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5 Ways the Moto X Beats the iPhone 5s

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The Moto X and the iPhone 5s are available on every major U.S. carrier and with a similar overall size and attractive features many consumers are comparing the two smartphones as they contemplate what phone they will carry or the next year or two.

Rather than compare the specs of these two phones, we are taking a look at five ways the Moto X beats the iPhone 5s. These are the Moto X features we enjoyed most while using the smartphone during the past several months. These features are things the Gotta Be Mobile team enjoys about the Moto X that we don’t find on the iPhone 5s, that users should know about before buying a new smartphone.

With the new Moto X price drop to $399 without a contract the customizable smartphone is even more attractive.

iPhone 5s Review | Moto X Review

While Google users now enjoy a very similar Gmail and Google services experience on the iPhone, The Moto X brings several special features that the iPhone can’t match such as voice control without your hands, easy unlocking with NFC and the best notification system we’ve seen on a smartphone.

The Moto X and the iPhone 5s are both popular phones.

The Moto X and the iPhone 5s are both popular phones.

This article focuses on areas where the Moto X is better, but there are also iPhone 5s features that beat the Moto X, which we will share in a future article.

One phone does not fit every user, and with that in mind here are five areas the Moto X shines in, some of which will appeal to users who are interested in buying the Moto X or the iPhone 5s.

Moto X Active Display

The Moto X Active Display is an incredibly cool feature that delivers the best mobile notifications we’ve seen. Rather than flashing an LED that is meaningless like other Android smartphones the display will light up briefly to show the icons of the most recent notifications and allow users to see a little information about the alert.

The iPhone will also show a preview of messages and notifications, so the Moto X is not alone in the ability to see messages, but the solution is more elegant on the Moto X than on the iPhone. We also really enjoy the Moto X’s ability to turn the display on and show a clock and the icons of notifications at the slightest movement, which makes it easier to peak at notifications  while in a meeting.

Ultimately the notification method comes down to a personal preference and we leave more notifications turned on with the Moto X because it is less intrusive. Another smart feature we really enjoy on the Moto X is the Assist App which silences your phone when in a meeting, based on your calendar, and can auto reply to favorite contacts who call you to let them know you are in a meeting. The Assist app can also help reduce distracted driving and automatically enter a Do Not Disturb mode at night.

Moto X Display

The Moto X features a 4.7-inch display that offers more room to surf the web, read ebooks and use apps than the iPhone 5s’ 4-inch display. The Moto X offers a 720P display with 326 ppi and the iPhone 5s uses an 1136 x 640 resolution with 326 ppi.

Despite the difference in display size the two devices both deliver a quality looking display for all types of media, but we are drawn to the bigger display for reading and browsing the web because there is simply more on the screen at once which means less scrolling and less page turning.

The larger Moto X display matches the iPhone in quality and shows more on screen at one time.

The larger Moto X display matches the iPhone in quality and shows more on screen at one time.

Even with a larger display, the Moto X is not much bigger than the iPhone 5s, which makes it easy to use with one hand, unlike the Galaxy Note 3. Apple routinely mentions the ease of using the iPhone with one hand as an area where the iPhone beats Android phones with larger screens, but a larger screen and one-handed use are not exclusive.

Moto X Customization

Apple offers the iPhone 5s in three colors and three storage options, and while that is one more storage option than Motorola offers, Apple’s color choices don’t match the customization that Motorola offers.

Apple offers three colors, Motorola offers 18 and a bamboo back.

Apple offers three colors, Motorola offers 18 and a bamboo back.

The Moto X is available at carrier stores in black and white, but users can also buy a Moto Maker version that allows them to pick the colors and materials used to make the Moto X including 18 color options and a new bamboo Moto X option that uses real bamboo on the back of the phone.

In addition to picking the back color, users can the front color, the button and accent colors and add a laser etched signature to the back of the Moto X. In short there is more customization available for the Moto X direct from Motorola than Apple offers and even with customization delivery is possible in about five days.

