Introduction

The new Moto X arrived exactly a year after its predecessor brought us customizable looks, wrapped in a sleek body, proudly wearing the "Made in USA" label. The new flagship of the company is likely one of the last Motorola products developed during Google's reign of the company - the storied American brand is bound to soon become part of Lenovo.


New Moto X official photos

Moto X (2014) official photos

Like the first generation Moto X, the successor boasts a customizable body. This year, the manufacturer has brought even more personalization possibilities to the table, headed by high quality, genuine Horween leather back options.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 SoC found inside the Moto X is the default option in this year's class of high-end Android smartphones. The device's 5.2" 1080p AMOLED display and the 13MP camera with UHD video recording are also ready to take on the competition.

As always, here goes the full list of features the new Moto X has to offer, followed by some of its shortcomings.

Key features

  • Quad-band GSM; HSDPA/LTE connectivity
  • 5.2" AMOLED display, 1920 x 1080 pixels, 424ppi; Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • Android 4.4.4 KitKat with stock UI (upgradable to Android L)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AC chipset with quad-core 2.5GHz Krait 400 processor, Adreno 330 GPU and 2GB of RAM
  • 13MP camera, dual-LED ring flash, 2160p video recording
  • 2MP front-facing camera with 1080p video recording
  • 16/32GB of built-in storage
  • Active noise cancellation with four microphones
  • 2,300mAh non-removable battery
  • Gesture controls via built-in IR sensors
  • Available voice control and active notifications
  • Sleek, customizable body with superb build, tactility, and handling; optional genuine leather or eco-friendly wood back covers
  • Attractive pricing both on and off contract

Main disadvantages

  • No stereo speakers (the cheaper Moto G has them)
  • Lack of memory expansion slot
  • No version with 64GB of memory at launch
  • Rather low battery capacity

At a quick glance, the Moto X (2014) specs are up speed with most of its peers. Unlike its predecessor, which banked heavily on attractive looks and superior handling to cover up its hardware shortcomings, the new Moto X offers chipset, display, and camera worthy of a 2014 Android flagship.

Still, with trademark features such as QHD screen or Snapdragon 805 chipset not making the list, the Moto X will once agin be defined by its appearance and build quality. The new model elevates both to proportions unseen before in this price range. The all-new metal frame combined with the optional leather or wood back covers makes the device a highly desirable object from the get go.

Memory expansion slot would have surely been a welcome sight, but, once again, the feature didn't make it and unfortunately, neither did the 64GB built-in memory version. Another major question mark is the battery life of the new Moto X - the non-removable 2,300mAh unit is simply not on par with what's featured in today' Android flagships.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

New Moto X live photos

Hit the next page for a closer look at the latest Motorola flagship. As always, we'll kick our review off with an unboxing of the Moto X, followed by design and hardware inspection.

Editorial: You may notice that this review is shorter than usual and doesn't include some of our proprietary tests. The reason is it has been prepared and written away from our test labs. Still, we think we've captured the essence of the device in the same precise, informative and detailed way that's become our trademark. Enjoy the good read!

Unboxing

The new Moto X comes in a compact retail box, which contains the basics. You get a charger, a USB cable, a tool for replacing the nano-SIM card, as well as the usual set of booklets.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

The retail package of the smartphone

Of course, Motorola offers a number of additional accessories for the new Moto X. The most notable new additions include the characterful Moto Hint wireless headset, a Motorola Turbo Charger (it gives you 8 hours of juice in only 15 minutes), as well as a compact Motorola Power Pack.


Moto Hint

We reckon that a bundled headset would have been a welcome sight inside the box of the New Moto X. However, the handset's attractive pricing in comparison to its competitors leaves you with plenty to budget for new headphones.

Design and build quality

The new Moto X follows the exact same design language as its predecessor, which was one of the better-looking devices to go out last year. Thanks to the metal frame and the available genuine leather and wood choices, the 2014 model elevates the familiar appearance to a bona fide luxury levels.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

The new Moto X in the flesh

It is truly impressive what the combination of metal and natural materials can do the appearance of a phone. The new Moto X is unmistakably a Motorola, though one that screams upmarket.

Another major point in the design of the Moto X is the Moto Maker customization suite. It allows users to literally have their smartphone their own way.


Some of the available color options for the back of the Moto X

Just like last year, the available color options for the front of the Moto X are black and white. Once again, you can have the back and the accent colors any way you like; you can also add a custom engraving on the back. The metal frame is available in light or dark aluminum finish.

Build quality of the second generation Moto X is superb. The smartphone is impeccably put together with metal chassis and front panel covered by Corning Gorilla Glass 3 - it can rival the best offerings out there, regardless of the manufacturer.

Physical measures of the new Moto X are 72.4mm x 140.8mm x 3.8-9.9mm, while its weight tips the scale at 144 grams. Due to the larger display, the 2014 model has crown considerably in width and height compared to the original (129.3 x 65.3 x 10.4 mm and 130 grams).

