Motorola Moto X, G and 360 – UK Details

Motorola M LogoAs expected, Motorola last night refreshed its smartphone line-up with new versions of the Moto X and Moto G plus a new Bluetooth earpiece called Hint. First impressions are that they’ve kept the good bits and bumped the spec with bigger screens (5.2″ 1080 HD on the X) and faster processors (2.5 GHz quad core in the X). The edges of the phone are now finished in metal too, giving a more upmarket impression.

Motorola Moto X

For UK Motorola fans, the good news is that Moto Maker is going to be available so we’ll get the wide range of colours and materials. Best of all there’s a new leather back which looks very luxurious. If you don’t use a case for your phone, this is definitely the one to get. Motorola has announced the UK availability and pricing as below.

Moto X

  • 16 GB in black, leather and bamboo
  • Starting from £419.99
  • Available from Amazon and Phones 4u from the end of September

Moto G

  • Black and white
  • Starting from £144.99
  • Available from Amazon and Phones 4u from 5th September
  • Motorola Shells will be available from October

Moto 360

  • Gray leather and black leather
  • Starting from £199.00
  • Available from O2, Tesco, Amazon, Phones 4u and John Lewis from early October

Moto Maker

  • Moto Maker 16GB – starting from £419.99
  • Moto Maker 16GB with wood or leather – starting from £439.99
  • Moto Maker 32GB – starting from £459.99
  • Moto Maker 32GB with wood or leather – starting from £479.99 
  • Available from end of September

Moto Hint

  • Moto Hint will come to UK in the coming months. Details to be confirmed.

I’d say the Moto X is a strong contender to be my next phone, but it’ll be up against the next Nexus device. Hopefully I’ll get a review unit in the not-too-distant future.

Motorola Moto X (2013) Smartphone Review

Motorola M LogoMotorola’s been busy since I reviewed the Moto G back in January, with the Moto X, Moto E and a 4G version of the Moto G filling out their range of smartphones. With IFA on, a refresh of the Moto X is expected very soon and rumours swirl regarding the next Nexus smartphone, the Nexus X (which neatly sidesteps any legal issues around the Nexus 6 name).

Back in reality, Motorola kindly lent me the Moto X for a long-term test, so I’ve been using the Moto X for over three months instead of my Nexus 4. Let’s take a look.

Given that the Moto X is over a year old in the US and over six months in the UK, the specs aren’t important, but for the record it’s a 4.7” 1280 by 720 Super AMOLED screen powered by a Qualcomm 1.7 MHz dual-core S4 Pro processor supported by an Adreno 320 GPU. There’s 2 GB RAM and 16 GB of storage and comes with Android 4.4 KitKat out of the box. A 2200 mAh battery keeps the Moto X going, with Motorola reckoning on around 24 hours use. It’s a GSM phone with 4G LTE on the 800/1800/2600MHz (B20/B3/B7) bands. Dimensions are 65 x 129 x 10.4 mm (5.7 mm at the narrowest point) and weighs in at 130g.

Moto X Front View

Using Geekbench 3, the Moto X clocks in at 666 single core and 1258 for multi-core with the LG Nexus 4 scoring 501 / 1664. This bears out the specs with the Moto X having a higherclock speed (1.75 v 1.5 GHz) but fewer cores, (2 v 4). In real world use, there’s nothing between them.

The Moto X looks good, and is nearly all black with only the on/off  and volume rocker in chrome. As with the Moto G, it fits well in the hand and the curved back still reminds me of the Palm Pre and its pebble design cue. Unlike our transatlantic cousins, the fantastic range of Moto X backs isn’t available to us Brits, so we’re stuck with only black and white variants of the phone.

Moving round the phones, the right-hand side has the chrome on/off button and a volume rocker. There’s a micro-USB socket at the bottom and 3.5 mm audio jack at the top. The back has the rear-facing camera with flash and there’s an interesting little dimple in the back. It’s all very similar to the Moto G but thinner and lighter. Powering the phone up reveals two things….first the screen is tremendous and second that Motorola haven’t strayed too far from the stock Android experience. Although not a full 1080 HD screen, the 720 in 4.7″ gives a high pixel density and apps look good. Colours are strong and vibrant, and slightly richer than on the LG Nexus 4. Blacks are black and contrast is good. I like it.

