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Moto X a good phone that should have been great

By Troy Wolverton
San Jose Mercury News

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I really like Motorola’s new Moto X smartphone. In a way, though, that’s disappointing: But for a couple of shortcomings, I could have loved it.

Moto X is the first all-new smartphone to come from Motorola since Google took control of the company last year. With it, Google seems to be trying to break from Motorola’s recent past of producing devices that only a geek could love.

Unlike the flat, rectangular shapes of the Droid line of phones, the new Moto X sports rounded corners and a gently curved back. Like many recent Android phones, it has a larger screen — in its case, a 4.7-inch one — but thanks to the curves and the narrow borders around the display, it doesn’t feel overly large. The back of the Moto X is made of plastic, but it fits tightly around its innards and seems solid. Overall, it feels great in the hand.

One of the cool things about the Moto X is that users can customize it when they order it. They can choose from 18 different colors for the back of its case, two different colors for its front and seven different colors for its volume and power buttons. Users can also specify what wallpaper they want to have on their home screens and the greeting the phone will display when they turn it on.

Right now, these personalization options are only available on AT&T, but Motorola expects the other major carriers to offer them soon.

The Moto X includes a high-resolution OLED screen that looks great. It also offers longer life than the average smartphone. With a custom-designed longer-lasting battery, Motorola promises that you’ll get up to 13 hours of talk time and 24 hours of mixed use.

I wasn’t as impressed with some of the other features in the Moto X. The phone includes a feature that allows you to access Google Now, a Siri-like voice assistant, without having to press a button or touch the device. By simply saying “OK Google Now,” the Moto X is supposed to launch the service and respond to your requests. The feature was hit and mostly miss.

Also disappointing was an app called Motorola Assist, which when you’re driving, is supposed to read out incoming text messages and announce the names of incoming callers.

While the Moto X recognized when I was driving, it rarely read out text messages or announced callers. Far more frequently, it simply lit up the screen without saying anything.

The Moto X is a very good phone. But so are a lot of others.

In summary, facts and figures:

• Specs: 1.7GHz dual-core processor; 4.7-inch 1280 x 720 screen; 2 megapixel front, 10 megapixel rear cameras.

• Price: $200 for 16GB model, $250 for 32GB model.


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