carrier installed app can't do anything any more and doesn't show up anywhere, its essentially the same.

          • it still takes up space. and does hiding it mean disabling it? or does it still use up the battery if it runs in the background?

            • The apps are disabled and can not be run when you hide them. I wish they could be removed entirely, but the ability to hide the apps works very well still.

          • If the carrier installed app can't do anything any more and doesn't show up anywhere, its essentially the same.

            Not on a device without expandable storage its not.

            And really not even then.

            • "Oh noes I am 2mb short on storage on my 32gig device and I'm so stupid I bought a device without a SD card when I might have needed it!"

              Really? That is your argument?

            • by kllrnohj (2626947)

              Not on a device without expandable storage its not.

              And really not even then.

              Yes it is, because it sits on /system which is a fixed size partition. Actually deleting the APK would get you exactly 0 bytes more storage *and* would break the factory reset option *and* breaks incremental OTAs.

    • They did announce a Google version a la the HTC One 7 Samsung Galaxy S4 with no crap on it.

    • No.. but it does listen to you 24/7. That's a nice feature.. don't worry about the NSA or anybody else snooping on your conversations.
  • How unlockable (if at all) is the bootloader? Just an OEM unlock (like the Nexus line), sign in and get an unlock key (like HTC and Sony), or a special "dev" edition like previously.

    I love the quality of the radios on Moto products, but for a decent Android ROM, unless Motorola opens their devices up, I'll probably pass this round of their offerings.

    • by Tailhook (98486) on Thursday August 01, 2013 @06:46PM (#44452101)

      How unlockable (if at all) is the bootloader?

      It's a fully locked [droid-life.com] device. This is not a Nexus successor.

      How conventional. Google could have thrown a grenade into the portable world. Instead they make a Samsung wannabe, complete with bloated marketing budget.

      Not interested.

      • by synapse7 (1075571)
        Will have a hard time claiming that if Samsung beats Moto with a 4.3 rom. Maybe the ties between Moto and google are not so strong.
    • How unlockable (if at all) is the bootloader? Just an OEM unlock (like the Nexus line), sign in and get an unlock key (like HTC and Sony), or a special "dev" edition like previously.

      I love the quality of the radios on Moto products, but for a decent Android ROM, unless Motorola opens their devices up, I'll probably pass this round of their offerings.

      If you buy an unlocked version of this phone, the bootloader comes unlocked as well. Reportedly.

    • by mjwx (966435)

      How unlockable (if at all) is the bootloader? Just an OEM unlock (like the Nexus line), sign in and get an unlock key (like HTC and Sony), or a special "dev" edition like previously.

      I love the quality of the radios on Moto products, but for a decent Android ROM, unless Motorola opens their devices up, I'll probably pass this round of their offerings.

      This, Hardware wise the Motorola Milestone (Droid in the US) was the best Android phone I've ever owned. However the software was lacking... Badly. No updates from Moto, locked bootloader, crapload of hacking to get an unstable version of 2.2 on there. I'd be happy to replace my GNex with a Moto X as long as the bootloader is unlocked. Even though this device comes with 4.2.2 and my GNex was just updated to 4.3, as long as I can load a ROM of my choosing that is fine.

    • by Nemyst (1383049) on Thursday August 01, 2013 @07:57PM (#44452583) Homepage
      Engadget's preview [engadget.com] claims that any custom Moto X ordered from their Moto Maker site comes with an unlocked bootloader. I'm guessing carrier-sold phones would have a locked one.
  • Android 4.3? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by KugelKurt (908765) on Thursday August 01, 2013 @06:30PM (#44451931)

    So a Google subsidiary can't use Google's latest OS? Lame... I rather get a Nexus instead.

    • Re:Android 4.3? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AuMatar (183847) on Thursday August 01, 2013 @06:48PM (#44452129)

      Believe it or not, validation testing for carriers takes a long time- months. Switch a major piece of the software and you have to restart from scratch. This device probably entered testing before 4.3 was announced.