Moto X Back

Returning to the user interface, anyone familiar with a Nexus device will be totally at home. It’s all fairly standard and what Motorola has done is to tweak some of the standard apps and include a few value-adding apps which you can use or not use, as you wish. They’re actually pretty good and I covered them in my review of the Moto G.

Windy DayAssist – a personal assistant-type app that sets up rules for when the phone needs to be quiet, based on driving, meetings or sleeping. Motorola Migrate – this app helps transfer information from an older phone to the Moto G. It covers text messages, call history, SIM contacts, media and volume settings. Innovatively uses wifi and QR codes. Moto Care seems to have been replaced with the a more mundane Help, though it seems to be broadly the same app. The Moto X doesn’t have an FM radio, so there’s no app for that.

New since I reviewed the Moto G is Alert, a personal security and emergency response app that notifies friends and family in the event of trouble. Connect is a cloud-based management app for Motorola devices which also lets the phone interact with the your PC or laptop. New too is Spotlight, a player for interactive three dimensional animations. It’s quirky and cool with two animations, Windy Day and Buggy Night. The former was created by Jan Pinkava of Geri’s Game and Ratatouille fame.

Where the Moto X really steps away from the Moto G and most other Android phones is that it’s always listening. Simply say “Ok Google Now” and the Moto X responds, switching over to voice recognition. From this point you can search, dial phone numbers, set reminders and otherwise control the phone. The touchless control is really cool and works well (though it doesn’t play very nice with PIN locks).

Touchless Control Set Reminders

There’s also Active Display which automagically shows notifications when you are nearby. No idea how it works, but it works well – you walk over to the phone and it comes alive showing that you’ve waiting emails or texts.

Active Display ActiveDisplay

Using the Moto X on a daily basis I’ve come to appreciate what Motorola have done with the Moto X. The general trend is for top-end phones to come with fast processors and big screens. But rather than focus on specs, Motorola have brought the innovative features of Touchless control and Active Display to a phone that would be defined as mid-range. The result is a phone that works hard towards putting the smart into smartphone.

The Moto X is available online for around GB£280 which puts it on a par with the Nexus 5. It’s a tough call as to which is the better but let’s see what Motorola has to offer shortly.

Thanks again to Motorola for providing the Moto X for review.

Motorola Moto X Comes to the UK

Motorola M LogoAs widely rumoured, the Motorola Moto X is coming to the UK and the rest of Europe. The specs and features seem as per the US version – touchless control for Google Now, Active Display, Connect extension for Chrome and twist to start camera. KitKat will be on the Moto X out of the box and as expected, it looks like Motorola’s touch on the OS has been relatively light, with the addition of apps such as Migrate and Assist which were seen previously in the Moto G.

Specwise, it’s Motorola’s X8 Mobile Computing System which includes a software optimised Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro (1.7GHz Dual-Core Krait CPU, quad-core Adreno 320 GPU), a natural language processor and a contextual computing processor. RAM is 2 GB (excellent!) with 16 GB and 32 GB storage versions available. To sweeten the deal, there’s two years of 50 GB storage free on Google Drive.

All the latest wireless technology is included with Bluetooth 4.0 LE + EDR, wifi 802.11a/g/b/n/ac and LTE bands 800/1800/2600MHz (B20/B3/B7). Of course it has 2G and 3G as well. 10 MP rear camera and 2 MP HD front camera.

Motorola Moto X

There’s no information in the press release regarding the customisations that are available in the US, only that there will be a black version and a white version. Update: Motorola have confirmed that Moto Maker will not be available at launch but they are exploring options.

The Moto X will be available in black from 1st February from Phones 4u, Carphone Warehouse, O2, Amazon and Techdata.  The white Moto X will be an exclusive for Phones 4u for the first three months.  Prices vary but start from GB£25 per month on contract or £380 SIM free and off-contract. As with the Moto G, that’s a pretty good price for a 4G SIM-free smartphone.

Motorola Moto G Smartphone Review

In the last few months, Motorola has returned to the smartphone spotlight with the Moto X and the Moto G. While the X currently isn’t available in the UK (though there’s a hotly-tipped press event in London this week), the Moto G follows the underrated Razr, Razr Maxx and variants that have been released since 2011, eschewing the Droid slider in favour of the candybar handset while stepping away from the carbon-fibre of the Razrs. In short, there’s a new design style in town.

