Motorola has officially unveiled the Moto X. The Google-owned company took the wraps off the much-anticipated Android phone this afternoon, confirming weeks of leaks, hints and speculation in the process.
Those leaks had already unveiled much of what the Moto X can do, so the big questions coming into today were what the flagship’s price and availability would be. Motorola had hinted that it will come cheap, but the device will cost a fairly standard $200 on contract. That will be for the 16 GB version, but AT&T will exclusively carry a 32 GB model for $50 more.
Other Google-heavy handsets like the Nexus 4 have been available for cheaper, but the Moto X will have the advantage of being more widely available. It’ll arrive at all the major carriers–Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint–US Cellular, and Best Buy at an unspecified time in late August or early September. An unlocked version through Google Play will arrive at a later date. It’ll arrive exclusively on Rogers Wireless in Canada, and it will hit Latin America as well. So far Motorola has not made any plans for a European launch.
Those who have been up on their tech news shouldn’t be surprised to hear most of the device’s official details. The phone does indeed pack a 4.7-inch 720p OLED display, which is good for a solid 316 pixels per inch. Physically, it comes comes in a curved back made out of what Motorola calls “composite” materials.
As far as specs go, the Moto X is powered by Motorola’s new X8 engine, which was first announced with the company’s newest line of Droid phones. It packs a Snapdragon S4 Pro chip with a 1.7 GHz dual-core Krait processor and a quad-core Adreno 320 GPU. 2 GB of RAM is also on board.
It carries a 2,220 mAh battery that Motorola claims can last up to 24 hours with mixed usage, a 2-megapixel front-facing camera and a 10-megapixel rear-facing camera. Nano-SIM support is here, as are a range of other expected features like Bluetooth 4.0 LE, 802.11a Wi-Fi, Miracast, NFC and the like. Buying one will also net you 50 GB of Google Drive cloud storage for two years.
Those internals put the Moto X noticeably behind rival flagships like the iPhone 5, HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 in terms of raw power, but Motorola has long said that its newest phone will try to outdo the competition with its software and customization features.
With regard to the latter, Motorola has confirmed previous rumors and said that you’ll be able to customize the look of the Moto X with a variety of options.
Accessing an online store dubbed Moto Maker will let you choose a black or white faceplate and one of 18 colors for the device’s back cover. Sometime in Q4 of this year, Motorola will make a few wooden backs available as part of these personalization options. Seven separate colors can be chosen to accent the phone’s volume rocker, power button and camera circle too. And as expected, you can get a personalized message engraved on the back, and a custom wallpaper pre-installed as well.
Here’s the catch, though: All of that will be exclusive to AT&T customers. If you purchase the Moto X through anyone else, your options will be limited to black and white. Using Moto Maker online will have the device customized in Motorola’s much-touted manufacturing facility in Texas, while those who want to buy the phone through retail will need to place an order and use a special voucher to personalize the device through the web. Motorola says all custom orders will be filled in four days or less. If you don’t like your original choices, you’ll get two weeks to redesign or return your model.
As for software, the Moto X carries many of the same Google-centric features that were revealed with the new Droids. It runs a near-stock version of Android 4.2.2 (not the just-released Android 4.3), and can be activated and commanded with the phrase “OK Google Now.”
So, taking the phone out of your pocket and saying that will turn the device on, while saying something along the lines of “OK Google Now call Alex” will make it call up your friend Alex. The Moto X’s software trains itself to specifically listen out for your voice, again like the Droid Ultra and company, which makes it so only you can activate it.
The Moto X also shares similar camera features as its Droid cousins. It too lets users immediately access the camera interface through three quick flicks of the device, while the interface itself can take photos when you press anywhere on the display.
The device features Motorola’s “Active Notification” tech, which displays icons for whatever notifications you’ve missed on the Moto X’s display in a low-power state. Touching them will take you right to the app in question. The phone has the same “Driving Mode” of the Droids too, as it will use its internal sensor to know when you’re in a car and adjust itself to a driving-friendly state.
Another software feature that was released just earlier today is Motorola Connect, an extension of the Google Chrome browser that lets you reply to the Moto X’s text messages and view incoming calls through the web. Connect is also compatible with the Droid Ultra, Maxx and Mini.
Motorola Migrate, meanwhile, uses a QR code to move all of your previous Android phone’s call and text history, media, contacts and the like to either the Moto X or one of the three new Droid phones.
The Moto X comes at a crucial time for Motorola and, to a lesser extent, Google. The former has languished in recent years, falling from its spot as top Android phone maker to well behind Samsung and Apple in terms of smartphone market share.
Google, on the other hand, has come under fire for not facilitating any significant devices from Motorola after purchasing it for $12.5 billion several months ago.
The device is the first Motorola phone to be entirely created and released since that acquisition. It marks something of a turning point in that it’s the closest Google has come to releasing an Android phone designed entirely in-house, rather than relying on completely distinct, third-party hardware manufacturers like LG, Asus and others.
Google is said to be spending hundreds of millions of dollars in Moto X advertising, so it’s hoping that the Moto X’s personalization options and unique set of software features will make it a hit. Whether or not it will, though, will be determined over the coming months.