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Moto X 2014 Review



The Moto X 2014 is a stellar upgrade from the original Moto X and worthy of comparison to the Galaxy S5 and iPhone 6 when you shop for a new smartphone. Motorola upgrades the new Moto X 2014 with enhanced voice control a bigger 1080P display and a new metal frame that helps deliver a premium look and feel — especially with optional leather and wood backs.

In the Moto X 2014 review I’ll explain why the new design is important, reasons why you may want to buy the new Moto X and what to know before you pull the trigger on a purchase.

The Moto X 2014 is available on Verizon, AT&T and there is a Moto X Pure Edition that can work on T-Mobile and AT&T. I am using a Moto X 2014 review unit on AT&T for this review. After using the new Moto X for the last month it’s clear that there is an improvement from the original.

Read our Moto X 2014 review to find out why this is an upgrade and worth comparing to the iPhone 6 and Galaxy S5.

Read our Moto X 2014 review to find out why this is an upgrade and worth comparing to the iPhone 6 and Galaxy S5.

For part of this Moto X 2014 review period I also carried the iPhone 5s,  Galaxy S5 and iPhone 6 to help with comparisons in call quality, battery life and general use.

Motorola calls this the Moto X 2nd Gen, but many shoppers are simply looking for the new Moto X or Moto X 2014 edition, which is how we’ll refer to the phone.

The Moto X 2014 is available for $99 on contract. Users can pick from basic options in stores as well as wood and leather options at some stores or go online to customize a new Moto X with the upgraded Moto Maker. In the Moto Maker you can pick the colors and options you want and get a custom Moto X 2014 delivered to your house. There is no extra charge to customize.

The Moto X Pure is an unlocked, unbranded Moto X that you can use on AT&T or T-Mobile or you can choose a Verizon option. The Moto X Pure is $499 without a contract.

Moto X 2014 Design

The Moto X 2014 design is an impressive mix of materials into a curved and comfortable to hold package. After consumers complained about the plastic design of the original Motorola invested a lot of time into developing a new metal frame that acts as the antenna. With this new design and the customizable backs buyers get the benefit of an all metal frame without the unsightly lines on the back of the device.

The leather back feels great on top of a metal frame, but leather shows wear more than traditional smartphone backs.

The leather back feels great on top of a metal frame, but leather shows wear more than traditional smartphone backs.

A metal frame is great, but the real stars are the new customizable backs on the Moto X 2014. The review unit includes a leather back that feels like a premium wallet or leather bag. Like other leather this will show marks and wear over time. If you don’t like the thought of imperfect wear on the back of your phone you should check out one of the composite backs or the wood back options.

Choose from many color combinations.

Choose from many color combinations.

Overall the Moto X 2014 curved design and premium materials come together to deliver a phone that is easy to grip and doesn’t need a case. Even with a bigger display than last year and a larger body the curved shape makes one-handed use possible.

The Moto X isn’t water-resistant  like the Galaxy S5, but it is coated with a water-resistant layer that will help keep it safe from splashes and rain.

Moto X 2014 Display

The new 5.2-inch 1080P display looks very nice.

The new 5.2-inch 1080P display looks very nice.

The new Moto X display is a step up in several key areas. First off it’s larger at 5.2-inch compared to the 4.7-inch display on the original. Motorola also upgraded to a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution that matches what you would expect on a flagship Android device.

Text and images look good, colors are bright and beautiful and viewing angles are good enough to share the display with a friend for a quick YouTube video.

Overall the display looks very good and it is an AMOLED display which helps keep battery life in check while using the best part about the Moto X 2014 Display – the smart notifications.

The Moto Display option allows you to use the display to show the three latest notifications on-screen when you make a motion near the device. There are several IR sensors embedded in the front of the device that sense movement and turn on the display to show your notifications. Instead of guessing what the LED means you can see and quickly interact with the last three notifications.

The Moto X notifications remain the best way mobile notifications on the market and it’s the only device where I don’t disable 90% of notifications.

Moto X 2014 Camera

Motorola delivers an upgraded 13MP camera and better performing software, but the photos are nowhere near as sharp and detailed as on the iPhone 6.

A dual-LED ring flash sits around a 13MP camera.

A dual-LED ring flash sits around a 13MP camera.

The Moto X takes two shots, and helps you pick the best one.

The Moto X takes two shots, and helps you pick the best one.

Even though other devices beat the Moto X 2014 camera it packs a few interesting features. When you pull the Moto X out of your pocket you can quickly twist your wrist to activate the camera. This is a fast way to launch the camera on the Moto X.

One big change is that when you take a photo the Moto X can capture the image before you press the shutter. This can help capture a smile or perfectly timed shot that you are too late to. When this happens you can pick the image you want. The screenshot below shows this in action.

There is a dual-LED ring flash that surrounds the camera. This new style of flash for the Moto X helps prevent the overwhelming flash that can ruin some photos. You can see several examples in the Moto X 2014 samples below.

tk best shot

The front-facing 2MP camera includes a voice activated selfie mode and the rear-facing camera can shoot 4k video. Check out the sample Moto X 2014 photos below.


