An iPhone User’s Take on the Moto X

I’ve been using an iPhone everyday since the iPhone 4 and have been very happy with each one. I have my quibbles, but overall I think that the best phone on the market is still the iPhone. Still, I have seen the great strides Android has taken and am planning on making the switch to the HTC One M8 as soon as my contract allows me in July. In the interum, Motorola ran a promotion where they would give you a Moto X for a penny to try risk-free for 2 weeks. I was able to get in on that limited deal in time, and have been using a Moto X as my daily driver for the past week. Here’s how it’s gone.

The Good

Active Notifications – These are cool! It seems all the rage to have small co-processors on new smartphones, and the Moto X was one of the first to do this with what Motorola calls the “Contextual Awareness Processor”. This core is in charge of determining the context your phone is in and tries to show you what you want without asking.

For example, when I take the phone out of my pocket, the screen lights up to show me the time and any missed notifications without me needing to press any buttons. In another situation, it knows when I’m driving and will offer to read any text messages to me automatically so I don’t have to touch the phone at all.

It’s a really nice feature that I am going to miss when I inevitably give this back to Motorola.

Sharing – I knew this would be a feature I love when I got the phone, but it’s lived up to my expectations. Being able to text anything on my phone from anywhere without any URL-scheme tricks is liberating.

In short, everything can share to everything, and that’s pretty rad.

Looks – The Moto X just looks sharp. Using Moto Maker, you can make a Moto X with whatever color scheme you can think of. I figured if I was going to have phone for just a few weeks I should get something crazy, so I got a yellow phone with green accents that would definitely stand out in a lineup of any other mix of phones.

Color choice aside, the phone just looks good. It’s very thin and light. The curved back rests comfortably in your hand as well. There’s a little dimple on the back of the phone that I like as well. I don’t know why I like it, but it adds a little bit of personality to the phone.

The Okay

A bigger screen – The Moto X sports a 4.7″ display, 0.7″ larger than that of the iPhone 5s. I have used 5″ Android and Windows phones before, and the difference in screen size was immediately apparent on those, but the Moto X feels marginally larger than the iPhone screen that I have been using everyday for the last year and a half. Having a bit more screen real estate is nice, but it’s not enough for me to feel like it changes anything I do on the phone.

App selection – I have a bigger piece coming on this soon (a bit of a guide for people moving from iOS to Android), but app selection, which used to be a sore subject for Android has improved quite a bit. I have a lot of apps that I very much enjoy using on my Moto X.

The Bad

Messaging – Most of my friends and family currently have iPhones, so iMessage is a big part of my messaging life. The biggest loss since making the switch is that I cannot receive or send messages to people through my Mac. Having that seamless transition of conversations from on-the-go to my desk was something I took advantage of all the time, and I miss it.

With the betas of OS X Yosemite and iOS 8, I also got a taste of getting even my SMS messages on my Mac, and that was game-changing. Google’s I/O conference kicks off this week, and they’re going to be falling way behind on this if they don’t announce similar functionality.

Battery life – Maybe it’s me, but the battery life has been miserable on my Moto X. One day this week I was down to 10% battery at lunch time…after 5 hours of minimal use. I used Android’s built in battery monitoring tools to determine that a game I played for a few minutes while I waited for my coffee to brew was still running in the background and destroying my battery. I guess I can give Android points for giving me the tools to diagnose the problem, but I think it’s common sense that a closed game should not run in the background.

Outside of that anomaly, battery life has still been quite poor. I have yet to make it through a full day without having to find a charging cable.

Overall

All in all, the Moto X is a very good phone, I just don’t think it’s the best phone. If you want that, you could buy an iPhone, and HTC One, or an LG G3. If you just need a solid Android phone that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, the cheaper Moto G fits that bill better at less than $100. The notifications and physical customization on the Moto X are where it shines, but I don’t think that’s enough to make it the right choice for just about anybody. You won’t be mad with your purchase, but you’ll know that you could have done better.