A Different Take on the Moto X

Hi Andrew

Howard was kind enough to lend me his Motorola X last weekend. Without stepping on the toes of his excellent review, I thought I would add a different perspective on this Rogers exclusive (in Canada, at least) and first real hardware collaboration between Google and Motorola.

And I’ll not mince words; I wouldn’t recommend this international version at all.

The X’s trump card is, after all, the available customization options through the Moto Maker website; without that it’s ultimately just another mid-range Android device, albeit one you can yell at.

Its back cover is especially disappointing. Given that Rogers customers can only choose between all black or all white I was shocked to see how cheap and tawdry the “textured look” back panel was on both. It photographs well, and at arm’s length could even be mistaken for carbon fiber. But hold it up close and you’ll realize that it’s little more than a well-applied sticker.

I agree with Howard that the general build quality on the Moto X seems like it’s a few generations behind other manufacturers. The drilled speaker holes, also on that back panel,  make for a good example. Whereas on the HTC One they are a thing of beauty, on the X they seem like an afterthought, the last hurried bit of construction before a batch of these things gets packed up and sent out the door.

The speaker is plenty loud, at least. That’s something.

Touchless control is the X’s other differentiating feature. It’s… okay.

In a quiet environment it’s definitely  a more efficient and  convenient means of interacting with your device. But in public? Well, if yesterday’s post didn’t clue you in to this, I have a pretty low tolerance for people yakking on their phones in public. Push-to-talk is one of those things that makes me cringe, and I strongly believe that voice commands should be confined to one’s home, their car, and maybe voice-searching trivia in a bar with friends.

Put another way, a world where everyone is constantly shouting: “Okay, Google Now…” into their Moto X is not a world I want to live in.

As for the other stuff, the lock screen notifications are now something you can get on other Android devices, so no killer app there. But the triple-twist to launch the camera… that’s gangsta.

Take away the  LTE radio and otherwise stock-install of Android (with a smattering of Rogers crapware), there’s little else that makes this particular version of the Moto X stand out. And imagine settling for one now, only to find out that Moto Maker rolls out internationally to new buyers later? I certainly wouldn’t take that chance.

Another reason not to buy a Moto X is the new devices yet to be announced. The next Nexus will surely be available before year’s end, and at least one new iPhone is imminent if you can be swayed that way. I dare say there might be some Moto X users out there right now with buyer’s remorse, having seen the launch of Samsung’s Note 3 this week.

If you live in the States, are an AT&T customer and can’t wait to get your Moto Maker on, by all means have at it. Assembly-line customization is a really forward-thinking idea, one that I hope other manufacturers will take up. But as is the Rogers version is far less compelling — so much so that I’d give it a pass, in the hopes that Moto Maker will someday make its way to Canada.