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Nexus 5 vs. Moto X (Rumored)

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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.

Release Date

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.

The Moto X release date is past, but users are still waiting for customization to arrive on other carriers.

The Moto X release date is past, but users are still waiting for customization to arrive on other carriers.

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.

Design

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 Nexus 5 design should be much like the Nexus 7.

The Nexus 5 design should be much like the Nexus 7.

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.

Display

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 Nexus 5 display is 4.97-inches with a 1080P HD resolution.

The Nexus 5 display is 4.97-inches with a 1080P HD resolution.

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 Nexus 5 vs. Moto X screen size should compare similar to these two devices.

The Nexus 5 vs. Moto X screen size should compare similar to these two devices.

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.

Specs

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 Nexus 5 specs are mostly known thanks to leaks and FCC filings.

The Nexus 5 specs are mostly known thanks to leaks and FCC filings.

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.

Software

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.

Android 4.4 KitKat will apparently be coming in October.

Android 4.4 KitKat will apparently be coming in October.

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 by far the best way to deliver notifications.

Active Display is by far the best way to deliver notifications.

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.

Carriers

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.

Price

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.

Josh Smith is Editor of GottaBeMobile and Notebooks.com. He's always looking for ways to help you get the most of your gear and loves to talk about tech on radio and TV. Josh uses an iOS and Android devices as well as Mac and Windows Computers. Josh Smith on Google+ Email: [email protected]

18 Comments

  1. Arbaz K

    10/24/2013 at 8:23 am

    Nexus 5 is going to be way better in everything as compared to Moto X.
    People are expecting a lot better things after Nexus 4, so it is going to crush all other devices once its out.

  2. MArija

    10/24/2013 at 9:12 am

    Find Out the 11 Most Commented Features of the New Google Nexus 5: http://www.technologyvista.in/pin/find-6-commented-features-new-google-nexus-5/

  3. chazzmatt

    10/24/2013 at 9:41 am

    the 2012 Nexus 4 had 4.7″ 720p display, just like the “new” 2013 Moto X. The 4.7″ 720p Moto X is last year specs with this year’s prices.

    The 2013 Nexus 5 has 5″ 1080p display but in a phone SMALLER than the Nexus 4. So, it’s a bigger, better display in SMALLER phone.

    Top tier Androids this year have 5″ 1080p displays, especially in the 2nd half of 2013. Moto X sucks for the price. If it was $350 or even $300 off contract, it would be OK, but it’s about $600 off contract — whereas the 16GB Nexus 5 (with Snapdragon 800. 8MP OIS camera) will be $350 off contract.

    • 1111

      10/24/2013 at 12:34 pm

      once you get past just looking at the numbers the moto x really shines. it performs better than higher specd phones like the galaxy s4 and htc one.

      try one before you trash it.

      the physical design is more comfortable than any phone. and motorolas limited skin is unobtrusive and useful.

      there have been numerous benchmark tests for you spec nerds that show the moto x keeping pace with or surpassing the most advanced phones of 2013

      the money was put into design, and experience vs. just trying to cram in the latest greatest processor/screen.

      it’s a pleasure to use

      • A.Y. Siu (@therealaysiu)

        10/24/2013 at 2:19 pm

        If it’s not a 40″ TV, I honestly can’t tell / don’t care about the difference between 1080p and 720p. The things I like about the Moto X are how it feels, how it behaves, and how snappy it is. The user experience (including the time turning on without having to press the power button) is unparalleled.

        • chazzmatt

          10/25/2013 at 4:49 am

          You are making the wrong comment to the wrong person. I work in TV, I can tell the difference between 720p and 1080p. Easily.

          • meh

            10/25/2013 at 7:04 am

            Good for you. It must be cramped to work in a TV.

