Motorola’s Moto X is the first phone from the company designed entirely in-house after Google acquired the company last year. It’s also the company’s first phone that will be manufactured in the US. And it’s the first smartphone that you can use without even touching it.

The Moto X should be available from most US wireless carriers starting in late August or early September for around $200 with a 2-year contract.

Motorola Moto X

If you just look at the basic specs, the Moto X looks like a mid-range phone. it has a 4.7 inch, 1280 x 720 pixel display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB to 32GB of storage. It runs a pretty much stock version of Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, and there’s no microSD card slot.

Customers do get 50GB of free Google Drive cloud storage space for 2 years though. Normally you can only get up to 5GB of space for free (although Chromebook Pixel customers get 100GB for 2 years).

It has 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, GLONASS, NFC, Miracast wireless display, and supports HSPA+ and LTE networks.

Basically it has the specs of a top tier phone from 2012, but it’s coming out in 2013.

But there are a number of features which help set it apart. It has a fairly hefty 2200mAh battery, a 10MP rear camera and 2MP front camera, and Motorola’s X8 Mobile Computing System with dedicated hardware for processing natural language and information from the phone’s many sensors.

Touchless commands

A bigger difference between the Moto X and almost any other phone on the market is the way you interact with it. While you can pick up the phone and use it like any other touchscreen-enabled smartphone, you can also just talk to your phone while it’s lying on your desk, hanging out in your car dock, or sitting next to you on the couch.

That’s because the mic triple-mic array with noise cancellation lets you talk to the phone from up to 15 feet away, and you can leave the mic always on. That means you can talk to your phone without taping a button, or even unlocking your phone (although not all commands will work when the phone is locked). By default the always-on capability is disabled to extend battery life (and presumably to appease privacy advocates who don’t like the idea of Google constantly listening to you).

Voice controls work with Google Now to let you ask questions or launch certain actions, but Google Now requires an internet connection. So you’ll need a WiFi or cellular data connection for it to work.

Active Display

Another way you can use your phone without turning it on is by just looking at the screen when the phone is in standby. That’s because the AMOLED display can power up just portions of the screen while the rest is off, so you can see notifications, time, or other details without even turning the phone on.

active display

All you have to do is pick up the phone to see the time. You don’t have to unlock it every time you pull it out of your pocket.

Camera

Motorola’s answer to HTC’s “Ultrapixel” technology is called “Clear Pixel.” In a nutshell, Motorola says it captures about 75 percent more light than a typical smartphone camera, which allows you to snap better pictures in low-light settings.

HTC went with a 4MP camera in the HTC One smartphone in order to do something similar. The Moto X has a 10MP camera.

You can also open the camera app without tapping a button to load the app. Just twist your wrist twice and then tap anywhere on the screen and it’ll snap a photo.

Customization

Motorola promised that you could design your phone yourself — and there’s a website to prove it. It’s called Moto Maker, and it’s a site where you can pick the colors for your phone’s backplate and other color accents. You can also choose a white or black front panel for your phone.

At launch, Moto Maker will only be available for AT&T customers in the US.

Customers also get to choose whether to go with a 16GB or 32GB phone, whether to add an official case, or other accessories. And if you’d like to have more input, Motorola plans to run polls on Facebook to get feedback from users about what new colors and styles users would like to see.

I suspect a lot of folks will complain that they don’t care what color their phone is, as long as Motorola adds a microSD card slot.

The Moto X should be available in the next month or two from AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, and US Cellular for $199 and up on contract.

When you buy the phone from carriers, you won’t get an Android skin like Motoblur, TouchWiz, or Sense. But you may get apps pre-loaded by the carrier.

Soon you’ll also be able to get a Google Play Edition of the phone which comes without any added software. That model will also get software updates straight from Motorola, while the carrier will have to go through a carrier approval before OS updates can be delivered.

Pricing hasn’t yet been revealed for the Google Play edition.

Motorola will also offer a developer edition with an unlocked bootloader for a price that also hasn’t yet been announced.

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24 replies on “Motorola launches Moto X smartphone, promises you can use it without touching it”

  1. arstechnica put up some benchmarks. The GPU pretty much trumps everyone else and the cpu holds it’s own. So, not really as “mid range” as everyone is ragging on about.

    Add to that the fact that they have developed some new innovative hardware to make this phone completely unique from the competition + “assembled in the USA” and I can understand the price.