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

Moto X (2014) sized up against last year's model

Handling

Thanks to its curved body that follows the shape of the human palm, the new Moto X is among the most pleasant devices one can handle. The premium materials deliver superb tactility as well, especially when finished in genuine leather like our test unit.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

Handling the new Moto X

The varying thickness of the smartphone benefits is handling a great deal. The thickest point of the device is right in the middle where the human palm actually curves - just like the in the 2013 model, it separates the device from the pack in terms of ergonomics.

Display

Moto X (2014) totes a 5.2" AMOLED display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. In line with what's offered in most of today's Android flagships, the screen represents a massive upgrade over its predecessor in terms of both size and resolution.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

The display of the Moto X

The display boasts infinite contrast (as expected from an AMOLED unit), coupled with stellar viewing angles and brightness. With a pixel density of 424ppi, all content looks sharp.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

A closer look at the display of the Moto X

As expected, the display's colors are extremely saturated. They are amazing to look at, but not as accurate as some would have preferred.

Strangely enough, sunlight legibility is the screen's Achilles heel. Content is difficult to read under bright sunlight - something rather atypical for AMOLED panels.

Overall, the display of the new Moto X is massive improvement over its predecessor's. However, its sunlight legibility puts it slightly behind today's best screens. Most users however, will likely enjoy the saturated, if a bit inaccurate color reproduction.

Controls

Above the display is where the earpiece and the front-facing 2MP camera reside. The ambient light and the proximity sensor are also sitting there.

Motorola Moto X 2014

The view above the display

Below the screen we find the single front-facing speaker. The IR sensors for the motion gestures are also located in this area.

Motorola Moto X 2014

Below the display of the Moto X (2014)

There is nothing on the left side of the device. The power/lock key and the volume rocker are located on the right side.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

The sides of the smartphone

The 3.5mm audio jack and the nano-SIM tray are located on top of the device. The microUSB port sits on the bottom.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

The top and bottom of the Moto X

The back of the smartphone is home of the 13MP camera and its dual-LED flash setup. The dimple with Motorola logo from the original Moto X has been carried over as well, this time in even more premium guise. A microphone pinhole and an AT&T logo etched into the leather complete the setup of our review unit.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

The back of the new Moto X

Battery performance

Despite the significant bump in specs and screen real estate, the battery size of the new Moto X has remained practically unchanged from the one in last year's model. This year's offering packs a 2,300mAh unit as opposed to 2,200mAh solution in the 2013 model.

A 2,300mAh battery is modest by today's Android flagship standards, so the endurance rating of the new Moto X is anything but spectacular. The handset achieved a score of 48 in our battery test.

The above battery performance means that the device will make it through two days of usage is you utilize it for an hour each of telephony, web browsing and video playback daily. Heavier users can count on a full day from the device, but not much more.

Undoubtedly, the reduced battery capacity compared to today's standards is the price the new Moto X paid for being so good looking. The manufacturer aims to offset this shortcoming by offering additional accessories that include a rapid charger and a mini battery pack.

Connectivity

The Moto X covers all cellular data standards - quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE, 3G, and LTE.

On the local connectivity front, the device offers Bluetooth 4.0 alongside Wi-Fi with a/b/g/n/ac standard compatibility. MicroUSB 2.0 port with USB host is also at hand. Positioning is covered by A-GPS and GLONASS support.

The device allows you to share all sorts of media via NFC by simply touching the device and other NFC-capable devices back-to-back.

User interface

The new Moto X boots the latest Android 4.4.4 KitKat. The smartphone offers the exact same launcher as the Nexus 5, so it truly is an upmarket alternative for Android purists. Check it out in action below.

The lockscreen widgets remain unchanged and are full-screen, resizable tiles. One of them is always visible at the top of the main lockscreen, above the padlock icon. The rest are a right swipe away. The widget on the main lockscreen is collapsed to make room for the padlock button, but can be expanded to display additional information.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

The lockscreen

There are a few stock lockscreen widgets: Messages, Calendar, Gmail, Digital Clock, Google Now and Google+. The camera shortcut, just like before, is a left swipe on the lockscreen.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

Some of the lockscreen widgets

Lockscreen widgets are resizable - tap and drag down to expand and show more content, if available. Tapping and dragging can also reorder lockscreen widgets, so you can choose which one is visible on the main lockscreen. They can also be dragged up to discard.

Google Now is always the leftmost pane on the homescreen. You can't set it as a default homescreen but you can turn it off if you like, just like the BlinkFeed on the HTC One lineup.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

The homescreen

The bottom of the screen is reserved for the three navigation controls: Back, Home and Recent Apps. The dock is customizable and features two shortcut icons on either side of the app drawer key. You can have folders there, each with multiple shortcuts.