Hands Free Voice Control

Siri is great and all, but you still have to hold the home button to get started and in some cases you are limited to the built-in iOS apps for using voice control.

The Moto X is always listening for “Ok Google” and when it hears the command it allows users to use Google Now features without touching the phone, which is perfect for setting a reminder while working, controlling the phone while driving or setting an alarm when the phone is out of reach. Here’s a list of some of the Hands Free commands that are available,

  • Make a Call to a Contact or a Business
  • Get Directions or Travel Time
  • Send Messages
  • Set a Reminder
  • Schedule an Event
  • Ask Questions
  • Play Music or Movies
  • Set Alarms
  • See when the Next Meeting Is
  • Ask Google what Music is Playing
  • Open an App on your Phone
  • And many more

The hands free control is a big win for the Moto X and is something we use while driving and while working with the Moto X nearby. With the always listening mode a user can say, “Ok Google. Play Daft Punk.” and the Moto X will turn on and start playing the music in the user’s music app of choice.

Moto X Price

While the overall price of a smartphone is a small portion of the total cost, it’s hard to ignore that the Moto X is $100 cheaper on contract than the iPhone 5s and $250 cheaper off contract.

The Moto X off contract price is a win over Apple.

The Moto X off contract price is a win over Apple.

Previously, finding a cheap phone meant waiting until a new model arrived to push the price of the old phone down or buying a mid-range smartphone that brought many sacrifices with it. That’s not the case with the Moto X which is $99 on contract and $399 off contract. The off contract price is the biggest deal as it makes it easier to upgrade without waiting for a two-year contract to end.

There are many more iPhone deals available now, dropping the price $50 to $75 which helps, but rarely are there discounts on the off contract price of the iPhone 5s.

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. Xperia Z1

    01/02/2014 at 8:21 am

    Interesting article there josh!! Heck anything beats and stupid I device?? Even my toilet beats it!!!

    • Hildy J

      01/02/2014 at 10:58 am

      You must not be using the iPotty. A more appropriate use for iDevices I have never seen.

      • XperiaZ1

        01/02/2014 at 7:39 pm

        Oh no I clogged the Ipotty

  2. steve

    01/02/2014 at 8:32 am

    I agree 100%. Another much cheaper phone than the iPhone that has better specs than the Moto X is the Nexus 5. With a 800 snapdragon in the Nexus, compared to the very old A7 in the IPhone, it really is a easy choice at half the price. The only thing that is better in the iPhone is the camera. I really don’t think that justifies double the price. The Moto X does move around pretty good for a dual core, I must say. And boy did Motorola hit a home run with the customizations options, which iPhone knows nothing about because of it is a lock down os, which is behind Android in security. Another thing that I love about my Android is emulation. You can emulate every major system, all the way up to Play station 2. Than You hook your phone to the TV and use a Xbox, play station, or Wii controller. It is an amazing thing.

    • Hildy J

      01/02/2014 at 11:03 am

      I have a Nexus 5 and I’d put it up against the iPhone any day. However, the Moto chip set which allows for always on Google Now is a distinct advantage of the Moto X over the iPhone (or the Nexus) as the article says. I just hope Google has this in the Nexus 6

  3. Juliana

    01/02/2014 at 8:58 am

    No one can beat iPhone 5s

    • Xperia Z1

      01/02/2014 at 10:21 am

      How much did apple pay you to say this??? Apple sucks and lies you to buy there over priced iPhone my Sony Xperia Z1 is the best, google the features and specs on that apple will NEVER come close and is better craftsman ship made not plastic like most android phones anyway android os beats apples glitchy iOS

      • steve

        01/02/2014 at 12:32 pm

        I do like the Z1, but with it not having a removable battery or so card slot, the Note 3 is my phone of choice. Too each his/her own. Nexus 5, Note3, s4, Z1, Moto G, HTC One, LG G2. I love em all. Anything but IPhone. I also like taking these power house phones and running custom Roms on them. What is this new Sony 6.5 inch phone? Does it have a pen? Why is it only Samsung that does the pen right? I want to move away

        • XperiaZ1

          01/02/2014 at 7:44 pm

          Phone makers are doing that no removable battery?? Ya that sux I agree but all the phones you mention are my favs as well I also use note 3 too great device too apple iPhones are so played out people buy it just for having a iPhone ….. STUPID!!!!!!!