    At least the features they’ve added seem to be truly useful versus the typical “add feature to check competitor’s feature”. . . .

    I think the general public (read: non-winging “Android fans”) just might take to this American company selling a smartphone that brings back a few jobs to America and gives some useful innovative features. . . . time will tell.

    And when did “Android fans” become such winny b. . . .

    1. What you have to understand is that most of the people you find on these threads these days are paid trolls (usually on contract from Microsoft).

  2. I concur with the previous posters; what a letdown this whole google-built thing turned out to be.

    No SD storage?? Are they only thinking about their commercialization of customers and not the users of this thing themselves? Absolute deal killer. Check.

    Selective carrier deals?? No affordable retail offerings? Check again.

    Colourful fluff that simply listens to you every second of the day??

    I truly, truly hope that other manufacturers in the free world (excluding dictatorships) start investing heavily in mobiles that run open software free from all privacy-intruding crap being pushed today.

    I don’t need the chinese ruling party, NSA or google being privy of my every private correspondence, just because.

    Canonical’s Edge? Oh well… Jolla? In bed with the chinese establishment…

    Samsung’s too big for their own good, but will their open alternative OS Tizen be open enough for everyone…?

    Why the **** did Nokia give totally in to MS when they had something safe, sound and desirable already in the pipeline years ago…

    PS.I think my firefox security plugins have somehow blocked my previous comments here. Let’s see if Chromium with fewer of them is more willing…

  3. I don’t care about the card slot, and reliable voice commands might be nice.

    1. It sucks that the only phone worth getting is the Samsung Galaxy S4 (plus its variants I guess). I don’t even like the S4 either. A bad year for Android.

      1. I personally think the HTC One is by far the best one to get as of right nwo.

    1. Looks like they’re going the Nexus/Chromebook route… Storage options are to get either the 16 or 32 GB version, but the caveat is that you also get 2 years 50 GB storage free on Google Drive with the purchase… This is not counting the 15GB you get for signing up for Google Drive…

      So 65GB total at no additional charge…

  4. …. use it without touching it – you’re right here. I can’t even touch it :
    1. The retail price unknown
    2. No plans for Europe
    Sad, very sad Gogorola 🙁 I had high expectations from you

      1. I’d be surprised. While Motorola *could* make money on that markup, it’d be a kind of big snub to wireless carriers who aren’t selling the phone for much less.

        1. I disagree, the only thing the carriers care about is whether they get the customer of the phone to use their services or not!

          Selling phones with discounted pricing is just a sales gimmick to help lock customers into contracts, which is where Carriers make their real profits from but it’s far from being the only way they get customers.

          So, this should be no different than selling a unlocked phone off contract… Customers will still have to choose a carrier and opt for either pre-paid or contract service plans.

          The main difference is ordering direct means you can take them up on the customization options and have it shipped to you for free within 4 days, direct from the US based factory…

          While the models sold directly by the carriers are the basic black and white models with no customization options but doesn’t mean they can’t act as middlemen and order for the customer and put them under contract right away…

          Also, they haven’t eliminated the possibility of contract discount… a beginning low cost just means the contract price can be that much lower.

          1. Maybe it’s a premium for the Google Play version… or Goldman Sachs could be wrong… definitely going to be interesting waiting to find out…

          2. Not really. They are probably making nearly as much money in the ‘renting money’ business as they are in selling bits. Buying a contract phone is nothing more and nothing less than a rent to own deal, with financial terms almost as unfavorable as your local rent to own shop.

            Worse, hiding the details inside one bill is part of how they have trained most of the country to accept $100+ cell phone bills.

        1. That’s from AT&T, what Goldman Sachs was saying was the price direct from Motorola…

          So, either Goldman Sachs is wrong or you’re better off getting it direct and then getting the service plan…

          1. Read the source for that. The quote is

            If Google can capture 50bps of the global smartphone market in CY14, or 6.6mn units, and sells its Moto X device for $300 (ex factory price) it would equate to an incremental $2.0bn in revenue or 3 points of upside vs. our current CY14 gross consolidated revenue forecast.”

            The emphasis is mine. That’s just Goldman Sachs using some chosen price to show a possible impact on Google if they try not to make a huge profit on the device. Thus, possibly putting pressure on competitors’ products.

            It was all just a “what if” price and a “what if” strategy.

          2. Maybe, it is just a analysis but it’s not like Google has never sold anything with small margins before… we’ll know for sure soon enough anyway…

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