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Moto X (2014) review: Motorola’s best high-end phone yet

Can Motorola stake their claim as the premier Android manufacturer with the revamped Moto X?

We loved the original Moto X. It outperformed the competition, had a nice design aesthetic and provided all the fundamental features that today’s smartphone users require, proving to be one of the best devices of 2013. After garnering feedback, Motorola are back for another stab at the flagship pie with their second version of the Moto X.

This time around Motorola has opted for a metal frame and a more noticeable curved back than its predecessor. A combination of the two offers a distinct premium feel to the device, while not being too heavy or awkward to hold for prolonged periods of time thanks to the overall thinness of the phone. The metal frame includes only a couple of distinct ports, with a 3.5mm jack and microUSB port placed at the top and bottom of the device respectively. Both the volume rocker and power button have a nice raised feel to it and have been finished with a nice rough pattern. Around the back you’ll find a large camera sensor and familiar Motorola branding. It’s a device that won’t really leave you gasping for air in amazement in the looks department, but it just looks and feels like a premium handset that should please all but the fussiest of Android users.

We’ve always loved Motorola’s intent on providing a stock Android experience and that trend continues here. Android 4.4.4 runs without any issues thanks to the Snapdragon 801 processor, but this time around there is a suite of surprisingly helpful Motorola apps. Migrate helps you transfer files when moving from iPhone to Android, Moto is an average voice search system, while the Help app is fairly self-explanatory. Via the settings menu, users can also find Motorola Connect, a great service for viewing text messages on your desktop computer, as well as the Tap & Pay feature for those intrigued by wireless payments. Apart from that, the device is yours to fill with whatever you like. 16GB of internal storage is fairly standard and although the lack of any expandable memory options is disappointing, cloud storage options are plentiful.

The upgraded 13-megapixel camera has one of the biggest sensors we’ve seen on the back of any Android phone previously. It’s certainly an upgrade from the original Moto X and there’s an array of shooting features readily available. Eagle eyed users will find that video can be shot in 4K on this device, which is a nice choice to have, but the large files will soon eat up the internal storage. Quality of photos was decidedly mixed depending on the lighting situation, and where it shines in the daylight, there aren’t enough options to make shooting in the dark a viable option.

To enjoy your photos you’re going to want a decent screen to view them on. Without doubt, the Moto X is one of, if not the best screen we’ve seen on an Android device. At 5.2-inches and offering 424-pixel density, everything is crisp and clear. Colours look fantastic, which is something you’ll soon notice with Motorola’s choice of zany, albeit colourful, wallpapers. This partnered with the processing power of the device simply makes the Moto X an absolute pleasure to use whatever you decide to do with it.

We’ve also had pleasing experiences with the battery life, often the downfall with many a high-end device. The 2300 mAh battery is by no means a monster, but it will get through a day of medium use without too many issues.

There’s no denying there’s some niggling issues with the Moto X, mainly the lack of a microSD slot and poor camera quality in low light conditions. But the device just screams premium wherever you look. It’s a device that’s been a long time coming from Motorola, and while it isn’t perfect, this is without doubt a phone that every Android user should strongly consider for their next purchase.

For more in-depth reviews on Android devices, make sure to check out the latest issue of Android Magazine.