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Moto X (2013) review

Google and Moto almost made a truly standout Android phone

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Our Verdict

With its swoopy, curvy looks, the Moto X has a thoughtful design both inside and out that is full of charm and power, backed up by great software that is let down only by its endurance and camera.

For

  • Great design and feel
  • Excellent performance
  • Near stock Android
  • Useful software enhancements

Against

  • Poor battery life
  • Weak camera
  • No expandable storage
  • Slow charging

Battery life

Motorola Moto X

The Moto X has a lot of active features, so battery life becomes a major concern. To start with, I had a look at the basic battery life by running our NyanGareth video test for 90 minutes with the screen set to around 280 lux and from full, the battery only dropped to 83%, which strikes me as a decent performance.

This result can only tell part of the story though, and unfortunately it is not entirely positive. The Moto X is incredibly sensitive to signal strength, and in a weak signal area I would find the battery getting totally chewed up in no time at all.

Sometimes 50% would vanish overnight with the phone idling but with weak signal. This problem is especially prevalent when connected to a 4G network.

Even with a strong signal the Moto X can eat through its juice very easily. Under some stress, browsing the web, listening to music etc I found the battery to be slightly below average, but it is the standby time that was most disappointing. Frankly, the battery life is fairly poor.

Motorola Moto X

Motorola has done well to fit a 2200mAh battery in a body the size of the Moto X, but the downside of that is a slow charging time.

It seemed to take many hours for the Moto X to get any charge and then it runs down too quickly for my liking. It does last a day, but when most phones will last me at least a day and a half, the Moto X was a disappointment.

One thing that helps a lot and something I did on days when I needed to trust the battery to see me through a heavy day is to switch off the Active Notifications, Motorola Active and Touchless Control.

I gained at least a quarter more life and perhaps even more with those features disabled. It is a shame that to get good battery life you have to disable some of the unique features of the phone, but at least it is an option.

The essentials

Motorola has a long history of making mobile phones, and that shows when making and receiving calls with the Moto X. It puts in a flawless performance. Noise cancellation from the secondary mic worked perfectly and all callers said they could hear me clearly.

Motorola Moto X

The single speaker on the back of the Moto X is very loud and clear. Truly excellent.

The Moto X comes with the new dialer and contacts app that debuted with the Nexus 5 and it is excellent. It does not has the ability to provide local search results like the Nexus 5, but it is still attractive and very functional.

Google's stock Android keyboard is a strange omission from the Moto X, but it does come with its own version, which is still the Android keyboard but an old version.

Thankfully the updated keyboard can be installed from the Play Store and selected as the default.

The new Hangouts app is compatible with the Moto X and can be used for sending and receiving text messages too if you like. I'm not a fan of how Google has integrated SMS into the Hangouts app so am pleased to see the standard messaging app as an option too.

Text messages and Hangouts messages are stored in separate threads which always seems odd and makes it harder than it should be to know what type of message is being sent.