Google tries to recapture the Motorola magic with Moto X
My first real mobile phone was a Motorola Razr V3. It was the first of the line and I somehow managed to find some $750 to be an early adopter of the device.
In some sense, the Razr was the first mobile phone to really feature design. It was a flip phone and mine was silver, with an keypad that lit up with blue LED lights. It was the closest I’ve ever been to owning a Star Trek communicator and I loved it. It’s still in a drawer here in my office. Somewhere.
But with the arrival of Apple’s iPhone, the early mobile phone providers have struggled to stay relevant. Nokia is a shell of what it once was, relegated to designing hardware for Microsoft software. And Motorola’s mobile division, which tried unsuccessfully to stake out market space by making Android devices, was headed for extinction until Google purchased it last spring.
That deal was made, at least in part, so Google could snatch ownership of vital patents and intellectual property. But it also gave the search and software company its own hardware division, where previously it tended to partner with other manufacturers such as HTC and Samsung.
Available only from Rogers in Canada, the Moto X is certainly a sleek device. It doesn’t have the clamshell design of the Razr, but the handset tapers to a blade-like edge that is reminiscent of the sharp angles of those trendsetting mobile phones.
It’s also not as large as the Android smartphones from other manufacturers, but at five inches, it sits comfortably in my hand without me constantly feeling like it’s going to fall to the ground. And because there’s no button on the front of the device—only the on and volume buttons on the right edge—almost its entire size is devoted to the substantial 4.7-inch screen. The 720 x 1280 pixel display is AMOLED (active-matrix organic light-emitting diode), so it’s energy-efficient even if it might not have the colour saturation of some others.
The other thing missing from the Moto X that makes it better is the glut of apps and software services that other Android smartphone manufacturers have installed and integrated with the operating system. As the Moto X is a Google product, the pre-loaded programs are minimal and essential. Filling up the rest of the screen with icons is left entirely to you.
The Moto X is currently running the Jelly Bean version of the Android operating system, which means that integrated into the handset is Google Now. This latest service from the company tacts as a full-featured personal assistant that tracks a user’s preferences and inclinations, and serves up recommendations and suggestions without even being asked to.
In the Moto X, Google Now is voice activated. While individual experiences with the accuracy of the voice recognition will vary, what everyone will appreciate is that the Moto X is always listening for your voice, so you don’t have to push a button to trigger the feature.
One of the big selling points when the Moto X was released was how the cases could be fully customized. So far, though, the Moto Maker service is only available to U.S. customers through AT&T.
Customization aside, though, the Moto X is a worthy Google product, and a superior Android device. It may not make me feel like I’m aboard the Enterprise, but it does make me feel like I have a place in the future.