Google Daydream is available too. Once turned on, you can set it up to show photo albums, the latest news from Google Now, the clock, or an animation.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

Daydream

The notification center and Quick toggles are on board too. They're accessible via an icon in the top right corner of the notification area. You get access to key device settings such as brightness, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, location, mobile networks and Battery. Some toggles are directly accessible shortcuts to their respected functions in the settings menu. The quick settings menu can be accessed by a two-finger swipe down from the top of the screen.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

The notification area

Notifications can be expanded and collapsed with a downward swipe. The top one is expanded by default (if the app that put up the notification supports it, of course).

Motorola Moto X 2014

Expanding the notifications

The homescreen consists of just two panes - Google Now and the default one with a bunch of shortcuts. You can add more once you start putting widgets, shortcuts or folders. You can add as many panes as you want.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

Editing the homescreen

The widgets are no longer part of the app drawer. You can access the widget list only by a tap and hold on an empty space on the homescreen and selecting the dedicated Widgets shortcut. We prefer this way of handling the widgets, because they don't get in the way of the day-to-day work with the app drawer.

Most of the widgets are resizable in all directions in order to fit into any tight space. To resize a widget, you tap and hold and then release. Four handles will appear on its sides, allowing you to change the widget's size in the direction you want.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

Adding and editing widgets

Folder functionality functions as expected. A folder is created by dropping an app shortcut on top of another shortcut and can be named by tapping on the "Unnamed folder" label. Opening a folder expands it only as much as needed to show the icons inside.

The folders icons themselves are circular with several individual app shortcuts stacked on top of each other. They are lined up so the first shortcut in the folder will be the only one unobscured - the rest of the icons are nearly impossible to tell apart.

Motorola Moto X 2014

A look at the folder functionality

The app drawer consists of 5 rows of icons on side-scrollable pages. The app icons are big and easy to access.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

The app drawer

The apps are ordered alphabetically and there's no other sorting option. Placing a shortcut on the homescreen works as you would expect: press and hold to grab it and then position it on the homescreen pane of choice. Two more options appear at the top of the screen while you're dragging - Uninstall (to quickly remove apps) and App info, which opens the application's entry in the Manage applications list.

Last but not least, the Recent Apps list has remained virtually unchanged. It would be nice if Google finally adds a kill all/close all option.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

Recent apps

Overall, Android 4.4.4 Kit Kat offers polished UI. Coupled with the top of the line chipset, operation is lightning fast all the time.

Performance

The new Motorola Moto X packs Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974-AC with 2.5GHz quad-core CPU. The GPU is Adreno 330, clocked at 578MHz. The device's silicon is the default setup for most Android smartphone flagships this year, and has already proven to be a solid performer.

GeekBench and AnTuTu showcase the raw CPU power of a smartphone. The new Moto X did great on both occasions.

GeekBench 3

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    3175
  • Oppo Find 7a
    3093
  • Galaxy S5 (Snapdragon 801)
    3011
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    2984
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    2856
  • LG G3
    2687
  • LG Nexus 5
    2453
  • HTC One (M8)
    2367
  • Motorola Moto X
    2123

AnTuTu 5

Higher is better

  • HTC One (E8)
    46857
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    46566
  • HTC One (M8)
    44020
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    43676
  • Galaxy S5 (Snapdragon 801)
    43164
  • Xiaomi Redmi 1S
    19912

We tried out the anti-cheat version of the popular Basemark OS II benchmark and we found that the Moto X doesn't use any tricks to climb up the score table.

Basemark X

Higher is better

  • LG G3
    12436
  • HTC One (M8)
    12396
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    11855
  • LG Nexus 5
    11638
  • Galaxy S5 (Snapdragon 801)
    1066

Basemark OS II (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Oppo Find 7a
    2580
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    2573
  • HTC One (M8)
    2428
  • Galaxy S5 (Snapdragon 801)
    2415
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    2409
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    2253
  • LG G3
    1787

Basemark OS II (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Oppo Find 7a
    10256
  • Galaxy S5 (Snapdragon 801)
    10063
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    10044
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    9948
  • HTC One (M8)
    9860
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    9508
  • LG G3
    8337

Adreno 330 is widespread GPU core, embedded within the Snapdragon 800 and Snapdragon 801 chipsets. It runs on a higher frequency over the S801. The benchmark results of the Moto X are on par with similarly equipped devices.