      • Re:Android 4.3? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by figleaf (672550) on Thursday August 01, 2013 @06:56PM (#44452187) Homepage

        I don't understand.
        If Nexus and iOS devices can be updated without carrier interference, why can't everything else be similarly updated.

        • by Sir_Sri (199544)

          You take the chance on your end that your phone accidentally uses 50MB of data a day doing that, or no longer works or the like.

          Well, apple I'm sure has a special deal. But with a droid, that's your problem if you do that. But if the carrier is pushing it out they want control over it.

          This is definitely somewhere MS or one of the big Android players could have gone for the jugular in the market and said 'the carrier is a dumb pipe and you control updates to YOUR device".

          • Re:Android 4.3? (Score:4, Informative)

            by tlhIngan (30335) <<slashdot> <at> <worf.net>> on Friday August 02, 2013 @01:30AM (#44453903)

            Well, apple I'm sure has a special deal. But with a droid, that's your problem if you do that. But if the carrier is pushing it out they want control over it.

            This is definitely somewhere MS or one of the big Android players could have gone for the jugular in the market and said 'the carrier is a dumb pipe and you control updates to YOUR device".

            Except Apple has pretty much DONE that. Hell, they've gotten carriers to bend over and take it too - see Russian carriers dropping iPhone support because of onerous terms.

            Samsung is officially larger than Apple now - they beat Apple at their own game - turning $600M more profit than Apple in mobile devices. Profit, not revenue - $5.2B vs. $4.6B. Yes, over 10%.

            And Microsoft was smart enough to be able to do this too - while their Windows Phone rollouts are more phased rather than Apple's just-click-upgrade-yourself method, but they control those updates as well.

            Hell, Apple still does two things that few Android vendors do - they provide the OS update file so you can update it on your PC (Nexus devices have images you can flash, but it's not as easy or convenient as just clicking "Upgrade" in iTunes). Second, with iOS apps, you can download them on your PC and sync it over to your phone. If it's a large app, it's a lot more convenient to use your PC to download it over its wired connection rather than your phone to do it over wifi. And you have a backup too - doesn't matter if Apple removes it or anything, you always can reinstall it via iTunes sync.

            Yes, iTunes is hated, but it certainly has some useful features.

            • by Sir_Sri (199544)

              Except Apple has pretty much DONE that.

              yes, exactly. Someone else should have done that. Handing control to the carriers is a bad idea. Apple understood that.

              I'm sure Apple assumes a certain amount of the risk for accidentally breaking the network with the carriers though.

              Samsung is officially larger than Apple now

              And have been for a while. Of course they're huge because hacker geeks loved them for being easy to root and they have great hardware. If you were trying to enter the market against samsung having a 'the carriers don't control your updates' policy would be a big competitiv

          • Most android phones I have used have an option(unchecked by default) which says download updates only on WIFI.
            So unless you went to the settings and enabled that, you won't download a software update over 3G or whatever
            • by Sir_Sri (199544)

              I was making a not so subtle reference to a yahoo mail bug that caused the app to redownload all of you last 50 messages every day, and not cache them.

              I'm not talking about specifically downloading a new OS. However you get the OS, what it does day to day on 3G *could* be a problem. Naturally, it generally isn't because people actually test these things, but mistakes happen and if you push out an update to 10 million users who all accidentally do 1gig of 3G downloading before you fix it you're going to ha

        • by kllrnohj (2626947)

          I don't understand.
          If Nexus and iOS devices can be updated without carrier interference, why can't everything else be similarly updated.

          Nexus devices aren't sold on a carrier, and those that are (Verizon Galaxy Nexus) *do* go through carrier testing.

          Who says iOS devices don't go through carrier testing? It's quite possible that iOS 7 is actually in carrier testing right now, hence the several month "betas" that Apple does. That could just be the carrier testing cycle right there.

        • by rwise2112 (648849)

          I don't understand. If Nexus and iOS devices can be updated without carrier interference, why can't everything else be similarly updated.

