Hands on with Motorola’s return to the X series – Budget Smartphones


It’s been two years since Motorola released a Moto X model. After the Moto X Play, Moto X Style and Moto X Force all launching in 2015, the smartphone manufacturer has decided it’s time to drag its affordable, feature-filled X range back into the limelight with the Moto X (4th Gen).

Specifications

  • Screen: 5.5in Full HD IPS LCD

  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 630

  • RAM: 4GB

  • Storage: 32GB or 64GB, microSD slot

  • Camera: 12MP & 8MP wide-angle rear dual camera setup, 16MP front-facing camera

  • Price: €399 or €439

  • Release date: TBC

Design, features and first impressions

The Moto X range has always represented the best that Motorola has distilled down into a mean handset at an affordable price. Now though, with its Moto Z range taking up the top spot, the Moto X is here to bring more innovative features to Motorola’s range of phones for those who want something meatier than a Moto G, but not as flashy, versatile or expensive as the Moto Z.

Motorola has gone to quite an effort to differentiate its fourth generation model. Gone are the plastic or metal backs, replaced by a foil-backed “3D glass” rear that makes its metal-bodied handset glisten. It’s also adopted a dual-camera array, fingerprint sensor, and an IP68 rating in its two-year absence from the market.

As the Moto X range has always been about the features, Motorola has crammed as many neat touches into the Moto X (4th Gen) as it could. One of the most interesting additions is support for Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant. Instead of simply requiring you to use Google Assistant as default, even if you don’t have it connected to your services, the Moto X now lets you summon Alexa instead of Google to help create reminders or execute tasks. It’s also smart, meaning that if you do also have Google Assistant connected to everything you own, you can simply say “OK Google” to activate it, instead of saying “Alexa”.

Another cool feature is the introduction of the Moto Key, allowing you to pair with a computer and use your Moto X fingerprint reader to unlock or verify your identity or passwords. Its use seems somewhat limited, but it also has the potential to become something truly useful if it can integrate deeply enough with a Windows, Mac or Chrome OS.

The biggest advance, however, seems to be in the Moto X’s cameras. Instead of simply chucking two 12-megapixel sensors on the back, like the Moto Z Force has, Motorola has switched things up. For the Moto X (4th Gen)’s rear camera setup, Motorola has equipped it with a 12-megapixel sensor alongside an 8-megapixel wide-angle camera. Not only does this allow you to switch between a wide-angle shot or a fixed-frame one, it also means it benefits from the same background defocus, real-time depth effects and image manipulation tools found on the Moto Z Force.

If that wasn’t enough, the rear camera is capable of landmark object recognition, helping you label what you’ve snapped a photo of – or what you might be looking at via your phone screen. It will also automatically identify and scan business cards, barcodes and QR codes without you needing to take a photo of them first.

Elsewhere, the front-facing selfie camera has seen a boost, jumping up to a massive 16-megapixels. Motorola’s said that in normal light you’ll get pin-sharp selfies for your Instagram account, while in low light it can drop to as low as 4-megapixels – with bigger pixel size – to let more light information in and thus create better low-light photos. From my quick play, it certainly does seem capable in both low and normal light conditions, but that was far from a comprehensive test.

Motorola has also put a panorama mode in for selfies, allowing you to capture more of your surroundings when taking a photo selfie.

Early verdict

So far, so good. The Moto X (4th Gen) is shaping up to be a formidable mid-range phone that could, if priced correctly, give the Moto G (5th Gen) and it stablemates a run for their money.

Currently, we don’t have any pricing or a release date, but it should arrive by the end of this year – likely around the same time as the Moto Z Force.

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