Not content with a new look, Motorola are pricing the Moto G very aggressively, coming in at around GB£135 on the street, unlocked and off-contract. The Nexus line has always been competitively priced and it might be Motorola is following suit at the entry-level. I hesitate to say budget, because you’ll see that the Moto G is anything but.

Motorola lent GNC one of the pre-production handsets to GNC for review and as you’ll see from the photos, there are a few markings on the face of the phone that won’t be present on the retail versions, but otherwise, it’s what will be shipped. I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks so let’s take a look at the Motorola Moto G.

Specwise, it’s a 4.5” 1280 by 720 HD screen powered by a Qualcomm 1.2 MHz quad-core A7 processor supported by an Adreno GPU, There’s 1 GB RAM and a choice of 8 GB or 16 GB of storage. Comes with Android 4.3 out of the box with a guaranteed upgrade to KitKat (4.4) that according to some websites is already being pushed out. A 2070 mAh battery keeps the Moto G going. It’s a world-wide phone, with CDMA and  GSM variants, but no LTE. Dimensions are 66 x 130 x 11.6 mm (6.0 mm at the narrowest point) and weighs in at 143g.

Moto G

The Moto G looks good, black with chrome accents, Gorilla Glass screen and a curved replaceable back. It fits nicely into the hand and the curved back reminds me a little of the Palm Pre and its pebble design cue. The back pops off and replacement coloured backs (shells) are available for around GB£10 for those wishing to customise and there’s a flip door cover version for around GB£20 – they’re all bright and funky.

Shells

There’s definitely a bit of weight to the phone but it feels reassuring rather than heavy. The right-hand side has the on/off button and a volume rocker. There’s a micro-USB socket at the bottom and 3.5 mm audio jack at the top. The back has the rear-facing camera with flash and there’s an interesting little dimple in the back.

Moto G Lockscreen

Powering the phone up reveals two things….first the screen is tremendous and second that Motorola haven’t strayed too far from the stock Android experience. Although not a full 1080 HD screen, the 720 in 4.5″ gives a high pixel density and apps look good. Colours are strong and vibrant, and slightly richer than on the LG Nexus 4. Blacks are black and contrast is good. There’s definitely nothing to worry about here: it’s one of the best screens on a phone. No budget screen here.

Returning to the user interface, anyone familiar with a Nexus device will be totally at home. It’s all fairly standard and what Motorola has done is to tweak some of the standard apps and include a few value-adding apps which you can use or not use, as you wish.

Assist – this is a personal assistant-type app that sets up rules for when the phone needs to be quiet, based on driving, meetings or sleeping. Similar apps are available in the store but the Motorola version is clean and simple. Nice touches include exceptions so that although you might be sleeping and the phone quiet, if a call comes in from your wife or child, the rule is overruled and the call comes through.

Assist

Motorola Migrate – this app helps transfer information from an older phone to the Moto G. It covers text messages, call history, SIM contacts, media and volume settings. Innovatively uses wifi and QR codes.

Moto Care – AT first glance, this looks like a mundane help and FAQ app, but it’s considerably more, providing useful suggestions and live chat with a Motorola rep should you need it.

FM Radio – The Moto G has an FM radio built-in and there’s an app for that as well. I haven’t used an FM radio in years but if it’s something you need, the Moto G has it. As with many similar devices, the headphones act as the FM antenna so you need to have them plugged in for the radio to work. That’s a bit of a problem if you normally use Bluetooth headphones…

Moving on to the camera, I found that the camera had both pros and cons. The camera was good when the scene was well-lit and the colours came out strongly. In these circumstances I thought the camera was better than the Nexus 4. Here’s an outside shot of a nearby building plus a screenshot of a zoomed-in area.

City Hospital

Zoom City Hospital

As much as the camera worked well in good light conditions, the Moto G was almost unusable in low light conditions. The autofocus struggled to lock on and nearly all the low light shots I took were blurry. A little disappointing but perhaps something that can be fixed via an app update.