          It's because of all the extra crap that the carriers put on the phones. Google releases the OS to the carriers, then the carriers test/update their crap to make sure ir works, then they release it. In Apple's case, they don't allow any carrier modifications AFAIK and Nexus devices don't have that either.

          For the new X, it has a customized camera app and possibly other things that, I guess, need to be tested.

      • Believe it or not, validation testing for carriers takes a long time- months.

        Apple manages to do this with most phone launch, have a new version of iOS released along with the phone.

        If you were talking about a phone from any other company - yes I would buy they could only validate against a version they had somewhat prior to launch. But Motorola is Google. They should have been validating against a beta version of the OS in the same way Apple does before launch.

        • by symbolset (646467) *

          Apple makes both the OS and the phone, so they can hold the OS release until their new phone is done testing and then push it out to the other phones. Motorola is owned by Google but they're keeping an arm's length relationship - i.e. they don't get early access. What you want is for Moto to crawl up inside the Android team, do the vertical integration thing with bidirectional engineering, ruin all the partner relationships. Obviously that is not going to happen. Boo hoo. Moto is not as dumb as you wan

          • Apple makes both the OS and the phone

            In this case, the same is true of Google. They wholly own Motorola and designed and produced the X.

            Nexus phones are different.

            Yes they are - they are re-badged phones made by someone else!!! They are not AS close to Google as the X phone and yet they always get the latest release.

            What you want is for Moto to crawl up inside the Android team

            Do you really mean to say the Motorola team was not working hand in hand with coreOS developers? No way is Google that stupid.

            • by symbolset (646467) *

              I guess the only possible response to this is, "yes, they are that stupid."

              /Where stupid is doing the right thing.

    • So a Google subsidiary can't use Google's latest OS? Lame... I rather get a Nexus instead.

      My guess is they were already well into the carrier qualification/test process with 4.2.2 when 4.3 launched. It seems reasonable that a 4.3 upgrade would be forthcoming. And since the unlocked versions are supposed to have an unlocked bootloader, I imagine CM10 will be available pretty quickly, so you can get your 4.3 goodies that way instead.

      • So Google doesn't have enough resources to concurrently test 4.2.2 and 4.3 on the same hardware, so that if issues are discovered in 4.3 they have a backup plan?

        It must suck to be so cash strapped that your QA team can't get that done.

        • So Google doesn't have enough resources to concurrently test 4.2.2 and 4.3 on the same hardware, so that if issues are discovered in 4.3 they have a backup plan?

          It must suck to be so cash strapped that your QA team can't get that done.

          I said carrier qualification, meaning Verizon, AT&T, Spring, T-Mobile, and Rogers. If they had all started their QA testing prior to 4.3, they wouldn't start all over again. You do understand that the carriers all have their own test processes to complete prior to selling a new device, right? Frankly, a multi-carrier launch like this is an incredible feat of logistics and project management to execute.

          • Then, like so many others have asked, how does Apple do it?

            They release new software and baseband firmware for 3 year old phones routinely.

  • by uglyduckling (103926) on Thursday August 01, 2013 @06:36PM (#44451991) Homepage
    "Also since the phone features an active display..." - as opposed to all the phones with inactive displays? Nice slashvertisement, with almost no technical details.
    • What, exactly, does this mean, and how is it different from my current Android phone and widgets to show me these things on the lockscreen?

      • Re:This got me, too. (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Psychopath (18031) on Thursday August 01, 2013 @06:48PM (#44452127) Homepage

        What, exactly, does this mean, and how is it different from my current Android phone and widgets to show me these things on the lockscreen?

        It uses the screen instead of a notification LED, but only powers the portion of the screen necessary for the alert instead of turning the whole display on. I'm not sure how this works, but that's what they're claiming. It's not at all like a lock screen.