GFX 2.7 T-Rex (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • HTC One (M8)
    28.4
  • Oppo Find 7a
    28.4
  • Galaxy S5 (Snapdragon 801)
    27.8
  • LG G3
    27.6
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    27.6
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    27.2
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    26.6
  • LG Nexus 5
    23
  • Motorola Moto X
    16

GFX 2.7 T-Rex (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • HTC One (M8)
    30.1
  • Oppo Find 7a
    28.8
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    28.7
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    28.3
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    28.2
  • Galaxy S5 (Snapdragon 801)
    28.1
  • LG Nexus 5
    24
  • LG G3
    20.6

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • LG G3
    11.9
  • Galaxy S5 (Snapdragon 801)
    11.8
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    11.7
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    11.6
  • Oppo Find 7a
    11.4
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    11.4
  • HTC One (M8)
    11.1

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia Z2
    12.2
  • HTC One (M8)
    11.9
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    11.9
  • Galaxy S5 (Snapdragon 801)
    11.7
  • Oppo Find 7a
    11.4
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    11.3
  • LG G3
    7.4

BrowserMark 2.1 tests HTML 5 performance, while Mozilla's Kraken 1.1 is JavaScript-centric. The new Moto X set both benchmarks on fire.

Kraken 1.1

Lower is better

  • Galaxy S5 (Snapdragon 801)
    6043
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    6137
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    6209
  • Oppo Find 7a
    6660
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    7041
  • LG Nexus 5
    7148
  • LG G3
    7610
  • HTC One (M8)
    10296

BrowserMark 2.1

Higher is better

  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    1600
  • Galaxy S5 (Snapdragon 801)
    1398
  • Oppo Find 7a
    1327
  • LG Nexus 5
    1286
  • LG G3
    1254
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    1224
  • HTC One (M8)
    1069
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    744

Overall, the hardware performance of the new Moto X met our expectations. The device is as powerful as just about any Android flagship out there - it handled any task we threw at it without breaking a sweat.

Phonebook

The phonebook is made up of three tabs that you can switch between with sideways swipes. The middle tab is the default one, listing all of your contacts. Contacts are listed with a name and a picture to the right. They can be sorted by first or last name, and viewed as first name or last name first.

There's a permanent scroll bar available that you can grab and jump straight to contacts starting with a certain letter. There's regular search as you type too.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

The phonebook

The quick contacts feature triggers on tapping a contact image to bring up a tabbed popup window. The tabs are _phone_ and email with a list of the available numbers or addresses. These tabs can be navigated with sideswipes as well.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

Quick contacts

Single contact view displays the contact's name along with a star to mark a contact as favorite and a Settings button that lets you edit, share or delete a contact, as well assign custom ringtones to them or set the _phone_ to redirect calls from that contact straight to voice mail.

Under that is a list of all contact info sorted by category - phone numbers, emails, events, notes and so on.

Motorola Moto X 2014

Viewing a single contact

While editing a contact, you can add various new fields to fill in more info for the contact. You can link contacts too, if you've added the same person on multiple services.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

Editing a contact

The other two major tabs in the phonebook are Groups and Favorites. Groups are listed by service (e.g. your Gmail account), while favorites are a listed as a grid of large contact photos, which is readily thumbable.

Motorola Moto X 2014

Favorites

Telephony

In-call of the Moto X is exceptional. Voices come out loud and clear and the device held on to signal without issues - hardly a surprise as its metal frame was developed from the ground up with antennas in mind.

Android 4.4.4 KitKat offers a smart phone app with new design. Upon launch it brings you to its default dialing tab where you get a search field, the most recent dialed contact and a list of contacts you've dialed most often.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

The phone app

You can bring up or hide the dialer by its dedicated shortcut at the bottom. It supports smart dialing both by name and phone numbers.

The search field on top of the page scans both your contacts and nearby places. For example, you can type Subway and you'll automatically get the nearest Subway phone number. You can turn the nearby search off from settings, of course.

There is also a standard history tab in the phone app. It has two sub-tabs - all and missed. There you get the complete history of all your phone calls.

Motorola Moto X 2014

The in-call screen

Messaging

You can choose Google Hangouts or the default messaging app to handle your text messages. Hangouts has two pages - the first one shows all of your conversations, while the second lists the people you exchanged Hangouts with, plus suggested contacts and other contacts (a.k.a. from your phonebook).

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

Google Hangouts

The messaging section is business as usual. All SMS/MMS communication is organized into threads - each thread consists of all messages between you and one of your contacts.

Each thread is organized like an IM chat session, the latest message at the bottom. You can manage individual messages (forward, copy, delete) and even lock them (to prevent deletion). You can use search to find a specific message in all conversations.

Quick contacts work here too and there's a call shortcut at the top of the screen when viewing a thread.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

Messaging

You can add multimedia (photos, videos, sounds, etc.), which will convert the message to an MMS. If you need multiple slides or multiple attachments, you can go to a full-blown MMS editor as well.

The Gmail app and the generic email app are now almost identical in both looks and functionality. They feature color-coded sender images, based on the first letter of the sender's name. Both apps support multiple accounts, but the unified inbox is available only on the default email client.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

Gmail

You can swipe left or right to move between messages in your inbox.

The Google keyboard is the default text input option out of the box. It is one of the most preferred Android keyboards out there and its screen the keys are comfortably large in both portrait and landscape mode.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

Google keyboard

Gesture typing is available as usual. Naturally, it benefits from the already existing Android word prediction, so you can just click on the words the keyboard suggests.