Returning to the fundamental function of a mobile phone, i.e. the ability to make and receive phone calls, there are no problems here. Call quality was excellent and both participants could hear each other well, even in areas of relatively low signal strength.

Using Geekbench 3, the Moto G clocks in at 1152 on the multicore test and the LG Nexus 4 scores 1630. In real world use, Moto G is quick when running an app: I had no problems playing Ingress, Cut The Rope, Where’s My Water?, Plants v Zombies, etc. The 1 GB (v 2 GB in the Nexus 4) meant that switching to a previously-run app sometimes necessitated the full relaunch of the app. I notice it because I’m used to the Nexus but I suspect many owners will never even realise.

Overall, this is a great entry level phone and is excellent value for money. It’s an all round solid performer that easily outclasses the lower end of the market, especially the Samsung Galaxy phones, such as the Ace and the Y. The only quibble is with the low-light abilities of the camera and regardless, you’d be an idiot to buy any other off-contract phone unless you really need the bigger screen of a Nexus 5 or an HTC One. Motorola have set a new standard and the Moto G deserves to succeed.

Thanks again to Motorola for providing the Moto G for review.

Motorola Moto G Changes the Price Game on Smartphones

Moto GYou don’t normally see it unless you buy a phone out of contract. Your 2-year smartphone feels like a penny, $99 or even $199 for that iPhone 5. In all reality, you are paying $599 over time. A Samsung phone can cost almost $800.

Google has been working hard in making smartphones more affordable. The launch of the Nexus 5 gave you a decent phone at $329. But now Motorola has really changed the market with the $179 Moto G.

The Moto G is the cheaper version of the Moto X. This is an Android phone with a Snapdragon 400 processor running 1.2 GHz in quad-core fashion and starts at 8 GB internal memory. The Moto G is as compatible as the Moto X as you can customize to your liking with different color cases.

The Moto G also was launched worldwide — as opposed to the Moto X which is in the states only. This could mean this cheaper phone will blow away the Moto X sales.

In all reality, I was seriously considering the Moto G over the Nexus 5. The only factor was the need for a faster processor because of my Google Glass.

The Moto G is available for pre-order at Amazon.com. It will ship on December 4th. It comes with 50 GB free Google storage and guaranteed update to Kit-Kat.

Motorola ICS Tweet Fail

Motorola AndroidRegular readers of GNC will recall that I posted recently regarding Motorola’s inability to get Android Ice Cream Sandwich onto its devices. Ironically, yesterday Motorola tweeted:

Motorola Mobility @Motorola
My favorite thing about ICS is _________. Learn all the ICS ins and outs here: http://moto.ly/icslearn

In the 24 hours since that original tweet there have been around 60 replies.

  • about 8 responded with a feature of ICS that they liked.
  • over 50 people tweeted back with less than positive comments, mainly that ICS wasn’t yet available on their phone or tablet.

That’s a big fat #FAIL, Motorola.

Motorola, Where’s My Ice Cream Sandwich?

Motorola AndroidHere’s a quick quiz for tablet fans…here in the UK I have access to three tablets: a Motorola Xoom, a Motorola Xoom 2 Media Edition (Xyboard 8.2 in the US) and an HP Touchpad. Which one of these is running the Ice Cream Sandwich variant of Android?

Did you chose one of the Motorola devices? Sorry, you’re wrong. The only tablet running ICS in my house is the HP Touchpad, courtesy of the CyanogenMod team. How embarrassing is that, Motorola? Here’s all the talk about preventing Android fragmantation and a Google subsidiary can’t even get Ice Cream Sandwich onto its own tablets in a timely fashion. It’s been over six months since ICS was released.

ICS has been available on the Xoom in the USA since January but as yet it’s not made it to the UK. ICS should have been released in Q2 of 2012 according to Motorola’s own documentation but a week into July and still no sign. And before anyone starts apologising that it’s to do with the carriers, these are all pure wifi devices. Does it really take six months for language customisation?

As for the Xoom 2 (aka Xyboard), it’s frankly an embarrassment that the current product doesn’t have ICS running on it now, although it’s promised for Q3 in both US and UK. I’m delighted to hear that Google Motorola is going to deliver Jelly Bean for the Xoom in July, but why not for the newer devices? Flagship software on flagship device would seem to be the way to go.

