Google is preparing to launch the Nexus 5 in the coming days or weeks, and at this point the details of Google’s Nexus 4 successor are as well known as many device that are already available on the market. Google still lists the Nexus 4, but last week showcased the Nexus 5 on Google Play for about 30 minutes, showing the price, official design and hinting at an imminent release.
The Nexus 5 will be the go to device for many Android users who love the fast updates and feature additions that Google delivers to this product line, but the Nexus is no longer the only device users should consider. There are many great Android smartphones on the market, including another Google owned device — the Moto X.
The Moto X earned a Gotta Be Mobile Editor’s Choice award for a great design, mass customization options and intelligent software features. The Moto X may not see an Android 4.4 update as fast as the Nexus 5, but it remains a great smartphone that shoppers should keep in mind while waiting for the Nexus 5 and looking for a new smartphone this fall.
The Moto X doesn’t have all the high-end specs that we expect from the Nexus 5, but thanks to the optimized software and a focus on how you’ll actually use the device, the Moto X might be a better fit for many users.
As we eagerly await the Nexus 5 announcement, here’s a look at how it compares to the Moto X.
The Moto X release arrived in August, coming to AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint, U.S. Cellular, Rogers Wireless and soon after Republic Wireless. The Moto X is now available on a range of carriers that offer widespread 4G LTE coverage, a variety of plan prices and thanks to contracts a lot of deals.
While the Moto X is available on all of these carriers some users are still waiting for the Moto Maker version, or the customizable Moto X to arrive on Verizon and other carriers. Verizon will reportedly offer the customizable Moto X starting on November 11th, and rumors also suggest Best Buy will carry the Moto Maker version this year.
While there is no official Nexus 5 launch date, all signs point to a very swift Nexus 5 release date. Google started a sneaky marketing blitz for the Nexus 5 by including it in the Android 4.4 video, which it later pulled. Since then the company placed the Nexus 5 in the Google Play Store and multiple leaks throughout the last several weeks indicate something is coming fast.
Users who are trying to decide between the Moto X and the Nexus 5 should spend some time checking out the Moto X ahead of the Nexus 5 announcement and release. The Nexus 5 could be hard to find for the first several weeks, so we suggest buyers know that they want it and be ready to order as soon as it is announced.
The Nexus 4 was a nice looking phone, but users quickly found that the glass back was too fragile, resulting in many broken glass backs. The Nexus 5 will use a new design that mirrors the Nexus 7. Even though Google did not announce the device yet, the photo renders shown on Google Play and the FCC filing confirm what the Nexus 5 looks like.
If this is the same smooth black matte material as the Nexus 7, buyers can expect a plastic device, but one that is not plasticky like early Samsung devices. In our Nexus 7 review we highlighted the new design, writing, “A soft matte-black finish is still easy to grip, but feels more like a premium device.”
The Moto X design is not metal like the iPhone 5s or HTC One, but it is also a premium design. The composite material that makes up the back of the Moto X also offers a soft touch feel and is decidedly not plastic, like the Droid Ultra and early Samsung devices. The Nexus 5 will likely come in black, and possibly in white at a later time, but users can completely customize the look of the Moto X to fit their style. This is a huge win for Motorola to pull off, and the delivery of a custom Moto X is measured in days, as the device is assembled in Texas.
The Moto X is easy to hold for one-handed use as it is not much larger than the iPhone 5s. We don’t know the exact Nexus 5 measurements yet, but it is possible that the two devices will be similar in size.
The Moto X does not use a 1080P HD display like many of the Android devices, focusing on delivering a good user experience instead of nitpicking over specs. While we are picky about displays, when done a 1280 x 720 resolution on a powerful smartphone is not an issue.
The Moto X features a 4.7-inch display with a 1280 x 720 resolution. The display is nice to look at and delivers easy to read, crisp text and a great canvas to look at photos. The best news here is that the older Pentile displays that made some Motorola displays look bad are no longer in use.
The Nexus 5 display is pegged at 5-inches with a 1920 x 1080 resolution, that’s as high as most HDTVs. This will deliver a pixel-per-inch rating of 441, which is quite high and should help deliver great looking text, photos and videos. We’ll need to wait for the Nexus 5 release to see how the display delivers colors, but it is shaping up to be a winner.