Moto X 2014 Performance

Inside the new Moto X is a Snapdragon 801 processor and 2GB of RAM that deliver snappy performance. From managing my fantasy football team and travel;ing home from Chicago, to keeping up on Facebook and work, the new Moto X handles it all.

The two front-ported speakers offer better sound than last year’s model and while it’s not going to blow out a big room the speakers mean you’ll no longer need to cup your hand around the phone and watch a YouTube video with the phone two-inches from your ear. Listening to a variety of music from John Legend to Steve Aoki proved little challenge for the speakers, which do an impressive job of pushing Legend’s vocal’s without a problem.

Front ported speakers deliver better than average sound.

Front ported speakers deliver better than average sound.

Call quality is above average for a smartphone. This is an area Motorola typically leads in, and that doesn’t change on the Moto X 2014. this varies based on coverage and location, but overall conversations deliver more realistic tones than on competing devices.

A relatively small 2,300 mAh battery powers the new Moto X. Motorola claims the battery will last 24 hours, which is possible depending on your usage. With two Gmail accounts syncing, music and audiobooks going, several phone calls and other app usage the Moto X 2014 battery life typically listed 20-30% by 10PM after coming off the charger at 8AM. Occasionally I can stretch to a day and a half of use or make it a second day with a quick 30-45 minute charge.

If you need the new Moto X to last longer you may want to invest in the Turbo Charger. This optional accessory can charge the Moto X incredibly fast, pumping in eight hours of power in just 15 minutes.

Moto X Software

Motorola runs a close to stock version of Android 4.4.4 with special Moto apps that add features like enhanced voice control, add gesture support using the sensors on the front of the device and Moto Assist that helps make smart decisions about when you need alerts and when to use driving mode. By shifting these Moto X features to apps, Motorola can push updates faster through the Google Play Store and it leaves a closer to stock Android experience for users, which also helps deliver faster updates to new Versions of Android.

Voice Control

The new Moto X 2014 voice control lets you give the Moto X a name you want. It needs to be something the phone can pick out and that won’t activate in casual conversation, but you can make it almost anything. The phone is always listening for this keyword so you can use it on your desk, on your night stand or in your car — even if it isn’t plugged in. You can perform Google Now options as well as special voice control that Motorola bakes in to post to Facebook, send a WhatsApp message and more.

Moto Assist

The new Moto X knows when you are sleeping, driving, at home or in a meeting and can customize the alerts and actions to that setting. When you are sleeping you won’t see alerts on the screen and the phone stays quiet. When you are driving, which the phone senses from movement, it can read messages and calls to you and play music through Bluetooth or the headphone jack to help you stay focused on the road.

When the Moto X detects you are at home you can set it to read out texts and tell you who is calling. There is a Meeting mode that can see when you are busy based on your calendars and silence the phone and even send an auto reply to favorite contacts.


IR sensors on the front of the device and sensors inside allow you to use motion to control the Moto X. You can wave over the phone to silence a call or alarm. When you take the phone out of your pocket you can shake it to launch the camera fast. And when you move your hand towards the Moto X the display can light up to show notifications without the need to touch the phone.

Moto X 2014 Review Unit Specs

Here's what's inside the leather and metal frame of the new Moto X.

Here’s what’s inside the leather and metal frame of the new Moto X.

There is more to this phone than specs, but you can check out the new Moto X specs below to get a better idea of what’s inside this phone.

  • 5.2-inch 1080P Display – 401 pixels per inch
  • 2.5 GHz Snapdragon 801 Quad-core processor
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 16GB and 32GB storage options
  • 2,300mAh battery
  • 13MP rear facing camera w/ 4k video, 2MP front camera
  • Dual LED Ring Flash
  • Android 4.4.4 KitKat
  • Over 25 customizable back options
  • 140.8 x 72.4 x 9.9mm – 144 grams

Should I Buy the Moto X 2014?

The new Moto x delivers the best notifications on any smartphone, includes more voice control flexibility than the iPhone 6 and offers customization that competitors can’t touch including leather metal and wood. In short there is a lot to love about the Moto X 2014.

Here's the bottom line of our Moto X 2014 review.

Here’s the bottom line of our Moto X 2014 review.

For most users this is a great smartphone and worthy of gracing your pocket for the next two years. The biggest complaint is lackluster camera performance. There are times when the Moto X takes beautiful photos, but other times there is not enough detail or too much noise. The camera is a step up from last year’s Moto X, but is not as consistent as the competition.

For everything the new Moto X offers at $99 on contract the phone is still a deal, but if you need to take beautiful photos every single time you’ll need to look at the Galaxy S5, LG G3 or the new iPhone 6.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. guest

    10/03/2014 at 8:33 pm

    Good review, but there is only one speaker on the front. The earpiece is on top.

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