      • Steven Elliott Jr (@_stevenelliott)

        01/02/2014 at 7:53 pm

        It’s a phone. What do you use your phone for? I use mine to check e-mail, tweet, and make phone calls. If I want to do something more I’ll grab my iPad Mini, or my iPad Air, or my MacBook Pro Retina, or my MacBook Air, and soon my Mac Pro! Yes, I am an Apple Fan but honestly, even though I love my iPhone it’s just a phone.

        • Xperia Z1

          01/02/2014 at 9:56 pm

          Sad your all sucked up in apple over priced glitchy devices love my Xperia Z1 note 3 and nexus 5 wich blow apple away!! And better and not limited like apes restrictions and don’t rely on apple jailbreak tweeks!! Ahhh yawn apple is so last decade, ya I’m a kid 20 but like my devices for speed and what I use for apple is useless for me

        • steve

          04/09/2014 at 9:44 am

          Maybe you should have bought a 100 dollar android phone then, instead of blowing 700, for things you will never use

  4. andyman

    01/28/2014 at 12:32 am

    Mr steve n elliot, u proved to us why shouldn’t we pick up apple products, ofcourse ypu can’t do ‘something more’ on ur iphone. Switch to an android device, you will change your views. You will end up saying, ‘ What is a phone used for? A phone is used for doing endless tasks,after getting an android, I don’t need to use my ipads, macs and other fruits’

  5. HammerHead

    02/17/2014 at 6:24 am

    @ Steven Elliott Jr
    Please pick up a cheaper end of life Nokia E63 or 71 or any low end BlackBerry and you should be happy to go!
    Get up dude! Its 2014 and you still thin that people use phone only for checking emails, tweeting, texting and making calls? Which part of the world you are in man?

  6. mikemansor

    04/09/2014 at 7:29 am

    Moto X actually has a pixel density of 312 ppi not 326 ppi (yes, there will be Android fans crying “Who Cares!!!” but that’s the actual number).

  7. moto

    04/12/2014 at 10:12 am

    “Okay Google…call so and so”…soon connected… My MotoX is still sitting on the counter and I haven’t touched it…. Apple peeps???

    • rounder

      04/18/2014 at 3:34 pm

      Don’t think they could offer this feature if they chose to?

      If you want a device that is always listening to you and always watching you, be my guest. I prefer Apple’s decision to let the user choose when to turn on the microphone/camera.

      Imagine if you didn’t have a call button for your secretary, but she was just always listening….

  8. PM

    04/16/2014 at 11:35 am

    I dropped and broke an iphone5, got a Republic moto x, $20 month, worth it, not a phone addict. But Moto x has gremlins that do odd things I never saw on iphone, like change time (hours off, affects web access. No, I didn’t butt dial login, settings, date/time, uncheck auto time, uncheck auto time zone.)
    Icons magically disappear or move.
    Calls are dropped but I can always get them back.
    + NIce that voip works in basements with no cell. Setup google now, say OK Google Now, call Fred…, and it usually does (say other things, often searches google.)
    Unpredictably stays on when it should sleep.
    Battery usually dies by 10pm (was OK next day on iphone with all features on. Someone once told me I can’t leave gps on my iphone. He had a droid, said gps kills his battery, so of course it must kill mine :)
    Iphone reliability not worth >2x price for me, maybe for you. But I don’t like to turn everything off all the time to get decent battery.

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