        • Re:This got me, too. (Score:4, Informative)

          by safetyinnumbers (1770570) on Thursday August 01, 2013 @06:51PM (#44452153)
          My Nokia C6-01 does this. It has an oled display, so presumably it only uses power for the illuminated pixes, with little power drain (as opposed to backlighting an entire LCD screen). So it always has a clock and other notifications on-screen all the time, without needing to press anything.
          • by timeOday (582209)
            That is really cool. With the advent of 4K TVs, it has occurred to me that it will be awesome to watch video games, sports, or movies on a 70" 4K display with surround sound and a big subwoofer, but that's way too much for watching news, or kids shows, or anything that should be background for at least some of the people nearby. It would dominate the whole living area and waste a lot of power. So it would be nice to just use 1/4 of the area in the middle for a non-upscaled 1080p display.
          • by thegarbz (1787294)

            While that's great in theory OLED suffer from dimming over time. My old SGS screen spent a lot of its time off yet if I turn it on and make a white screen then you can see the faint imprint of the android notification bar at the top. Hopefully they haven't got the time turned up too bright or too blue both of which accelerate the dimming.

            • by windwalkr (883202)

              To be fair, Apple devices (at least, first and second gen iPads) have similar screen burn-in problems. Run the device with the same app too frequently and you will start to see minor but permanent panel degradation.

              • by thegarbz (1787294)

                This is nothing about being fair. It's a function of the current state of technology. In Apple's case it is just outright poor. No modern LCD should have burn-in, that's a problem solved many years ago, and Apple shouldn't have accepted the poor panel from it's supplier (Samsung? dunno back then).

                OLED burn-in on the other hand is a function of the technology. It hasn't been solved. All vendors suffer from it, but steps can be taken to minimise the problem such as move things around the screen, don't use blu

            • The clock display on my C6 moves around, screen-saver fashion, and it is pretty dim.
              • by thegarbz (1787294)

                Excellent. Good to see some companies still apply a little forethought to their products.

        • by Nerdfest (867930)

          The S4 does the same, I think. There are cases available that have a little window in them that shows an 'active' subset of the screen.

        • by hawguy (1600213)

          What, exactly, does this mean, and how is it different from my current Android phone and widgets to show me these things on the lockscreen?

          It uses the screen instead of a notification LED, but only powers the portion of the screen necessary for the alert instead of turning the whole display on. I'm not sure how this works, but that's what they're claiming. It's not at all like a lock screen.

          I thought this was how AMOLED worked on all phones - only the pixels that are lit use any power so if you have a mostly black background with a few lit pixels, the screen uses little power. Does an "Active Display" do things differently?

          • by Anonymous Coward

            This doesn't seem to be the case on my RAZR. At various point during boot and usage, the entire screen may be black but I can see light emitting from the entire screen when viewed in a dark environment.

            (Posted anonymously as I haven't been over here in ages and don't recall my login)

        • OLED Screens let you locally illuminate parts of the screen while other parts are completely off (that's why Black is really black and not just dark grey on OLED screens)

      • by Intropy (2009018)

        It tries to determine when you're looking at it, and it shows the screen then instead of waiting for you to press the power button. Obviously since it can't really know when you're looking at it it guesses based on movements and touching the screen.

  • by CritterNYC (190163) on Thursday August 01, 2013 @07:04PM (#44452255) Homepage
    It's $575 for the 16GB ($630 for the 32GB which is AT&T only at present) and no microSD so you're locked to that size. The customizations options are similarly on the worst-rated carrier in the US, AT&T. T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon get a black or white 16GB version. That's it. It's $199 for the 16GB one on a 2 year contract, which is the same as you'd pay for a top-tier phone like the HTC One 32GB or the Samsung Galaxy S4 16GB (with microSD so you can add up to 64GB more space on the cheap).
    • It's $199 for the 16GB one on a 2 year contract, which is the same as you'd pay for a top-tier phone like the HTC One 32GB or the Samsung Galaxy S4 16GB...

      Or the iPhone 5S, the single most popular phone on the market that is also available for $199 on a two year contract.

      I'm just sayin'.