A tap on the text area will reveal a "handle" attached to the text cursor - it's easy and more accurate, which makes correcting mistakes easier. A double tap will bring up the select options - Select word and Select All - with two handles to adjust the start and end of the selection.

If a word has a typo, it will be underlined in red and when you tap it, the phone will offer a number of suggested corrections along with options to add the word to the phone's dictionary or just delete it.

Voice input is available as well and it works great too. It doesn't even require network connection if you download the specific language file and make it available for offline usage.

Photos and gallery

The gallery in Android 4.4.4 KitKat is called Photos. Upon opening the app you'll see two tabs - Camera and Highlights. Above those two tabs you get the Movie, Search and Settings shortcuts.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

Photos app

The movie shortcuts allows you to easily select pictures and videos from which you want to create a movie and they will be automatically added to the brand new Video Creator. After that you can add music, stitching theme and your video is ready with just a few taps.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

Creating a movie within the gallery

The Camera is a grid of your photos and videos, three on a line. The very first thumb is marked as Folders and will return you a step back to the old Album view, where you can choose to open a different album. The Gallery will always open the Camera album by default.

The new Gallery has a few hidden goodies that we almost missed. There is a hidden navigation menu pane that is revealed with a swipe from the edge of the screen anywhere in the gallery. You can easily switch Google+ accounts from there, go to Albums, Videos, Photos you are tagged in, all Google+ photos or even the deleted photos.

There is also an Auto Awesome section. It is something like a smart gallery that combines similar photos and videos in a cool way - it either exports a collage picture or a motion gif. If you like the combination the gallery has made for you, there is a dedicated shortcut to save the new picture in the gallery.

The old gallery is also on board. The Default view of the gallery is Albums, the first of which is always the Camera album, which has a camera overlay icon too. Rather than the familiar stacks, the app uses a grid of photos, two on a line.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

The old gallery app

Besides, Album view, you also get Locations (photos are grouped based on where they were taken), Times (grouped by when they were taken), People (if the photos have tagged faces in them) and Tags (these are general tags you can add manually).

A handy option is the Make available offline feature - it lets you easily select multiple online albums and download them for offline viewing. The Gallery app supports online albums from Google+ and Picasa and sync is available just like in the new Photos app. You can make all of the albums available offline.

Motorola Moto X 2014

Looking at a single photo

The settings menu lets you do simple edits to a photo (rotate, crop) or go into a more capable editor with a lot more option. The editor can be accessed from a small icon from the bottom left hand-side corner and offers light adjustments (so you can bring out the shadows or the highlights), effects, color styles, red eye correction, straightening a photo, sharpening and face glow (which detects faces automatically). Most of these options have a slider that lets you fine-tune the strength of the effect.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

Editing a photo

Video player

The video player has retained its stock Android interface. Like last year, Motorola has added much better codec support than the one found in Nexus devices. The video player is now perfectly usable out of the box - it plays a host of formats, which include H.263, H.264, MPEG4, VC-1, and VP8.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

The video player

You can also wirelessly sharing videos with a Wi-Fi enabled TV. The feature relies on DLNA technology to connect and the Miracast protocol for streaming. It's another feature most customs launchers had, but is only now making its way to the platform itself.

Google Play Music

Google Play Music is the default music player. It features Listen Now feature, which tries to determine what you like and the sequence of your track-changing so that it can start offering you music you might like to play next.

Google Play Music also gives you the option to upload music onto the Google-branded cloud and stream it on your device via Wi-Fi or mobile data. There's also the nifty option of downloading the content onto the device if you want to have there for connection-less times.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

Google Play Music

From the Settings key you can get into the equalizer. It can be turned on and off and features several equalizer presets along with a custom user defined one. If you plug in a headset, you can also play around with the Bass boost and 3D effect sliders.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

Equalizer

The Now Playing screen uses the song album art and gives you a quick shortcut to the rest of the artist's songs along with the play controls. While the player is working, the entire lockscreen features the album art and track info for the current song along with dedicated playback controls. The notification area also lets you control the playback via an expandable notification.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

Now playing screen • the notification area and the lockscreen

Very good audio output

The Motorola Moto X (2014) did pretty well in our audio quality test, even if it didn’t quite break any records. The first part of the test (the one where it's connected to an active external amplifier) saw it improve on the scores of its predecessor and do excellently for the most part.

The only two minor issues were the frequency response, which showed cut-off at extreme bass frequencies and the above average intermodulation distortion.

Plug in a pair of headphones and the Motorola Moto X (2014) shows a rather big increase in its stereo crosstalk but no other notable degradation. Just above average volume levels in both tests round up what is not quite perfect but certainly solid overall performance.