Google Android fragmentation needs to be addressed and minimised. Latest Android versions need to be showcased. Motorola’s tablets are popular. Motorola Mobility is a Google subsidiary. Do I have to join the dots?

Waterproof Your Gear With Liquipel

Liquipel LogoNanotech waterproof coatings have been quite the fashion at CES this year but Liquipel‘s offering is a little bit different. Todd and Steve learn more from Kevin Bacon of Liquipel.

Liquipel have developed a nanotechnology-based liquid-repelling coating for electronic devices that makes the device waterproof for short periods of immersion. This sounds pretty much like ever other waterproofing technology on the market…except Liquipel can waterproof gadgets you already own. Woah!

For only $59, you can send Liquipel a phone or mp3 player and they will waterproof it for you. At the moment there’s a restricted list of devices that Liquipel will coat but the list includes some Apple, Motorola, Samsung and HTC devices. The list of approved devices will expand over time and if you have a particular need, you can get in touch with them.

Watch the video if you want to see an Apple iPhone get dunked in water!

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network and Steve Lee of Waves of Tech.

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Motorola MotoACTV GPS Fitness Tracker and MP3 Player

motoactvThese days when we think of Motorola we think of some of the hottest Android phones on the market, but the hardware maker does more that just smartphones.  Last month at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas they unveiled the MotoACTV, a new Fitness Tracker and MP3 player.

The MotoACTV can be worn on your wrist like a watch or hooked to your bike handlebars like a cycling computer.  It will keep track of  just about everything an athlete could ask for – how far you have gone, how many calories you have burned, the number of steps taken, and can even hook up, via Bluetooth, to a heart-rate monitor.  All of the data is then uploaded to a web site where you can keep track of everything for days or months at a time.  If all of that isn’t enough, it also has a built-in MP3 player and will even track how you do during different songs.  In addition, it as built-in WiFi, so your data can be automatically uploaded when you arrive home.

The Motorola MotoACTV comes in 8 GB and 16 GB versions, which retail for $249 and $299 respectively.  The device is available now and you can learn more by visiting Motorola.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine.

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Griffin Gets Gadgets On The Go

Griffin has a great range of accessories for all kinds of smartphones, MP3 players and tablets, so it’s no surprise that they’ve a few additions to their product range here at CES. This year they’re announcing a two in-car mounts, some power solutions and a mount for air travellers.

First up, if you have a car that has an aux port (3.5 mm socket), then the WindowsSeat 3 Handsfree is the windshield or dashboard mount for your vehicle. It comes with combined aux cable and microphone that that can be used to make handsfree phone calls and stream music/navigation commands through the car speakers. WindowSeat’s mounting cradle holds iPods or iPhones in most shell- or skin-type cases, as well as a similar sized MP3 players and smartphones, including popular models from BlackBerry, HTC, Motorola, and Samsung. Price is $39.99 and available now.

Griffin AirCurve

If you don’t have  an aux jack, the AirCurve Window Mount is the alternative. This windshield mount is designed as an acoustic amplifier which can raise the volume by as much as 25 dB without any batteries or cables. Designed for the iPhone 4 / 4S, simply put the smartphone in speakerphone mode and chat away. Price is also $39.99 and available now.

Griffin’s PowerBlock range has been updated with new models –  PowerBlock Reserve, $59.99, a wall charger for iPod and iPhone that can be plugged into any AC wall outlet to provide a quick boost of power that also has a built-in rechargeable 2,000 mAh lithium-ion battery pack for charging on the go. The PowerBlock Reserve Universal, $49.99, is the same concept but quickly charges any USB device. Both models charge their own batteries at the same time they’re charging connected devices, which is often not the case with competing models. A row of LEDs serve as a power gauge, indicating how much charge is left.

Finally, Griffin is bringing a new product to the market in Q2 of 2012 with a Tray Table Latch Mount. Specifically for the air and rail traveller, the mount is designed to be compatible with 90% of the world’s airline and commuter rail tray table latches and holds your eReader, tablet or smartphone at eye level for comfortable viewing. Very handy.

Pop round to Griffin in North Hall, Booth 5212 at CES 2012 in Las Vegas to see all their latest goodies or you can checked out the dedicated CES section of their website.