The 5-inch display is the same size as the Galaxy S4. The photo above shows the Moto X and Galaxy S4 next to each other for comparison.
The Moto X doesn’t show up to fight a battle of specs with other Android phones, which is OK because the device delivers in performance and user experience, but here’s what’s under the hood. Users get a 1.7Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB and 32GB options and a 4.7-inch display with a 1280 x 720 resolution. The Moto X features a 10.5MP rear facing camera and a 2.1 MP front facing camera. There is no Micro SD card or removable battery. The built-in battery is 2,200mAh.
The Moto X camera is capable of taking great photos, but the software still tries to do to much on it’s own resulting in some photos that show a bright sky instead of a bright subject, merely because the phone decided that’s what you wanted.
The Google Nexus 5 specs are all but confirmed as follows; a Snapdragon 800 processor, 2GB RAM, 16GB and 32GB options and a 2,300mAh battery. The 5-inch display will use a 1920 x 1080 resolution and there should be a 8MP rear facing camera with optical image stabilization. We may see on board wireless charging and we do not expect a micro SD card slot or access to the battery.
Android 4.4 will be the big software feature of the Nexus 5, along with the promise of fast updates to future versions. While all signs point to a modest Android 4.4 update feature set that focuses on getting more devices running the latest versions, Nexus owners may see better performance thanks to the work of a team that Google bought nearly a year ago, but just announced. Google sped up Android with Project Butter in a previous release, and we could see more speed enhancements coming.
The Nexus 5 will run stock Android, or vanilla Android as some call it. This means no third-party apps installed and no skins that change the look of Android and ultimately slow down future updates. While some users prefer skins, many also like the look of stock Android on the Nexus 7.
The Nexus 5 will likely see faster updates than the Moto X. Even though Google owns Motorola Mobility, the companies operate separately. Users can expect carriers to get in the way of fast updates, even as Motorola announces them. The Moto X Android 4.4 update will likely arrive carrier, by carrier over a period of weeks or months.
The Moto X uses a slightly skinned version of Android and includes many smart software features like the ability to unlock it when a Bluetooth device is paired with it or an NFC sticker is present as well as intelligent call blocking while in meetings and smart voice responses if it detects the user is driving.
Two of the biggest Moto X software features are Active Display and the ability to always listen for Google Now commands. Users can say, “OK Google Now,” followed by a command to access Google Now without touching the device. This is incredibly handy and it is something we could see in the Nexus 5 thanks to the always listening abilities of the processor.
Active Display is the best way to view and use smartphone notifications. When you get a notification the display lights up briefly to show it to you, including the most important details so you know with a glance if you need to reply. This system makes LED light notifications look quaint and useless. It’s not clear if Google will bring this feature to the Nexus 5 as it appears to be part of Motorola’s toolbox, but we hope Motorola shares this excellent feature with the Nexus and Android 4.4.
The Moto X is available on all major U.S. carriers and soon the customization options will spill over to Verizon and others, completing the availability ofd the Moto X. The Nexus 5 on the other hand is not likely to hit as many carriers at release.
The Nexus 5 carriers include AT&T and T-Mobile with Sprint as a possibility. It does not look like we will see a Verizon Nexus 5. After a plethora of issues and slow updates it appears Google and Verizon may not team up for a Nexus until Google can sell one unlocked that Verizon will not control updates for.
The Nexus 5 features LTE, as does the Moto X, which means fast data speeds where LTE coverage exists. On AT&T that list of LTE markets is growing, but T-Mobile and Sprint are still behind AT&T and Verizon.
Thanks to the Google Play Store we know that the Nexus 5 price starts at $349 without a contract. This means the Nexus 5 32GB price should arrive at $399. This is significantly cheaper than the Moto X off contract price which is, $579 for the 16GB model.
The Moto X looks cheaper on a two-year contract, as the price drops to $199 on most carriers. If users want to skip the customization options the Moto X is as low as $50 on Verizon when purchased through Amazon, with a two-year contract. Users pay for part of the phone with higher prices and the inability to upgrade at will, but the up front cost is significantly cheaper, which is hard to ignore.
If the Nexus 5 comes to T-Mobile and AT&T stores, not just Google Play, we could see it on T-Mobile Jump and AT&T Next, which could mean $0 down and monthly payments of roughly $15 for two years.