Test Frequency response Noise level Dynamic range THD IMD + Noise Stereo crosstalk
Motorola Moto X (2014) +0.09, -1.03 -93.5 90.3 0.0096 0.158 -93.8
Motorola Moto X (2014) (headphones attached) +0.09, -1.04 -93.6 90.4 0.010 0.167 -46.4
Motorola Moto X +0.25, -1.12 -91.6 91.7 0.0029 0.243 -92.8
Motorola Moto X (headphones attached) +0.24, -1.08 -91.4 91.4 0.012 0.244 -55.0
LG G3 +0.02, -0.08 -99.4 98.9 0.0016 0.035 -100.0
LG G3 (headphones attached) +0.02, -0.09 -93.7 93.3 0.0060 0.032 -78.5
Sony Xperia Z2 +0.02, -0.08 -88.2 90.1 0.0063 0.013 -88.9
Sony Xperia Z2 (headphones attached) +0.08, -0.04 -84.7 87.6 0.120 0.066 -60.2
Samsung Galaxy S5 +0.02, -0.08 -96.3 93.3 0.0017 0.0089 -95.2
Samsung Galaxy S5 (headphones) +0.01, -0.08 -96.3 93.3 0.0095 0.018 -61.9
Oppo Find 7 +0.04, -0.10 -93.8 93.1 0.0053 0.177 -94.4
Oppo Find 7 (headphones) +0.70, -0.20 -93.7 91.5 0.013 0.446 -52.6
HTC One (M8) +0.04, -0.10 -95.4 93.4 0.0012 0.010 -93.2
HTC One (M8) (headphones) +0.04, -0.08 -94.9 93.9 0.0014 0.018 -79.7

Motorola Moto X (2014) frequency response

Motorola Moto X (2014) frequency response

You can learn more about the tested parameters and the whole testing process here.

13MP camera with dual-LED flash

The new Moto X features a 13MP f/2.25camera with dual-LED flash. The latter is setup rather originally in a ring around the sensor.

The camera can be activated by a simple hand gesture. Dubbed Quick Capture, the feature works by twisting your wrist twice when holding the device.

On the software side, the camera offers HDR, burst shots and panorama. The Moto X can also shoot UHD videos at 30fps - par for the course for high-end smartphones these days. There are also features like face detection and geo-tagging that we've grown accustomed to in most phones nowadays.

The camera UI of the Moto X is quite simple. It relies completely on sliding gestures for zoom and settings - sliding from the left opens the settings, while sliding from the right opens the image gallery. Zoom works by sliding your finger up and down the screen. Capturing an image is as easy as tapping on the screen.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

The camera UI

At the front of the Moto X, there's a 2MP camera capable of 1080p video recording for video-chatting purposes.

As far as the image quality is concerned, the Moto X (2014) is mostly on par with its predecessor. The images it produces are rather noisy and with only an average amount of detail. The color rendering is decent, but the red channel often falls victim to the very limited dynamic range and clips.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014


Moto X (2014) camera samples

We do like the balance that Motorola has achieved with the HDR mode – the effect isn’t too exaggerated and doesn’t result in low contrast images, but you still get plenty of extra detail in the highlights. Given the low native dynamic range of the Moto X (2014) sensor we suggest you use this mode whenever possible.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

HDR off • on

Finally, the flash test showed that the range of the Dual-LED is rather limited – you can see that the background hasn’t been lit particularly well in this photo. The color balance with flash obviously could be better too, but the Moto X does well to produce relatively noise-free images with enough detail if you stay close enough to the subject.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

Flash off • on

UHD video camera

The UI of the video camera has remained unchanged. Video capture begins by pressing the button located in the top right corner of the app.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

The video camera

Video recording is definitely the better half of the Moto X (2014) camera performance. The smartphone produces some splendid 4K footage with excellent colors and plenty of detail. Videos are nicely smooth too and the only issue we have with them is the less than stellar dynamic range.

The 1080p clips produced by the Moto X are pretty great too, sharing many of the good traits of the 2160p videos. They do have somewhat less detail, but they also come with a much more sensible 17Mbps bitrate, compared to the 52Mbps of the 4K footage, which is rather important when you don’t have easily expandable storage.

We also have a slow-motion sample to show you – the Motorola Moto X is capable of doing those at 1080p resolution, which is pretty impressive. They don’t quite match the image quality of the regular clips, but they certainly have their uses.

The new Moto X comes with Google Chrome as the default web browser out of box instead of the generic Android browser. Chrome received a major update recently, which brought a new UI on board. It is now even more pleasant to look at.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

Google Chrome has new UI

Of course, one of Chrome's strengths is its ability to seamlessly sync with the desktop version, using nothing but your Google account. This allows you to open an article on your PC and finish reading it on your mobile phone. It also syncs your bookmarks and favorite sites.

