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8/2/2013
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Moto X: Pros And Cons

Motorola's Moto X, an American-made smartphone, can be built-to-order. Examine the best and worst features of the device.

Google Nexus 7, Chromecast: Visual Tour
Google Nexus 7, Chromecast: Visual Tour
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Motorola introduced the Moto X this week, its first smartphone to be fully developed after the company was purchased by Google. Motorola did not create the Moto X to compete with the hardware of high-end super phones. Instead, Motorola is aiming even higher: It wants to change how we interact with our devices. It just might succeed in attaining that goal if people actually buy the Moto X.

Motorola insists the Moto X is about the experience, about what you can do with the phone. Many people don't see it that way, and forums across the Web were quick to fill with complaints about aspects of the Moto X's hardware and other features. Here are some pros and cons about the Moto X.

The Pros

-- Customizable Shells: One of the Moto X's neatest features is that it can be custom built to the owner's tastes. Motorola created a website, called Moto Maker, that allows consumers to pick the color of the X's case, accents and other features. The X is then assembled at Motorola's plant in Ft. Worth, Texas, and shipped within four days. What's not to like about that?

[ Take a closer look: Meet Motorola's Moto X. ]

-- Innovative Software: Motorola made some customizations to the Android platform that make several key features easier to use. For example, the Active Display lets owners see and interact with notifications in a quick and novel way, and the Quick Capture feature lets owners fire up the camera with flick of the wrist.

-- Touchless Control: Touchless Control puts Apple's Siri to shame. Motorola put Google Now on steroids, and the result is Touchless Control. Moto X owners can speak to the phone, even when it is asleep, to issue commands and perform dozens of different actions. The software requires that owners train it a bit first, but it will then serve as an always-available personal assistant that will respond to most requests.

-- Solid Form Factor: The Moto X is very small, considering that it has a 4.7-inch screen. Other devices that have a 4.7-inch screen, such as the HTC One and Nexus 4, are much bigger and heavier. The Moto X is fairly tough, thanks to its Kevlar-lined backing. The internal components are protected from sweat (but not the swimming pool) thanks to a nano-coating on the circuit board and other delicate parts. As small as it is, the Moto X houses a 2200-mAh battery, which Google says is good for 24 hours of active use.

The Cons

-- Limited Storage: The Moto X comes in two storage options: 16 GB or 32 GB. There is not 64-GB model, nor is there a memory card expansion slot. That means the most storage available to the device is 32 GB. For some, 32 GB may not be enough local storage. To offset this, however, Motorola is giving every Moto X owner 50 GB of Google Drive space for two years.

-- Display: The Moto X has a 720p HD display, not a 1080p HD display. Nearly all high-end phones, and even some midrange phones, are shipping with full HD screens. It's not clear why Motorola didn't go with a better display in the X, though cost is the most likely issue.

-- Price: People are furious about the Moto X's retail price. Carriers in the U.S. are selling it for $199/$249 (16 GB/32 GB, respectively) with a new contract. So far, only AT&T has shared the full retail cost, which is $575/$630 for the 16-GB and 32-GB models, respectively. The full retail price at other carriers will be nearly identical to the prices AT&T has listed. Many incorrectly assumed that the Moto X might be priced like the Nexus 4, which costs $299 and doesn't require a contract.

-- Availability: The custom-ordered Moto X may be great, but it is exclusive to AT&T. If you're a Sprint, T-Mobile or Verizon customer, you're out of luck, at least for a while. Verizon said that it will offer the customization feature later this year, but didn't commit to any sort of time frame. AT&T and Sprint are launching the Moto X at the end of August, but T-Mobile won't sell the phone directly at all. People who want to use the Moto X on T-Mobile's network will have to buy it from Motorola instead.

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