At an event in New York today, Google and Motorola unveiled the long-anticipated Motorola Moto X. You can read about specs and first hands-on reviews on Techmeme. The phone is getting a generally enthusiastic response from those that have received early demo units. (We don’t have one.)
From an overall design standpoint, it’s a giant leap ahead of the previous Motorola “Droid” handsets. That’s partly because it’s the first phone designed following the $12.5 billion Google acquisition of Motorola.
The phone has a 4.7 inch display and a 10 MP camera. The design generally reminds one of the Samsung Galaxy S4 but Moto X offers a high degree of customization and color choices (not available from all carriers). The battery life is a stand-out feature, which Motorola says will last 24 hours but remains to be seen in real-world testing.
The handset is made in the US, which could be a tie-breaker for some. And the marketing (“designed by you, assembled in the USA”) takes a swipe at Apple (“designed in California, assembled in China”).
Moto X also heavily promotes voice control features on the device (see the video below). For example, users can initiate Google Now (which emerges as more of an “assistant” than ever) through the use of speech without touching the device — much like the wake-up phrase “OK Glass” initiates Google Glass operation.
One could argue that Moto X, and not the Nexus devices, is Google’s true answer to the iPhone. Indeed, it appears to be a beautiful phone and should give Samsung (and perhaps the iPhone) a run for its money.
Motorola has seen its smartphone market share continue to decline over the past two years. Moto X is a bid to get back into the Android conversation. The phone is equally important for Google as a hedge against Samsung’s total dominance of Android sales.
According to new numbers from Strategy Analytics, Android represented nearly 80 percent of global smartphone shipments in the second quarter:
The Moto X is priced at $199 with a two-year contract. It will be available from all major US carriers, though AT&T has additional customization options. There will be a Google Play edition but there’s no word yet on the cost of the unlocked phone.
The following is one of two new TV commercials for the Moto X, which emphasizes Google Now and voice control. The commercial is not unlike one that might have been made by Apple promoting Siri as a differentiating feature.