Google Chrome is generous with the available settings as well. You can control almost every aspect of your web browsing from choosing what content you want to allow to load like JavaScript, images, cookies and pop-ups. Reduce data usage does what it says - Google servers compress the webpage (using Google-developed tech like SPDY and WebP) and send them to the phone.

Opening the tabs area reveals a list of tabs that can be closed, again with a left or right swipe. Incognito tabs let you browse without saving history or cookies.

Other apps

The Calendar has four different types of view - daily, weekly, monthly and diary (agenda). Adding a new event is quick and easy, and you can also set an alarm to act as a reminder.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

The calendar

Moto X also features the Quick Office, which supports creating, viewing and editing office files (docs, xls, ppt), and it can also read PDFs.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

Quick Office

The stock Android Calculator and Clock app (with stopwatch, world clock and timer) are available by default.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

Calculator and clock apps

The Moto app gives control of all additional features available in the Moto X. They include the superb voice commands, the IR gesture controls, the glance notifications, and Motorola Assist.

Motorola Moto X 2014

Moto app

You can operate your device via voice commands, which have been greatly improved over last years model. This time around, you can make your phone respond to any name you like - there's no need for the slightly cumbersome "ok Google Now."

Motorola Moto X 2014

Voice control setup

Thanks to the superior quad-microphone setup, the voice control in the new Moto X works superbly. We tested the device in plenty of scenarios, including loud restaurant and street environment and came out really impressed.

Motion controls via the IR sensors are simple and effective. Hovering your hand over the device can snooze the alarm in the morning, and show you time and notifications during the rest of your day.

Motorola Moto X 2014

Motion controls

Moto Assist automatically adjusts the settings of your device depending on the environment you are in. Available modes include Sleeping, Driving, Home, and Meeting. You can tweak the settings of each individually.

Motorola Moto X 2014

Moto Assist

Moto Migrate is on board too. It helps you transfer data from an iPhone or another Android smartphone to your new device.

Overall, Moto deserves credit for adding unique features to the Moto X without going overboard. All features are useful and easy to operate. Naturally, you can disable them altogether.

Final words

This year's Moto X addresses many of the hardware shortcoming its predecessor had and brings unparalleled fit and finish to its price range. The newcomer is easily among the nicest Android flagships to hold and operate. Its tactility and overall ergonomics are second to none, especially considering its substantial 5.2" display.

The range of customization options has gotten even better than last year's groundbreaking set. Our smartphone is probably among the objects we interact with the most on a daily basis, so being able to have it in a color and finish of your choosing is truly amazing. Good design and quality materials become increasingly more common these days, so the added individualism the Moto X offers really goes a long way.

Key review findings

  • Build quality and ergonomics are both exceptional
  • Moto Maker offers even more options
  • Chipset performance is stellar
  • The display is lovely to look at, but has less than perfectly accurate colors
  • Both the still and the video cameras are good
  • Battery life is rather disappointing for an Android flagship
  • Audio quality is very good, but not quite the best
  • Stereo speakers and memory card slot would have been welcome

We were pleased with the hardware of the new Moto X and its overall performance. Unlike last year's iteration that left us asking for more screen real estate and chipset oomph, the setup of this year's model will surely appeal to even the most demanding Android users.

The camera isn't too shabby either - 4K video capture and easy launch gesture make capturing memories in quality manner easy even for those who are not particularly crazy about tech.

Stock Android 4.4.4 will surely appeal for OS purists with a knack for a more upmarket hardware and build quality than your average Nexus handset. Motorola's additions to the over experience on the other hand, are useful and unobtrusive.

Our biggest gripe with the Moto X has to do with its battery. The non-removable 2,300mAh unit is only a tad bigger than last year's already modest solution, yet it has to power up a lot more hardware this time around. The battery endurance we recorded is therefore far from amazing.

The 16GB version we tested disappointed us, as it offered roughly 11GB of user-available memory out of the box. Considering the UHD video capture and the size of today's high-end video games (Real Racing 3 is a 2.1GB download for example), we strongly recommend that you opt for the 32GB model.

Stereo speakers and expandable memory would have been welcome too. We can't help but feel a tad jealous of the new Moto G, which offers both for a lot less money.

Speaking of money, the 2014 Moto X is priced at $99.99 with a contract, and $499.99 without one. As always, here are some alternatives for similar budget.

HTC One (M8) far exceeds the new Moto X when it comes to premium feel, although it somewhat lacks the great ergonomics of the Motorola flagship. The Taiwanese offering comes with stereo speakers and better display, but the shortcomings of its camera are well documented. HTC One (M8) can be found below $100 on contract, but will cost more than the 2014 Moto X without one.

HTC One (M8)

HTC One (M8)

Samsung Galaxy S5 and LG G3 both offer massive feature sets and superior displays. However, the handling pales in comparison to the curved Moto X. Both Korean offerings hover around $100 on a contract.