          • Anthony

            11/10/2013 at 10:35 am

            You are liar and a loser… I’ve seen your comments and Its obvious you do not have the knowledge to begin to comment on this things. You wouldn;t stand a chance in chip architecture and circuit topology with this kind of thinking. You are wrong on every statement, since the Moto X was the first project Motorola began after Google Bought them. The X is a symbol of the two companies joining. If you continue to talk about specs going into 2014 you are loser that only uses his phone to show off that I am the best. In daily use the Moto X is the most jaw dropping phone of 2013 BY FAR! The only customers that would logically disagree that want a bigger screen for their media, more memory or removable battery. Why do you need all this computing power, what are sequencing DNA? You are the type of smartphone consumer that deserves to be laughed at and thats why you probably work at a best buy. Only guys that actually like computer science and engineering can understand the Moto X and how its leading smartphones down a new enlightened path. Its consumers like you that get all these manufactures going crazy over useless specs, and its consumers like you that don’t even need the specs. They are both great phones but without expandable memory I’ll take the Moto X thank you.

        • chazzmatt

          10/25/2013 at 4:50 am

          If you think the $600 4.7″ 720p Moto X is snappy, wait until you see what the Snapdragon 800 can do with the $350 4.96″ 1080p Nexus 5.

      • chazzmatt

        10/25/2013 at 4:45 am

        I hate the Moto X. Hate it. It was hyped so much and it delivers so little for the PRICE. Priced at $600 off contract? I already have a dual core CPU 2011 Galaxy Nexus with 4.65″ 720p display. I want something much faster, a little bigger screen and better resolution.

        The Nexus 4 has 4.7″ 720p.

        I am not going to settle for last year’s specs (4.7″ 720p), I”m NOT.

        The Snapdragon 800 BEAT the Moto X CPU into submission.

        • chazzmatt

          10/25/2013 at 4:48 am

          so the last two Nexus had 4.65″ 720p and 4.7″ 720p. I’m not going to buy a dual core phone with 4.7″ 720p, for $600 when something MUCH better is available for $350. And SMALLER than last year’s Nexus 4, but with a much better display than the Moto X, the Nexus 4 or the gen3 Galaxy Nexus.

      • chazzmatt

        10/25/2013 at 4:59 am

        The Moto X was the last “old” project in the pipeline prior to Google buying Motorola. The Moto X was supposed to be released back in the spring (April/May) and it sucked so badly that Google had Motorola delay it for months until they could do better. Too bad they didn’t update the specs.

        Ironically at the same time (early May 2013) Google CEO Larry Page went to South Korea to visit LG and drooled over the LG G2/Nexus 5 prototype he was shown.

        That is why Google didn’t let Motorola build the Nexus this year.

        Due to the delay, the Moto X and LG G2 were then both announced with days of each other, then released about the same time, and cost the same money on contract ($200) and off contract ($600). Yet the G2 with Snapdragon 800, 13MP OIS camera 1080p display is a much better phone.

        If the Moto X was priced at $350 off contract or even $300, it would be more realistic.

        The Nexus 5 is a slightly smaller version of the G2 (only 4.96″ 1080p display, only 8MP OIS camera) and still kicks the Moto X butt — for only $350 off contract.

      • chili

        10/25/2013 at 2:34 pm

        agreed. I have been test driving one for the last week and can easily say it’s the best android experience out there and I will probably keep it.

    • logan

      10/27/2013 at 10:12 am

      you have no idea what youre talking about. the nexus 5 is larger than the nexus 4 in overall size. it is almost the exact same size as the g2. second, all of your tired “last years specs” arguments have convinced me youve never touched a moto x much less operated one.

  4. David

    10/24/2013 at 10:14 am

    Moto X is also unavailable outside of the US – so short-sighted of Motorola & Google. The choice is academic! Nexus 5.

    • Kevin

      10/24/2013 at 12:52 pm

      Rogers is in Canada. Sorry bud.

  5. mizerock

    10/24/2013 at 3:05 pm

    “Google and Verizon may not team up for a Nexus until Google can sell one unlocked that Verizon will not control updates for.”

    Looks like Google and I are on the same page. I’ll be leaving Verizon as soon as my contract expires in December, because of this specific issue.

  6. Bert

    10/25/2013 at 8:23 am

    If you want a Moto X for $299 off contract check out republic wireless. I have no affiliation and have not used the phone but I am checking it out.

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