      (Before anyone claims I'm being an Apple fanboy, which I have long ago admitted I am, I would similarly have said something had you failed to mention the S4. If you're going to name phones in a market category without naming one or the other of the two most popular phones in that category, it's hard to not see a bias.)

  • by Dracos (107777)

    Unless a phone has a full QWERTY hardware keyboard, I don't really care. Unfortunately, the handset makers and carriers seem to think there's little to no market for such devices, so I'll be keeping my Epic 4G for a while.

    • Try using Swype. It's surprisingly easy to type things really fast and accurately with just a thumb.

    • Unless a phone has a full QWERTY hardware keyboard, I don't really care. Unfortunately, the handset makers and carriers seem to think there's little to no market for such devices, so I'll be keeping my Epic 4G for a while.

      Fellow Epic 4G user here, and yes, I'll give it up when it is pried from my cold, dead hands. (Or, more likely and less dramatically, when the device itself is dead.)

      I've worked with dozens of phones, and have never found a keyboard that was as easy to use as the E4G. Yes, I have used the supposedly fantastic keyboard on Blackberries, but really wasn't impressed. And while Swype is good for jotting out a quick text message or email reply, but when I'm using my phone to SSH into a box, or trying to google

  • Ya, but how well does Ingress play on it?
    • by shuz (706678)

      Likely better than most other phones. You'll have a much better chance to be able to run both ingress and either a G+ chat or something like ITTC mobile/Ingress intel map. All other non-nexus 4 phones, as far as I am aware of, have the Android 4.2.2+ dual app feature restricted to using only about 12 apps, non of them worthwhile to ever run two of them at the same time. Unless of course you really enjoy being in a G+ chat while watching youtube or looking at google maps while chatting or watching youtube...

  • ...tell us about the NSA customization options that are shipped with the phone.
    • by turp182 (1020263)

      Complete tracking, as with all other devices/computers that use the internet or public phone systems, worldwide.

      At this point it's not even a question worth asking.

      Being tracked should be a tacit assumption at this point.

  • "since Motorola is assembling the Moto X in Fort Worth, Texas, the company expects American users to have their customized Moto X within four days of placing an order."

    FTFY. Or should it be Texan users..

  • by jkflying (2190798) on Friday August 02, 2013 @09:33AM (#44455641)

    ERMAGERD LESS CPU CORES SUCKS!!! I RUN 4 CPU INTENSIVE TASKS AT ONCE, ONE WITH EACH OF MY INDEX FINGERS, AND ONE WITH EACH OF MY NIPPLES.
    I LIKE TO KEEP 1BAJILLION MOVIES ON MY PHONE IN HIGHER RESOLUTION THAN THE SCREEN! I NEED A 1TB SD CARD.
    I CAN TELL BETWEEN 1080p AND 720p AT NORMAL VIEWING DISTANCES ON A 4.7" SCREEN!
    I NEVER EVEN USE MY PHONE, I JUST DROOL AT THE SPEC SHEET!

    Yep, that pretty much summarises all the complaints I've seen.

    If you look at the benchmarks [arstechnica.com], it does better than or equal to a Galaxy S4 on everything except GeekBench, where it still ties for memory speed. So I wouldn't call the CPU/GPU 'mid-range', like everybody seems to be saying.

    People want 1080p on a 4.7" screen - are they crazy? I really don't understand where that sentiment comes from. It's just more pixels for the GPU to push around, and it means your games will run worse.

    So, they have 'just' 2 cores and a 720p screen, this gives better battery life without making the phone massive. I can totally live with that. I really like what they've done here. They've looked at the system as a whole, and instead of loading it with pointless shit like Samsung, or going with massive bezels on something that's meant to fit in your pocket like HTC, they've made almost the entire front of the phone a screen, make it fit in your hand nicely, given it great battery life, and great performance. And it's customisable and made in the USA. It even has 802.11ac.

    What else do you want? And be reasonable, this is today's tech we're talking about.

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