Samsung Galaxy S5
LG G3

Samsung Galaxy S5 • LG G3

Sony Xperia Z2 and its successor, the Xperia Z3 are also worth a look, thanks to the combination of looks, hardware, and water resistance they offer. The former's price has settled in the $500 range off contract. Sony Xperia Z3 however, will be much more expensive.

Sony Xperia Z2
Sony Xperia Z3

Sony Xperia Z2 • Sony Xperia Z3

LG Nexus 5 entices with stock UI and lower price tag. However, it offers inferior hardware and plastic body. Its replacement (allegedly made by Motorola) is due soon as well.

LG Nexus 5

LG Nexus 5

Apple iPhone 6, Nokia Lumia 930/Icon, and HTC One (M8) for Windows are for those who want to consider alternatives from other OS ecosystems. Cupertino's latest starts at $199.99 ($299 for the 32GB version), while the Windows phone 8.1 duo can be found for $100 on contract (the M8 even offers microSD card slots for much cheaper expansion).

Apple iPhone 6
Nokia Lumia Icon
Nokia Lumia 930
HTC One (M8) for Windows

Apple iPhone 6 • Nokia Lumia Icon • Nokia Lumia 930 • HTC One (M8) for Windows

All things considered, the new Motorola Moto X is hardly the perfect smartphone, but it certainly is a pretty great one. And what it doesn't have in terms of battery life, camera prowess or premium build materials, it excellently makes up with ergonomics and pricing. The newcomer requires a lot less compromise than last year's model, so it is much easier to recommend - it is certainly among the most characterful smartphones to come out in 2014 and one you are unlikely to regret purchasing.

Unboxing

The new Moto X comes in a compact retail box, which contains the basics. You get a charger, a USB cable, a tool for replacing the nano-SIM card, as well as the usual set of booklets.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

The retail package of the smartphone

Of course, Motorola offers a number of additional accessories for the new Moto X. The most notable new additions include the characterful Moto Hint wireless headset, a Motorola Turbo Charger (it gives you 8 hours of juice in only 15 minutes), as well as a compact Motorola Power Pack.


Moto Hint

We reckon that a bundled headset would have been a welcome sight inside the box of the New Moto X. However, the handset's attractive pricing in comparison to its competitors leaves you with plenty to budget for new headphones.

Design and build quality

The new Moto X follows the exact same design language as its predecessor, which was one of the better-looking devices to go out last year. Thanks to the metal frame and the available genuine leather and wood choices, the 2014 model elevates the familiar appearance to a bona fide luxury levels.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

The new Moto X in the flesh

It is truly impressive what the combination of metal and natural materials can do the appearance of a phone. The new Moto X is unmistakably a Motorola, though one that screams upmarket.

Another major point in the design of the Moto X is the Moto Maker customization suite. It allows users to literally have their smartphone their own way.


Some of the available color options for the back of the Moto X

Just like last year, the available color options for the front of the Moto X are black and white. Once again, you can have the back and the accent colors any way you like; you can also add a custom engraving on the back. The metal frame is available in light or dark aluminum finish.

Build quality of the second generation Moto X is superb. The smartphone is impeccably put together with metal chassis and front panel covered by Corning Gorilla Glass 3 - it can rival the best offerings out there, regardless of the manufacturer.

Physical measures of the new Moto X are 72.4mm x 140.8mm x 3.8-9.9mm, while its weight tips the scale at 144 grams. Due to the larger display, the 2014 model has crown considerably in width and height compared to the original (129.3 x 65.3 x 10.4 mm and 130 grams).

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

Moto X (2014) sized up against last year's model

Handling

Thanks to its curved body that follows the shape of the human palm, the new Moto X is among the most pleasant devices one can handle. The premium materials deliver superb tactility as well, especially when finished in genuine leather like our test unit.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

Handling the new Moto X

The varying thickness of the smartphone benefits is handling a great deal. The thickest point of the device is right in the middle where the human palm actually curves - just like the in the 2013 model, it separates the device from the pack in terms of ergonomics.

Display

Moto X (2014) totes a 5.2" AMOLED display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. In line with what's offered in most of today's Android flagships, the screen represents a massive upgrade over its predecessor in terms of both size and resolution.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

The display of the Moto X

The display boasts infinite contrast (as expected from an AMOLED unit), coupled with stellar viewing angles and brightness. With a pixel density of 424ppi, all content looks sharp.

Motorola Moto X 2014
Motorola Moto X 2014

A closer look at the display of the Moto X

As expected, the display's colors are extremely saturated. They are amazing to look at, but not as accurate as some would have preferred.

Strangely enough, sunlight legibility is the screen's Achilles heel. Content is difficult to read under bright sunlight - something rather atypical for AMOLED panels.

Overall, the display of the new Moto X is massive improvement over its predecessor's. However, its sunlight legibility puts it slightly behind today's best screens. Most users however, will likely enjoy the saturated, if a bit inaccurate color reproduction.