A year ago, Motorola, having been recently released from ownership by Google, relaunched itself with the aim, they say, to ‘give you more meaningful choices that put you in control of your mobile experience.’ This rather nonsense phrase has translated into a new range of mobile phone handsets, which have recently been updated with the launch of 2014 editions of the Moto X and Moto G smartphones, a website which allows you to customise your phone, a Moto 360 watch and new wireless earphones.

The website certainly offers lots of choices, including a choice of different colours of leather and wood for the back, as well as coloured plastic; a range of different colours for the mouthpiece and earpiece; and different colours for the bevels around the phone and around the logo on the back. You also get the option have a line of text engraved on the back, and a welcome message hard coded into the power-on screen. These all seem like great ideas, to make the phone very much yours, but we wonder how they’ll affect the resale price if you’re the sort of person who likes to sell their old phone, rather than pop it into a drawer and forget about it.

Moto Maker

The Motorola website also claims to offer the option to have your phone all neatly set up for you, taking the backup files from your Google account, but that hadn’t worked when we got our phone, and we had to do it all manually.

Getting started

Which takes us on to perhaps the most frustrating aspect of getting a new Android phone – backups are difficult, if not impossible. Apple certainly don’t have the backup and restore functionality perfect on their phones, but at least it works. Most of the time, apps will be restored (even if it takes a while) and so will the settings; but there doesn’t seem to be any reliable backup system for Android, and we ended up using Helium to save a backup on our old phone (it never worked properly when we tried saving the files straight to Dropbox) and Foldersync to copy those files to our Dropbox. Next, we used Airdroid to copy all the files to our new phone. More than a bit of a palaver, especially since it didn’t quite work properly.

To be fair, Motorola does have a backup and restore service of its own, but that’s only of any use if you had a Motorola phone already.

The display

The new Moto X features a 5.2” Full HD display, making the phone bigger than the 2013 generation, and designed to catch up with competitors who seem to believe that bigger is better. In truth, although the screen is crisp, with bright, vivid colours, we’re not convinced that bigger is any better, since most of the apps simply display exactly the same thing, just a bit zoomed in. Text and graphics are simply larger – not a great help most of the time. However, the phone doesn’t feel much bigger in your hand than a smaller model, thanks to the curved back which fits comfortably in your palm. The display is AmoLED (which isn’t a silly marketing term – it’s short for active-matrix organic light-emitting diode), which means only the LEDs which need to be use are actually on at any time, potentially saving battery and giving a potentially jet black background.

Motorola has done away with ridiculous software skins, which we were grateful for – they seem to believe, and we agree, that Google has spent plenty of money on making Android look pretty good, and that they have done lots of use testing to prove that people like it. After all, why should a mobile phone company, with significantly less resources, think they can do better?

Moto X

However, what Motorola have done, is introduce extra pieces of software which you can choose to use if you want: for example, you can program the phone to respond to your voice using a phrase of your choice (as if we’re ever going to say ‘Hey Moto X, what’s up?’ to our phone in the street!), allowing you to check your calendar, the weather, make and receive phone calls and send text messages, all hands free.

They also have some cool extra features which make great use of the various sensors: you can wave at it or simply pick it up to wake the display, or to dismiss a call or an alarm; and it knows when you’re looking at it, so is clever enough not to dim the display.

Battery life

Battery life seemed pretty good to us, and while we certainly didn’t do any scientific tests, we were pleased that playing our favourite game, Bubble Safari for hours at a time, didn’t seem to deplete the 2,300mAh nearly as much as on our previous phone, a Google Nexus 5.

As a comparison, the 5.1″ Samsung Galaxy S5 has a 2,800mAh battery and the LG G3 has a 3,000 mAh battery – but as we said, bigger isn’t always better, because it depends what else the phone’s doing and how well all the extra add on software is programmed.

Sadly, Motorola decided not to integrate wireless charging. We’re not sure if that’s to save room inside the case, or because QI chargers aren’t very efficient, with lots of power disappearing in heat.

It comes with a double USB charger, so you can charge something else as well as your phone at once. Motorola also sell a special super turbo charger, which gives you up to eight more hours of battery life in just 15 minutes – but that’s only available in the US, so far.


We weren’t disappointed… it’s not earth shatteringly fast, but we averaged about 2Mbps faster on 4G using the new Moto X than we could on our old Nexus 5. Apps load quickly, with fewer delays than we’ve ever seen, even on the painfully slow new Facebook app. Again, not a scientific test – there are websites far more geeky than us, who can do that kind of thing far better than we could).

We were also impressed with the antennas – the phone kept a strong signal for a lot longer in places where previously we’ve had either nothing, or dropped down to Edge or GPRS.

The camera

Apparently, the phone has a flash, though we’ve not used it, as every phone we’ve ever had has created the most awful photos when lit with the cold LED light of a phone’s flash. We’d rather not take a photo than have to use the flash – so it’s just as well that the camera performs well in both bright and low light. The software seems to be improved on stock Android – we’re not a fan of messing about with Instagram-style filters, but we do like to be able to adjust colour curves, in order to brighten shadows without making the overall photo too light. HDR mode works well, too.

Again, Motorola’s come up with a cool way to use the sensor: there’s an option to enable flicking your wrist a couple of times to use the camera, instead of having to slide the lock screen to the left. Think what you could do with an extra second or two in your life!

Having unplugged the phone at around 9am, by the end of the day at 6.30pm, it was still showing 58 per cent, even though we used the phone regularly throughout the day, which to us isn’t bad at all.

Call quality

Ever since we got rid of our old Nokia NK702 about 20 years ago, the quality of calls seems to be have been getting progressively worse as manufacturers concentrate instead on adding features. That’s reversing with the Moto X – the quality of calls is exceptionally good, and we’re finally happy to talk to our mum on our mobile again.


We think the Motorola Moto X is one of the best phones on the market – competitive with the iPhone 6. We were impressed by the speed and the battery life, and the fact that we could personalise the phone to make it very much our own. Motorola seem keen to make sure their customers have the latest version of Android – last time the OS was updated, it was pushed out to their phones just a couple of weeks later. So we’re pretty sure this will be a phone that we’ll be keeping for a while.


Moto X is available from Amazon and the Motorola website from £419.99.