Upgrader’s Guide – The New Moto X

Motorola unveiled the successor to the Moto X in Chicago, and while the public expected to be let it on the event, the press-only gathering and 2 a.m. news embargo on any articles, pictures or videos kept most interested smartphone customers in the dark. Then the embargo lifted, and we all experienced the powerful flood of articles, hands-on videos and spec comparisons. Luckily for Motorola, the new Moto X looks so good, I’m willing to forgive being made to wait. But you don’t want to wait any longer. Is the new Moto X worth your upgrade? Let’s find out. (Spoiler alert: It totally is!)

Last year’s Moto X took the world by surprise as a solid phone with near-stock Android and a collection of features that elevated its user experience beyond those of other flashier flagships. Touchless Control allowed users to access Google Now hands-free without even needing the screen to be awake. Active Notifications brought always-there notifications without draining the phone’s battery. And Moto Assist featured contextual awareness of its user, muting notifications and silencing calls while sleeping or during meetings, and bringing special voice control options while you’re driving. Good thing it had these unique features, too, because the original Moto X’s specs were underwhelming compared with other flagships. Even with its excellent user experience, the Moto X’s sales didn’t match its critical acclaim, and its lackluster specs may have shouldered much of that blame.



This year, it seems Motorola took the hint. The new Moto X addressed many of its original generation model’s weaknesses. It’s powered by the same quad-core 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor found in all the top flagships, a big leap from the original’s dual-core 1.7GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro. It boasts a bigger 5.2-inch AMOLED display with a sharper 1080p resolution and 423 pixels per inch, a huge improvement from the first generation’s 4.7-inch 720p display and 316ppi. And the rear camera has jumped from 10MP to 13MP. The original Moto X did not support microSD cards but neither does the new one. Check, check, check and check. Weaknesses addressed. Here’s the new Moto X, right? Wrong. 

Motorola wasn’t content to simply upgrade the specs and push out a new model, it went ahead and beefed up its strengths as well. The first Moto X sported a pleasant but plastic design. The new Moto X boasts a premium aluminum and glass build. Motorola’s special features on top of stock Android made for a great user experience that helped the original Moto X feel like no other phone. The new Moto X has features that make it seem like the phone was destined for your hands and your hands alone. Moto Voice expands on Touchless Control by allowing you to interact with third-party apps with just your voice. And no more saying, “OK, Google Now” to your phone; make up your own customized voice command. Moto Assist got smarter, too; it knows when you’re sleeping or driving or when you’re in a meeting and can’t be disturbed. And it knows when to turn all your notifications and sounds back on. Moto Display replaces Active Notifications. Now three notifications can pulse on the Moto X screen instead of just one. If you need to see one, just touch and hold the icon to see more. Swipe left or right to see more and without ever waking the phone. Moto Actions brings gesture controls to the Moto X. It can sense when your hand is approaching and will activate Moto Display. Got an incoming phone call and you don’t want to answer it? Just wave your hand to silence the call; this works as a snooze gesture as well when an alarm you’ve set goes off.

So should you upgrade to the new Moto X? In the words of Ferris Bueller: “If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.” If you’re due for an upgrade, this is a no-brainer. Grab a new Moto X for $99 on contract or $499 unlocked, you lucky dog. The new Moto X has the specs to compete with any flagship and also has features you won’t get with any other device. Looking forward to the arrival of Android L and Material Design this fall? Outside of Google’s own Nexus line, the new Moto X should be the fastest flagship to get Google’s newest version of its mobile operating system.

If you have the original Moto X, do you need to upgrade to the new Moto X? That depends. If you’re in a contract, stuff down your phone envy and enjoy the remainder of your time with the original Moto X; it’s a great device. If you own your first-generation model outright, and you’re comfortable with shelling out the money to upgrade, you won’t be sorry to sell off the old X to pick up the new X.

Personally, this is the most exciting device I’ve seen all year, and I’m hopeful my budget has room for the new Moto X when it’s time for me to upgrade. Check back with iTechTriad for the latest news and details about Motorola’s newest flagship. Will you be upgrading?